If you watch television at all, then you have no doubt heard about probiotics ability to regulate digestion. But probiotics benefits go far beyond the ability to help relieve the normal GI symptoms that they’re so famous for. So at the risk of boring you to death, I think it’s best to start from the beginning.
The Healthy Bugs
We as humans are all born with a sterile digestive tract. But almost right away, our guts begin to be colonized by different species of bacteria. These come from breast milk, the environment, and other sources as well. As a child grows, more species are introduced through raw and fermented foods.
Most of these bacteria are completely harmless, and some are very beneficial. The most well known of these is lactobacillus acipohpilus. The most important thing to keep in mind is that they are there for a reason. Mother Nature doesn’t make mistakes.
Among other things, the primary function of this healthy bacteria is to take up space so that the bad guys cannot get a foot in the door. Of all probiotics benefits, this one is the most basic.
Who are the Bad Guys?
These bad guys I’m referring to come in 2 main forms, they are fungus, such as candida, and other harmful bacteria such as Clostridium difficile, or C. diff. In fact, cases of C. diff in children have more than doubled in the past 10 years.
Dysbiosis is a term used to describe a condition of imbalance in the digestive tract. This can have several causes such as poor diet and stress. But the #1 cause-the experts agree-is the overuse of antibiotics.
The over prescribing of antibiotics has become a huge problem in our modern society. And antibiotics do save countless lives, but there is a price to pay for everything. Our insides are not meant to be sterile.
When we zap the bad guys with antibiotics, we also kill off the good bacteria. Now in this absence of healthy bacteria, we’ve set the stage for the bad bugs to take over. A common one is candida, and many women will come down with vaginal yeast infections after only one round of antibiotics.
- Improved digestive function
- Improved immune response
- Improves lactose tolerability
- Increased mineral absorption
- Competition for harmful organisms
The list above is for the well researched benefits of probiotics. There are several more that are just beginning to be studied and understood. There have been some encouraging findings with regards to high blood pressure, colon cancer, IBS, and cholesterol.
To get the maximum amount of benefits, it is always recommended that you take a high quality probiotic supplement. Many contain multiple strains of bacteria, and are shielded from stomach acid to release in the intestines. Probiotics side effects are rare and may include gas or bloating.
When you look at health from a holistic point of view, it becomes very easy to understand how one organ can effect every part of the body. They’re not really separate parts, it’s all 1 system.
I think it will be many years before we know all of probiotics benefits. But that does not mean that we should sit around and wait for irrefutable proof. The time to act is now.