We know that probiotics are such a key component of our GI health, and affect many aspects of our immunity and health in general, as you will see, I wanted to give you some clear information about why they’re important, and how to integrate them into your personal healthcare routines.
So, I’ll start with this interesting fact that says a lot!
THERE ARE MORE BACTERIA IN YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM THAN CELLS IN YOUR BODY – FOUR POUNDS worth! That’s the weight of the good, the bad, and the neutral types of bacteria. This weight is comparable to that of the liver, and in a sense the bacteria of the digestive system really do function like a vital organ given all of the foundational roles that they play within our bodies as you will see.
It’s the “good” bacteria, or probiotic (meaning “pro-life” flora) that we focus on in our efforts to generate vibrant health, and the other 2 groups of neutral or disease-causing bacteria come into balance accordingly.
The 3 most important groups of flora are the lactobacilli, found mainly in the small intestine, and bifido bacterium, found primarily in the colon, and sacchyromyces. These bacteria live in a mutually beneficial relationship that has evolved as we evolved to enhance our health and theirs. For the most part, they live in a harmonious symbiotic relationship with us. We offer them a warm, moist home with lots of food, and they, in turn, help us with the following:
• Reduce cholesterol in the blood;
• Produce certain digestive enzymes that help to digest proteins, carbohydrates, and fats;
• Help control the acid-alkaline levels (pH) in the intestines, which in turn has a major effect on what enzymatic, i.e. digestive activities take place in the gut;
• Assist the immune system by stimulating the release of certain immunoglobulins that are necessary to fight of bacterial, viral and fungal diseases from the outside world – so if you are chronically run down and catch colds frequently or if you are in an occupation where your exposure to the general public is high as a teacher, social worker, nurse, etc. – then you want probiotics in your life.
• Manufacture and assimilate B-Complex vitamins, including B1 (biotin thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 pantothenic acid, B6 pyroxidine, and vitamin B-12 (cobalamine), folic acid + vitamins A & K – vitamins very important for immune system function!
• Reduce unhealthy bacteria and yeast in the intestinal tract. They actually manufacture antibiotics, acids and hydrogen peroxide which make the intestinal environment hostile to competing microbes including E.coli, salmonella, and numerous other disease-causing bacteria within the intestinal tract.
• Produce cancer-suppressing and anti-tumor compounds;
• Detoxify chemicals and poisons from foods and drugs by assisting in the breakdown and elimination of these substances;
• Increase the bioavailability of minerals to aid their assimilation including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese (lactic-acid secreting acidophilus and bifidus);
Can you imagine if all of these aspects of your health wer compromised? Well, it is for many people, and replenishment of the gut flora is therefore a very important part of healing the GI tract and creating a high level of health in general. As you can see, the intestinal flora has many avenues through which it supports our overall immunity, disease resistance, and rate of aging.
Due to the mainstream unnatural lifestyles that most people fall into, we have drastically altered the normal intestinal bacterial flora. And this can be a primary cause of digestive disturbances, assimilation problems, liver weakness and deficiencies, which can contribute towards a gradual and consistent decline of health and towards the development of chronic and degenerative dis-ease.
The Most Dangerous Enemies of the Friendly Bacteria in Order of Importance:
• Drugs – especially antibiotics, since one dose can eliminate a massive amount of friendly bacteria
• Alcohol – destroys friendly bacteria and enzymes, not to mention actual cells
• Pasteurized dairy products are gourmet meals for pathogens which destroy the good bacteria
• Cooked meat – it feeds the bacillus E. Coli and other pathogens
• Bread – especially white flour or any wheat products that were baked in an oven (wheat is only good in its raw, sprouted state)
• White sugar – chocolate, cakes, pies, cookies, pop, catsup, etc.
• Fried foods – e.g. potato chips, French fries, and anything fried in oil
• Acid-forming foods, when overused
• Processed foods, such as pasta; all the food in packages
How to take Probiotics:
Most raw foods, especially those with chlorophyll, feed the friendly bacteria. Yogurt, ideally made from raw dairy is the best food source of acidophilus and is a good condiment for meat dishes. Fresh homemade sauerkraut and pickled vegetables are hands-down the best source of probiotics. If you don’t want to make your own, then purchase locally-made organic sauerkraut that has been made as recently as possible. The longer the sauerkraut is stored, the few live bacteria it contains.
When the bowel or immune system is out of balance, it becomes essential to take supplements of friendly bacteria. It is also critical to take Bifidobacterium during and after any use of antibiotics. I recommend a mixed probiotic supplement that contains all 3 strains mentioned above, or more. Supplements that come refrigerated as powders or capsules usually have the highest quality and potency.
For babies and small children, adding Bifidobacterium infantis via a child’s probiotic formula to milk or watered-down juice is in my experience the #1 best way to bolster the not-fully-formed immune systems of little people throughout the cold and flu season.
To be clear, this is a wellness strategy that must be done ahead of time, and regularly, as opposed to other herbs or supplements that are best used for short periods of time when you are actually feeling sick or run down.