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The Power of Probiotics

ProbioticsYour health starts in your gut. In fact, when your gut is happy so is your brain, skin, immune system, cardiovascular system and digestive system. Little bacteria known as gut microbiota live in the small and large intestine and work hard to keep bad bacteria at bay.

Let’s start at the beginning

The colonization of gut microbiota starts at birth. A baby is sterile while in utero until it passes through the vaginal canal then good flora starts colonizing. It continues to develop through maternal milk and cultured foods. The gut microbiota continues to flourish throughout life and to what degree depends on environmental factors.

There are two types of flora: transient flora and resident flora. Transient strains live in the gut for a period for time then exit as part of the fecal matter. Where as resident strains literally take up residence within the walls of the GI tract: grow, reproduce and colonize the gut wall. Transients make substances that residents need while supporting the immune system response. We need both and balance needs to be considered. Which is why a high quality probiotic supplement should be a part of your daily routine.

Why do I want them?

As mentioned above, your health pretty much starts in your gut. Research repetitively shows probiotics support the digestive, cardiovascular, and immune systems. All species and strains produce substances which are detrimental to pathogenic bacteria. All bifidobacterium support detoxification, immune health, help with overgrowth of yeast. L. salivarius is useful in the small intestine and helps to maintain an already healthy inflammatory response. S.thermophilus, L acidophilus, DDS and L gulgaricus make lactase which helps to digest lactose (sugar found in dairy). L.reutri is found in breast milk and if absent may result in diarrhea. L.acidophilus DDS1 and all bifidobacterium produce B vitamins. While others help metabolize fats, proteins and carbs.

  1. In 2012 JAMA published a study that found combining probiotic strains supported healthy digestive function and regular bowel movements (1).
  2. Lactic acid bacteria is currently being considered an adjunctive method of supporting healthy nutrient levels such as folates, riboflavin and B 12. In other words, helps synthesize and assimilate B vitamins (2).
  3. Probiotics actually support the utilization of cholesterol: probiotic bacteria have been shown to break down cholesterol and use it for nourishment (3).
  4. L.rhamnosus and Streptococcus thermophilus has been found to possess the capability to support healthy balance of TH1/TH2 by supporting healthy IL-10 and cytokine levels (4). These gut flora and vitamin D do a fantastic job at regulating the immune response.

How do I keep them happy?

It is common for Americans to have dysbiosis or an imbalance of good and bad gut flora. This occurs mostly through the standard American diet or SAD. SAD is full of refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, refined carbohydrates and processed foods. It is virtually devoid of fermented soy (miso and tempeh), fermented vegetables (sauerkraut), fermented dairy (kefir, yogurt), fermented tea (kombucha). Fermented foods contain probiotics which help gut microbiota keep its balance, integrity and diversity. Prebiotics serve as “food” for these beneficial bacteria. Foods like raw dandelion greens, raw chicory root, raw garlic, raw leek, raw Jerusalem artichoke contain prebiotics.

chicory

There are about 100 trillion bacteria housed in the GI tract. Gut microbiota are more abundant than cells in the entire body! So do your best to keep these little guys happy.  A good quality probiotic supplement is a great place to start. I like the flora supplements by Innate Response. Please contact me for more information: lorin@lovetolivenutrition.com.

Fun Facts

  • Gut microbiota plays an important role in our lives and in the way our bodies function.
  • The composition of gut microbiota is unique to each individual, just like our fingerprints.
  • Our gut microbiota contains 100 trillion bacteria – ten times more cells than in our body.
  • There are more than 3 millions microbial genes in our gut microbiota –150 times more genes than in the human genome.
  • Microbiota, in total, can weigh up to 2 kg.
  • More than 1,000 different known bacterial species can be found in human gut microbiota, but only 150 to 170 predominate in any given subject. (5)

 

Probiotics

 

 

(1) JAMA, May 9, 2012- Vol 307, No 18.

(2) J Appl Microbiol. 2011 Dec; 111(6):1297-309.

(3) J Cardiovasc Dis Res. 2010 OPct- Dec; 1(4): 213-214.

(4) Clin Exp Immunol. 2011 jul;165(1):94-103

(5) http://www.gutmicrobiotawatch.org/gut-microbiota-info/

Probiotics Explained

probioticsThe term probiotics refers to the beneficial microorganisms that inhabit the intestines. They serve several functions including the normal functioning of the digestive system, supporting hormone detox, supporting gastrointestinal immunity, maintaining pH balance, regulating pathogen growth, synthesizing important vitamins, and converting nutrients to active forms.

Symbiosis = living together in harmony

Dysbiosis = imbalanced gut ecology

Dysbiosis occurs when bad bacteria takes over the intestine and out measures the good bacteria. Unfortunately most of us have some form of imbalanced gut ecology. Factors associated with modern Western living have a detrimental impact on GI flora. Contributing factors such as antibiotics, stress, standard American diet (SAD), low stomach acid (HCL), oral contraceptives, toxins, low digestive enzymes, c-section babies, and food allergies all contribute to intestinal dysbiosis.

Signs and Symptoms of Dysbiosis

  • Chronic digestive complaints
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Chemical sensitivities
  • Rectal itching
  • Chronic constipation and or diahrea
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, associated with candida or other infectious agents
  • Systemic autoimunity
  • Depression, anxiety, and severe PMS

Sources of Probiotics

  • Birth canal
  • Breast milk
  • Environmental contact
  • Cultured foodssauerkraut
    • Sauerkraut
    • Yogurt
    • Kombucha
    • Tempeh
    • Kefir
    • Fermented milk
    • Cheese that is not baked- aged and raw cheeses
    • Kim chi

Long story short, we all need them in order to thrive and should get them from a broad range of sources. If you relate to one or more contributing factor or symptom, then you may benefit from taking a supplement. There are several products on the market. Some brands I use and trust include: Dr. Ohirra’s Fermented Probiotcs and Innate Response Flora. If you’re ready to start supplementing, send an email to lorin@lovetolivenutrition.com. Mention this article and receive 15% off your first order!

Fun Flora Facts

  1. There are more bacteria than cells in the body.
  2. There are more bacteria in the intestines than people on the planet!
  3. Gut bacteria accounts for half the volume of the contents of the large intestine.
  4. We have about 600 different species of bacteria in our digestive system.
  5. 80% of dry stool is composed of gut bacteria.