The Importance of Probiotics
Why You WANT Bacteria in Your Body
You might be surprised by how much bacteria can be found in your body. The human body contains about 10 trillion cells, but it is also home to 60 trillion bacteria. There are bacteria that are bad for the body, but there are also beneficial bacteria, also called normal flora. Probiotic supplements help to re-establish the normal flora to the gut. The body needs both the good and bad bacteria, and a lot of the bacteria reside in the gastrointestinal tract. The good bacteria are referred to as probiotics, and they can offer numerous benefits for the body. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) states that probiotics are, “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” Among the best benefits of supplementing with probiotics is their support for the digestive and the immune systems. They work to help the body digest and absorb numerous nutrients, and they may help to relieve various digestive disorders and cramps. In the immune system they help to fight potentially harmful pathogens.
Probiotics and Digestion
Probiotics are essential for complete and proper digestion, and when there is a reduction of probiotics numerous digestive disorders can occur. A lack of probiotics could also lead to poor food absorption. One of the best digestive benefits of probiotics is that they help the body to synthesize and digest B vitamins. B vitamins are important to the metabolism, and they are used to help breakdown carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. By helping to break these substances down B vitamins help to provide the body with energy. Probiotics also synthesize and help the body to absorb Vitamin K. Vitamin K helps to strengthen the bones, and it is also great for the nervous system. Vitamin K may also help to fight inflammation and it is an antioxidant. Probiotics also support the absorption of fatty acids and calcium, which is important, because the body frequently has trouble absorbing calcium.
Many people have trouble digesting dairy products. This is commonly known as lactose intolerance, and it can lead to stomach discomforts and pain. Probiotics help the body to produce the lactase enzyme, which can help the body to properly breakdown dairy products. This helps to reduce inflammation and other negative responses to dairy, and with the help of probiotics many people, who at one time could not consume dairy, can gradually introduce it into their diet. By supporting the digestive process probiotics may help with diarrhea, gas, constipation, bloating, irregularity, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Probiotics and the Immune System
Maintaining a healthy gut is essential to proper immune function. A number of health problems can be associated with an imbalance of bacteria, and it is believed that the best balance is approximately 85% good bacteria and 15% bad. Probiotics help to limit the amount of bad bacteria within the gastrointestinal tract. When bad bacteria gains too much power within the gut they can cause numerous health problems and ailments, so it is important to combat them with probiotics. It is believed that probiotics produce substances that can kill harmful bacteria, and they may also hinder the harmful bacteria’s ability to receive the proper nutrition within the gut. Probiotics may also help to reduce the bad bacteria’s ability to multiply. Probiotics also help the body to produce antibodies, and they can support the mucosal immune system. Probiotics may even offer relief for some allergies. They help the body to identify harmful agents versus non-harmful, and this helps to regulate the body’s response. These actions help the body to not overreact to non-harmful agents.
Types of Probiotics
There are a number of different kinds of probiotics, but two of the most beneficial are lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. Lactobacillus is commonly found in the digestive and urinary systems, and besides supplementation lactobacillus can be found in yogurt and other fermented foods. Numerous studies have been conducted on lactobacillus probiotics, and they found that lactobacillus can help to ease stomach pain in children with irritable bowel syndrome. It may also help to reduce the occurrence of traveler’s diarrhea by 47%, and it could help with lung infections. Bifidobacteria are generally found in the colon, and they can take up as much as 90% of the healthy bacteria within the colon. Studies done on bifidobacteria have shown that they may help with the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, like bloating, pain, and gas. They also help to support proper metabolic function.
When looking to buy probiotics it is important to realize that they all react in the body differently. Some supplements contain single probiotic strains, like Metagenics LactoFlamX, or many strains, like Fundamental Probiotic. It is essential to know how different strains work within the body, and here are some of the more popular strains and their functions within the body. Fundamental Earth also makes a chewable probiotic supplement called Fundamental Probiotic Chewable.
- Bifidobacterium Bifidum helps to synthesize B vitamins and Vitamin K, and this may help to reduce deficiencies in these nutrients. It also supports the immune system’s antibody response, and it helps to fight harmful pathogens. B. Bifidum may also help with allergies and diarrhea, including diarrhea associated with antibiotics.
- Bifidobacterium Breve may help with diarrhea, gas, and irritable bowel syndrome. B. Breve can help the body to fight e. coli, and it may also help with vaginal yeast infections. It also supports digestion by helping to produce lactic and acetic acid.
- Bifidobacterium Lactic may help to relieve both diarrhea and constipation. It may also help with colon inflammation by helping to eliminate toxins and waste.
- Bifidobacterium Longum helps to produce lactic acid. This increases the acidity in the gastrointestinal tract, and this makes it harder for the bad bacteria to survive. It may also help with inflammation, so it may be beneficial to those with inflammatory bowel diseases. B. Longum may also help to inhibit the development of some allergies.
- Lactobacillus Acidophilus also produces lactic acid, and it supports the immune system. A study showed that L. Acidophilus may reduce the occurrence of fever by as much as 48% and the need for antibiotics by as much as 68%. L. Acidophilus may also help fight candida albicans, which can cause yeast infections.
- Lactobacillus Bulgaricus helps to hinder harmful bacteria from attaching to the intestines. It may also help to create antibiotics that support the immune system. It also provides the body with lactase, so it may help with lactose intolerance.
- Lactobacillus Casei helps to fight e. coli, and it may also help with Crohn’s disease and diverticulitis. L. Casei may also help to relieve diarrhea and constipation.
- Lactobacillus Paracasei may help with the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, and studies have shown that it could help with pollen allergies. L. Paracasei is commonly found in baby formula, and it may help with infant diarrhea.
- Lactobacillus Plantarum may help with irritable bowel syndrome and soy allergies.
- Lactobacillus Rhamnosus may reduce the duration and frequency of diarrhea. It also supports the immune system by supporting the phagocytes, which help to fight pathogens. Studies show that in children it may reduce sick days and illnesses that require antibiotics.
- Lactobacillus Salivarius is found in the mouth and intestines. Studies suggest that it helps to fight bacteria that can create plaque on the teeth. L. Salivarius may also help to support proper immune function.
- Streptococcus Thermophilus may help with lactose intolerance, and it may also support the immune system by stimulating disease fighting cells.
There are some of the more popular and beneficial probiotic strains, and when looking for a probiotic supplement these strains should be sought, whether in supplements with a single strain or many strains.
Probiotics can also be supported within the body by prebiotics. There are two important sources for prebiotics, and these are inulin and oligosaccharides. These can be found in foods, like asparagus, leeks, barley, and oatmeal, or in supplements, like Metagenics Probioplex Intensive Care. Prebiotics aren’t digested by the human body, so they are readily available for the consumption of probiotics. Prebiotics provide nutrients for the probiotics, and this may help to maintain healthy probiotic activity. Prebiotics also help to support a healthy gastrointestinal environment that probiotics can thrive in.
Probiotics offer great support for the body. They are beneficial bacteria that the gut needs to function properly. Probiotics are a great way to support the digestive process, and they may help to relieve numerous digestive discomforts. Probiotics also support the immune system, and they help to fight potentially harmful bacteria and may even produce natural antibiotics. Probiotics are one of the easiest and quickest ways to support a healthy gut, which may lead to better digestion and a stronger immune system.