Madonna says probiotics make her feel younger than she felt 20 years ago.
Looks like others feel that way, too. By 2016, North Americans will spend $33.5 billion on dairy products with added gut-friendly bacteria.
But are you getting enough bang for your buck? Not if the probiotics - which are known to control immune strength, protect against auto-immune diseases and gastro-problems like irritable bowel syndrome, help lower lousy LDL cholesterol and fight type 2 diabetes (or, if out of whack, trigger it) - can't make it through the manufacturing process, storage or your stomach acid.
That's why it is so important to choose a probiotic that comes with its own natural suit of armor, such as the spore form of bacillus coagulans. Each bacterium is a little hard spore that provides a defense against potential killers, so the intestines get a full dose of the bacteria. We recommend getting 2 billion to 4 billion spores of bacillus coagulans in protected capsule form a day.
And if you - or your child - takes an antibiotic, make sure you take that daily dose while on the antibiotics and for two weeks afterward.
Other ways to help healthy gut bacteria flourish: Eat only 100 percent whole grains (fiber feeds the good bacteria what they need), avoid saturated fats (they KO good bacteria and let nasty ones thrive), eat at least nine servings of fruits and veggies a day, don't take antibiotics unless truly necessary (they lay waste to good gut bacteria) and avoid all antimicrobial hand washes unless they're alcohol-based.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.