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KUSA - You have no doubt seen the commercials on TV or noticed the grocery store shelves full of products which promise to be rich in probiotics. But what are they, and do they live up to all the hype? Here's an attempt to separate the fact from the fiction.

To start off with there is a lot we don't know about probiotics. Some experts say they can do everything from keeping your skin healthy to improving your digestive system. Other experts think they are over hyped.

What are probiotics anyway?

Probiotics are live types of bacteria that are usually found in our digestive tract. Sometimes, because of illness or medication, these "healthy" types of bacteria we normally carry around in our GI tract get killed off.

This can lead to issues like diarrhea or worsen conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome. So getting those levels of healthy bacteria back up is important to our overall health. One way to do that is by eating foods rich in probiotics. This can restart your intestinal tracts healthy bacteria colonies.

We still don't know exactly how probiotics work or even how well they work to keep us healthy. Some studies have shown that they seem to help control acute diarrhea and with conditions like Crohn's Disease or Inflammatory Bowel Disease, like ulcerative colitis. Others have shown that probiotics can help slow the symptoms of childhood allergies, especially eczema. Studies haven't shown a strong connection between probiotics and decreases in urinary tract infections, or respiratory illnesses in children.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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