The word probiotic actually means ‘for life’. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in the digestive system. Did you know that the human digestive system contains over 400 different species of micro-organisms? On average, an adult human carries approximately 1 to 2 kilograms of bacterial gut flora. This represents an enormous number of bacteria. The reason we have so many bacteria inside us is because we require them for many beneficial actions within the body. They help keep nutrients that we are unable to make ourselves and they help to maintain a healthy immune system.
In order for us to maintain a healthy digestive system we need to ensure that we have more ‘good’ bacteria and less of the ‘bad’. However certain factors, (e.g.: antibiotic therapy, antacids and gastric acid inhibitors, the effects of stress, a diet high in fat and low in fibre, excessive alcohol consumption) can all cause overgrowth of the ‘bad’ bugs and contribute to an imbalance in the gut environment – often referred to as dysbiosis. By supplementing with ‘good’ bugs, balance can be restored.
SYMPTOMS OF AN IMBALANCE OF THE ‘GOOD’ AND ‘BAD’ BUGS
- Vaginal thrush and candidiasis
- Infectious diarrhoea
- Intestinal discomfort
- Immune dysfunction
- Urinary tract infections
NOT ALL BUGS ARE CREATED EQUALLY
Just as different breeds of dogs are bred to perform different duties, so are the different strains of bacteria in our gut designed to do different jobs. The probiotics that are highly recommended are scientifically validated therapeutic human strains that will survive the harsh journey through your gastrointestinal system. Many bacteria in yoghurts, for example, are what is knows as ‘transient’. That is they do not live, or colonise, in your gastrointestinal system. These bacteria will no necessarily produce a therapeutic result. They may be helpful while they are there, but they don’t stay for long.
A good probiotic will adhere to your gastrointestinal wall and continue to grow. This will help keep you healthy from the inside out. Probiotics can help to restore and rebalance our intestinal health if it has been disturbed by medications, diet or lifestyle.
– Metagenics Wellness Review Article