Home > Separating myths from the facts about Probiotics
Separating myths from the facts about Probiotics
by Dave Foreman
False! Simply put, there are two types of bacteria found in/on the human body: pathogens (disease causing) and probiotics (life promoting/friendly). In the large and small intestine, probiotics (also known as flora or beneficial bacteria) and pathogens wage war(s) against each by either improving (probiotics) or destroying (pathogens) your health. Without enough friendly bacteria in your intestinal tract, you will leave yourself open to major health issues.
True or False: Probiotics are just for digesting my foods.
False! Probiotic bacteria provide an abundance of benefits to your body besides assisting in digestion including the following:
• Probiotics assist in the production and absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream
• They form a barrier against harmful bacteria that can cause diarrhea
• They manufacture food for your intestinal cells so they can function optimally
• Probiotics help prevent harmful bacteria from causing damage
• And they prevent symptoms caused by the use of antibiotics, which can destroy the majority of the friendly bacteria in the intestinal tract
What does this mean for your health?
Considering that probiotics affect the digestion and absorption of nutrients into the body, I believe they have an impact on ALL health conditions. Having said this, there are specific health conditions that will benefit greatly by having a healthy balance of Probiotics. Here is a brief list:
• Enhanced Immune Function
o Support overall immune function
o Inhibition of cancer
o Prevention and elimination of yeast infections (acute/chronic)
o Protect against harmful bacteria, yeast or fungi growth
o Protection against HPV
• Improved Cardiovascular Health
o Lower cholesterol
o Blood pressure
• Protection against Food Poisoning
o E. coli as an example
• Improvement in Digestion and Digestive Tract Disorders
o Protect against stomach ulcers
• Inhibits H. pylori
o Crohn's disease
o Decrease lactose intolerance
o Ulcerative colitis
o Canker sores
o GERD/acid reflux
• Antibiotic induced
• Improve skin appearance
• Decreased Food Allergies
o Food allergies are linked to conditions such as:
• Hay Fever
Maybe this list isn't brief, but it does drive home the far-ranging importance of taking a probiotic. Too often we look to modern medicine to be the answer, yet sometimes just by supporting the body's natural function - with a probiotic in this case - our condition can resolve itself. Probiotics aren't a cure-all, but if taken on a regular basis they can be a huge step in the right direction.
True or False: Probiotics are just for sick people
False!!!Probiotics not only provide benefits for those who have one of the health issues above, but also help prevent these health issues as well as others. Remember, probiotics can have a huge impact on ALL health issues because of their digestive support alone. Another good reasons to supplement with probiotics on a daily basis is age. It is estimated that our level of probiotics declines 1000 times by the time we reach 65.
Here are a few more reasons why you might benefit from a daily probiotic:Use of drugs i.e. Antibiotics, steroids, NSAIDS (ibuprofen, aspirin, etc.) antacids, hormones and gastric acid inhibitors o Antibiotics (both medicinal and in our food supply) are the #1 culprit in the overgrowth of HARMFUL pathogens in the gastrointestinal tract. (Everyone taking an antibiotic or not eating organic meats should be taking a Probiotic. I use All-Flora).
• Drinking chlorinated water (most community water supplies contain chlorine).
• Radiation and chemotherapy.
• A diet high in fat and low in fiber.
• Travel abroad (especially to developing countries)
• Dining out.
• Cigarettes and alcohol use.
• Drinking contaminated water.
• Eating foods that are not organically grown.
• Virtually all meat and chicken and dairy that you eat (other than organic) are loaded with antibiotics, which destroy the beneficial bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract.
As you can see, there are many lifestyle choices we make which will impact the amount of beneficial bacteria we have in our digestive tract. It is for these reasons that I personally use and recommend that we ALL use a probiotic on a daily basis.
True or False: I can get sufficient amounts of probiotics from my foods - like yogurt.
False! There are foods that contain beneficial bacteria, but, regretfully, most have very low amounts and/or only contain one strain of bacteria (usually L. acidophilus). The body naturally "contains" multiple strains/types of beneficial bacteria and therefore it is necessary to supplement with multiple strains. Including probiotics in your daily diet is not harmful and can be supportive, but to truly get the health benefits you need it is necessary to take a supplement.
True or False: All probiotics are created equal.
False! We could spend days discussing this statement alone. There are several factors that come into play when deciding on which probiotic is right for you. Here are a few examples:
1. High Potency Formula
Try a formulation which contains billions of live probiotic cells per serving. Having billions of cells per serving will help assure that you're getting the benefits you seek. This is especially important in formulations that do not bypass stomach acid. Your stomach acid is there by design: It helps with digesting your food and protects your body from yeast, fungus, parasites and disease causing bacteria that might be in or on your food. If you are using a probiotic that will bypass your stomach acid (enteric coated, pearl or Bio-tract®), then this should not be a concern. Chewables, powders and most capsules do not bypass stomach acid and therefore require more bacteria to be effective.
2. Multiple strains of probiotics
Not all good bacteria have the same function in the body. This makes it necessary to supplement with a well balanced, well researched formula to achieve optimal health. Some bacteria work in the upper part of your digestive system, while others work towards the end (bottom - no pun intended) of your digestive system.
Many people have allergies and/or sensitivities to dairy. If you have a sensitivity to dairy and your probiotic contains dairy, it may contribute to or cause your health issue to be worse.
4. Blended in a fiber base
This fiber - usually inulin - is usually called a "prebiotic" or food for the probiotics to live on. My analogy here is it is like buying grass seed with starter fertilizer mixed in. Without proper nutrition for your friendly bacteria, you will not get the desired effects from your probiotic.
Genetically Modified Organisms are not what our body is designed to consume. I believe that we should put the body back in balance the way God created it.
As mentioned above, there are too many potential health challenges which can arise from low levels of probiotics in your intestines. Many of the contributing factors leading to this decline are virtually impossible to eliminate from our daily lives. Without addressing the decline daily and at all ages, we are opening the door to poor health. Probiotics might be small, but they pack a powerful punch towards fighting off disease. Whether you are young in age or young at heart, a quality Probiotic should be part of your daily routine.