Inside the body lives a vast number of bacteria without which we could not remain in good health. There are over 100 trillion in each person with over 400 different species, most of them living in the digestive tract. Certain types of these bacteria help to maintain good health and others have value in regaining it back once it is lost. Learn the role and benefits of bacteria and the benefits of probiotics.
The role of different strains of friendly bacteria
Lactobacillus acidophilus is the predominant friendly bacteria in the upper intestinal tract. It helps reduce the levels of harmful bacteria and yeasts in the small intestine and also produces lactase, an enzyme important in the digestion of milk. Acidophilus is involved in the production of B vitamins during the digestive process.
Bifidobacterium bifidum and B. longum are the primary friendly bacteria in the large intestine. Bifidobacteria protect the large intestine from invading bacteria and yeasts, and also manufacture B vitamins and help the body detoxify bile. B. infantis is the prevalent friendly bacteria in the intestines of infants.
Streptococcus thermophiles and L. bulgaricus are most commonly found in yogurt and exist only transiently in the digestive tract. They produce lactic acid, which encourages the growth of other friendly bacteria, and they also synthesize bacteriocins (natural antibiotics like substances) that kill harmful bacteria.
Lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria, and Streptococci are the bacteria mostly commonly found in probiotic supplements. Other beneficial species that may be included are L. casei, L. plantarum, L. sporegenes, L. brevis, and saccharomyces boulardii. Without bacteria like acidophilus, one would not be able to properly digest food and absorb vitamins and other nutrients.
The benefits of probiotics and illnesses they can help treat
There are now many probiotics for women that are used to promote a healthy gut. Probiotics can benefit our health in a number of different ways, including:
The manufacture of certain B vitamins, including niacin, pyridoxine, folic acid, and biotin.
Enhanced immune system activity.
Manufacture of milk-digesting enzyme lactase, which helps digest calcium rich dairy products.
Production of antibacterial substances that kill or deactivate hostile disease causing bacteria. Friendly bacteria do this by changing the local levels of acidity, by depriving pathogenic bacteria of their nutrients, or by actually producing their own antibiotic substances.
Anti-carcinogenic effect, since probiotics are active against certain tumours.
Improved efficiency of the digestive tract.
Reduction of high cholesterol levels.
Protection against radiation damage and deactivation of many toxic pollutants.
Recycling of estrogen, which reduces the likelihood of menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis.
Reduce anxiety and stress.
Friendly bacteria have also been shown to be useful in treatment of acne, psoriasis, eczema, migraines, gout, rheumatic and arthritic conditions, cystitis, candidiasis, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and some forms of cancer.
Using probiotics in specific situations
Probiotics should always be considered a part of a healthy lifestyle due to its disease preventative properties, but could also be used in more acute and specific health challenging situations, such as:
Chronic bowel problems or infections
Food poisoning (bifidobacteria and acidophilus kill most food poisoning bacteria)
After antibiotics are taken
Premenopausal and menopausal women to reduce chances of osteoporosis.
High cholesterol problems
Vaginal or bladder infections (thrush or cystitis)
If you take this test and find you “fail”, then probiotics are an absolute must!
Quality sources of probiotics
Instead of immediately reaching for the probiotic capsules, also consider live food-based sources as the basis to a probiotic rich diet. Some of the most prolific sources include sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, and apple cider vinegar.Try Body Ecology’s LIVE Probiotic Beverages
Once you understand the role and benefits of probiotics and incorporate them wisely, healing of the body will begin.
Sources for this article include:
Trivieri, Larry. Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide. Ed. John W. Anderson. 2nd ed. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts, 2002.