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Digestive HealthGeneral HealthImmune System

Probiotics for Better Health and Immune System Support

fit woman with arrows making a circle on tummy

Probiotics for a Healthy Tummy

Probiotic in Greek means “for life” which is appropriate considering the essential role probiotics play in keeping us alive and well.

The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host,” populate the gut, skin, oral and vaginal mucosa, and other areas of the body.

There’s been a lot mentioned about probiotics in recent years. Knowing what’s factual can be confusing when the idea of intentionally supplementing with beneficial bacteria may sound strange—especially if you are unfamiliar with how many bacteria occur naturally on and in our bodies. Yet, our bodies are host billions of bacteria and yeast, most of which are absolutely critical and required to keep us alive.

The Importance of Supplementing with Probiotics

Why then, do we need to supplement with probiotics if our body already contains billions of beneficial bacteria?

In short: modern lifestyle.

Between processed foods, antibiotics, modern farming practices, impure water, and environmental toxins, the natural probiotics in our bodies are becoming overwhelmed and under effective.

“The root of all disease begins in the gut.” ~Hippocrates, founder of modern medicine

Researchers are only beginning to understand just how true that really is as more studies show a connection between insufficient probiotic flora in the gut and higher levels of disease.

In the research article, Probiotics: facts and myths, the following research conclusions are discussed regarding the potential benefits of probiotics:

Help with digestion, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, diarrhea, and other inflammatory gut issues. “The beneficial effect of probiotics in reducing the incidence or duration of certain diarrheal illnesses is perhaps the most substantiated health claim to date.”1,2,3 Health care practitioners across the board have recognized the important role probiotics play in gastrointestinal health. Whether it’s maintaining a healthy gut or repairing an inflamed gut, probiotics are an essential part of keeping your tummy happy and healthy.

Strengthen the immune system by “promoting the endogenous host defense systems … and enhancing the activity of natural killer cells.”4,5,6,7 It is believed that as much as 70% of the immune system comes from the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Probiotic bacteria help to bolster the immune system, so that people with strong, healthy gut bacteria tend to get sick less.* Likewise, people with inadequate beneficial gut flora may find that they tend to be more prone to becoming ill.

Prevent or reduce asthma and allergies, suggesting that the bacteria babies are exposed to during delivery directly affects the strength of their immune system. The researchers in this study say, “the use of probiotics in pregnancy appears to have the effect of reducing the development of atopic disease in childhood.”8 They go on to report, “A clinical study has shown that giving L. rhamnosus GG [a strain of probiotic] to pregnant women for 4 weeks before delivery, and then to the newborn infant, caused a significant reduction in the occurrence of early atopic disease.”9

Protect against genitourinary tract infections. “Many women with genitourinary tract infection may be asymptomatic, and yet be at risk of severe complications.”1,10 Probiotics have been shown to benefit the genitourinary system and can help protect against vaginal infections, both bacterial and from yeast. In fact, “studies have shown that local instillation of lactobacilli resulted in marked inhibition of Escherichia coli growth, as well as a reduction in both the severity of inflammation and the risk of recurrent urinary tract infection. Furthermore, oral intake of probiotic lactobacilli has been shown to reduce the risk of urinary tract infection, bacterial vaginosis and candidiasis … and may help protect against sexually transmitted infections [by bolstering the immune system].”10,11

Clearly, probiotics play a significant role in our health. Thus, a lack of adequate probiotic flora may significantly contribute to disease.

It is especially important to supplement with probiotics if you:

  • have ever been on antibiotics
  • eat a diet high in refined, processed foods
  • find yourself more susceptible to getting sick than you used to
  • feel your digestive function “just isn’t right”
  • have a history of leaky gut syndrome, Candida overgrowth, or other dysbiosis
  • drink tap water (which contains chlorine and other chemicals that can kill probiotic bacteria)

What to Look for in a Probiotic

While understanding the importance of supplementing with probiotics is easy, finding a high quality probiotic formula isn’t quite so simple.

As word about probiotics spread, there has been a quick influx of probiotic supplements available on the market. Buyer beware, however, as all probiotics are not created equal.

A great probiotic blend should have several key factors:

  • High potency – to ensure that sufficient amounts of probiotics are being delivered to the gut
  • Diversity of organisms – meaning that the strains of probiotics in the formula are varied, providing the gut with an array of beneficial bacteria
  • Organic (of the earth) – minimally processed or as close to the natural order without alteration from humans
  • Sturdiness – to ensure the probiotics can make it through the acidic environment of the stomach, through the small intestine and into the large intestine, where they thrive.

Probiotic Supplements

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Probiotic Pak Quick Melt from Trace Minerals ResearchProbiotic Pak Quick Melt from Trace Minerals Research may be added to food or right into your mouth! Tastes great, dissolves quickly, and contains 8 different strains of friendly bacteria to support immunity, digestion, and oral health.[/one-half-first]

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Vitalzym 10 50 probioticsProbiotic 10/50 by Vitälzӯm contains 50 billion CFU of 10 of the most clinically researched probiotic strains in the world, plus 2 prebiotics. Delayed release allows probiotics to benefit small intestine activity.[/one-half][clear]

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Digest Gold plus Probiotics from EnzymedicaDigest Gold + Probiotics from Enzymedica advanced enzyme formula breaks down carbohydrates, fats, fiber and protein.* Probiotics provide additional digestive support by boosting enzyme production and promoting regularity.*[/one-half-first]

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ProBio from EnzymedicaPro-Bio guaranteed potency probiotics contain bacterial strains shown to promote a healthy microflora balance in the intestinal tract, aiding digestion and supporting immune function.* [/one-half][clear]


References

  1. Reid G, Jass J, Sebulsky MT, McCormick JK. Potential uses of probiotics in clinical practice. Clin Microbiol Rev 2003; 16: 658–672.
  2. Phuapradit P, Varavithya W, Vathanophas K et al. Reduction of rotavirus infection in children receiving bifidobacteria-supplemented formula. J Med Assoc Thai 1999; 82(suppl 1): S43–S48.
  3. Sullivan A, Nord CE. Probiotics and gastrointestinal diseases. J Intern Med 2005; 257: 78–92.
  4. Holzapfel WH, Haberer P, Geisen R, Bjorkroth J, Schillinger U. Taxonomy and important features of probiotic microorganisms in food and nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr 2001; 73: 365S–373S.
  5. Gill HS, Rutherfurd KJ, Cross ML, Gopal PK. Enhancement of immunity in the elderly by dietary supplementation with the probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis HN019. Am J Clin Nutr 2001; 74: 833–839.
  6. Sheih YH, Chiang BL, Wang LH, Liao CK, Gill HS. Systemic immunity-enhancing effects in healthy subjects following dietary consumption of the lactic acid bacterium Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001. J Am Coll Nutr 2001; 20: 149–156.
  7. 
Gill HS, Cross ML, Rutherfurd KJ, Gopal PK. Dietary probiotic supplementation to enhance cellular immunity in the elderly. Br J Biomed Sci 2001; 58: 94–96.
  8. Benn CS, Thorsen P, Jensen JS et al. Maternal vaginal microflora during pregnancy and the risk of asthma hospitalization and use of antiasthma medication in early childhood. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2002; 110: 72–77.
  9. Kalliomaki M, Salminen S, Arvilommi H, Kero P, Koskinen P, Isolauri E. Probiotics in primary prevention of atopic disease: a randomised placebo-controlled trial. Lancet 2001; 357: 1076–1079.
  10. Reid G, Devillard E. Probiotics for mother and child. J Clin Gastroenterol 2004; 38: S94–S101.
  11. Reid G, Jass J, Sebulsky MT, McCormick JK. Potential uses of probiotics in clinical practice. Clin Microbiol Rev 2003; 16: 658–672.
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