Necessary Bowel Flora
What are PROBIOTICS?
Our intestinal tract is home to trillions of bacteria comprising a score of beneficial species. These "friendly" micro-organisms are called probiotics, which means "for life."
The study of probiotics started at the beginning of the 20th century when Nobel laureate Dr Elie Metchnikoff studied peasants who seemed to have longer lifespans. He noted that their diets included fermented dairy products and proposed a link between longer lives and ingested bacteria in yoghurt.
Probiotic bacteria attach themselves to the intestinal wall and produce a mildly acidic environment (primarily with lactic acid) that curbs the growth of harmful, disease-causing bacterial species. This directly reduces rates of intestinal infections because other bacteria are repelled from the intestinal walls. Some strains also stimulate positive effects on the body's immune functions that can reduce overall infection rates.
Another important benefit of probiotics is that they assist the body to get more nutrition out of the food we eat. Probiotic microflora are essential in nutrient assimilation, producing many important enzymes, and in some cases actually manufacturing vitamins in our intestines or increasing the bioavailability of minerals. They play an important role in the digestion of many sugars, and at adequate levels keep many Candida and other fungal infections from developing by maintaining a healthy ecology in the gut.
Probiotics also prevent allergy development; the Lactobacillus casei strain is especially proven in this benefit (Kalliomäki et al., 2001) .
Many strains help to improve general immunity, not just the immunity of the gut from unwanted pathogens. The effect is strongest for Lactobacillus reuteri (Tubelius, Stan & Zacharisson, 2005).
Probiotic levels often drop to pre-supplement levels within two weeks of stopping supplements.
Why are PROBIOTICS necessary for good health?
✔ Improve digestion by nourishing the cells of the intestine and increasing the bioavailability of many vitamins and minerals (e.g., vitamins K and B12, folic acid, and calcium)
✔ Act as digestive enzymes by producing enzymes that enhance the breakdown of many foods, including proteins, carbohydrates, and disaccharides like lactose and aid in enhancing absorption; we recommend probiotics rather than enzymes since enzymes have many more benefits
✔ Resist colonization by pathogenic microbes and reduce absorption of bacteria and fungi from the gut. Reduce fermentation, which reduces excess gas and flatulence
✔ Improve the immune system by the strengthening non-specific defenses against infection, such as the secretion of IgA in mucous membranes and enhancing intestinal defenses, which improves resistance to gastroenteritis and food poisoning; in some cases, balance immunity away from auto-immune issues and towards healthy immune defenses
✔ Reduce food allergies by reducing allergen (antigen) movement into bloodstream; studies show up to a 50% reduction of allergies in infants given probiotics in the first year of life (Kalliomäki et al., 2001)
✔ Reduce acne, rashes, and other skin problems
✔ Assist in lactose digestion and reduce lactose intolerance
✔ Have an anti-colon cancer effect by binding mutagens and reducing carcinogen levels
✔ Increase excretion of bile salts, allowing better elimination from the liver, and alleviates the risk of gallstones by removing cholesterol and some sex hormones from the bowel
✔ Reduce urinary and genital infections by adhering to urinary and vaginal tract cells, preventing colonization by unhealthy bacteria and yeast
Probiotics are decreased by:
✔ Antibiotics, which kill them, and are frequently given without probiotic follow-up
✔ Mothers who do not breastfeed in order to establish probiotics in the infant
✔ C-section deliveries
✔ Chlorinated tap water
✔ Many common prescription drug treatments (e.g., cortisone, laxatives, oral contraceptives, radiation, chemotherapy)
See our Supplementary Pages for more probiotics: BabyBiotic 0+yrs® Powder and Prodophilus® (an enteric-coated, vegetarian-source capsule with 10 billion colony-forming units) from BioCeuticals. Also see our Super Health Foods pages for a Lactobacillus reuteri supplement.
The Main Probiotic Bacteria Species
There are many types of probiotics species, all of which have a very different actions and effects. It is important to know which types are contained in the probiotic formula you give to your clients. The following gives a summary.
Lactobacillus acidophilus: The best known of the friendly bacteria. Important in maintaining a healthy, balanced flora in the small intestine. Enhances digestion of milk sugar (lactose) and aids in the production of vitamins and enzymes that help digest and absorb many nutrients. Lactobacillus acidophilus stimulates peristalsis, produces DL-lactic acid, which is bacteriostatic to pathogens (including yeast); produces antibiotic substances antagonistic to toxic bacteria; relieves GI distress caused by bloating, colitis, constipation, diarrhea, enteritis, flatulence, and itching. The DDS-1 strain is the most potent of the acidophilus sub-species.
Lactobacillus brevis: Enhances the body's immune defense by increasing the natural ability to produce alpha interferon, natural killer cell activity, and enzyme activity.
Lactobacillus casei: Highly prolific and among the most potent of all Lactobacillus strains. Produces the bacteriostatic lactic acid. Digests a wide range of carbohydrates. Improves inflammatory bowel disease. This strain has been shown in two studies to reduce the rate of development of atopic allergy by approximately half in supplemented children and breastfeeding mothers. Studies also show that antibiotic courses increase the rate of atopic illness (Kalliomäki et al., 2001).
Lactobacillus plantarum: Has high digestive capacity, particularly for the breakdown of proteins. Because of its ability to eliminate protein wastes from the intestine before they enter the bloodstream, it detoxifies. It also produces lactic acid and acts as a natural antibiotic (as acidophilin).
Lactobacillus reuteri: Scandinavian studies have shown this strain to be the premier immune support agent. At doses of 10 billion per day, it reduces infection rates in school children by half (Weizman, Asli & Alsheikh, 2005). Similar statistically-proven, double-blind cross-over trials in office and factory settings show work absences related to infections to be reduced by approximately half (Tubelius, Stan & Zacharisson, 2005). This probiotic supplement, along with L. rhamnosus and other probiotics may be the simplest way to boost overall immunity. L. reuteri also strongly inhibits H. pylori and assists recovery of the gut following H. pylori antibiotic therapy (Francavilla et al., 2008).
Lactobacillus rhamnosus: Produces L-(+) lactic acid and is ten times more prolific than L. acidophilus. It acidifies and protects the small intestines against toxins, creates the anaerobic condition conducive to successful colonization of bifidobacteria, and prevents and inhibits growth of uro-pathogens, including Candida, E. coli, Haemophilus vaginalis and Trichomonas vaginalis.
Laboratory studies have shown that L. rhamnosus boosts white blood cell activity. L. rhamnosus increases the phagocytosis of foreign microbes and other foreign matter. L. rhamnosus also helps the body resist microbial infections by significantly increasing levels of immunoglobulins and directly activating macrophages.
Lactobacillus salivarius: Effective in reducing symptoms of bowel toxemia. Completes the breakdown of undigested proteins, renders putrefying pathogens inert, and has beneficial effects on food poisoning. Normalizes intestinal pH and reduces malabsorption and bowel transit time. Produces B vitamins and vitamin K, enzymes, and lactic acid, and aids in the production of lactase. It increases pancreatic function and stimulates the formation of circulating antibodies. It strongly inhibits H. pylori growth.
Bifidobacterium bifidum: Predominant organisms in the stool of breast-fed infants, it has a lactic acid protection benefit. Synthesises B1, B2, B6, K, and assists lactose digestion.
Bifidobacterium longum: Produces L-(+) lactic acid and acetic acid and produces formic acid from fermentable carbohydrates. These reduce putrefaction, balance the acidity of the small and large intestines, inhibit toxic bacteria and ammonia production, produce B vitamins and corrects vitamin K deficiency, and reestablish healthy vaginal flora.
Bifidobacterium infantis: These bacteria are proven to reduce IBS. Sufferers experience fewer overall symptoms and less abdominal pain and discomfort after two months' use. It assists in the digestion of disaccharides such as lactose. It is the predominate probiotic of breast-fed infants.
Streptococcus thermophilus: Produces lactic acid and lactase. It is also used as a yoghurt start-up culture.
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