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Do probiotics work?

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HowStuffWorks notes that probiotics work because they recolonize the stomach with healthy bacteria, which are usually eliminated by antibiotics. Scientists are convinced that probiotics fight toxins and pathogens. Probiotics reduce the risk of diarrhea by 52 percent among patients taking antibiotics.

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WebMD points out that probiotics also promote a strong immune system and are effective in treating ulcerative colitis and necrotizing enterocolitis. Mayo Clinic argues that more research on probiotics is needed, but encouraging evidence shows that they reduce severity of flu and colds and treat irritable bowel syndrome. WebMD warns that probiotics can be dangerous for people with serious illnesses or weak immune systems. They are found in supplements and foods, such as yogurt.

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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