Most people are aware of the association between intestinal disease and pathogenic (“bad”) bacteria, but what is less well known is the positive role of beneficial gut bacteria (probiotics) on our health and well-being.
These days, many of us spend hours worrying about what we look like on our outside when we should be spending more time thinking about our insides-especially what’s going on in our digestive system. Our intestines digest the food we eat to accommodate the body with essential nutrition as well as heist waste material and toxins. Maintaining a healthy digestive system depends on keeping a balance among the oodles of bacteria that live there. Scientific attestation is assembled that upsetting the intestinal flora, as the gut microflora are called, can lead to health problems such as flatulence, lowered immunity and susceptiveness to diarrhea. Stress, a poor diet, taking streptomycin just tiredness may all upset the natural balance in the gut.
Bacteria and Gut Health
The human colon contains over 200 species of bacteria and scientists are now studying the effects of various species and the role they appear to play in gut health.
Adults carry over 1 kg of Gut Microflora and excrete their own weight in fecal bacteria every year. Some gut bacteria such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria are thought to confer health-promoting properties. Other studies are underway on the possible role of probiotics in helping to prevent allergies, improve bowel movements and aid in the formation of certain vitamins.
Probiotics and Prebiotics
Work on probiotic foods has been underway for many years. These foods contain a live culture of microorganisms as a result of fermentation or through the addition of a culture. Examples of probiotic foods are some yogurts, fermented dairy products and other foods such as fermented vegetables and fermented soy products.
Two critical factors in the development of fermented milk products and other foods containing probiotics are the survival of the bacteria, both in the food or supplement and after digestion and the identity of the microbes used. These beneficial micro-organisms grow in an air or in its absence and there are several barriers to their survival in the body, such as the acidity of the stomach, bile secretions and competition with the other resident gut Microflora. One approach that has been used to overcome these problems involves the addition of non-digestible food ingredients, such as dietary fiber-like food components, which are used by the beneficial bacteria as food for their growth. These food components are called ‘prebiotics’.
A third approach involves a combination of probiotics (the live bacteria) and prebiotics (the food components they live on). Boban’s note: this is the approach that I recommend to my clients.
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