Familiar with that old adage “you should eat yogurt and drink milk after a round of antibiotics…” Ever actually stop to think about why our parents and grandparents redundantly bombarded us with that idea?
Well mystery solved! It’s due to the fact that inside our digestive system resides trillions of bacteria, both good and bad. When you take a round of antibiotics you’re essentially killing both, but most of us know that right? Duh!
The bacteria population that reside in our digestive tract are called "gut microflora" or "human microbiome."
Taking antibiotics isn’t the only way to disrupt these gut microflora. Other factors like poor diet, stress and disease can unsettle the balance of bacteria residing within us.
There are various strains of good bacteria, each with a different main objective. For example, in the large intestine, primarily the colon, there are specific forms of beneficial bacteria which act as an effective barrier for both the functioning and overall health of the intestines (1).
It is believed that an imbalance of these good bacteria allows for other foreign pathogens to grow such as viruses and parasites (2), creating inflammatory responses (3).
These beneficial bacteria also make up a large component of our immune system… Does it make sense now why we should keep a balanced lifestyle?
Most people have heard about probiotics and some even are taking them now… Yet most aren’t sure precisely why and what they are taking… If this is you, don’t feel bad! There is an abundant amount of information left to be discovered and understood about these microbiome. So much so, that even experts in the field now, really don’t know all the details.
What we do know is that new research is being conducted daily and some of the most recent studies have shown that probiotics provide immeasurable health benefits in the prevention or management of cardiovascular disease, obesity, type two diabetes, food allergies, constipation, autoimmune disease, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome and colon cancer (3).
Like other aspects of life that are not completely understood or agreed upon by experts, there are multiple definitions of what a probiotic is and each can be defined with slight variations.
For example, a probiotic has been defined as “a live microbial food ingredient that when ingested in sufficient quantities, exerts health benefits” (FAO/WHO 2002).
In the Guidelines for the Evaluation of Probiotics in food, the World Health Organization defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host” (FAO/WHO 2002).
Both definitions are similar, yet not the same. Coincidentally they both imply that the interaction with the habitual residents of the gut (commensal bacteria) will further affect the host in a very intricate manner that does not pose any risks to human health.
In the United States, several foods containing various sources of probiotics are currently found throughout the health food industry.
Fermented foods possess a rich source of probiotics such as yogurts, sauerkraut, Kombucha, fermented soy, miso soup, soft cheeses (i.e Gouda) and other cultured dairy products such as Kefir.
These foods contain an array of helpful bacteria, particularly specific strains of Lactobacillus, Saccharomyces, and Bifidobacterium.
Do you currently eat fermented foods? Do you think you’re eating enough to replenish your good bacteria?
In modern day society we are continuously exposed to harmful environmental bacteria, from the foods that we eat (canned food and processed food) or even organic produce not washed properly, to the air we breathe. We live in a much different world than our ancestors before us...
With that said it becomes apparently difficult to eliminate all the harmful pathogens with just the good bacteria from fermented foods. These foods provide a small amount not sufficient enough to make it through stomach acids and reach the colon (3). For that reason, taking a supplement can provide the extra support needed.
Think of Probiotics as your own Microbial Warriors… In a metaphorical way, they are similar to internal soldiers and healers as they constantly fend off infections, keep pathogens in check, support digestion and absorption of nutrients, help produce vitamins and absorb vital minerals (4), all while balancing our overall immune system.
That sums up today's blog on Probiotics... We hope you enjoyed and always remember... Stay Pure My Friends | @ThePureWay
- Gerritsen, J., Smidt, H., Rijkers, G. T., & de Vos, W. M. (2011). Intestinal microbiota in human health and disease: the impact of probiotics. Genes & Nutrition, 6(3), 209–240. doi:10.1007/s12263-011-0229-7
- Sherman, P. M., Ossa, J. C., & Johnson-Henry, K. (2009). Unraveling mechanisms of action of probiotics.Nutrition in Clinical Practice: Official Publication of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, 24(1), 10-14. doi:10.1177/0884533608329231 [doi]
- Binns, N Probiotics, Prebiotics, and the Gut Microbiota (ILSI Europe Concise Monograph Series Ed Walker, R) 2013. Available at: http://www.ilsi.org/Europe/Publications/Prebiotics-Probiotics.pdf
- Scholz-Ahrens KE , Schaafsma G, Heuvel E, Schrezenmeir J. Effects of probiotics on mineral metabolism. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011; 73(suppl):459S-464S.
- Joint FAO/WHO Working Group Report on Drafting Guidelines for the Evaluation of Probiotics in Food, London, Ontario, Canada, April 30 and May 1, 2002. Available at: http://www.who.int/foodsafety/fs_management/en/probiotic_guidelines.pdf