One widely used definition, developed by the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, is that probiotics are “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”
Your intestinal tract contains over 100 trillion bacteria-both good and bad. The friendly or healthy bacteria are vital to proper development of the immune system. These tiny organisms help restore health and balance to the intestinal tract which are beneficial to:
1. protect against microorganisms that could cause disease
2. to aid in the digestion and absorption of food and nutrients
Creating and maintaining a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria can best be achieved by using probiotics. Most often, the bacteria come from two groups, Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium. Within each group, there are different species (for example, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidus), and within each species, different strains (or varieties). A few common probiotics, such as Saccharomyces boulardii, are yeasts, which are different from bacteria.
The good bacteria live, colonize, thrive, and reproduce in your gastrointestinal tract, beginning just below the stomach, and form a complex and enormously diverse ecosystem. These resident bacteria synthesize the B-complex vitamins, crowd out yeast and parasites, help regulate blood cholesterol levels, and produce antibiotic compounds.
Each person’s mix of bacteria varies. Interactions between a person and the microorganisms in his body, and among the microorganisms themselves, can be crucial to the person’s health and well-being. When the bacteria in your gut are abundant and healthy, they promote good health, prevent illness, and protect your well-being. Their health is literally your health. Maintaining a healthy intestinal tract is essential because your GI tract contains 80% of the cells that make immune antibodies.
The Bacterial Balancing Act
This bacterial “balancing act” can be thrown off in two major ways:
1. By antibiotics, when they kill friendly bacteria in the gut along with unfriendly bacteria.
2.”Unfriendly” microorganisms such as disease-causing bacteria, yeasts, fungi, and parasites can also upset the balance.
When the delicate balance of healthy bacteria in your system is compromised, undesirable bacteria is allowed to multiply, and unfriendly organisms such as disease-causing bacteria, yeasts, and fungi set up shop in your digestive tract. When the ratio of good bacteria to bad is lowered, problems begin to arise such as excessive gas, bloating, constipation, intestinal toxicity, and poor absorption of nutrients.
Probiotics can be found in some foods like yogurt, olives, kim chee, sauerkraut, buttermilk, aged cheeses, miso, tempeh, cultured dairy products, some juices, and soy beverages. However, the most effective way to guarantee that you increase and maintain the amount of healthy bacteria in your system is to take a high-quality probiotic supplement. When searching for a probiotic product, it is essential to find one that contains enough healthy bacteria, as well as a delivery system that enables the good bacteria to survive harsh stomach acids and reach your gut alive, intact, and viable.
1. Guaranteeing the supplement contains the specific probiotic strains and species that have a known pedigree and are backed by research.
In choosing a probiotic, claims of efficacy should be made only for products that have been tested in studies and found to be efficacious. Therefore, consumers should look for products that list a specific strain of proven bacteria clearly on the label.
The strains that seem to be considered in the most important category include the Key ingredients: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium Bifidum, Bifidobacterium longum, and Bifidobacterium lactis.
2. Ensure the probiotics can be kept alive and viable until they are delivered to the site of action.
For a probiotics supplement to be effective, it must be delivered alive to its site of action. Most capsules, tablets, powders, liquids, foods, and pills, even if enteric-coated, deliver little if any viable probiotics where they can colonize.
These delivery systems are unable to keep these bacteria alive and transport them to the site of action where they can be utilized by the intestinal tract. What this simply means is that even if your system receives the good bacteria, it’s most often dead and in a state that isn’t beneficial or usable to your system.
Ultimately,you’re taking a chance by using a probiotic that can’t guarantee its delivery system. In the long run, you may not be receiving the health benefits that you’re hoping and paying for.
Every day you make choices and are exposed to environmental stressors and that compromise and diminish these good bacteria-junk foods, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, pesticides, antibiotics, chlorinated drinking water, and other toxins. These factors, along with your own lifestyle choices including inadequate nutrition, alcohol, and stress can all wreak havoc in the gastrointestinal tract by destroying healthy bacteria in your gut. Consider taking supplementation of a quality product containing effective, live, pedigree proven probiotics.
As always If you are thinking about using a probiotic product, consult your health care provider first. No therapy should be used in place of conventional medical care or to delay seeking that care.