Probiotics Improve Digestive Health
Why probiotics, why would you want to ensure you have beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract?Let me explain some concepts you may or may not be familiar with. The moment you began passing through the birth canal during labor, your body began coming into contact with, and picking up, a host of beneficial bacterial microorganisms. These beneficial bacteria, which are absolutely essential to proper human function, entered your body through your mouth as you passed through the birth canal. From there, they rapidly made their way into your intestinal tract, where they established themselves in large colonies. As you might guess, mother’s milk contains just the right ingredients to nourish these friendly bacteria once they become established in your intestines. It was once thought that the human digestive system has about 400 to 500 different species of bacteria in the bowel, but recent research in America has found that there may be over 15,000 different species.
These bugs, some good, and some bad, make up the foundation of what you might call your “intestinal flora.” In short, these beneficial microorganisms, which begin invading your body during the birth process, soon become an integral part of your gastrointestinal ecology. Once established, they go to work performing or stimulating a number of important functions, including:
- Enhancing the function of your entire gastrointestinal tract.
- Protecting your body against pathogenic or harmful foreign invaders.
- Maintaining the vital chemical balance of your entire digestive system.
- Producing needed vitamins and hormones, and regulating their levels.
- Performing a mind-boggling array of other essential tasks necessary to achieving and maintaining proper human growth, hormonal function and immune response.
Inadequate Beneficial Bacteria Has Been Linked With These Conditions
Research scientists now assert that inadequate levels of beneficial intestinal microorganisms are directly associated with the following ill-health conditions:
- chronic fatigue
- rashes and other skin conditions
- poor immune response to common illnesses
- poor immune response to chronic degenerative disease
- rapid onset of osteoporosis
- frequent diarrhea
- frequent intestinal gas
- frequent constipation
- chronic bladder infections
- chronic vaginal infections
- severe bruising problems
- high cholesterol levels
- vitamin B deficiencies
- dairy product sensitivities
- chronic anemia
- candida infections
- low sex hormones
- breast enlargement in men
- prostate trouble
- increased menstrual complaints
- intensified PMS symptoms
- hormonal imbalances
- chronic bad breath
- and many other conditions
Fortunately, these conditions can often be prevented from occurring simply by supplementing your diet with food products that are rich in beneficial intestinal microorganisms. Ingesting probiotic foods such as organic cultured yogurt, kefir, miso, tempeh, and sauerkraut can help maintain your body’s proper balance of vital gastrointestinal flora. Virtually all nutritionists today acknowledge that these particular food products should be ingested regularly for this very reason. For those not keen to eat these foods, many good quality probiotic supplements are available and are an excellent way to supplement your diet with beneficial organisms. Along with your daily multivitamin, consider regular supplementation with probiotics, you may be quite surprised at what a difference they can make to your health.
The Pill and Lactobacillus
The oral contraceptive pill has hormonal effects which have the ability to alter the microbial population in the gastrointestinal tract and the vagina. Research evaluating risk factors associated with recurrent Candida overgrowth and vaginitis have implicated oral contraceptive use. Women taking the pill present more frequently with thrush, urinary tract infections and with intestinal distress. Much research now accepts the relationship between oral contraceptives and vaginal candidiasis.
Oestrogen can also alter vaginal pH and increase the glycogen (sugar) content of epithelial cells. These changes provide an optimal environment for the expansion of yeasts responsible for symptoms associated with gastrointestinal and vaginal candidiasis. Oral and vaginal application of therapeutic acidophilus organisms has successfully been implemented to control gastrointestinal and vaginal candidiasis associated with antibiotic and oral contraceptive use. Regular supplementation with a probiotic is recommended as a preventative for all women using oral contraception, as its use is associated with microbial imbalance and symptoms of minor to severe infections.
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- Shahini KM, et al. Role of dietary Lactobacilli in gastrointestinal microecology. Am. J Clin Nutr 1980;33:2448-2457.
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- Hilton E; Rindos P; Isenberg HD. Lactobacillus and vaginitis. Journal of Clinical Microbiology 1995; 33(5):1433.