If you aren’t familiar with friendly flora or probiotics (good-for-you bacteria) then learning about the part they play in helping you regain and/or maintain your health could be a big piece of the puzzle you have been missing. Probiotics support and benefit the body in so many ways, plus when they are out of balance or in short supply in your system, all sorts of havoc and disease can result, so read on to find out more about these very small, but important, microorganisms….
Probiotics: The Good-For-You Bacteria
The intestinal tract is home to literally trillions of bacteria comprising hundreds of beneficial species—these so called “friendly” microorganisms are called probiotics, meaning “for life.” They provide a variety of benefits to us, including keeping harmful, pathogenic species in check, and maintaining balance in the intestinal terrain. They are also essential to nutrient assimilation, producing many important enzymes, and increasing the bio-availability of vitamins, particularly the Bs and K, fatty acids, lactase (which helps in the digestion of milk products), and calcium. Probiotics work to regulate hormones, de-activate various cancer-causing compounds, strengthen the immune system, neutralize toxins, normalize bowel movements, control cholesterol, counter allergies and skin problems, and prevent yeast and fungal infections. Wow! No wonder their name means “for life!”
When the intestine contains the correct balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria, it is described as being in a state of symbiosis. Alternately, dysbiosis (“dys-symbiosis”) occurs when this balance is upset and absorption and assimilation of nutrients is impaired. This imbalance can result from a deficiency of good bacteria or an overgrowth of harmful organisms. In either case, organisms that are not usually predominant in the intestines, such as unfriendly bacteria, yeast/candida, and protozoa, can actually induce dis-ease by altering nutrition patterns in the body.
Symptoms that the flora in your gastro-intestinal tract are out of balance could be bloating, belching, or a sense of fullness after meals, indigestion, diarrhea or constipation, nausea or diarrhea after taking supplements, iron deficiency, and chronic intestinal infections, including parasites and yeast. Other signs may be an “itchy” anus, weak or cracked finger nails, dilated capillaries in the check and nose, skin irritations such as rosacea, undigested food in the stool, fatigue, and skin that bruises easily.
Friendly “tummy bugs” could be key to a longer and healthier life
Research has overwhelmingly shown that probiotics are an essential link in maintaining or regaining health and well-being. Most healthcare practitioners recommend taking a probiotic supplement on a regular basis, and if you’re doing any kind of liver or colon cleansing you need to be sure you always replace all the friendly flora that will be flushed away during the cleanse. Also, taking birth control pills can upset the delicate balance of your inner terrain, and using prescription antibiotics unfortunately kills “the good,” as well as “the bad and the ugly” bacteria, so a probiotic supplement (taken away from the prescription or at the end of the dosing period) should always be used in those cases, as well.
There are numerous strains and brands of probiotics available these days, and some also contain soil-based organisms (SBOs). Until modern times there was no need to artificially introduce these SBOs, since they were a natural part of our ancestors’ diet. They were plentiful in the soil in which our forefathers grew their food and would automatically be ingested when carrots and other produce were consumed right out of the ground. But now, with the emphasis on food hygiene and the nutrient-depleted soil used for most farming, many health practitioners are becoming convinced it’s important to somehow add these SBOs back into our diet.
SBOs not only help us assimilate nutrients from our food, but also to eliminate putrefying matter and pathogenic organisms so that the immune system is relieved and allowed to work more efficiently. They also stimulate the body to produce large reservoirs of non-specific antibodies, which the immune system can then use to overcome any number of dis-eases. SBOs positively influence the body’s own production of alpha-interferon, a key regulator of our immune response; they also stimulate the production of lactoferrin, an iron-building protein that helps make sure the iron we absorb from food is bio-available and transferred to wherever it’s needed in the body.
Garden of Life’s Primal Defense™, was the first probiotic on the market to include SBOs, as well as other powerful health-inducing ingredients. It was the first formula I started taking and is still considered one of the premier probiotics today. You can get Garden of Life’s Primal Defense™ and Nutrition Now’s PB-8, one of the most popular products on the market, on-line (and at discount prices) at Vitacost and iHerb.com, as well as a number of other places. I actually make a point of changing between several brands periodically because some formulas offer strains others don’t, and different strains impart different benefits. I also don’t want my system to get so acclimated to one formula that it possibly loses some of its effectiveness.
If you are new to Vitacost, shop through the link on my webpage, and spend a certain amount (I believe it’s $25), you will get a $10 coupon to use. And if you plan on shopping at Vitacost after that, you should sign up for a free account at eBates.com , if you don’t already have one. That way you can use the eBates portal to shop at Vitacost and earn cash back on future purchases. Plus, eBates also gives a gift card or some other “prize” when you place your first order of $25 or more. How does it get any better than that?!
iHerb.com is another favorite discount place to shop (use code CJG192 if you are a new customer and spend more than $40 and you will get $10 off (and an extra 5% off on orders over $60), plus can choose something from their free samples and take advantage of their wonderful trial offer section. Shipping is free on orders of $20 or more.
(For more information on probiotics go to http://www.usprobiotics.org/.)
They are also finding that probiotics can be a big help with food allergies:
One such study involves researchers in Finland who discovered that probiotics prevent permeability defects of the intestine, which reduces the absorption of allergy-causing antigens in the digestive tract. Infants who exhibited an allergy to cow’s milk with atopic eczema were given whey formula either with or without the addition of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG probiotic. The team measured intestinal inflammation before and after the dietary intervention. At the end of the 1-month study, those who received the probiotic improved substantially, leading the researchers to this conclusion: “These results suggest that probiotic bacteria may promote endogenous barrier mechanisms in patients with atopic dermatitis and food allergy, and by alleviating intestinal inflammation, may act as a useful tool in the treatment of food allergy.”
And here’s an interesting and fascinating article about how they are finding a correlation between the specific types of bacteria individuals have in their gut and how their brains function:
And speaking of specific types of bacteria, did you know that saccharomyces boulardii is especially good for helping with alleviating food poisoning, especially when you take it when you suspect you’ve eaten something bad or first start to feel yucky? This strain of bacteria is specific to the stomach so it can often nip things in the bud when taken in time.
But don’t forget that supplements aren’t the only way to make sure your body has plenty of friendly flora to work with. Naturally fermented foods, such as miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha, are all great ways to insure your system is well-supplied with probiotics. In fact, most of the reading and research I’ve done lately says that this is really the way to go when it comes to good bacteria, because a serving of one of these foods has many more times the good bacteria than what you would get in a supplement. What’s nice is there are so many first-rate fermented foods out there these days. I love some of the kombucha flavors available now, and the local health food store carries a line of sauerkraut (WildBrine™) that includes a red beet/red cabbage version that has a hint of pear for an antioxidant-rich kraut that is my new favorite.
If you’d like to know more about fermented foods, and possibly even how to make your own, check out Cultures For Health. They have all the information and starters you will need, plus offer several free e-books and lots of recipes.
Also, here’s a fascinating read that contains information about a variety of things, including using fermented foods to up your supply of good bacteria, a possible link between lack of probiotics and rheumatoid arthritis, and statements such as these:
The trillions of bacteria cohabiting inside you are not restricted to your intestinal tract. They also colonize your skin—both on the outside and deeper beneath the surface layers—your mouth, saliva and more.
For example, six different tribes of beneficial bacteria have been found to reside in the crook of your elbow, where they moisturize your skin by processing raw fats…..
According to an article published this past June in the journal Biological Psychiatry,12 the authors suggest that even severe and chronic mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), might be eliminated through the use of certain probiotics.
Bacteria have also been identified as major players in the distribution of your body fat, metabolism, and the regulation of your mood and memory. Mounting research actually shows that problems in your gut can directly impact your mental health, leading to issues like anxiety and depression. They also help educate your immune cells—telling them which pathogens to fight off and which ones to leave alone.
Read the full article here:
Related Self-help Health post:
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Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.