Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Benefits of Probiotics: Uses for Acidophilus Lactobacillus Pearls and Supplmentation of Good Bacteria

Healthy Intestinal Flora and a balance of Good Bacteria (Acidophilus) are crucial for a healthy immune system. Factors like birth control pills, antibiotics, OTC drugs, alcohol and high sugar diets breakdown the good bacteria in our systems. It then becomes essential for us to replace the bacteria naturally and through supplementation.

What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live microbial organisms that are naturally present in the digestive tract and vagina.

Probiotics are considered beneficial and are sometimes referred to as "friendly" bacteria. Some of the ways they are thought to promote health include suppressing the growth of potentially harmful bacteria, improving immune function, enhancing the protective barrier of the digestive tract, and helping to produce vitamin K.

There are over 400 species of microorganisms in the human digestive tract, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

A number of medical, diet, and lifestyle factors are believed to disturb the balance in the colon. This imbalance is called dysbiosis. Factors include:

* Inadequate dietary fiber
* Oral antibiotic therapy
* Infant formula feeding
* Ingestion of environmental toxins

No longer kept in check, less healthy bacteria and yeast may flourish, which is thought to increase the likelihood of conditions such as infectious diarrhea and vaginal yeast infections.

Sources of Probiotics
Probiotics can be found in capsule, liquid, powder, or tablet form. I use Enzymatic Therapy Acidophilus Pearls with Active Cultures of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium longum daily and find that I have minimized any candida or yeast overgrowth.

Probiotics can also be found in cultured dairy products such as yogurt or kefir, however, the number of live organisms varies greatly from product to product due to differences in processing methods. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut also contain probiotics.

Once ingested, probiotics colonize the intestines and other parts of the body and can sustain themselves unless they are destroyed by antibiotics or other factors.

Although they are thought to be essential for health, because they can sustain themselves in the body under normal circumstances, there is no recommended daily intake of probiotics.

"Prebiotics" are also thought to improve the balance of probiotics in the intestines. They are non-digestible carbohydrates that stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines. Sources of prebiotics include fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and inulin, found in onions, asparagus, chicory, and banana. FOS is also available as a supplement and is sometimes combined with probiotic dietary supplements.

Why Do People Use Probiotics

* Diarrhea Due to Antibiotic Use
* Traveler's Diarrhea
* Side Effects of Radiation Therapy
* Irritable Bowel Syndrome
* Vaginal Yeast Infections
* Ulcerative Colitis
* Crohn's Disease
* Immune Support
* Lactose Intolerance
* Prevention of Colds
* Allergic Rhinitis / Hayfever
* Constipation
* Colon Cancer Prevention
* Pouchitis
* Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth
* Canker Sores

What is the Evidence for Probiotics

* Diarrhea
A literature review found 185 studies published in what they deemed to be credible journals between 1980 and 2004. The most commonly studied condition was diarrhea (41 or 22% of the 185 studies).

Seven studies looked at probiotic use in adults, focusing on the strains Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus GG, L casei, L acidophilus, and S boulardi. Although they varied in dose and probiotic strain, in six of the studies, probiotics shortened the course of diarrhea or decreased its severity.

Many studies have looked at probiotic use in children. Once again, there is a wide range of doses and probiotic strains. The most commonly used strains were Lactobacillus acidophilus, L casei, L GG, and Bifidobacteria. In 20 of the studies published between 1980 and 2004, all of the studies found an improvement.

Safety Concerns of Probiotics
Side effects of probiotics may include mild, temporary digestive complaints, such as gas and bloating.

People who are immunosuppressed should seek medical advice before using probiotics. It is possible that the probiotic itself may cause a serious infection. One death was reportedly linked to probiotic use in a person taking immunosuppressant medication.

Probiotics are recommended by some health practioners during and/or after antibiotic use.

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