Health Benefits of Probiotics

Whether you are looking to heal a serious illness or simply wanting to enjoy greater health and well being, I trust that the information provided here will be of value to you.

It has been my experience that the inclusion of probiotics in a balanced diet, along with adequate exercise and rest, makes a profound difference in health and well being.

So, are you ready to get started?

What are probiotics anyway?

The definition of Probiotics as offered by the World Health Organization is “Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”.

Okay, but what exactly does that mean?

It means that introducing healthy bacteria into the digestive track helps restore a proper balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. As this happens, the digestive system begins to function properly and is better able to absorb nutrition from food and send it throughout the body.

Are probiotics something new?

No, probiotics have been a part of traditional cultures for centuries in the forms of fermented foods and dairy. It is only in the West, that the awareness of the healing power of probiotics has been slow to evolve.

Who can benefit from probiotics?

Let’s see, anyone who:

  • Suffers from digestive disorders such as IBS, Crohns and Colitis
  • Suffers from immunity disorders such as Candidiasis, Cronic Fatigue Syndrome, Cancer and even AIDS
  • Experiences frequent skin rashes, headaches, muscle or joint aches, and PMS
  • Experiences bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Has a history of drug use, including antibiotics and illegal drugs
  • Has low energy and sex drive
  • Is pregnant or taking birth control medication
  • Wants to achieve a more optimal body weight
  • Wants to slow the aging process
  • Wants to experience greater health and well being

Read More: Best Probiotic for Gut Health and Weight Loss

How can probiotics help with such a wide variety of conditions?

The digestive system plays a vital role in the overall health of the body.

It is the digestive system that is responsible for supplying nutrients to the brain and other organs, as well for efficiently eliminating toxins.

Did you know that 85% of the immune system is located in the gut?

If the digestive system isn’t sufficiently “taking out the trash”, the colon gets overloaded with disease causing toxins. The immunity system weakens, and the body becomes more susceptible to disease.

When introduced into the digestive tract, beneficial microorganisms such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus immediately begin assisting with the breakdown of food and the production of valuable nutrients such as Vitamin B and Vitamin K.

Not only do these magnificent microorganisms help the digestive system eliminate toxins and waste more efficiently, they also ensure that better nutrients are sent to body and brain, including much needed neurotransmitters such as serotonin.

In addition to helping supply the body with more nutrition, these beneficial microflora actively compete with harmful pathogens for both nutrients and “intestinal real estate”.

If a healthy supply of microflora exists in the gut, harmful pathogens will be forced to exit the body through the proper elimination channel.

What are the different types of probiotics?

Beneficial microorganism can be classified into two main categories: colonizing and transient.

  • Colonizing bacteria naturally adhere to the intestinal walls, thus providing continual benefit to the body.
  • Transient bacteria, though also beneficial, do not adhere, but rather move through the intestinal tract and out through the elimination channel.

There are many important species of colonizing bacteria belonging to the Lactobacillus andBifidobacterium genera .

Lactobacillus bulgarius and Steptococcusthermophilus are prominent species of transient bacteria.

What is the best way to get probiotics in my diet?

Beneficial microflora can be introduced into the diet through cultured dairy products, fermented foods as well as through powerful probiotic supplements.

Read More: List of Fermented Foods for Gut Health

How Bacteria Boost the Immune System

Bacteria has been our friend for thousands of years and is crucial in our survival!

Scientists have long known that certain types of bacteria boost the immune system. Now, Loyola University Health System researchers have discovered how bacteria perform this essential task.

Senior author Katherine L. Knight, PhD. and colleagues report their discovery in a featured article in the June 15, 2010, issue of the Journal of Immunology, now available online. Knight is professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

The human body is teeming with bacteria. In each person, there are about 10 times as many bacterial cells as human cells. Bacteria live on skin, in the respiratory tract and throughout the digestive tract. The digestive tract alone is home to between 500 and 1,000 bacterial species.

While some bacteria cause infections, most species are harmless or perform beneficial functions, such as aiding digestion. These beneficial bugs are called commensal bacteria. One of the most important functions of commensal bacteria is boosting the immune system. Studies by other researchers have found that mice raised in sterile, germ-free environments have poorly developed immune systems. But until now, scientists have not known the mechanism by which bacteria help the immune system.

Knight’s lab studied the spores from rod-shaped bacteria called Bacillus, found in the digestive tract. (A
spore consists of the DNA of a bacterium, encased in a shell. Bacteria form spores during times of stress, and re-emerge when conditions improve.) Researchers found that when they exposed immune system cells called B lymphocytes to bacterial spores, the B cells began dividing and reproducing.

Researchers further found that molecules on the surfaces of the spores bound to molecules on the surfaces of B cells. This binding is what activated the B cells to divide and multiply. B cells are one of the key components of the immune system. They produce antibodies that fight harmful viruses and bacteria. The findings suggest the possibility that some day, bacterial spores could be used to treat people with weakened or undeveloped immune systems, such as newborns, the elderly and patients undergoing bone marrow transplants. In cancer patients, bacterial spores perhaps could boost the immune system to fight tumors. However, Knight cautioned that it would take years of research and clinical trials to prove whether such treatments were safe and effective.
Knight’s lab at Loyola is supported by two research grants, totaling $3.3 million, from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Members of her research group are studying how intestinal microbes interact with the host and promote the development of the immune system. Knight also is principal investigator of a $963,000 NIAID training grant in experimental immunology that supports research stipends, supplies and travel to professional meetings for PhD. students in the basic sciences at Loyola.

Read More: Best Probiotic Supplements

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