Although they've been around since the beginning of mankind, probiotics in supplement form have become more popular in recent years.
According to Dr. Jordan Rubin, an expert in natural health, probiotics are basically "good germs."
"There's bad germs and good germs," he explained. "It's not about getting rid of all the bad, because they need to live in balance."
Equating probiotics with policemen, Rubin said "a town has a few criminals and a lot of policemen lives very peacefully. A town that has no policemen and a few criminals, lives in chaos."
Rubin, who has been taking probiotics for more than 15 years to help his Crohn's disease - a disease which involves chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract - has found using probiotics can help anyone.
"If you were born by cesarean section, if you were not breast fed, if you've ever taken an antibiotic, consumed excess sugar, caffeinated beverages, if you have showered or consumed chlorinated water, breathed in impure air, or event thought negative thoughts, you've done damage to the microorganisms in your gut," he said.
In order to reduce the damage and support digestive and immune system functions, Rubin said there is no better component to your body than adding probiotics.
"They are the soldiers and they keep your body protected and clean if they're there," he explained.
Although probiotics can be taken by anybody, they are especially helpful to those who suffer from chronic bowel issues.
Seven years ago Annette LaBombard of Beekmantown was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis - another type of inflammatory bowel disease that affects the large intestine and rectum.
For four of the seven years, LaBombard was on a constant dosage of prednisone, a corticosteroid that reduces inflammation. However, prednisone also comes with many other side affects including weight gain, high blood pressure, low potassium, sleep problems and mood changes.
LaBombard visited an acupuncturist to ease the discomfort of ulcerative colitis, who told her to try Garden of Life Probiotics, the brand created by Rubin.
After a week of using the probiotics, she began to see a difference, including not having to take prednisone anymore.
"I have my life back," she said. "I know I still have the disease and I always will and sometimes it flares up a bit."
"I can't say enough about probiotics," LaBombard added. "I will never go off of them."
According to Rubin, probiotics contain a combination of various natural bacteria.
"A combination of green vegetables that are cultured, what you call organic trace minerals which are found in healthy soil and beneficial microorganisms," he said. "There's beneficial bacteria that are found in plants and soil, there's beneficial bacteria that are found in your body and there's beneficial yeast that are found in food."
When taking probiotic supplements Rubin has found taking products such as Activia may not be enough, as there is other "junk" in it.
"If sugar harms probiotics, and you take a probiotic with sugar in it or artificial sweeteners or chemicals, I believe you can also be doing harm instead of good," he said. "It's not about taking probiotics, it's taking the right probiotic."
Rubin has also found taking probiotics in a pill form best on an empty stomach.
"If you take probiotics with food, it may not be quickly and easily getting to where they need to go," he explained. "You can certainly take primal defense with food, but if you choose to take them on an empty stomach, it's just easier for them to get to your digestive system and implant, where they literally live for a period of days doing their job."
For more information about probiotics, including Rubin's Garden of Life products, visit his Web site at www.jordanrubin.com.