The Benefits of Probiotics as Foundational SupplementsNelson Narciso October 1, 2010
In recent years, probiotics have been drawing a great deal of attention, and for good reason. Research has shown that these friendly microorganisms, traditionally associated with improving digestion, offer many more health benefits than originally thought. They play a role in improving immunity and cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of cancer, enhancing weight regulation, and of course optimizing digestive and bowel health.
Other conditions which probiotics address include: eczema, psoriasis, uritogenital infections, crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, and leaky gut syndrome.
The number and diversity of microbes in the human gut is astounding. The small intestine has between one thousand to one million bacteria per gram of fluid contents. The number jumps exponentially in the large intestine to between 100 million to 100 billion. There are between 400 to 500 different species of microbes that have been identified in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) and they weigh between 3 to 4 lbs. Thirty percent of the solid matter that makes up your feces is in fact bacteria.
Where do we get our probiotics? There are two principal sources: fermented foods and probiotic supplements. Fermented foods have been around for thousands of years. Over 3500 years ago, fermented milk was already being consumed. Aside from fermented dairy foods like yogurt, fermented vegetables have also been a source of probiotics – sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, kefir and kombucha.
Although probiotic supplements don’t have the longstanding history that fermented foods do, they offer some unique advantages. For starters you can closely control the dose in supplement form. This is not possible with fermented foods and in fact several studies have proven that some of today’s commercial yoghurts contain either too little or no active probiotics despite label claims.
When using a probiotic supplement from a quality manufacturer you can be assured of its potency. In fact, quality probiotics should state their minimum potency at expiration. And with probiotic supplements you can choose specific therapeutic strains. Another advantage over fermented foods is the portability of supplemental probiotics.
We know how many microbes reside in our gut and how we can get them there but when were we first exposed? It should be noted that a mother’s womb is a relatively sterile environment, as is the gut of a baby before birth. First exposure occurs when the newborn passes through the birth canal. Further exposure occurs from breast milk. This raises the important question – what about infants born by C-section? Numerous studies have proven that children born by way of C-section are often at greater risk of health complications than babies born via the birth canal; atopic diseases like eczema and asthma are more prevalent, as are allergies. This reinforces the need for breastfeeding and supplementation for babies born by C-section.
While probiotics are good for our health, pathogens are the polar opposite. These microbes infect the host and bring about disease (eg. C. difficile, Candida albicans, Salmonella, H. pylori). One of the important roles of “friendly” microbes is to keep these bad microbes in check. This is accomplished by a number of clever means. Probiotics can produce lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and acetic acid. These compounds acidify the intestines, keeping harmful bacteria at bay. Bacteriocins are also produced and these act as antibiotics that kill pathogenic microbes. And surfactants produced by probiotics are compounds that keep pathogens from adhering to the intestinal wall.
When too many pathogens are present in the GIT, dysbiosis is the net result. There are numerous reasons why someone may suffer from dysbiosis: poor diet and digestion, weakened immune function, chronic constipation, and likely the biggest offender is antibiotics. A 2-week course of high dose antibiotics can obliterate your friendly intestinal microbes. Symptoms of dysbiosis include fatigue, flatulence, poor complexion, inability to lose weight, and constipation/diarrhea.
An exclusive trait of human probiotic species is the ability to adhere to the lining of the GIT. This ability to colonize the gut provides a physical barrier that prevents the passage of pathogens, toxins, and allergens through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream.
Progressive Nutritional is a Canadian company which manufactures a line of top quality probiotics formulated by Dr. Mikhael Adams, BSc, ND. One featured product, HCP70, is a full spectrum probiotic that features a strategic combination of six human strain probiotics that help to colonize and maintain healthy flora throughout the entire intestinal tract. Another featured product is HCP Support, a “terrain preparing prebiotic” which supports every aspect of probiotic implantation, colonization, and proliferation including reducing the amount of existing unfriendly bacteria. The products are produced under strict laboratory conditions and are an excellent choice for those seeking human strain probiotics.
The importance of probiotics was best stated in a quote by Dr. Michael L. McCann: “Probiotics will be to medicine in the 21st century what antibiotics and microbiology were in the 20th.” Use probiotics daily and your gut health will be rewarded!
Progressive’s Prebiotic and Probiotic supplements are available at the Big Carrot Wholistic Dispensary, (416) 466-8432, 348 Danforth Ave., Toronto as well as other fine health food stores across Ontario.
For more information go to: https://www.progressivenutritional.com