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Probiotics… Their Importance and Benefits

Donnie Bentley


 

Currently, the importance of probiotics is achieving a more mainstream status. More people than ever before have at least heard of them or recognize the name.

 

But do you really know what probiotics are?

 

Probiotics are the “good” bacteria living inside of your body, mostly in your gut (the gastrointestinal tract). They are essential microorganisms that help you stay healthy.

They are so important that the effects of their presence can even be traced to early beginnings in life. It is seen that malnourished children have an abundance of intestinal pathogens and antibiotic resistant genes, as well as high deficiencies in Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria -the healthy bacteria.

Ideally, this “healthy” bacteria is acquired from the mother prior to or during delivery, providing proper development for a child’s intestinal immune system. Levels of good bacteria are also increased while breastfeeding, which explains why breastfed infants have less allergies, diarrhea, as well as respiratory and gastrointestinal problems.

A healthy gastrointestinal tract is very important since 80% of the immune system is located there. If the ratio of bad to good bacteria is higher, metabolic and inflammatory conditions tend to overwhelm the body. Distortions in the gut microbial composition can lead to autoimmune diseases, colon cancers, gastric ulcers, obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

 

How is your Healthy Bacteria Compromised?

Unfortunately due to our lifestyle, many people present dysbiosis or alteration of their gut microbiome, showing an unhealthy ratio of microorganisms.

These are some of the factors that affect a healthy bacterial population:

  • Toxins
  • Pollution
  • Antibiotic overuse
  • Stress
  • Sugar
  • Tap water

 

Research

A report from the 1st Annual conference of Probiotic Association of India (PAi) and International Symposium emphasized that dysbiosis can be linked to gastrointestinal disorders (diarrheal diseases, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel diseases, necrotizing entero-colitis, allergic responses and lactose intolerance among others) and lifestyle diseases (diabetes Mellitus-2, obesity, etc.).

The following are some of the finding from diverse studies presented:

  • There are associations between gut microbiota (bacteria in the gastrointestinal track) and glucose and lipid responses in Type 2 diabetics. For instance, heavy colonization of Lactic acid bacteria and Bifidobacteria is negatively associated with cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as with diabetic complications.

 

  • There are promising probiotic strains (Lp91 and Lp9) with therapeutic effects against inflammatory disorders and with strong modulators of the immune system.

 

  • Lactobacillus helveticus MTCC 5463 has exhibited significant results lowering cholesterol, microbial and viral activity, and modulating the immune system.

 

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus andBifidobacterium bifidum have shown to decrease allergic reactions on those with allergic sensitivities.

 

  • L. plantarum has exhibited cell-toxicity decrease, as well as antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activity.

 

  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus NCDC 17 has an antidiabetic effect by enhancing the beneficial bacteria and increasing anti-oxidative enzyme activity and the expression of anti-inflammatory markers.

 

  • Probiotic use have proven to relieve gastrointestinal and bowel disorders such as bloating/distension, abdominal pain and constipation.

 

 

Probiotic Sources 
sauerkraut, yogurt and kimchi
Besides naturally occurring good bacteria in the body, you can increase your bacterial count by consuming foods naturally rich in probiotics. Fermented foods are key features of a healthy diet.
Examples of fermented foods are:

 

  • Fermented vegetables
  • Raw kefir or yogurt (non-pasteurized since pasteurization destroys naturally occurring probiotics and enzymes)
  • coconut kefir
  • kombucha
  • sauerkraut
  • kimchi
  • natto
  • kvass
  • miso
  • tempeh

 

Additionally, you should add supplemental sources of probiotics. You can get a high quality probiotic supplement containing high CFU (colony forming unit) count and 10+ strain diversity.

Remember, a healthy gut is foundational for a healthy body and mind. Be mindful of your gut microbiome and incorporate probiotics. They have been used with positive results in relation to gastrointestinal disorders, high cholesterol, inflammatory and bacterial conditions and diabetes. Healthy bacterial levels can help you to take a preventive approach towards a disease-free existence.

 

To a Fitter Healthier You,

Adriana

The Fitness Wellness Mentor

 



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