Probiotic literally means supports life. Probiotics are the natural flora that should inhabit your intestines.
Ideally, 85% of the flora in our gut would be probiotics and 15% would consist of e-Coli bacteria. But, most American’s have this ratio reversed! Why is this so? Primarily due to our lifestyles:
- Stress alters the natural balance.
- High intake of processed foods and alcohol will too.
- Meats from animals who have consumed antibiotics, hormones and steroids will negatively affect the flora.
- Fruit and vegetables treated with pesticide and herbicide will kill beneficial flora.
- Antibiotics indiscriminately kill both the infectious agents as well as the beneficial flora. If our diets do not contain enough fiber, the normal flora becomes imbalanced.
- Impaired immunity, altered pH (acid/base balance) and intestinal infections can all interfere with a healthy balance of flora in the intestines.
When the flora becomes imbalanced, we are predisposed to malabsorption of nutrients, celiac disease (sensitivity to glutens), lactose intolerance, diarrhea, constipation, appendicitis, hemorrhoids, leaky gut syndrome, hormonal imbalances and food sensitivities. Healthy flora helps to remove putrefied food residues from the intestines thereby removing pathogens. Probiotics help prevent cancer by enhancing the immune system by increasing the production of antibodies, interferon, B lymphocytes, lactoferrin and immunoglobulin.
Nutrient absorption is improved and the elimination of waste is enhanced. Cholesterol regulation is improved. B vitamins and neurotransmitters are also made in the intestines when the flora is balanced. Probiotics compete with pathogens for nutrients and reduce the number of pathogens which can leave toxic end products. Bowel function is improved when probiotics are present in normal numbers. Allergic reactions including asthma are reduced with normal intestinal flora. Conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s and colitis can benefit from probiotics support. Probiotics support vitamin and fatty acid synthesis and assimilation.
Probiotics compete with pathogens for nutrients and reduce the number of pathogens which can leave toxic end products. They support vitamin and fatty acid synthesis and assimilation. Bowel function is improved when probiotics are present in normal numbers. Allergic reactions including asthma are reduced with normal intestinal flora. Conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s and colitis can benefit from proper probiotic balance.
There are over 400 strains of probiotics. The most studied are Lactobacillus and Bifidus. They are found in fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and miso. Our western culture tries to sanitize everything with antiseptics and antibiotic soaps. We don’t eat fermented foods frequently or in large enough quantities, we take antibiotics often, eat poorly and have high-stress lifestyles.
Given the importance of balanced intestinal flora and the threats that our lifestyles impose on keeping balanced, taking supplements makes sense. When supplementing, the probiotics must survive the stomach acid and must be found in large numbers, 10-15 million. A sugar derivative, fructooligosaccharides (FOS for short) helps support growth of the probiotics in the intestines. There is disagreement about how to take probiotic supplements. I recommend taking them either a half-hour before food or 2 hours after, so the probiotics can be undiluted when interfacing with the intestines. If you are taking antibiotics, probiotics are a must (in my opinion) because the antibiotics kill organisms randomly including the normal flora. Take probiotics 2 hours after the antibiotics. Once treatment is complete, increase probiotic intake to 3 times per day for one week.
Probiotics increase our strength, vitality and immunity but our normal flora is under siege by our lifestyle. Maintain your health by supplement with fermented foods and quality probiotics. Not all probiotic supplements are equal. Please, contact me if you are interested in what we have to offer regarding probiotic supplements.