Bacteria usually gets a bad rap for causing disease, yet swallowing a few billion a day in the name of health might cause most people to pause. However scientific evidence, that continues to grow, suggests that one can treat and possibly prevent some illnesses with foods and supplements that contain certain types of live bacteria. Since the mid-1990s, clinical studies have established that probiotic therapy can aid in the treatment of some gastrointestinal concerns, delay development of allergies in children as well as treat and prevent women’s vaginal and urinary infections.
Probiotics which are also called ‘good bacteria’ are “organisms and substances that have a beneficial effect on the host animal by contributing to its intestinal microbial balance”, according to a report written by Parker, R. B. in the journal Animal Nutrition and Health. In addition, probiotic bacteria may have the potential to change brain neurochemistry and treat anxiety and depression-related disorders, according to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
It is estimated that 100 trillion microorganisms which represent more than 500 different species inhabit every normal, healthy bowel. This enormous internal ecosystem consists of thousands of billions of living microorganisms that co-exist. Our “human intestinal flora,” radically influences, and to a certain degree even directs, every individual’s personal state of health and well being — including physical and mental health, and metabolism. These microflora or beneficial bacteria don’t usually make us sick and, in fact, can keep pathogens (harmful microorganisms) in check, aid in digestion and nutrient absorption, and contribute highly to immune function.
Probiotic therapy may also prove helpful with Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel synngdrome. Even though the clinical trial results are mixed, several smaller studies suggest that certain probiotics can help maintain remission of ulcerative colitis and prevent relapse of Crohn’s disease and the recurrence of pouchitis (a complication of surgery to treat ulcerative colitis). Because these disorders are so frustrating and difficult to treat, many patient’s are trying probiotics. Of course, more research is needed to find out which strains work best for what conditions. Diarrhea is another illness in which controlled trials have shown that Lactobacillus GG can shorten the course in infants and children and can reduce diarrhea brought on by antibiotic use by 60%.
It is also interesting to note that probiotics can be of used in maintaining urogenital health. The vagina is a finely balanced ecosystem – somewhat like the digestive tract. Dominant Lactobacilli strains normally make it too acidic for harmful microorganisms to survive. However, as most women know, the system can be thrown out of balance by using antibiotics, spermicides, and birth control pills. Thus the use of probiotics that restore microflora balance may be helpful for these common female urogenital concerns such as bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection, and urinary tract infection.
Health Benefits of Probiotics
Below are some of the many health benefits of probiotic use.
- anti-inflammatory properties
- protection from free radicals
- improves glucose tolerance
- prevents allergies
- reduces cholesterol
- benefits & supports liver
- improves mood
- relieves stress
- relieves anxiety
- relieves depression
- regulates bowel activity
- improves immune system
- improves digestion
- improves nutrient absorption
- fights yeast & fungal infections
- prevents constipation
- alleviates bloating
- improves antibiotic tolerance
- helps with hormone balance
- assists in detoxification
- enhances calcium metabolism
- improves lactose digestion
- fights bad bacteria
- increases energy
Probiotic Fruit Smoothie
2 ½ cups frozen organic fruit
1 medium organic banana frozen
1 – 1 ½ cups coconut milk or purified water
1 tablespoon (or less) raw honey
2-3 Latero-Flora capsules, empty probiotic, discard capsule
Add frozen fruit, banana (broken into pieces), milk, honey, and empty probiotic powder into blender. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!
Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide – http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update0905c.shtml