Beach Metro Community News
Although many of us understand the importance of having nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and antioxidants in our diet, it has not been until recent years that we are becoming more and more aware of the tremendous health benefits provided by the “good” bacteria in our digestive system. These friendly bacteria have many proven helpful functions, including: producing B vitamins and vitamin K, controlling cholesterol levels, improving digestive function, metabolizing toxins, keeping harmful microorganisms in check, enhancing immune function, and controlling allergies.
When you have an imbalance in the friendly bacteria in your intestines, as opposed to unhealthy microorganisms (a condition called “dysbiosis”), many symptoms or health conditions can arise. These include: digestive problems (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, inflammatory bowel disease), allergies (food and environmental), arthritis, fatigue, headaches, skin disorders (acne, eczema), chronic infections, and certain cancers. Factors which can diminish the amount of good bacteria in your body include: taking antibiotics (which kill off not only the bad bacteria, but also the good ones as well) or other medications, stress, radiation, and a poor diet.
In order to replenish this beneficial bacteria, one can preferably take a high-quality probiotic (meaning “for life”) supplement. Consult with a trained healthcare professional to determine which probiotic would be most suitable for you, as there are many different types and qualities of supplements available and several of them do not contain what is stated on the label (and therefore do not provide the expected health benefits). Another way to increase the amount of good bacteria in your system is to consume quality yogourt from a health food store, which contains live and active cultures (supermarket brands usually do not have the live cultures in them) or kefir (fermented milk, which is easier to digest than yogourt and contains different types of friendly microorganisms that yogourt does not).
So who can benefit from probiotics? Basically anyone – from the very young to the elderly – can derive health benefits from taking probiotics. Even infants may need to replenish the good bacteria in their systems. In fact, although the intestinal tract of a fetus is normally sterile while it is still in the womb, it picks up microorganisms from the mother and the surrounding environment, during the birthing process (if it was a natural delivery) and then later through the breast milk. If a baby has been delivered through caesarean section and also bottle-fed, they will not receive the beneficial bacteria that they would normally acquire from their mother. It is important to note that because infants possess different strains of bacteria in their intestinal tracts compared to adults, they would require a specialized type of probiotic supplement (again, please seek the advice of a qualified professional in this case).
It is often said that the digestive system is the root of all illness, as it is so closely tied in to the immune system. Even as early as 400 B.C., Hippocrates stated that “bad digestion is the root of all evil”. Did you know that there are normally 3 to 4 pounds of bacteria in our gut, which can amount to nearly 100 trillion bacterial cells? Without the proper balance of the friendly bacteria, the harmful microorganisms can overgrow and the digestive system, as well as the immune system, will not function optimally, leading to the myriad of problems listed above.
Because the state of your health is largely affected by the state of your digestive tract, the rest of your health will also suffer, if the integrity of your digestive system is compromised. Therefore, it is evident that maintaining the proper balance of beneficial bacteria in your digestive system is essential, in order for optimal health and well-being to be achieved.
Note: This article is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace proper diagnosis and treatment by a qualified healthcare professional.