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What is the Probiotic Diet?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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There may be several definitions for probiotic diet because many companies market products that help people stay on one or l authors write about benefits of following a rigidly controlled diet that is probiotic heavy. A looser definition is that a probiotic diet is one containing lots of probiotic foods. These don’t need to be purchased as part of special diet plans. This form of diet is also under continuous review and it is thought the diet may be of especial use to people with gastric disorders/conditions and might be beneficial in general.

Probiotics are live organisms that have sometimes been labeled as good bacteria. They live in places like the gut, assisting in the digestion of food. People also may regularly eat certain probiotic foods. Most familiar to many folks is yogurt, which usually contains “live cultures” and is created by fermentation. Other foods making this list are sauerkraut, some pickles, miso and miso soup, fermented soy or tempeh, and certain cheeses and buttermilk. An additional food on the list may be honey because it could help the body grow its own good bacteria.

Generally, those advocating for a probiotic diet suggest increasing intake of these foods because of their good bacteria value. The amount of increase isn’t always specified, but it’s recommended that people add things like a yogurt a day or enjoy sauerkraut more often. Sometimes people tend to eat a diet made up principally of probiotic foods, but it’s not fully clear that this is the best plan of action. It might also be difficult to get requisite amounts of certain things like fiber or leafy green vegetables if a probiotic diet consists only of probiotic foods.

One way to address this is to supplement a diet with probiotics. These could include adding nutritional yeast to foods or it might mean taking supplements like acidophilus. Though probiotics are thought of as beneficial, it is hard to say how much supplementation is truly required.

The reason that a probiotic diet in limited or expanded fashion is so appealing is because there is growing evidence of the beneficial nature of good bacteria. In particular, anyone with intestinal difficulties like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease might find benefit in having more probiotics in the system. Those who get chronic diarrhea after taking antibiotics could benefit and women may have fewer yeast infections, especially after antibiotics, by dietary probiotic supplementation. Other claims about the probiotic diet exist, including that it supports the immune system.

There are questions about this diet. Some scientists suggest that metabolizing any probiotic food may leave little good bacteria remaining. Others are concerned that claims about the diet leave people open to aggressive sales tactics where miracle cures are promised. While probiotics definitely appear to offer some benefit, people should be aware they don’t need to go to great lengths to add good bacteria to their diet and may find plenty of these fermented foods in the local grocery store.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon222759 — On Oct 16, 2011

My mothers Doctor recommended probiotics for her problem with diarrhea. After she took the whole box within one month, the problem was gone. I would recommend it.

By anon183931 — On Jun 06, 2011

A 51 year old man died while on a probiotic diet. He had chronic diarrhea and it appears he was drinking plenty of orange juice by the looks of his juicer. He had a large supply of oranges in his apartment and many new books on the subject of a probiotic diet. He lived alone and was dead for several days before being found.

The family was notified by the coroner of the state where he was living.He had visited an emergency room somewhere in his area. His family has been very distressed. We have very few details. However, I would stress the importance of not overdoing any diet to everyone who can hear you or read this article.

By pharmchick78 — On Nov 19, 2010

Probiotics products can be very helpful to your system -- but they also come with some pretty nasty potential side effects. Although most of the time these are very rare, it's important to be aware of them before you start taking a probiotic supplement.

Some people experience gas and bloating, and some people have even experienced severe fungal infections. Also, in rare cases, probiotics can compromise a person's immune system, and may even cause changes in a person's metabolism.

Although most of these cases occurred in people who took really enormous amounts of probiotics, it's a good thing to bear in mind before you stock up on the probiotic yogurt or vitamins. And it's also a good word of warning about vitamins and supplements in general: don't overdo it!

When it comes to your digestive system, there is certainly the possibility of too much of a good thing, and you really don't want to end up doing yourself serious harm.

Good health, everyone.

By galen84basc — On Nov 19, 2010

If you want to double the benefits of your probiotics, take them in conjunction with mastic gum. It's even better if you can find a probiotic vitamin that includes mastic, since then you don't have to worry about taking the two separately.

Mastic is really amazing in what it can do for your gut -- scientists have found that it can actually target the bad bacteria in your gut (and there are a ton, believe you me!) while leaving the good ones alone.

After the mastic goes through and does its work, then the probiotic products can come behind and flourish, since all the bad bacteria is gone. This is an excellent way for bringing your gut and your body into balance, so talk to your doctor or nutritionist about it -- you'll be glad you did.

By CopperPipe — On Nov 19, 2010

Probiotics seem to me to be the next fad after acai berry and ephedra. Although I'm sure that they're great, and that their products are good diet supplements, I also think that a lot of the claims that people make about them are exaggerated.

Although its easy to fall into the trap of taking probiotics supplements to cure everything from hair loss to joint pain (as I have seen some marketed!), you really need to take these claims with a grain of salt, as you would for any medication or vitamin.

Again, probiotics are great, and they can be very beneficial to your system. But they're just not the wonder cure that some people are trying to make them out to be.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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