What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics, often referred to as “good bacteria” is a naturally occurring substance in the body but that can also be found in various foods and supplements.
A balance in good and bad bacteria is essential for overall health and wellbeing and there are many factors that can affect or kill off good bacteria which can then affect the immune system. Before this can happen, Probiotics take over and replace the good bacteria and therefore restoring balance.
What Does Good Bacteria Do?
- Good bacteria supports the production of the following:
- Vitamin B12 – B12 is one of the eight B Vitamins and is an essential tool towards ensuring the normal function of the brain, nervous system, and the development of red blood cells.
- Butyrate – Butyrate is a fatty acid that supports the normal function of the gut and aids towards avoiding diseases related to the digestive system.
- Vitamin K2 – vitamin K is widely known for its role towards blood clotting but vitamin K2 specifically ids towards achieving healthy skin, better bone density, improving brain function, and even the prevention of cancer.
- Good bacteria also helps balance out levels of good and bad bacteria in the body and avoids the accumulation of bad bacteria, yeast, and fungi which can lead to many debilitating conditions such as constipation, diarrhea, hormonal imbalances, weight gain, or leaky gut.
- Enzyme production – good bacteria also supports the production of enzymes which are an essential part of the body which accelerates all chemical reactions that occur and therefore supports the maintenance of many bodily functions including metabolism and digestion.
- Good bacteria also stimulates the secretion of the following:
- IgA – IgA prevents any foreign invaders from entering the body.
- T cells – T cells play a vital role in the immune system and greatly contributes to immune response.
What Can Kill Off Good Bacteria?
- Antibiotics – antibiotics cannot determine the difference between good and bad bacteria and when used will kill both. In effect, the bad bacteria dies off which rids someone of whatever ailment he had to warrant taking antibiotics in the first place, but in order to maintain further health, Probiotics will be needed to replace the good bacteria also killed.
- Sugar – sugar feeds bad bacteria causing them to multiply at a rate faster than good bacteria and causing an imbalance.
- Tap water – tap water contains chlorine which can kill good bacteria.
- GMO’s – GMO’s might not affect bad bacteria but it suppresses the growth of good bacteria, giving bad bacteria a head start in growth.
- Grain – grain can cause the accelerated depletion of good bacteria.
- Stress – emotional stress can also kill off good bacteria.
- Chemicals – such as those found in medications that use synthetic alternatives, similarly to antibiotics, cannot distinguish between good and bad bacteria and therefore kill off both.
Why Is The Digestive Tract So Important?
80% of the immune system originates from the digestive tract which is also the second largest neurological system in the body. The immune system holds key responsibility for the avoidance of illness by fighting off any foreign invaders, not just in the digestive tract, but n all parts of the body, when affected, the onset of many diseases can take place which includes fatigue, joint pain, psoriasis, problems with the thyroid and even more serious conditions such as cancer.
It is estimated that an average of 70 million Americans are affected with problems originating from the digestive tract every year, of which about 236,000 have fatal consequences. Digestive problems incur over $1 billion in medical bills every year.
Types Of Probiotics
There are many different strains of Probiotics but all will come from either of these two group classifications:
- Lactobacillus – the most common Probiotic form and can most often be found in fermented foods such as yogurt or cheese. Lactobacillus can aid people who might have difficulty digesting lactose.
- Bifidobacterium – can most often be found in dairy products and helps reduce the occurrence of irritable bowel syndrome.
Bifidobacterium Bifidum – this probiotic is found mainly in infants or in the large intestine and can support the gut by impeding harmful bacteria. It also supports the immune system and is effective towards the prevention of diarrhea.
Lactobacillus Acidophilus – treats gas and bloating and can also help make you more tolerant to lactose.
Bacillus Coagulans – improves the absorption of nutrients, reduces inflammation and the occurrence of arthritis.
Bifidobacterium Longum – effective towards the reduction of lead and heavy metals in the body, improves function of the liver, and reduces inflammation.
Lactobacillus Casei – improves the immune system and actively fights against infection.
Bifidobacterium Infantis – relieves the symptoms of IBS, diarrhea, and constipation.
Lactobacillus Brevis – improves immunity and is most likely to last the longest in the gut.
Bifidobacterium Breve – supports the production of good bacteria and eliminates bad bacteria.
Bacillus Subtilis – supports quicker immune response and stops the production of bad bacteria.
Lactobacillus Bulgaricus – specifically fights against bad bacteria in the gut and can survive digestive acid. Is also effective towards the neutralization of toxins and is a natural antibiotic.
Lactobacillus Rhamnosus – prevents urinary tract infections, respiratory infections. Promotes healthy skin, relieves anxiety and stress and is also known to survive strong digestive acid.
Saccharomyces Boulardii – a yeast Probiotic that works specifically by restoring balance in the small and large intestines. Also reduces inflammation and is an effective anti-microbial and ant-toxin.
The Benefits Of Probiotics
- Protection – Probiotics offers protection from foreign invaders or pathogens such as viruses or parasites.
- Absorption – Probiotics target mostly the gut and are effective tools in aiding the body towards better metabolic function.
- Function – with a better metabolism comes improved intestinal motility. Probiotics also support the production of bile and gastric secretions as well as filters whatever attempts to enter the blood stream and improves overall immune function.
- Modulation – Probiotics modulates the balance of good and bad bacteria in the body and especially in the gut. Bacterial balance is essential in maintaining digestive health.
- Production – Probiotics supports the production of various substances that are essential in maintaining overall health and wellbeing.
Furthermore, Probiotics has also been proven effective towards the following:
- Improvement of the immune system
- Treatment and avoidance of urinary tract infections
- Relieves conditions relating to the bowels
- Controls and prevents eczema (especially in children)
There are also various conditions that are currently under strenuous research studies and trials to prove that Probiotics are also effective in fighting against conditions such as flu and colds, kidney stones, colic, dental caries, gum disease, colitis, Crohn’s disease, liver disease, cancer, autism, elevated levels of cholesterol, ulcers, acne, and weight loss.
Just like everything else, taking something (anything) in excess can prove to have harmful effects and since Probiotics are mostly found in supplements and food, the FDA does not issue approval for specified dosages. It is therefore important to seek advice from your physician first on how much Probiotics you should take.
It is also recommended that advice from a physician is sought before actively taking any supplement or concentrating on a specific diet if you have any medical condition as the effects of and increased Probiotic intake in people with serious medical conditions may yield adverse reactions. Furthermore, contraindications with other medications or supplements is also a possibility.
Probiotics need to be taken gradually with a small dose slightly increased to the needed dosage day by day. If a large amount is taken suddenly, even if dosage is approved by a physician, Probiotics may cause gas, diarrhea, or bloating.
If you feel you may be having an allergic reaction to your Probiotic supplement, stop taking it immediately.
If you are purposely ingesting a diet of probiotic rich foods and you are having an allergic reaction, take note of what you just ate as you may be allergic to an element in that food and avoid it next time.
Choosing A Supplement
The pharmaceutical industry is a multi-million dollar industry with fierce competition in the provision and distribution of supplements to the public. Keep in mind that not all supplements yield results as some have binders, fillers, and synthetic alternatives in order to maximize production and increase a company’s financial gain. Follow these steps in choosing the best and right supplement for you:
- Reputation – read up on customer reviews, check websites, and ask around. Reputation is an important factor in determining the effectivity and safety of a supplement. Brands that are known to be reputable include Garden of Life, Axe Naturals, and Mega Food.
- Content – in order for probiotics to take effect in the body, CFU count needs to be between 15-100 billion.
- Coverage – a good Probiotic supplement will cover as many strains as possible, between 10-30. The more covered strains the better.
- Survival – make sure the stains included in your supplement will survive until they reach the gut to serve their purpose.
- Specifics – different strains of Probiotics may have different purposes, if you are looking to treat something specific then make sure your supplement contains the strain you need.
Probiotic Rich Foods
If you may be thinking about taking active steps towards further health and wellbeing and the advancement of your digestive health then you may want to try out these foods that are well-known to be rich in Probiotic content:
- Yogurt – remember that not all yogurts are the same. Some are made with high sugar content that can actually inhibit the effects of Probiotics. The best yogurts are those made from goats milk, are handmade, or specifically contain lactobacillus or acidophilus.
- Kefir – kefir is a fermented goat’s milk and grain combination which has high contents of lactobacilli and is also an effective anti-oxidant.
- Sauerkraut – made from fermented vegetables, though mostly cabbage, Sauerkraut has high contents of vitamins A, B, C, and E and is also rich in live cultures.
- Miso soup – miso soup is a traditional Japanese staple and is known to aid in digestion. It is also jam packed with nutrients and live cultures.
- Kimchi – similar to Sauerkraut, Kimchi is also a fermented cabbage but has additional spices. This Korean delicacy is known to be rich in A, B1, B2, and C as well as being a good source for calcium and iron.
- Kombucha Tea – Kombucha Tea is a fermented tea which has been used for centuries for its effects on the health of the digestive tract.
- Raw cheese – raw and aged cheese are high in Probiotic content.