What is a probiotic? What makes a good probiotic supplement? And, what role do probiotics play in digestive health?
Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria that include several species of lactobacillis such as acidophilus and bifidophilus. They aid in the digestion of proteins and the absorption of nutrients, especially the B vitamins. They have antifungal and detoxifying properties, and are very important to the immune system.
The intestinal flora of a healthy human colon should have a thriving colony of about 85 percent lactobacilli and 15 percent coliform bateria (Balch). Unfortunately, modern diets, lifestyles and pollution have these numbers reversed in a vast majority of the human population.
An imbalance in the intestinal flora can cause consumed food to be improperly digested, which then leads to a toxic buildup of fecal matter and gas in the colon. If not quickly moved through the bowel, these toxins then leak into the blood and other areas of the body. Toxins in the blood and organs present themselves as various symptoms, and if not caught in the beginning, lead to a domino, chain reaction of health problems.
To support the balance of friendly bacteria in the intestinal system, supplements called probiotics are highly beneficial. However, not all probiotics are created equal. It’s important to know and have confidence in the manufacturing practices of the brand of probiotic you use.
A probiotic supplement needs to have viable, living strains of bacteria in order for it to be of benefit. 1 billion organisms per gram are advisable. Also, a non-dairy formula may be best for some people with food allergies, as dairy is a common food allergen.
At high temperatures, probiotics lose their viability as the friendly bacteria die. Thus, it’s important to keep probiotics in a cool, dry place such as in a refrigerator.
Antibiotics are especially damaging to friendly bacteria as they not only kill harmful bacteria, but they destroy the beneficial ones as well. So, it is very important to support and rebuild the balance of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal system after antibiotics are finished. If balance is not regained, digestion problems may ensue. This then leads to toxicity in the body and other health problems.
It may be hard to acknowledge that some bacteria are our “friends”, and that we need to nurture and protect them. However, it is vital that we do.
From time to time, we need to add more bacteria “friends” to our intestinal party to keep the “thugs” from taking over and stealing our health. On these occasions, a high quality probiotic supplement can get our digestive system back in check and stop a health crisis in it’s tracks.
If you no longer have to ask the question, “what is a probiotic?” you’re one step closer to having a whole host of happy “friends”.