What Do Probiotics Actually Do For Gut Health?

Dr. Ekta Gupta explains what probiotics are and who benefits from them most.

Rachel Hinch - December 2019

What Do Probiotics Actually Do For Gut Health?

Dr. Ekta Gupta explains what probiotics are and who benefits from them most.

Rachel Hinch - December 2019


Chances are you’ve already heard of probiotic-rich kombucha drinks or have seen the many brands of probiotic supplements at the pharmacy. But, what do probiotics really do for gut health? We asked Dr. Ekta Gupta, the director of endoscopy at Johns Hopkins Knoll North, all about it.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are the new kid on the block, surfacing in new research just within the last 20 years. It’s the good bacteria in the gut that helps to stop harmful bacteria from growing in the gut lining, send signals to barrier against infection, and maintain general health.

Can anyone start taking probiotics?

Yes and no. Talk to a health care provider for guidance because there can be some side effects, especially if someone has a weakened immune system. In some cases, it can cause diarrhea, gas, bloating, and discomfort. A healthy individual can take probiotics, but ensure you take the appropriate dose.

So who benefits most from probiotics?

If someone is suspected of having small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or what’s called a leaky gut, those conditions are helped with probiotics. They can also help with antibiotic-related diarrhea, constipation, or with inflammatory bowel disease.

With so many over-the-counter supplements, what should we be looking for?

Look at expiration dates because probiotics are freeze-dried microbiomes—once they touch the appropriate amount of acid, temperature, and environment in the colon, they begin to flourish. The expiration date can make a difference in how active the strains are and what the effects are. Then, think about the appropriate dosage, which is anywhere between five and 10 billion colony forming units (CFUs). I also direct patients to lactobacillus or bi dobacterium—the two main bacterial strains that have research to back them up—rather than taking anything from the shelf that we don’t know [the benefits of].

Are there cases where probiotics help outside the gut?

I’m a big believer in how the gut can affect how you feel. It’s a hot topic in research on the benefits of probiotics and how they help the gut microbiome, which in turn can aid in treating diabetes, obesity, or even depression and anxiety.

How can we incorporate probiotics in our daily diet?

By eating cruciferous vegetables—broccoli, cabbage, radishes—as well as superfoods such as walnuts and berries.



DOSAGE: Consult with a doctor to make sure you’re not over, or under, doing it.


SAVE THE DATE: Be sure to take your supplements before the expiration date.


EAT YOUR GREENS: Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage are excellent sources of natural probiotics.

You May Also Like

Health & Wellness

How to Approach Your Healthy Eating Goals

Health coach Lauren Shafer of Live Full shares her tips.

Health & Wellness

Making Strides

Accomplish your New Year's fitness resolutions with these eco-friendly products.

Charmed Life

Tips for Starting a Meditation Routine

Anjali Sunita of Baltimore Yoga Village shares her relaxation techniques.

Health & Wellness

Ma’am Overboard

Age is just a number—until you look in the mirror.

Health & Wellness

Six Tips for Beating the “Winter Blues”

Annick Barker of Metta Integrative Wellness Center offers ways to combat sluggish winter moods.

In Good Taste

Food and Drink Trends to Expect at Baltimore Eateries in 2020

Local chefs and bartenders place an emphasis on wellness this year.


Doctor Finder

Connect With Us

Most Read

Religious Leaders React to Proposed Increase in Funding to Prevent Hate Crimes: Van Hollen, Sarbanes, and Cardin want to quadruple aid protecting local religious groups.

Caleeb Pinkett Screens 'Charm City Kings' at Sundance Film Festival: Producer talks source material, filming in Baltimore, and his famous family.

Maryland Politicians React to Trump Impeachment: Local leaders reflect and look ahead at Senate trial.

Will Judge Make an Example Out of Catherine Pugh?: With the former mayor’s sentencing scheduled for February, both sides get to work on their case.

Orioles Execs Not Mentioned in ‘AstroGate’ Sign-Stealing Scandal: GM Mike Elias and the O’s other ex-Astros employees have steered clear of the fallout.