Throughout history, civilizations of people have benefited from the use of Probiotics (also known as friendly bacteria and good intestinal flora). They came from fermented foods which was a common way of preserving foods before refrigeration. Some are also naturally manufactured in your body and many are found today in different foods and supplements. Probiotics support life and promote good health.
Probiotics, which translates to ‘pro life’, are living microorganisms in the digestive system that help maintain a healthy system. We’ve all heard of probiotics and know they are good for us, but all the reasons why may surprise you:
First, they help to support normal function of the body. They aid in proper digestion and assimilation of food and help with the synthesis of vitamins and nutrients. They strengthen the mucus lining of the intestines and help it act as a barrier against infection. Friendly bacteria can also promote healthy cholesterol levels, prevent skin conditions such as eczema, and help lessen the severity of allergies. They also support immune health by increasing the number of immune cells and supporting normal cell reproduction.
Second, they work towards prohibiting bad organisms from flourishing. The intestinal tract is home to around 100 trillion microorganisms, but not all of them are friendly. They come from the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. Many of these microorganisms are mere nuisances and are hardly noticed. Some can make you feel sick for a few days while others can make you seriously ill. The body can deal with many of these microbes if it is well equipped. Friendly bacteria create lactic acid which balances the ph of the intestines and make it inhospitable to parasites. They also crowd out harmful bacteria, depriving them of nourishment, and thus preventing their growth. Probiotics also destroy the toxins released by ‘bad’ bacteria.
Clostridium is a pathogenic bacteria and is a complication of prolonged or repetitive antibiotic use. Giardia is a parasitic infection that leads to chronic diarrhea. Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) adheres to the lining of the stomach causing peptic ulcers. Each of these pathogens can be crowded out and even destroyed by the use of healthy probiotic bacteria.
The body knows naturally how to protect itself from pathogens. When the digestive tract is healthy, it filters out and eliminates things that can damage it, such as harmful bacteria, toxins, chemicals, and other waste products. The body is then more able to take in the nutrients from food and water that it needs, and helps deliver them to the cells where they are needed.
Having a healthy gut helps the immune system protect the body. When the immune system doesn’t function properly, we can suffer from allergic reactions, autoimmune disorders, and infections. The immune system is supported and can function optimally if given the right tools like Probiotics.
Antibiotics, which translate to ‘against life’, effectively kill bacteria in the body. They are prescribed for a number of conditions and do their job well. The problem is that Antibiotics do not distinguish between harmful and beneficial bacteria and thus kill them all. This throws the body off balance and can lead up to a host of problems including diarrhea, candida albicans overgrowth and urinary tract & vaginal yeast infections. Overuse of Anti-biotics can also make some strains of harmful bacteria resistant to the medication and thus harder to kill off. It is very helpful to supplement with probiotics during and especially after Anti-biotic use. Friendly bacteria are important to keeping these harmful organisms from hurting the body.
Under normal circumstances, the ‘good’ bacteria far outnumber the bad, but any shift in the balance of ‘good’ or ‘friendly’ to ‘bad’ bacteria, may affect how well your gastrointestinal tract functions. Birth control pills, anti-biotics, alcohol, prolonged illness, a diet high in sugar, stress and even some herbs like oregano oil, echinacea and goldenseal can deplete the friendly bacterial in the body. For most people this means the good intestinal flora needs to be replenished often, maybe even every day.
There are many probiotic supplements on the market today. A full spectrum combination of several strains can be helpful when the system is depleted or compromised. Single strains can help more for maintenance. Besides supplement form, cultured vegetables, natural sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt (that contains live and active cultures), kefir and kombucha all contain beneficial bacteria.<< read less