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How do probiotics work?

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Research suggests that probiotics work by correcting an imbalance of the friendly bacteria in a person's digestive system, according to WebMD. The digestive system contains over 500 different types of bacteria, which are believed to benefit everything from digestion and intestinal health to the immune system.

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Some researchers suggest that certain things, such as infection or taking antibiotics, can cause this group of bacteria to deteriorate, explains WebMD. Research indicates this deterioration may lead to many digestive problems. Building up the numbers of friendly bacteria is thought to treat or prevent many of these problems.

Studies at Yale University from 2011 found that probiotics aid in several digestive conditions, including diarrhea, ulcerative colitis and eczema, that result from an allergy to cow's milk, notes WebMD. Research has also found that probiotics can prevent many digestive conditions such as diarrhea associated with the use of antibiotics and pouchitis, inflammation of the intestines that occurs after surgery. There is also a small amount of evidence to suggest probiotics may aid in other diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, diarrhea caused by C. difficile bacteria and vaginitis. They may even aid in childhood ailments such as colds, ear infections and strep throat.

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