The Health Benefits of Probiotics

Benefits of Probiotics

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 [1]. This increases our ability to defend 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 servings of probiotics [2].

  • Enhanced immune system response
  • Alleviates negative affects of taking many types of antibiotics
  • Calms colon irritation following surgery
  • Helps to support healthy skin in youth
  • Increased ability to digest food
  • Therapeutic for upper respiratory complaints
  • 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

Who Should Take Probiotics?

active senior citizens

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. [3]
  • A study on the probiotic strain B. infantis showed powerful abilites to normalize bowel function in patients suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). [4]
  • Probiotics have been shown to significantly lower the rate of diarrhea and diaper rash in babies’ consuming infant probiotics. [5]
  • Active bacteria cultures, such as acidophilus, have been shown to aid in reducing intolerance to lactose found in dairy products. [6]
  • 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. [7]
  • 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. [8]

Where Can I Buy High-Quality Probiotics?

Latero-Flora Probiotic Supplement

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, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Lutter CK, Dewey KG. Proposed nutrient composition for fortified complementary foods. J Nutr. 2003 Sep;133(9):3011S-20S. Review.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Sanders ME. Considerations for use of probiotic bacteria to modulate human health. J Nutr. 2000 Feb;130(2S Suppl):384S-390S. Review.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

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  • Natural Antibiotics

    I think we have an epidemic of inblanced flora in a marjority of people. So many problems stem from this, Crohn’s, candida, digestive issues, skin problems, the list goes on and on. Glad to see your trying to help educated the public about this.

  • Boser

    I’ve always believed that the benefits of probiotics were worth it. Thank you for the article. I will continue to eat yogurt and other food sources for probiotics. Maybe look into getting Latero-Flora. I’m 62 years old, I gotta look out for myself

  • http://naturalhealthsociety.com Brian

    There are many studies published on the benefits of probiotics. It seems very simple as to how and why the “good bacteria” is good for you. It remains a mystery to me as to why this kind of good information does not make the mainstream media. Why don’t more people know about this? Why don’t doctors recommend this? It is good to see the information laid out intelligently.

  • http://www.bodaweightloss.com/blog jen boda

    Great post! Most people don’t realize how important probiotics are for balancing acidity and digesting all the nutrients from our food. Thanks!

    jen

  • http://zekesfoodblog.blogspot.com Zeke

    Great writeup. Probiotics were once so common and now people don’t get any and their health is suffering. Probiotic supplements can do wonders for health.

  • http://www.natural-cure-remedy.com Kathy

    Good article! I was sick for a very long time with multiple digestive problems. The cause was the use of antibiotics without being told that I needed to repopulate my gut with probiotics. Sometimes I am still angry about that because of the time I lost being so ill when it could have been avoided. I now always take probiotics. One of the ways I do that is by making my own 24 hour yogurt. I use it in my smoothies. Thanks again for pointing out the importance of probiotics in our health.

  • http://bigrawblog.blogspot.com Z B

    Great article. Probiotics are very important to a healthy digestive system and help control the over growth of candida.

    Raw vegan probiotics from whole foods are the best.

    Here is an excellent recipe to make your own raw sauerkraut. 2 ingredients and 30 minutes prep time, it couldn’t be easier to get your raw, vegan, cruelty-free, homemade, diy, off the grid, naturally fermented probiotics!

    http://bigrawblog.blogspot.com/2009/02/make-your-own-natural-raw-sauerkraut-no.html

  • Jody

    I take probiotic supplements, and have tried Latero-flora many times. It works well, I have recommended it to a few coworkers, all with pleasant results. Whenever I don’t take Latero-flora, I try to eat yogurts like Activia.

    Great article! I now have something to email to my coworkers to really back up what I’m telling them.

  • Natural

    I know from experience that there are very few things more important to us humans than a healthy digestive system and porbiotics are an essential way to stay well. I will take a look at the products that you recommend.

  • Edwin K.

    Very interesting article. It would be more beneficial if you cleanse your colon first with aloe vera gel before you repopulate your intestines with probiotic bacteria.
    Aloe vera gel encourages the growth of friendly bacteria and provides a good environment for them to colonize.

  • http://www.naturalhealthsystem.com Lucian

    How about Garden of Life’s “Primal Defense Ultra”?

  • ajit

    Dr. Group I was hoping you could help me out with the following questions:

    1. If I were to take the Lateroflora, do I really need any other probitioc?

    2. Also, you mentioned Dr. Mercolas probitiocs, are there any other you use? Because I think the company that made lateroflora also has one called utlimate flora?

    Thanks again

  • Clive Morris

    I have a lot of support Probiotics, these have worked wonders for my health and also the health of my loved ones. And it doesn’t break the bank either.

  • Jean OBrien

    My 16 y.o. daughter suffered with GI complaints for close to two years. Finally, someone suggested probiotics. She had great success with Florastor. Unfortunately, she developed headaches. It was clear that the Florastor was cause of headaches and had to be stopped. Do all probiotics cause headaches to varying degrees. Which probiotic might be the best alternative.

  • Steve

    Jean, Probiotics should not cause a headache in your daughter. Has she ever done a parasite cleanse? I recommend it highly. All the best!

  • Tracy Marie

    I read somewhere that if you eat blueberries with probiotics that it gives you more health benefits. Not sure how true it is, but I love them both… so every morning. I have a yogurt with either blueberries, blackberries or a banana.

    Great breakfast!

  • Candida

    Thanks for a well written article. Probiotic supplements have become exceedingly popular in the past recent years – and with a good reason.

  • Anne

    I also get headaches when taking a multi probiotic but not when I take just acidopholus by itself ..I read somewhere that the probiotics can cause a detoc or die – off effect and headaches are one of em ..
    they are good for you from what all I have read and since we need them this day and time either we gotta get em from a very good diet or take em in supplement form .. I am gonna try cutting back on the dose and working my way up and see what happens ..

  • Anne

    also the one I was taking had 7 billion culture count so I think I am gonna start with something half that count ..that very well may be an option for your daughter too .. GOOD LUCK

  • Eric

    Thank you for the information I’m now going to take a probiotic due to this article…… Well said whoever wrote this. You sold me !!

  • Mari Eliza

    I experienced major digestive problems after taking strong antibiotics for a virulent staff infection a few years ago. It took twice as long to recover from the symptoms as it did the staff. Doctors never mentioned taking pribiotics or anything else to protect my digestive system. I figured out the priotics a few months ago when the digestive issues returned. Now I pack down one or two drinks a day and try to eat a helping of yogurt with bananas, nuts raisins and honey as well. I have problems swallowing pills. Is there a preferred probiotic drink? Is there a problem with the dairy probiotics? And is there a problem with overdosing on probiotics?

  • Astrid

    Hi Mari,

    It is safe to take up to 50 billion active cultures a day (that is what is usually indicated for those with chronic yeast problems). Dairy should not be a problem unless you are sensitive to it (ie – it causes gas, bloating, diarrhea, etc). Helios Kefier is a liquid probiotic drink and is the only commercial brand recommended by Donna Gates author of the Body Ecology Diet. You could also try looking for a probiotic powder or just opening up a capsule and stirring it into some yogurt, smoothie or other cold food. Look for a probiotic that gaurrentees the active cultures through its’ experation date such as Renew Life’s Ultimate Flora or try the above mentioned one or Dr. Mercola’s.

    Hope the info is helpful! :)

  • Claire Fisher

    I honestly had no idea that there were so many probiotic benefits. I’m gonna have to get me some of that latero-flora probiotic supplement. Thanks!

  • Probiotics fan

    I’ve had IBS and other stomach problems for years and it can really be a pain. I’ve tried many different treatments, both natural and conventional. I’m most impressed with natural ingredients. But you need to get the real stuff; I prepare my own fermented vegetables at home, mostly cabbage and carrots. It’s great to have it daily with food. But I also take a very potent supplement from Dr Mercola–this must be one of the best supplements on the market.

    A healthy diet, cultured vegetables, and a good supplement keeps my stomach and my whole body in better shape than anything else. I’ve learned that probiotics is much more important than multivitamins and many other supplements people take.

  • Eagan Olson

    Probiotics can help alot with diarrhea but sometimes they can cause bad headache. I have that problem each time.

  • Pam

    I, too, have a bad headache since taking the probiotics. Be careful:)

  • jenn davis

    I started taking acidophilus probiotic a month ago and it sure changed my whole metabolism and not suffering from halitosis anylonger.Thank God!

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  • http://westgogreen.com/ WestGoGreen.com

    Great article! I have been taking probiotics for some time now just because someone told me they are good and because of what I read on the label. Education on this subject is super beneficial as well. I will blog this subject and link to this page if it is ok. Thank you! :)

  • danica003

    When taking these probiotics, it is still essential that you will consult your physician for better guidance. Digestive problems can be resolved as you take this good bacteria.

  • anon

    Big Pharma, it cuts into their profits… we cant have that, not in ‘merica

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