Repeatedly demonstrated to aid gastrointestinal health in the human body, acidophilus and other probiotics are key elements of our overall health and well being. This is particularly true when we consider that many of our common-day chronic ailments begin in the digestive system. It is also true when we consider the sheer number of people that suffer from poor gastrointestinal health, a condition which lowers the overall level of good bacteria in the body.
Before we go into the multi-fold benefits of taking probiotics, let’s define what probiotics are. The Joint FAO/WHO Working Group defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.”
In plain English, probiotics are a type of living bacteria that actually benefit your health when taken in the appropriate amounts. This friendly bacteria, located in the gastrointestinal tract, comes in a variety of forms. With more than 400 different bacteria living in the human gastrointestinal tract, the most common forms of intestinal probiotics are L. acidophilus and Bifidobacteria bifidum.
These bacteria act as balancing agents for non-friendly, pathogenic, gut bacteria such as the Candida fungus or E. coli. When the “good-guys” are not present enough, a number of bacteria-related health problems such as digestive upset, headaches, sluggishness, irritability, candidiasis (an overgrowth of the bacteria Candida albicans), and even anxiety can ensue.
Lactobacillus acidophilus is, quite possibly, the strongest of our probiotic fighters. Studies show that L. acidophilus actually creates a natural form of antibiotics in the body . This increases our ability to defend against the pathogens in the food we eat, the air we breath, and the things we come in contact with. Stress, unhealthy lifestyles, and most importantly, unhealthy acidic diets, destroy our natural amounts of probiotics. In this sense, it is a great idea to add a probiotic supplement to your diet.
The Health Benefits of Probiotics
The following health benefits are associated with the intake of daily servings of probiotics .
- Enhanced immune system response
- Alleviates negative affects of taking many types of antibiotics
- Calms colon irritation following surgery
- Helps to support healthy skin in youth
- Increased ability to digest food
- Therapeutic for upper respiratory complaints
- Reduces lactose intolerance
- Reduces incidence of yeast infections, vaginitis and candidiasis
- Increases ability to assimilate nutrients from food
- Alleviates many common digestive disorders such as constipation, diarrhea and IBS
- Acts as a remedy for bad breath (halitosis)
- Increases ability to synthesize vitamin B
- Increases ability to absorb calcium
Who Should Take Probiotics?
Although candidiasis sufferers require supplemental probiotics to replenish beneficial GI bacteria and rebuild their immune system, they aren’t the only ones that need it. Everyone who is exposed to a toxic environment, eats processed food, or suffers from a high-stress lifestyle needs probiotics.
This is especially true if you are taking antibiotics, or if you have ever been on a course of particularly strong antibiotics, have frequent colds, or exhibit any symptoms of candida related problems. Despite their value, antibiotics have been overused to the point that there are at least two bacteria that have developed complete resistance to antibiotics and antibiotics kill “bad” bacteria as well as beneficial bacteria. Beneficial bacteria perform many helpful functions; without them, that work doesn’t get done.
Studies on Probiotics
- Studies show that probiotics improve the bio-availability of many important nutrients in the body such as zinc, iron, phosphorus, all of the B vitamins, calcium, copper, and magnesium. 
- A study on the probiotic strain B. infantis showed powerful abilities to normalize bowel function in patients suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). 
- Probiotics have been shown to significantly lower the rate of diarrhea and diaper rash in babies’ consuming infant probiotics. 
- Active bacteria cultures, such as acidophilus, have been shown to aid in reducing intolerance to lactose found in dairy products. 
- Several studies on probiotics have indicated that through the process of regulating intestinal transit time of fecal matter, probiotics can dramatically reduce constipation in the elderly. 
- Other reports indicate that some forms of probiotics, can aid in promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon, significantly lowering the conversion of bile in the colon into carcinogens.
- Some studies demonstrate that probiotics enhance overall immunity through a process of regulating lymphocytes and antibodies in the body. 
Where Can I Buy High-Quality Probiotics?
Many common leafy greens are also excellent sources of probiotics. The best greens for increasing probiotics include chlorella, wheat grass, and spirulina. The advantage of getting these disease-fighting bacteria from green sources is that these foods are also extremely high in immune system-stimulating vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. They also aid in detoxing the body.
A daily probiotic supplement is a reliable way to get consistent probiotic support. Currently, I recommend and use two different products: Latero-Flora™ which is the B.O.D. Bacillus Laterosporus strain and a more advanced formula, Floratrex™, which contains a blend of 23 high-quality strains. Either of these are a solid choice and I’ve been extremely satisfied with them both.
Regardless of what you opt for, be sure to avoid probiotic supplements that have sugar or glucose in the ingredient list. Both sugar and glucose actually slow the growth of healthy lactobacilli. We can also get moderate levels of probiotics from a healthy diet rich in cultured organic products like yogurt, goat’s cheese, kefir and buttermilk.
by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
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