Recently I’ve been having some digestive problems, so I decided to do a little research on the web. Turns out that we need lots of friendly bacteria in our digestive track to help get the most nutrition out of our food. It also turns out that stress can actually kill those little guys and as a result digestive problems can occur. Another benefit is helping to improve the immune system. For me this is a really good benefit considering all the concern there is with a possible flu outbreak.
Probiotics are often referred to as friendly bacteria and are naturally present in the digestive tract. Doctors and other health care practitioners often recommend taking probiotics during or after taking antibiotics. They are thought to promote health by suppressing harmful bacteria, improving immune function, improving the protective barrier of the digestive tract and also helps to produce Vitamin K.
Lifestyle factors can disturb or destroy the balance in the digestive tract. This imbalance is called dysbiosis and can be a result of inadequate dietary fiber, antibiotics and environmental toxins.
Probiotics can be bought in capsule, liquid, powder or tablet form. They can also be found in some dairy products such as yogurt or kefir as well as sauerkraut, which is a fermented food. Probiotics, once they are ingested, can sustain themselves unless they are destroyed by antibiotics or other factors.
Acidophilus (lactobacillus acidophilus) is a bacteria thought to benefit digestion and overall health. Acidophilus is often called “good bacteria” and works in the gastrointestinal tract to protect us from harmful disease-causing bacteria, parasites and other unhealthy organisms. Disease-causing bacteria can come from aging, alcohol, antibiotics, diet deficiencies, drugs and other medications, narcotics, nicotine and stressful living. As acidophilus breaks down in the digestive track, it releases things such as hydrogen peroxide that creates a toxic environment for harmful bacteria, parasites, and other organisms that may be found in the body.
Other forms of “good bacteria” include L. bulgaricus, L. casei and L. bifidus. They also help to populate “good bacteria” and help us get the full value from our food.
Another benefit of acidophilus might be to correct constipation, diarrhea, mucous colitis and diverticulitis as well as reducing blood cholesterol and enhancing the absorption of nutrients. Acidophilus has also be found to help alleviate candida albicans and other bacterial infections. In addition to basic digestive assistance, acidophilus is thought to help bolster the immune system as a whole.
Acidophilus can be found in some brands of yogurt (but check the label first) as well as other milk products such as kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha and kinchi. Acidophilus can also be found naturally in carrots, soybeans, rice starch and garbanzo beans. Another alternative to milk, acidophilus milk, may be more digestible than fresh milk. You will find acidophilus in the refrigerator section of your health food store.
When taking acidophilus, take on an empty stomach before a meal or an hour after meals to get the full benefit.