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Acid reflux, or in common parlance, “heartburn,” occurs in the lower chest. It happens when the stomach acid regurgitates into the esophagus.

If a person has acid reflux more than twice a week, he/she is known to have GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease. Acid reflux causes discomfort, and increased frequency of acid reflux can cause damage to the food pipe.

Acid reflux can be triggered due to indulgence in spicy and fatty foods and taking vegetables and fruits that have increased acidity. In some instances, acid reflux is known to be triggered by the consumption of caffeinated beverages like tea and coffee.

Fortunately, it is a treatable disease. Acid reflux can be treated through medications, lifestyle changes, as well as other alternative therapies.

Probiotics

One such alternative therapy is the use of probiotics. Probiotics are the live bacteria and yeasts beneficial to the human digestive system.

These are good bacteria that keep a tab on harmful bacteria causing illness and other unwanted symptoms.

Types

Probiotic is a broad term, and various types of bacteria can be classified as probiotics. Even though they have different benefits, they generally come from the following.
  • Lactobacillus. Most common probiotic, present in yogurt as well as other fermented foods.
  • Bifidobacterium. Present in a few dairy products. These can help in treating symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and other conditions.

Benefits


  • Help in balancing the friendly bacteria in the gut
  • Can help treat and prevent diarrhea
  • Provides good bacteria
  • Known to treat IBS
Even though probiotics are not an absolute necessity for being healthy, regular intake can help in protecting against harmful bacteria and aid in digestion. Probiotics also help in:
  • Faster treatment of certain intestinal infections
  • Prevents the formation of stomach ulcers
  • Treat or prevent vaginal yeast infections
  • Treat or prevent urinary treat infections
  • Treat or prevent colds or flu
One can get the required dose of probiotics from fermented food like kimchi and yogurt. You can also take probiotic supplements.

Risk and Warnings

Most people can take or consume probiotics without any adverse side effects. Some might experience minor side effects, including mild gas and bloating.

Probiotics might not be ideal if one has any underlying medical condition. Prior consultation with the doctor might be a good idea if you are planning to start probiotics. This especially holds for elderly and immune-compromised people.

Moreover, since they are dietary supplements, probiotics are not regulated by the US FDA. This essentially means that they do not undergo rigorous testing like other drugs or supplements go through.

Also, contents can vary from one manufacturer to another, so caution is advised. Talking with the doctor is advisable in case of any symptoms.

Prevention

Acid reflux is common in adults. OTC medications and lifestyle choices typically control rare cases of acid reflux.

Increasing activity level, moderating alcohol consumption, and having smaller meals can also help in addressing occasional reflux. If you are keen on using probiotics, remember to:
  • Pick up food like yogurt which is laden with probiotics
  • Go through the supplement labels, as different brands have different ingredients
  • Stop using it if you start experiencing unusual side effects
Serious cases of acid reflux require a doctor’s attention. If your acid reflux is not reducing by adopting the above-given steps, a consultation with a doctor will be appropriate.