12. Probiotics - The Facts
Did you know?
Did you know that within your intestines billions of health-promoting bacteria are working hard to keep you healthy? These friendly bacteria are absolutely necessary for the health and function of your intestinal tract, which in turn has a tremendous impact on your overall health. The main types of friendly bacteria found in the gut are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium which play a crucial role in the gut’s ability to fight infection and support general digestion at the same time.
Unfortunately, normal ageing as well as many factors in our modern lifestyle can disrupt the balance of friendly bacteria and lead to poor health. Do any of these apply to you?
While an important ally in the war against infections, antibiotics are not without side effects. In addition to wiping out unhealthy bacteria, they also destroy friendly bacteria. Repeated use of antibiotics can contribute to increased susceptibility to infection and intestinal dysfunction.
Medications such as antacids
Medications that reduce stomach acid allow unhealthy bacteria to grow where they otherwise would not.
A high fat, high sugar diet
A poor diet provides the perfect environment for unhealthy bacteria to thrive.
Healthy amounts of fibre in the diet encourage the growth of beneficial organisms in the gut.
Travel abroad increases your risk of picking up intestinal parasites and bacteria that upset the natural bacterial balance.
Food and water contaminants (chlorine, pesticides, antibodies, etc)
We often unknowingly consume compounds that alter the natural bacterial balance.
Alcohol can kill off live bacteria and makes it difficult for beneficial bacteria to thrive.
Periods of stress can significantly affect bacterial balance in the gut.
Restoring balance in your gut
The term “probiotics” refers to friendly bacteria that, when consumed, beneficially affect the balance of bacteria in your intestines and have positive effects on your health. Probiotics can be taken in food or supplement form and include Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium.
Prebiotics are compounds derived from certain vegetable sources such as artichoke, chicory, leeks, onions and asparagus. These compounds are only partially digested and when consumed, the undigested part serves as food for the friendly bacteria. Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are a type of prebiotic that promote the growth of Bifidobacteria and some Lactobacillus species.
You can’t just eat yoghurt or take any L. acidophilus product from the health food shop to get the full benefits of probiotics. Why? Because not all probiotics are created equal. Many people who use probiotics straight off the supermarket or health food store shelf do not get the results they are after. To get the full benefits, you must use organisms that have proven beneficial effects in humans, proven stability and a proven safety record in humans. And that leaves only a few to choose from.
Scientifically studied, effective probiotic strains
There are many different species and strains of probiotic bacteria, most of which have very little research, if any, to prove that they actually have beneficial effects on human health. One example of a probiotic that has proven benefits to human health is the NCFM™ strain of Lactobacillus acidophilus.
Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM™
• The most extensively researched L. acidophilus, backed by over 60 scientific publications
• Proven to be safe and effective in animal and human testing and by over 25 years of commercial use
• Proven to adhere to cells of the intestinal tract. (Only a limited number of Lactobacilli strains have been shown to adhere).
Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07
• Bifidobacteria are one of the most abundant and important bacteria in humans as established by numerous research studies conducted over the past two decades
• Bifidobacteria comprise 95% of the total bacterial population in the gut of newborns and 25% in healthy adults, owing to their importance in intestinal health
• Bifidobacteria are an excellent complement to L. acidophilus due to the way they work together to improve overall intestinal health
• Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 is a scientifically proven strain of Bifidobacteria that provides numerous benefits to gut health.
• Saccharomyces boulardii is a non-pathogenic yeast that is recognised to have a probiotic effect used on its own or in combination with other probiotics
• Can be taken alongside antibiotics
• Proven to reach high concentrations rapidly in the gut
• Has been shown to be effective against numerous bowel issues, including yeast overgrowth and traveller’s diarrhoea.
Proven delivery and survival
An effective probiotic must reach and colonise the gastrointestinal tract; probiotics are of no use to the GI tract if they do not survive the digestive process. To do this, the bacteria must be able to tolerate bile, gastric juices and acids.
Guaranteed stability and quality
The viability of your probiotic should not be taken for granted – by the time the supplement is manufactured, shipped and finally consumed there may be very little probiotic activity and many products on the market claiming to be high quality do not stand up to scrutiny when tested. The manufacturer must ensure that the organisms stated on the label will be viable (alive and active) when you consume them.
High potency for clinical effectiveness
For optimal results, probiotics should be taken at a scientifically validated dose of live organisms. A probiotic supplement, in order to be effective, must supply billions of organisms per serving. The typical dosage in human studies is approximately 5 to 10 billion or more per day!
You can have the guts to be healthy
The more we learn, the more it becomes obvious that intestinal balance of bacteria is crucial to good health and vitality throughout life. With the guidance of your health care practitioner, you can achieve this by:
• Using pre and probiotics to help maintain the presence of friendly bacteria
• Taking high doses of pre and probiotics after a course of antibiotics to re-establish the friendly bacteria.
• To learn more about all the great things probiotics can do for you, see below!
What can probiotics do for you?
• Aid the digestive process by helping you digest lactose (milk sugar)
• Detoxify the colon and promote regular bowel movements
• Manufacture vitamins and essential fatty acids
• Produce natural anti-microbials that prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi
• Stimulate immune function
• Reduce hypersensitive reactions to food allergens
• Create beneficial acids, which promote a healthy intestinal pH and contribute to a healthy intestinal tract
• Help maintain healthy cholesterol levels
• Support the function of the intestinal tract to act as a barrier against entry of pathogenic organisms or toxins into the bloodstream
• Help to achieve vibrant health!
So,what makes a good probiotic?
• Scientifically studied, effective probiotic strains
• Proven delivery and survival in the gut
• Guaranteed stability and quality
• High potency for clinical effectiveness
• Clinically effective probiotic formulas.
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