Probiotics are currently defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as ‘live microorganisms which, when consumed in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to the host'. Common descriptions for probiotics include ‘friendly’, ‘beneficial’ or ‘healthy’ bacteria. The term 'probiotic' is derived from the Greek, meaning ‘for life’.
Probiotics are naturally found in the body and support the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, fight infection and populate the digestive tract for healthy digestion. Probiotics also regulate inflammation and strengthen immune function.
Probiotics have been in our system since we were born. When a baby is in the birth canal of the mother during delivery he/she is exposed to bacteria from the mother for the first time, which initializes the production of the microbiome, or bacteria, in the infant’s GI tract.
As we age, the production of good bacteria, along with immune system function, becomes compromised. The use of antibiotics, high stress levels, poor diet and environmental factors can disrupt the bacterial balance in our guts leading to overproduction of unhealthy gut bacteria. Upsetting the body’s microbial balance can then have negative effects on our digestive system, nervous system, metabolic system and immunological system.
Probiotic supplementation can help replenish essential “good” bacteria in the body and may prevent illness. The use of probiotics for prevention and treatment of different disorders has dramatically increased over the last decade. According to the National Institute of Health, changes in the natural balance of microorganisms in the body correlate with human diseases. Therefore, the secret to restoring your overall health is balancing intestinal flora, which can be achieved through probiotics..
BALANCING THE INTESTINAL ECOSYSTEM
We now know that intestinal flora plays an important role in health: stimulating the immune system, protecting the host, aiding digestion and assimilation of food. The condition and function of the gastrointestinal tract is essential to our well-being. After the respiratory tract, the GI tract constitutes the second largest body surface area, comparable in size to a tennis court. During a normal lifetime, about 60 tons of food passes through this canal. It is estimated to harbor about 100 trillion viable bacteria. This is approximately 10 times the total number of cells in the human body. These live bacteria account for around 2-3 lbs of a body's weight and are known as intestinal or gut flora. Viruses, fungi and protozoa can also be present, but these normally form only a minor component of the total resident population of microorganisms in healthy individuals.
The composition of the gastrointestinal flora differs among individuals, and also during life within the same individual. Many factors, such as diet, climate, aging, medication (especially antibiotics), illness, stress, pH, infection, geographic location, race, socioeconomic circumstances and lifestyle can upset this balance. Intestinal flora profoundly influence nutritional, physiologic and protective processes.
For optimum "gut flora balance," the beneficial bacteria, such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, should predominate, presenting a barrier to invading organisms. The majority of the intestinal microflora in a healthy person should be good bacteria. The intestinal microflora provides protection against a broad range of pathogens as well as yeasts such as Candida albicans. The greater the imbalance, the greater the symptoms. The use of probiotics may be the most natural, safe and common sense approach for keeping the balance of the intestinal ecosystem.
HOW DO PROBIOTICS WORK?
Probiotics modulate the composition of the intestinal microflora.
The survival of ingested probiotics in different parts of the gastrointestinal tract varies. This specific change may be seen for a few days after the start of consumption of the probiotic preparation, depending on the capacity and dosage. Probiotics must be ingested regularly for any health promoting properties to persist.
QUALITIES OF AN EFFECTIVE PROBIOTIC DIETARY SUPPLEMENT INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:
- Must be of human origin
- Exert a beneficial effect on the host
- Be nonpathogenic and nontoxic
- Contain a large number of viable cells
- Be capable of surviving and metabolizing in the gut
- Remain viable during storage and use
- Be antagonistic to pathogens
Our custom probiotic formulations in capsule and powder forms meet all these requirements.
In addition, we do not use prebiotics, such as fructooligosacharides (FOS) or inulin in our formulations. Most FOS in today’s market contain 5-40% free sugar. We suggest getting FOS from vegetables such as onion, garlic, asparagus, dandelion, artichokes and leeks, which have many additional health promoting and nutritional benefits.
Probiotics are now widely used in many countries by consumers and in clinical practice and their health benefits are being investigated extensively, especially in the last few decades. The need to find replacement therapeutic approaches to overcome side effects associated with pharmacological treatments and to counter the overuse of antibiotics has propelled forward research on probiotics because they address a multitude of disorders of varying severity.
For more information on probiotics health benefits please click here.
The greater the bacterial imbalance in the digestive system, the higher the dosage required for positive and measurable results. Dosage differs from individual to individual. You must find the appropriate dosage for you. We suggest gradual increase of probiotic dosage. Like a fingerprint, the composition of the intestinal microflora is quite different from one human to another. Hence the appropriate dosage of probiotics needs to be determined individually.
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