In the old days, whenever one heard the word “probiotics” they immediately thought of fruity, breakfast yogurts that were pegged for the over-50 set. However, the business of good bacteria has grown popular by the minute, so much so that it can be read on almost every label known to man, not just on yogurts but also on bodybuilding supplements and snack bars.

Probiotics is defined as “friendly bacteria” that occurs naturally in the digestive tract. Certain strains or types of probiotics have in fact, been accredited with many health benefits including helping with irritable bowel syndrome to traveler's diarrhea and boosting the immune system. These days, however, they are more frequently used as dietary support for the immune system, which may account for why there seems to be an overflow of probiotic products on the shelves of health food stores everywhere.

In the realm of bodybuilding, probiotic supplements have been credited to help with muscle growth, in addition to assisting in the prevention of muscle breakdowns and muscle damage. Taking their daily recommended dose of probiotics ensures that they do not experience any of these symptoms to be able to function properly and to continue doing their workouts.

As far as benefits go, these supplements help bodybuilders better absorb minerals and amino acids and helps keep their gut environment healthy enough to better assimilate nutrients – something that is essential to athletes that undergo intestinal workouts and training and those who need to be able to maximize their diets. For bodybuilders who often over train, probiotic supplements offer intestinal cell protection against oxidative stress. It also reduces the risks of upper respiratory tract infections, gastrointestinal distress and better regulation of the muscle-wasting hormone cortisol.

In order for bodybuilders to continuously benefit from probiotics, they should be able to choose the best supplements and to do that, they need to first understand that probiotics are effective in any form. Currently, they are available in powder and capsule forms, as well as present in foods like dairy drinks, cheese and snack bars as mentioned earlier, that include specific probiotic organizations. Any of these forms may be effective as long as they have the beneficial organizations in adequate numbers.

The next step is being able to choose the right microbes for your needs. There are many different potentially beneficial probiotic organisms that exist, including bacteria and yeast. The effects are very specific and certain strains appear to be very helpful on a per condition basis. Also the first thing you'll want to look for when purchasing probiotic supplements is the full probiotic name which will include the genus, species and then the strain.

The label should also include the number of organizations contained in one single dose and how often you should take it, as well as the recommended uses, storage information and contact information for the manufacturer. It is also important to choose a reliable brand as not all products live up to the information indicated on their labels. Because the products that you see on the shelves these days are not required to meet standards of medication, the FDA recommends that you choose a reliable product with claims and recommended dosages based on scientific studies.

And last but not least, probiotics are generally considered safe except for those with compromised immune systems, people who are terminally-ill with cancer and those who are prone to leaky bowels. Make sure you consult with a doctor first before taking any kind of probiotic supplement as it is always better to be safe than sorry.