Probiotics – the small but mighty warriors

Did you know that there are 20 times more bacteria than cells in your body?

Bathroom scale
1 pound of your weight is the billions of bugs living in your gut.

In fact, at any one time, you have more bacteria in your body than the total number of people who have ever lived on the planet.

A Pound of Bugs

So the next time you step on the bathroom scale, you need to remember that 1 pound of that weight is not you at all, but the billions of bugs that live in your gut. This may sound alarming, but many of these organisms are crucial to good health.

Probiotics are the Good Bugs

Vegetable market.
Probiotics help your body absorb nutrients.
Photo by Robert Tostes

A probiotic is an organism which contributes to the health and balance of the intestinal tract. These organisms are also referred to as “friendly”, beneficial or “good” bacteria which when ingested act to maintain a healthy digestive tract and help fight diseases.

Your Body’s First Responders

The word “Probiotic” simply means “for life”, which explains why these nutrients are so important. The digestive tract is our first line of defence against microbial invaders.

Probiotics Boost Immune System, Aide Digestion & Help Absorb Nutrients

Probiotics bacteria, like Acidophilus and Bifidus species living in our gut represent 70% of our immunity. These microscopic soldiers help to fight off pathogenic (bad) bacteria and fungi, and at the same time, boost other components of the immune system, help our digestion and nutrient absorption.

Probiotics Help Lower Cholesterol

Delicious bowl of wholegrain cereal and berries.
Probiotics need fibre to stay healthy.

They also help make and activate vitamins needed by the body, such as Vitamin K, Vitamin B complex, and produce substances that can lower cholesterol.

Probiotics Help Keep You from Developing Food Allergies

By processing dietary fibres, probiotics make a substance called butyric acid, which feeds our intestinal cells, keeping them healthy and the membranes tight, so no undigested food particles can get into our blood stream creating food allergies.

While Probiotics Re-colonizing Your Body is Vulnerable

There are over 400 different species found in the gut and the variety is specific to each person. We store a little sample of our own variety in our appendix covered with a bio-film. This is where they can re-colonize our system after diarrhea or treatment by medications. It takes time, however, and in the meantime pathogens can overpopulate the intestines, weakening the immune system, causing digestive problems, nutrient deficiencies, allergies and even skin problems.

Probiotics Help Keep Pathogenic Bacteria in Check

Yogurt drinks.
Re-colonize your probiotics especially after taking medications.
Photo by Washington & Jefferson

While it’s true that pathogens, or non-beneficial bacteria and fungi are naturally occurring in the intestinal tract, problems begin when their growth goes unchecked and probiotics play an especially important role in keeping in check the pathogenic bacteria that cause disease.

Modern Day Choices Cause Over Growth of Unfriendly Bacteria

Our colon can maintain its health with 15% unfriendly bacteria, if the body contains at least 85% probiotic friendly bacteria. Most people have this percentage reversed.

Chlorine & Sodium Floride

Two of the most damaging substances to the delicate intestinal flora balance are chlorine and sodium fluoride, present in most treated city water, and thus also present in most beverages which one gets at restaurants.

Poor Diet & Alcohol Consumption

Poor eating habits enhance pathogenic overgrowth and bad bacteria produce toxins that reduce the probiotic population of the gut. Alcohol consumption also contributes to the destruction of the intestinal flora.

Results are Unpleasant

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.

Antibiotics and other Medications May Cause Damage

Medical antibiotics, birth control pills and many other allopathic drugs cause damage to the intestinal flora and to the tissue in the intestinal wall, leading to inflammation and food allergies.

Many Probiotic Sources

Good health depends fundamentally upon the symbiotic bacteria that inhabit the digestive tract. We need to top up our digestive tract regularly with natural probiotic sources, such as organic, natural and soy yoghurts, sauerkraut, kefir, miso and tempeh.

Probiotics Like Fibre

These mighty warriors are fighting for your health, so keep them happy, nourish them with pre-biotic fibre containing foods: stewed Bramley apples, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, garlic, other fibrous vegetables and legumes (chickpeas, beans, lentils).

Take Probiotic Supplements after Some Medications

After antibiotic or other medicational treatments we need to re-populate the intestines with strong probiotic supplements – capsule or powder form, and these are best taken first in the morning when the acid levels of the stomach is the lowest. If there is a long standing imbalance and there are digestive and immune problems prevalent, the source of the problem needs to be investigated and treated.

A naturopathic treatment always starts with a thorough investigation to find the root of the problem, whatever the health concern may be. We are all very individual: as there are no two snowflakes alike, neither are any two human bodies. Once we found the cause, with a tailor made menu plan and herbal supplement regime your body can be gently ushered back to health – without side effects.

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