Find our why Probiotics are important for a healthy Digestive Tract.
Probiotics (Beneficial Intestinal Bacteria)
The answer to a healthy digestive tract!
The word probiotic is derived from the Greek meaning "for life." The human gastrointestinal tract is home to more than 400 types of resident probiotics, also known as "friendly" or beneficial bowel bacteria, gut microorganisms, or intestinal flora. These "friendly" microorganisms protect the GI tract and keep us healthy by protecting us from "unfriendly" microorganisms such as bacteria, parasites, viruses, yeasts, and fungi that cause disease. Probiotics also improve immune system function, and probiotics have many other health benefits.
Within every human being is a flourishing, living colony of approximately four pounds of these friendly, helpful probiotics. Most of the probiotics reside in the digestive tract although some probiotics are found elsewhere (i.e. the oral cavity, throat, etc.). Without a sufficient number of good probiotics, human life would cease to exist. Consequently, if humans fail to maintain a sufficient number of probiotics in the body, disease will occur.
It is extremely important for us to cultivate and maintain a healthy colony of good and helpful bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, one that is composed mainly of several strains of living lactic acid bacteria. Ideally, the colony of microflora should be composed of a ratio of 85% friendly bacteria to 15% harmful bacteria. The regular consumption of a high quality probiotic product that contains numerous strains of living lactic acid bacteria produce bacteria that will enhance a person's efforts to maintain a healthy colony of helpful bacteria in the digestive tract. They help prevent or reduce the effect of an infection caused by a pathogenic organism, as they are beneficial, nutritional and therapeutic.
Probiotics derived from the soil differ from those found in the digestive tract as these probiotics are very hardy, not destroyed by stomach acids and these probiotics are transitory in the digestive tract. While these helpful probiotics are present in the gut, they clear out receptor sites and assist in eliminating pathogenic organisms like yeast and fungi, bacteria and parasites. These probiotic bacteria help digest lactose, regulate peristalsis and bowel movements, and transform protein into free-form amino acids. In addition, probiotics produce enzymes that help break down and digest food.
During birth, probiotics from the mother's birth canal colonize the infant's gut, and then probiotics are provided by mother's milk. After infancy, resident probiotics are supplied to us by raw foods, lactic acid bacteria-fermented foods and probiotic supplements.
Transient or 'non-native' microorganisms are beneficial bacteria ingested from an outside source, usually from food grown in soil. These microbes are never made naturally by our bodies; they must be eaten. They are meant to go through the entire digestive process. The probiotics enter our bodies, colonize, perform many functions in a short period of time, and then the probiotics are either digested or eliminated by the body, never taking up permanent residence in the intestines. Some transient bacteria can function in a wide colonic pH range, and are resistant to the various acids the body uses as protective barriers against certain bacteria. Transient probiotics function in an environment with or without oxygen because they are both aerobic (oxygen loving) and anaerobic (oxygen hating).
Once colonized in the intestinal tract, these transient probiotics begin to normalize the colonic pH, which sets the stage for the balancing of the entire body. Theses probiotics are very hardy. The beneficial probiotics lay dormant until they go through the digestive process, implanting regardless of colonic condition. On the other hand resident probiotics have short shelf lives. These probiotics can be killed by stomach and other body acids, and these probiotics have a major problem implanting in the colon.
Yes, stomach acids may kill most resident strains of probiotics taken orally because they are supposed to reside in the colon and should not have to go through the stomach and digestive process. Also, Lactobacillus acidophilus can only function in an acid medium. Acidophilus literally means 'acid-loving'. Many of us have alkaline colons, so this is often a major factor in the failure of acidophilus products. The colon should ideally be slightly acidic to support the proliferation of lactobacillus bacteria. The process of fermentation as in Dr Ohhira's Probiotic OMX overcomes this limitation.
Scientific research makes it very clear that friendly probiotics are of vital necessity and immense benefit to humans. Probiotics not only collectively provide profound health benefits, such as vastly improved digestion and nutrient absorption, but probiotics also provide superior protection against the invasion of foreign pathogens and other infectious agents.
- improve digestion and nutrient absorption.
- dramatically improve human immune function.
- protect against invasion of foreign pathogens and other infectious agents and enhance the immune system's ability to fight infections;
- provide a main source of Vitamin K;
- lower cholesterol by metabolizing it;
- control bowel toxicity and decrease the risk of bowel cancer; and
- reduce gas production by non-disease-producing microorganisms.
- protect the body from the potentially devastating effects of accumulated toxins and carcinogenic substances.
- produce short chain fatty adds that are converted into energy.
- help protect against unhealthy cholesterol buildup that could lead to cardiovascular disease and even death.
Antibiotics, one of the wonder drugs of the 20th century, have helped overcome many diseases that previously may have resulted in death or disablement. However, we now know that antibiotics have limitations and their use and misuse has frequently led to ill health. There are a number of bacteria that have developed partial or total resistance to some antibiotics. Furthermore, broad-spectrum antibiotics don't distinguish between "bad" and "good" bacteria. They kill the probiotics along with the bad bacteria and this may be one of the worst side effects of using antibiotics. The pathogenic bacteria will invade the digestive tract and multiplies in high numbers. This disturbs the delicate balance between the good, beneficial probiotics and bad bacteria.
This delicate balance is also upset by the use of oral contraceptives, steroids, exposure to x-rays and radiation therapy, excessive ingestion of chlorinated water, the consumption of refined sugars and other refined foods, poor digestion, poor elimination of waste, stress, and an unhealthy diet.
There are negative effects resulting from loss of probiotics:
- Loss of probiotics lead to the overgrowth of detrimental, disease-causing bacteria & yeasts e.g. Candida albicans, Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, Clostridium dificile, Yersinia enterocolitica, etc
- Loss of probiotics contribute to digestive problems such as leaky gut syndrome, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, crohn's disease, diverticulitis etc
- Loss of probiotics allow specific detrimental bacteria to thrive that have been proven to cause severe health problems. E.g. E. Coli may lead to problems with insulin and blood sugar function. Yersinia enterocolitica, a pathogenic bacterium, produces substances that cause the over-production of the thyroid hormone. This detrimental bacterium, reportedly, contributes to autoimmune diseases.
- Loss Of probiotics lead to the production of endotoxins in the digestive tract, which contributes to conditions like lupus erythematosus, pancreatitis, psoriasis and other skin conditions
- Loss of probiotics allow entry of partially digested proteins to the bloodstream contributing to eczema, nervous system disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, and many other immune system disorders
Since the 19th century, when medical scientists first identified various links between indigestion and chronic illness, it has been recognized that what occurs inside the intestines has far-reaching effects in what happens in the body overall. These include the presence of beneficial or harmful bacteria. Normally, the relationship between the intestinal bacteria is one of eu-symbiosis, or eubiosis, which means there is a balanced and positive development on health. When the bad (pathogenic) intestinal bacteria overwhelm the good, such imbalance becomes a dys-symbiosis, or dysbiosis. Professor Elie Metchnikoff, PhD, the Russian bacteriologist who shared a Nobel prize for medical research in 1908, had popularized the concept of dysbiosis at the turn of the 20th century. Modern medicine today supports Dr. Metchnikoff's notion that dysbiosis influences the development of inflammatory diseases.
When inflammation is prevalent in the body, the bad bacteria outnumber the good bacteria (probiotics). This manifests as hyperacidity. An acid environment is ideal to foster increased growth of all pathogenic organisms including bacteria, parasites, yeast and fungus. A simple home Litmus paper test used on a regular basis will help you assess and adjust your acid/alkaline balance. Changes may also be made by selecting foods that are more alkaline than acid forming. See Acid & Alkaline forming Food List
A comprehensive home stool test from Great Smokies Lab can give you more insight into your digestive function and gut microbial ecology. The test offers a noninvasive differential diagnosis between Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), expanded bacteria, yeast and parasite detection, a reliable assessment of exocrine pancreatic function, and a noninvasive risk assessment for colorectal cancer. If bacteria, yeast or parasites are detected, they are grown out to establish which natural products will inhibit their growth. Levels of probiotics (beneficial bacteria) are also evaluated.