What Are Probiotics?
The word biotic is from the Greek biotikos meaning: of or relating to life. We often use the word anti-biotic. Which means, “against life.” Antibiotics kill bacteria but not all bacteria should be killed. In fact, “healthy bacteria” are a health building essential to life, vitality and wellbeing. Healthy bacteria in the soil feed nutrients through the roots of plants to help them grow and flourish, providing us with wholesome foods. Healthy bacteria in the human body protect and feed us in the same way, by helping with digestion and assimilation of essential nutrients. That’s right! Every healthy person has within their intestines a colony of bacteria nearly as large as their liver. It is estimated that a healthy person maintains more healthy bacteria than the total number of cells making up their body! The human body has approximately 13 trillion cells; a healthy bacterial colonization of the inside and outside of the human body is estimated at 14 trillion microbes of various types. These healthy colonies do the job of keeping unhealthy bacteria in check, and more.
What Do The Healthy Bacteria In Our Body Do?
• Acidify the intestinal tract to make it uninhabitable by unhealthy bacteria, thereby supporting the immune system.
• Assist in the breakdown of carbohydrates and digestion of milk products
• Provide for better food assimilation and toxin release by the large intestine.
• Healthy bacteria in the intestines can even create for you some vitamins you might not get otherwise!
These healthy bacteria have become known as PROBIOTICS.
Why Have Probiotics Become So Important Today?
Antibiotic use is likely the reason the health “industry” has recently been paying attention to the value of healthy bacteria. That’s because healthy bacteria silently served their healthful purpose until antibiotics came along. Antibiotics kill healthy bacteria, upsetting Nature’s balance within us and lead to disorder and disease. That right! When antibiotics are used, the healthy bacteria are killed right along with the unhealthy ones. We need to do something proactive to make sure the healthy bacteria can live in our environment serving Nature’s purpose. If for any reason we take antibiotics, then we need to re-establish the healthy bacteria of our body. In fact, the same urgency which the “health industry” applies to antibiotics needs to be applied to probiotics.
What Are Good and Bad Bacteria and What Affects Their Balance?
A good healthy colon can be compared to natural prairie with many different wild plants all-growing in natural ecological balance. This is bowel ecology. How does your “garden” grow? Within your GI tract there are few bacteria in your stomach due to the extreme acids. Most of your bacteria live much further down in your colon where the acidity is much lower. It is good to maintain a balance between the “good” and the “bad” bacteria. A healthy person has about 85% good and 15% bad bacteria. The good bacteria keep the “bad” bacteria at bay. The word eubiosis means balanced while dysbiosis means unbalanced. Antibiotics, NSAIDs, aging, or illness can upset this balance.
What Bacterial Strains Should Your Probiotic Contain?
The strains that have been researched the most frequently are the lactobacillus and bifodobacterium strains and saccharomyces. Lactobacillus (commonly found in yogurt) has been found to crowd out “bad” bacteria and aid in controlling diarrhea conditions. It also controls the growth h. pylori in the stomach which can produce ulcers. Bifido has been shown to reduce gut permeability or “leaky gut”. Saccharomyces is known to help control Candida overgrowth and help with Crohn’s disease. All 3 strains improve the immune system. A probiotic that contains these three organisms can be of great value.
What Are the Hidden Facts About Probiotics?
Research shows that probiotics are very helpful in maintaining a healthy gut flora. However, research also shows that the bacteria in probiotics will never set up permanent colonies in your gut. If you stop taking probiotics, stool samples after 30 days show that the helpful bacteria have diminished to their original numbers in your gut. If you also provide non-digestible carbohydrate fibers (ex: inulin fibers) during that time you will allow your resident bacteria to grow and multiply into new colonies to crowd out the “bad” bacteria.
What’s The Bottom Line about Probiotics?
Probiotics are helpful for both children and adults. Studies show that they help with digestion, immunity, leaky gut and many other issues by helping to create a balance between “good” and “bad” bacteria. They must be taken on a regular basis. If steps are not taken to restore your normal flora like eating foods that provide “nesting” material for new resident bacterial colonies, then their benefit will last only about 30 days after you stop taking them. Oh, and by the way, yogurt does not contain all 3 strains of the most beneficial probiotic organisms.