Repeatedly demonstrated to aid gastrointestinal health in the human body, acidophilus and other probiotics are key elements of our overall health and well being. This is particularly true when we consider that many of our common-day chronic ailments begin in the digestive system. It is also true when we consider the sheer number of people that suffer from poor gastrointestinal health, a condition which lowers the overall level of good bacteria in the body.
Before we go into the multi-fold benefits of taking probiotics, let’s define what probiotics are. The Joint FAO/WHO Working Group defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.”
In plain English, probiotics are a type of living bacteria that actually benefit your health when taken in the appropriate amounts. This friendly bacteria, located in the gastrointestinal tract, comes in a variety of forms. With more than 400 different bacteria living in the human gastrointestinal tract, the most common forms of intestinal probiotics are L. acidophilus and Bifidobacteria bifidum.
These bacteria act as balancing agents for non-friendly, pathogenic, gut-bacteria such as Candida or E. coli. When the “good-guys” are not present enough, a number of bacteria-related health problems such as digestive upset, headaches, sluggishness, irritability, cadidiasis (an overgrowth of the bacteria Candida albicans), and even anxiety can ensue.
Lactobacillus acidophilus is, quite possibly, the strongest of our probiotic fighters. Studies show that L. acidophilus actually creates a natural form of antibiotics in the body . This natural antibiotic increases our ability to produce antimicrobial action against the pathogens in the food we eat, the air we breath, and the things we come in contact with. Stress, unhealthy lifestyles, and most importantly, unhealthy acidic diets, destroy our natural amounts of probiotics. In this sense, it is a great idea to add a probiotic supplement to your diet.
The Health Benefits of Probiotics
The following health benefits are associated with the intake of daily doses of probiotics .
- Enhanced immune system response
- Reduces negative affects of taking many types of antibiotics
- Aids in preventing and treating colon inflammation following surgery
- Helps to prevent eczema in youth
- Increased ability to digest food
- Therapeutic for viral respiratory tract infections by enhancing the overall immune system
- Reduces lactose intolerance
- Reduces incidence of yeast infections, vaginitis and candidiasis
- Increases ability to assimilate the nutrients from food
- Alleviates many common digestive disorders such as constipation, diarrhea and IBS
- Acts as a remedy for bad breath (halitosis)
- Increases ability to synthesize vitamin B
- Increases ability to absorb calcium
- Promotes anti-tumor and anti-cancer activity in the body
Who Should Take Probiotics?
There is no question that candiasis sufferers require supplemental use of probiotics to replenish beneficial GI bacteria and rebuild the immune system. Even if you don’t have candidiasis, environmental and food toxins, coupled with the high-stress lifestyle of most North Americans, are good indicators of the widespread need for probiotics.
This is especially true if you are consistently taking antibiotics, or if you have ever been on a course of particularly strong antibiotics, have frequent colds, or exhibit any symptoms of candida related problems. The reason for this is that antibiotics kill bacteria both good and bad. Despite their value, antibiotics have been overused to the point that there are at least two bacteria that have developed complete resistance to antibiotics. Needless to say, these bacteria present a serious problem to our health.
Studies on Probiotics
- Studies show that probiotics improve the bio-availability of many important nutrients in the body such as zinc, iron, phosphorus, all of the B vitamins, calcium, copper, and magnesium. 
- A study on the probiotic strain B. infantis showed powerful abilites to normalize bowel function in patients suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). 
- Probiotics have been shown to significantly lower the rate of diarrhea and diaper rash in babies’ consuming infant probiotics. 
- Active bacteria cultures, such as acidophilus, have been shown to aid in reducing intolerance to lactose found in dairy products. 
- Several studies on probiotics have indicated that through the process of regulating intestinal transit time of fecal matter, probiotics can dramatically reduce constipation in the elderly. 
- Other reports indicate that some forms of probiotics, can aid in promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon, significantly lowering the conversion of bile in the colon into carcinogens.
- Some studies demonstrate that probiotics enhance overall immunity through a process of regulating lymphocytes and antibodies in the body. 
Where Can I Buy High-Quality Probiotics?
Currently, I recommend and use 2 forms of probiotics. LateroFlora which is the B.O.D. Bacillus Laterosporus strain and Dr. Mercolas Bacillus Coagulans strain. I have tested many products and these seem to work the best, especially for taming candida and balancing the bowel bacteria.
Be sure to avoid probiotic supplements that have sugar or glucose in the ingredient list. Both sugar and glucose actually slow the growth of healthy lactobacilli. We can also get moderate levels of probiotics from a healthy diet rich in cultured organic products like yogurt, goat’s cheese, kefir and buttermilk.
Many common leafy greens are also excellent sources of probiotics. The best greens for increasing probiotics include chlorella, wheat grass, and spirulina. The advantage of getting these disease-fighting bacteria from green sources is that these foods are also extremely high in immune system-stimulating vitamins, minerals and nutrients. They also aid in detoxing the body.
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM
- S.S. Biradar, S.T. Bahagvati, B. Shegunshi. Probiotics And Antibiotics: A Brief Overview. The Internet Journal of Nutrition and Wellness. 2005 Volume 2 Number 1. DOI: 10.5580/fc0.
- Reid G, Jass J, Sebulsky MT, McCormick JK. Potential uses of probiotics in clinical practice. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2003 Oct;16(4):658-72. Review.
- Lutter CK, Dewey KG. Proposed nutrient composition for fortified complementary foods. J Nutr. 2003 Sep;133(9):3011S-20S. Review.
- Niedzielin K, Kordecki H, Birkenfeld B. A controlled, double-blind, randomized study on the efficacy of Lactobacillus plantarum 299V in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2001 Oct;13(10):1143-7.
- Hickson M, D’Souza AL, Muthu N, Rogers TR, Want S, Rajkumar C, Bulpitt CJ. Use of probiotic Lactobacillus preparation to prevent diarrhoea associated with antibiotics: randomised double blind placebo controlled trial. BMJ. 2007 Jul 14;335(7610):80. Epub 2007 Jun 29.
- Sanders ME. Considerations for use of probiotic bacteria to modulate human health. J Nutr. 2000 Feb;130(2S Suppl):384S-390S. Review.
- Zaharoni H, Rimon E, Vardi H, Friger M, Bolotin A, Shahar DR. Probiotics improve bowel movements in hospitalized elderly patients–the PROAGE study. J Nutr Health Aging. 2011 Mar;15(3):215-20.
- Macfarlane GT, Cummings JH. Probiotics and prebiotics: can regulating the activities of intestinal bacteria benefit health? BMJ. 1999 Apr 10;318(7189):999-1003. Review.