Probiotics and Gut Health

 

Probiotics are live organisms that are friendly bacteria that normally live inside our large bowel or colon and are critical to our overall health.

Our body contains billions of beneficial bacteria and microorganisms that assist with digestion and combat the harmful bacterial that can promote disease.  The lack of nutrients in our diet, antibiotics, prolonged illness and aging can deplete the healthy bacteria from the gastrointestinal tract quicker than it can be replenished.

Probiotics help to improve and enhance the function of our gastrointestinal tract, which is the most prominent portion of our entire immune system.  These friendly bacteria assist in our digestion of food and provide nutrients to be absorbed as well. A good example is vitamin B-12, which is naturally produced in the colon but absorbed in the small intestine. However, if the friendly bacteria are not present, our bodies cannot make or absorb this essential nutrient. Vitamin B12 deficiency is linked to anemia and neurological abnormalities. 

But the cells in the digestive tract are also connected with the immune system, so Probiotics can protect against an overgrowth of unfriendly or nasty bacteria such as some strains of E.coli and Clostridium difficile.
           
E.Coli is a common bacteria found in human stool and especially in the manure of cows and sheep. However, there are several strains of E. Coli that are quite toxic to humans and can cause kidney failure and even death. Historic examples of E. Coli outbreaks are the “Jack In The Box” deaths a few years ago, the huge meat recall in 2008 as well as the removal of spinach from the marketplace. When manure from large feedlots (where the use of antibiotics is prevalent) is used on fields of lettuce and spinach, the bad E.Coli strains can contaminate the vegetables.

Another example is Clostridium difficile, a bacteria which became a problem in intensive care units in the 1980’s after people were put on triple (three different) antibiotics therapy. Some developed toxic megacolon and died. This was due to an overgrowth of Clostridium difficile since the antibiotics destroyed all other types of good bacteria, allowing the Clostridium difficile to propagate.

Unfortunately, it is also seen in the general community and is spread through food contamination and oral-fecal – just like the hepatitis A virus. But Probiotics are a healthy therapy for the prevention and treatment of Clostridium difficile, E.Coli and can even prevent Candida, since they dramatically reduce the overgrowth of yeast. Probiotics also stimulate the body’s own production of alpha-interferon, a key regulator our immune response.

Another group who would benefit from Probiotics are those on medications to shut down stomach acid (ie. Proton Pump Inhibitors or PPI’s). The acid protects from an overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria, so anyone routinely taking a medication that stops the production of stomach acid are more susceptible.

An additional example is a C-section baby who is not inoculated by the mother with normal body bacteria that a vaginal birth provides. These infants are more prone to allergies and autoimmune diseases, particularly if not breastfed – another source of normal healthy bacteria. Hence any health compromised person will benefit from one to three months a year of probiotics or even continuous.

For general health, Probiotics assist with gas, bloating, constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, diarrhea, skin infections, vaginal infections, parasites, tooth decay and many others.

We live in synergy or peaceful coexistence with the bacteria in our gut (large bowel) that helps to maintain our health. Probiotics are useful to the healthy person as they optimize our immune system to minimize allergies, autoimmune diseases, reduce risk from contaminated foods or “infectious” people or pets. I would prefer folks use probiotics to stay healthy rather than aggressive antibacterial soaps and extreme attention to sterility.

Additionally, the healthiest foods are from local organic growers. This dramatically reduces our risk of the nasty forms and strains of E. Coli, Clostridium difficile, samaniella, listeriosis and so on.

 

*While great care has been taken in organizing and presenting the material throughout this website, please note that it is provided for informational purposes only and should not be taken as Medical Advice.

 

*The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The products mentioned / sold are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or illness/

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