Probiotics; Healthy Digestion = Healthy Immune System

probioticProbiotics are preparations of live micro-organisms (usually including lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, streptococci, and some yeasts such as Saccharomyces, and moulds) which are believed to be beneficial to health by restoring microbial balance in the intestine.

Probiotics are the “friendly” bacteria that benefit the colon and therefore the immune system. They are produced for human consumption most often in dairy products containing two types of microbes, lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. More recently, probiotic dietary supplements are becoming popular as a way to balance and promote a healthy disgestive system.

Probiotic foods are those that involve fermentation in their production; including miso, pickles, sauerkraut and fermented dairy products such as yogurt and kefir.

PreBiotics

A new category called prebiotics is also now becoming familiar. Prebiotics refer mainly to certain foods, and occasionally to certain food products, that support probiotics by enhancing their survivability.

Prebiotics foods include artichokes, leeks, onions, oats, and whole grain breads and cereals, fructooligo-saccharides, or fruit derived, digestion resistant sugars (FOS), also in honey, and galacto-oligo-saccharides, which are the sugars in galactose-containing foods like goats milk.

Research History

Investigations in the use of probiotics as dietary supplements are recent, however, the use of fermented foods containing probiotics predates the use of refrigeration.  The supplementation of natural microflora has been dated as early as the late nineteenth century.

Even then, some physicians attributed diseases of aging to the build up of waste products (or, putrefaction) in the colon, and the leakage of related toxins into the bloodstream, called autointoxication.

The Lactobacilli bacteria, found in yogurt, was the first identified probiotic. In the 1920s and 1930s, many doctors recommended acidophilus milk, containing the Lactobacillus acidophilus, to treat constipation and diarrhea, which was effective for many patients.

In the 1950s, researchers were studying L. acidophilus intended to counteract the digestive side effects of taking antibiotics, known at that time to cause an imbalance of the intestinal microflora by killing of the beneficial along with the pathogenic bacteria.

Benefits

Probiotic foods and dietary supplements have been recommended as treatments for a variety of diseases and disorders, ranging from problems confined to the digestive tract to general health issues.

In particular, probiotic foods and dietary supplements are claimed to prevent intestinal disease by allowing the production of vitamins, particularly B3, B6, and folic acid, causing anti-tumor activity, supporting detoxification, enhancing the immune system by allowing the absorption of anti-oxidants from food, and supporting a cleaner liver and bloodstream.

Supplementation

The primary challenge for probiotic supplements is viability. In order to successfully colonize in the colon, the microbes must first survive the acidity of the stomach and the digestive processes of the small intestine.

However, a probiotic which has been shown to have an increased chance of survivability and colonization is Lactobacillus GG (LGG).

People taking these supplements should do so with water, and not juice, since it is thought to stimulate the secretion of stomach acids that will decrease the survivability of the friendly bacteria.

Precautions

As probiotic products include ordinary dairy products, most people do not think of them as medications and see no need to consult a health professional. People on prescription medications or with compromised immune systems however, are advised to consult with their physician before using probiotic dietary supplements, as they may influence the bulk and frequency of bowel movements, increasing the elimination rate of some medications and necessitating a dose adjustment.

Although probiotics are friendly bacteria, some food allergies may cause someone to have a digestive tract that is sensitive to miso, or other fermented foods the milk powders that may be present in some products.

Reliability

Product reliability is a concern since supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as the demonstrated difficulty of maintaining live probiotics, in or out of the body.

One study of the microorganisms in 25 dairy products and 30 powdered products found that more than one third of these products contained no living microorganisms, and only 13% of the products contained all of the bacteria types listed on the label.

The following guidelines are suggested for evaluating the effectiveness of probiotic products:

  • Number of viable organisms. A number lower than 1 billion organisms per gram is considered inadequate for a therapeutic dosage.
  • Type of organism. Single-strain products are considered more useful than multi-strain products on the grounds that the different bacteria in multi-strain products may compete with each other.
  • Processing method. Products that have been put through a centrifuge or ultra-filtration system are thought to have fewer viable bacteria.
  • Additives. Products that do not have hormones or other chemicals added to stimulate the growth of the bacteria are considered more effective.
  • Form. Powdered supplements are considered preferable to liquids. Encapsulated powders are second-best, except in the case of LGG capsules.
  • Storage. Probiotic products that are not refrigerated are thought to lose much of their effectiveness.

Most practitioners recommending probiotics encourage the use of loose powdered, refrigerated dietary supplements of friendly bacteria or LGG capsules.

Side Effects

The side effects of treatment with probiotics may include diarrhea, bloating, gas, or constipation. These side effects are attributed to the cleansing of toxins from the body and may last for some days. Practitioners recommend lowering the supplement dosage to reduce the side effects, or pretreating with fiber as tolerated or advised by a healthcare professional.

To Your Health!

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29 Responses to “Probiotics; Healthy Digestion = Healthy Immune System”

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  1. Great article thanks! Just like to mention that the yoghurt can be traced back to approximately 5,500 BC in Bulgaria :)

  2. Luanne says:

    Thank you for the information. I suffer from a digestive disease, hereditary pancreatitis, and have had help from this type of supplementation, enzymes and aloe vera juice as well.

  3. mitch says:

    how many times should i intake probiotics drink (e.g. yakult)???

  4. Craig Maltby says:

    Hi Vicki – Appreciated your post on digestive health. Saw your Tweet on it as well and am putting it on my blog (it’s the last one listed in the latest post).

    Best regards, Craig.

    • Vicki says:

      Hi Craig!

      Thanks so much for the link back here, I will have to check your blog and add it to my site as well!

      Wishing You Continued Health and Happiness,
      Vicki

  5. Elba Lovette says:

    Extremely interesting blog post thanks for writing it I just added your blog to my bookmarks and will be back :) By the way this is off topic but I really like your sites layout.

  6. Alex Zorach says:

    I’m glad you mention sauerkraut and pickles–these are often-overlooked sources of active cultures. However…not every pickle has active cultures…ones made in more traditional ways do but a lot of the stuff you buy in a bottle at the store has little value (and often, lots of added high-fructose corn syrup or other refined sugar sweeteners)…so be vigilant!

    For those with spicey tastes, Kimchi and Indian Chutney are other good pickle-like sources of active cultures! I’ve read very good things about Kimchi, although be careful because it does have a high salt content.

    Pu-erh tea (a tea that is often aged) also contains active bacterial and mold cultures, although I haven’t read much about whether much is left from these cultures after steeping the tea with hot water.

  7. No name says:

    nutrition-now.com is very informative. The article is very professionally written. I enjoy reading nutrition-now.com every day.

  8. Savannah says:

    Awesome blog!

    I thought about starting my own blog too but I’m just too lazy so, I guess I’ll just have to keep checking yours out!
    LOL!

  9. Marc Shaw says:

    Hey, I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog!…..I”ll be checking in on a regularly now….Keep up the good work!

    – Marc Shaw

  10. Bill Duprey says:

    I read with interest your article on probiotics and prebiotics.

    I educate professionals, retailers and consumers everyday about prebiotic fibers, specifically Prebiotin (www.prebiotin.com)

    I would like to address the difference between probiotics and prebiotics and why consumers should consider supplementing their diet with a full-spectrum prebiotic product.

    Probiotics are living organisms which are susceptible to heat, cold, age, etc. This does not take into account transportation time or how long the actual products have been sitting on the shelf.

    Next, let us consider the environment the probiotics are introduced into.

    Total area of mucosal surface of human digestive tract: 300 meters squared.

    The bacterial count present in GI tract is as follows:
    • Stomach: less than 1,000 per gram of stomach contents
    • Small intestine: 10,000-10,000,000 per gram of intestinal content
    • Colon: 10,000,000,000 – 1,000,000,000,000 (10 billion – 1 trillion) per gram of colon content

    In addition, the acid content in the stomach clearly decimates much of the probiotic.

    What types of probiotic bacteria are being introduced into the body? There are approximately 25,000 human genes. There are more than 1 million bacterial genes. The digestive system hosts over 2,000 bacterial species.

    Looking at some of the above facts consider the whole scenario: a digestive system hosting over 2,000 bacterial species, covering a surface area equivalent to 300 meters squared, the small intestine contains up to 10 million bacteria per gram of content, and the colon contains up to 1 trillion bacteria per gram of content.

    Let us take a probiotic supplement which contains 4 strains of bacteria with an initial production count of 10 million live cultures. (I need to mention that the 10 million live cultures actually means “live” at time of production)

    The question then arises: which good bacteria, at which live culture counts, under which processing condition, refrigeration (or non-refrigeration; heat) conditions, in which food products should one consume?

    Prebiotic fibers, such as full-spectrum Prebiotin, are not living organisms. Prebiotin is soluble fiber, is not affected by heat or cold, does not go bad or lose potency. Prebiotic fibers pass through the stomach unchanged and nourished all of the good bacteria whether you consume a prebiotic supplement or not.

    Among the many research backed benefits:
    1. Dramatic Increase in beneficial bacteria–Such as Bifidobacter and Lactobacillus.
    2. Improved bowel regularity – softer and more regular BM.
    3. Increased absorption of calcium and magnesium.
    4. Increased, stronger bone density–This is particularly true for young adults, but has also been observed in postmenopausal women.
    5. Enhanced immune factors in the colon.
    6. Reduced colon polyp and colon cancer causing factors.
    7. Reduced triglycerides level.
    8. Reduced allergies and asthma.
    9. Reduced appetite and increased sensation of satiety–A benefit to weight control.
    10. Decreased population of bad colon bacteria, Clostridium difficile, salmonella, and others.

    For readers interested in more information, please visit the website listed above. There you can view links to research and clinical studies.

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

    Have a healthy day!

    Bill Duprey

  11. RobD says:

    Super-Duper site! I am loving it!! Will come back again – taking your feeds too now, Thanks.

  12. REIT says:

    Your blog is so informative … ..I just bookmarked you….keep up the good work!!!! :)

  13. JimmyBean says:

    I don’t know If I said it already but …I’m so glad I found this site…Keep up the good work I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog. Thanks, :)

    A definite great read..Jim Bean

  14. smilinggreenmom says:

    Great article! As you know…we love love love our VIdazorb chewable probiotics!!! :) Tweet ya later alligator! LOL

  15. Bill Bartmann says:

    This blog rocks! I gotta say, that I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, :)

    A definite great read..
    Bill-Bartmann

    • Vicki says:

      Thank you Bill, what a nice complement! I am glad you find the information useful. I have had lots of frustration watching so many friends and family fall ill due to preventable disease when I know so much of it is a lack of understanding the basics of nutrition and the right supplementation.

      So thanks again, it means a lot to hear such a kind review!
      Viki

  16. Anonymous says:

    Great site…keep up the good work.

  17. Vicki says:

    Thank you Leondra, I appreciate your confidence and referrals!

    Wishing you every happiness and complete health!
    Vicki

  18. Leondra says:

    Thanks again Vicki…. I will send to my contact list of client Awesome

  19. Leondra says:

    A massage therapist i like giving my clients good info to keep them healthy in combination with great water. I am glad i folow on twitter.

  20. William Clinton Stockton says:

    Great information. I will look around your web site further.

    Concerning prebiotics, I try to have steel cut oatmeal for breakfast two to four times a week. It also keeps the urging for snacks down. So I guess doing the oatmeal thing is good.

    I am so glad I say you on Twitter.

    I am going to spend some serious time on your page and glean all the info I can.

    I will also look at your products.

    Be Blessed and may you have great health.
    Clint

  21. Vicki says:

    Thank you Greta, I appreciate your kudos! :)

  22. Greta says:

    This is a great post, I have been researching probiotics and learned a lot from your post.

  23. Anna M says:

    Great article!I’m a huge fan of probiotics, and yes it is very important that the probiotic supplements you take actually reach the part of the digestive tract where they do the most benefit.
    Thanks again for the great info!
    – Anna M

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