What Are Probiotics Good For?
The bacterial content of the intestine has a profound effect on and plays a major role in our health. Over 500 different bacterial species are living in your intestine. All 26 feet of the small intestine is alive with bacteria and the 9 feet of your large; at any given time there is over 100 trillion bacteria inside your body. We are literally alive with bacteria. Of these trillions of bacteria, there are some good guys and some bad guys.
Of the good bacteria, two are the best, Bifidobacterium longum, which live in the large intestine, and Lactobacillis acidophilus, which live in the small intestine. They are called probiotics which is Greek, “pro” meaning for and “biotics” meaning life. The ratio of good to bad bacteria is a critical measure in determining your overall health. The ideal balance is 85 percent good and 15 percent bad.
One of the jobs of good bacteria is to control the growth of bad bacteria by competing for nutrition and attachment sites in your colon. They take the proper carbohydrates and convert it to organic acids which keeps the pH of the gut slightly acidic and prevents the bad bacteria from invading.
Ensuring that you’re getting a regular supply of good bacteria in your digestive system is so important because an estimated 80 percent of your immune system is located there. So supporting your digestive health is essential to also supporting your immune system, which is your number one defense system against ALL disease.
Bad bacteria can cause minor or severe diseases if they are allowed to invade and destroy the good bacteria. Some bad types of bacteria include Candida, E. Coli, Shigella, Clostridium, Pseudomonas, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus. They can cause diarrhea, urinary tract problems, food poisoning, fatigue, nausea, fevers and many other major and minor illnesses, some are even becoming resistant to drug therapy. These are just a few of the many, many bacteria probiotics help to control.
Probiotics are not only responsible for helping to control bad bacteria and weight, they are involved with your whole well-being. From your moods to your epigenetics, probiotics can do so much for the body. Here are some of the things probiotics are good for.
Mineral absorption – Minerals such as calcium, zinc and iron can become bound to fiber. When they ferment, or eat, these fibers, the minerals are released for the body to use.
Environmental crowding – Probiotics make acids and like to live in an acidic environment.. They do even better when they are selectively fed. When selectively fed, they can multiply fast to crowd out and starve the bad bacteria.
Candida, infections, and other invaders – When you take a probiotic supplement or eat foods rich in probiotics, Candida and other bad bacteria are crowded out. Probiotics also target Candida and other invaders with “killer chemicals” called bacteriocins. Studies have shown probiotics to be both protective and therapeutic.
Diarrhea or “traveler’s trots” – The bad bacteria that cause these problems, such as Escherichia coli, can not thrive in the acidic environment produced by the good bacteria. Plus, the targeted “killer chemicals” help destroy them.
Cancer prevention – As the good bacteria feed and ferment fibers, they release short-chain fatty acids, such as butyric, acetic, lactic, and pyruvic. These various acids tie up many cancer-causing chemicals.
Colon cell health – Fatty acids produced by the bacteria source as a major source of energy for the colon cells. They also help regulate the proper function of these colon cells.
Colon cancer – The acid environment in the colon decreases the conversion of bile secretions into substances that can possibly encourage colon cancer.
Immune system help – They help produce chemicals that tell the immune system to power up. Increasing probiotics by supplementation can enhance the total immune response of the body and protect you from a number of diseases.
Constipation and ease of elimination – The increased weight and volume of the stool produces by the probiotics reduces constipation naturally. Low numbers of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli in the gut as we age could be the cause of many digestive problems.
Lowering cholesterol – Probiotics help limit cholesterol production in the liver. The acidic environment converts cholesterol to a form the body cannot reabsorb. In addition probiotics absorb cholesterol, thus blocking it from re-absorption. When the cells die, the cholesterol is eliminated.
Converting good nutrients for absorption – Isoflavones (natural antioxidants), such as genistein and diadzein from soy protein, have been shown to ease the passage into menopause. In addition, they help prevent osteoporosis, heart disease, and breast and prostate cancer. However, before they can be properly absorbed, they must first be acted upon the organisms in the intestine. Inadequate probiotics equal poor use of the isoflavones.
Antibiotic therapy – Common antibiotics are “broad spectrum,” which means they are not selective about their killing of bacteria. The good bacterial seem to be killed off first. This can result in overgrowth of bad bacteria. The result is nausea, diarrhea, or Candida invasion. You may not take antibiotics very often but that doesn’t matter. At least one-half (yes, that is 1/2) of the millions of pounds of antibiotics produced in North America each year end up in domestic animal feed. You can actually get antibiotic residues in much of the meat you consume. The good news is a probiotic supplement can keep the number of good bacteria high enough to aid in preventing the problem in the first place.
Children, recurrent ear infections and antibiotics – Many kids just seem to go through cycle after cycle of ear infections and antibiotics. Restoring the vital immune-enhancing probiotics can help prevent recurrent ear infections.
Other reported uses for the probiotics – Literature indicates probiotics are useful in: helping to make some of the B complex in the intestine, reducing canker sores and helping with numerous digestive problems. Pregnant and nursing mother and their children seem to benefit from supplementation.
As you can see there are many advantages to including probitics into your diet. Whole foods such as Greek yogurt, Jerusalem artichokes, kefir, sauerkraut, dark chocolate, micro-algae (ocean-based plants such as spirulina, chorella and blue-green algae), miso soup, natto, pickles, tempeh, kimchi, and kombucha tea and/or a high quality supplement are the ways to do it.
You can know what it is like to have comfortable digestion and better health. It is up to you. What we put into our bodies and the amount of exercise we get determines how well our bodies perform for us. Do your research and choose the right foods and supplement for you.
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