If you experience bloating, gas, irritable bowl syndrome, skin infections, vaginal infections or diarrhea, you will want to read more about probiotics and the benefits of taking a probiotic supplement every day.
Probiotics are live microorganisms – bacteria in most cases – that are similar to beneficial microorganisms in your stomach. They are also referred to as “friendly bacteria” or “good bacteria”. Probiotic bacterial cultures assist your body’s naturally occurring gut flora to reestablish themselves.
Ideally, the microflora colony in the digestive tract should be made up of 85 percent friendly bacteria to 15 percent harmful bacteria. This balance is affected by the use of antibiotics, oral contraceptives, steroids, exposure to radiation (X-rays and radiation therapies), consumption of chlorinated water, refined sugars and other refined foods, and by poor digestion, poor elimination of waste, stress and an unhealthy diet.
When the balance of good and bad bacteria is adversely altered, your body becomes overloaded with toxins, which causes chronic diseases and illnesses. Taking a probiotic supplement and eating foods that include probiotics will help buffer your stomach acid and intestinal bile, increasing the chance of good bacteria surviving.
Benefits of probiotics:
- Improve digestion of food
- Enhance absorption of vitamins
- Produce enzymes
- Increase availability of vitamins and nutrients, especially Vitamin B, Vitamin K, lactase, fatty acids and calcium
- Help kill viruses and parasites
- Increase resistance to infection
- Inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria
- Regulate pH value by producing lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide. Increase the acidity of intestine (lower pH value) and inhibit reproduction of many harmful bacteria and yeasts
Probiotics treat the following:
- Infectious diarrhea and traveler’s diarrhea
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Vaginal infections
- Skin infections
- Tooth decay
- Infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a bacterium that causes most ulcers and chronic stomach inflammation
- Reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance
- Reduce cholesterol levels when high
Foods containing probiotics:
- Fermented and unfermented milk
- Some juices and soy beverages
*Not all yogurt contains active bacterial culture. L acidophilus, L bulgaricus and S thermophilus are the most common bacterial strains added in yogurt. These bacteria are on the ingredient list. More labels are stating “live cultures” or “active cultures”, which you want to look for. Avoid yogurt that is heat treated after culturing. This means the added bacteria was pasteurized, which can destroy live cultures.
Why you need probiotics:
- Drinking chlorinated water destroys your intestinal flora
- Farm animals are fed antibiotics to keep diseases down. When you eat meat, you take in these antibiotics
- When the ratio of good bacteria to bad is lowered, problems begin to arise such as excessive gas, bloating, constipation, intestinal toxicity and poor absorption of nutrients
- Alcoholic beverages kill probiotics, encouraging harmful bacteria and yeast overgrowth
- The use of antibiotics directly kills all bacteria in your intestinal tract. That is why probiotics is recommended while taking antibiotics
- Birth control pills and many other drugs cause damage to the intestinal flora and to the tissue in the intestinal wall
How to choose probiotics:
You do not need a prescription to take probiotics, as they are available in grocery stores and health food stores. Taking probiotics when your body does not actually need them won’t cause you any harm.
Consider the following when looking for a probiotic:
- The type of bacteria, including the genus and species
- The potency or number of bacteria per dose
- The purity
- Natrol BioBeads is one of the most effective probiotic acidophilus on the market. It doesn’t have to be refrigerated and only needs to be taken once a day
Start by taking at least 1-10 billion viable L. acidophilus or B. bifidum cells daily divided into 3 or 4 doses. Take them on an empty stomach or at least 30-60 minutes before eating. Take 15-20 billion viable organisms daily to prevent diarrhea from antibiotics.
Maintaining proper pH balance within the gastrointestinal tract is critical to probiotic growth and health. The pH inside the small intestine should be slightly alkaline (7.5-8.0) and the colon should be slightly acidic (6.0-6.8). Without the correct pH, probiotics won’t function properly. In order to achieve and maintain pH balance, it is important to eat the appropriate foods.