Probiotic literally means supports life.
Probiotics are the natural flora that should inhabit your intestines. Ideally, 85% of the flora in our guts should be probiotics and 15% e-coli. But, most American’s have this ratio reversed!
Why is this so? Primarily due to our life styles. Stress will alter the natural balance. High intake of processed foods and alcohol will as well. Meats from animals who have consumed antibiotics, hormones and steroids will negatively affect the flora. Fruits 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 function. Immunity is enhanced because anti-bodies, interferon, B lymphocytes, lactoferrin and immunoglobulin productions is increased. Nutrients absorption is improved and the elimination of waste enhanced. Cholesterol regulation is improved. B vitamins and neurotransmitters are also made in the intestines when the flora is balanced. Also, Vitamin K is made in the gut. 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 are found naturally in fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut kim chi and miso. We are a culture that tries to sanitize everything with antiseptics and antibiotic soaps. We don’t eat fermented foods frequently, in large enough quantities, we take antibiotics or exposed to them through our food supply often, eat poorly and have high stress life styles. Given the importance of balanced intestinal flora and the threats our lifestyles create to keeping the balances, supplementation makes sense.
There are over 400 strains of probiotics. The most studied are lactobacillis and bifidus. When supplementing, the probiotics must survive the stomach acid and must be found in large numbers, 10-15 million. A natural sugar derivative fructoligosaccarides (FOS for short) found in plants, helps support growth of the probiotics in the intestines. There is disagreement about how to take probiotics. I recommend taking them either ½ 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 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. A quality probiotic must be refridgerated to prevent a decrease the number of live organisms viable (alive.)
Probiotics increase strength, vitality and immunity. Normal flora is under siege by our lifestyle. Maintain your health, supplement with quality probiotics. Not all probiotic supplements are equal. Call me if you have any questions.