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Pro-biotics to the Rescue

by Tammera J. Karr, PhD

There is confusion over what is a probiotic versus an enzyme, and what are prebiotics.  These are questions I answer on a regular basis and for the general consumer, the confusion often persists due to advertising language.

“The Immune System comprises all structures and processes that are involved in defeating the attempts of environmental forces to overrun, destroy or gain control of any part of the body.” In other words, it is your personal army, sanitation crew, and demolition expert.   Specifically, it comprises anatomic barriers consisting of the skin and mucous membranes, which physically block the entry of antigens (wee bugs) into the body, physiologic barriers (body temperature and acidity) that inhibit the growth of or kill detrimental microorganisms and the various organs and cells of the immune system itself.  The overall coordination of the immune system takes place in the Hypothalamus and Pineal Gland.

So now that cleared up the confusion didn’t it!  Think of your body as a vast galaxy with millions of planets and possibilities for lifeforms. Ya, I know the Trekkie in me came out , but hey it is the 50th anniversary after all.  All of your organ systems, i.e., worlds;  have their own bacteria working to keep everything running like clockwork.  When we look at current DNA studies, we find the human DNA makes up only 2% of the DNA that makes us who we are.  So that makes probiotics a vital component of human health, one that has been largely overlooked until the last 5 years.

When the digestive tract becomes compromised by processed foods, stress, chemicals, environmental toxins, and heavy metals; the health of the entire body is imperiled.  Our immune system protects us from not only viruses, bacteria, and yeasts but also from naturally occurring mutant cells that can form into cancers.

A study released in April of 2016, reported the reduction of proinflammatory markers in children while taking  just one strain of beneficial bacteria. “Supplementation with B. breve strains for three months resulted in a significant decline in TNF-alpha levels. A follow-up examination three months after probiotic supplementation ceased revealed a rise in TNF-alpha levels.”

“The study authors concluded, “Probiotic intervention with B. breve strains has shown a positive effect on decreasing the production of proinflammatory cytokine TNF-alpha in children with CD on GFD.” (Klemenak M, et al. Dig Dis Sci. 2015;60:3386-92.)

Probiotics

Also known as  Beneficial Digestive Tract Bacteria, and Beneficial Intestinal Bacteria:

Beneficial microorganisms are beneficial to human health and are too small to be visible to the naked eye. An imbalance in the ratio between beneficial microorganisms and detrimental microorganisms in the body is known as dysbiosis. Probiotics comprise approximately 90% of digestive tract bacteria in healthy persons.

Probiotics in the colon can lower total serum cholesterol levels, causing remission in ulcerative colitis, treat urinary tract infections (UTIs), produce hydrogen peroxide (utilized by the body to “extinguish” neutralized antigen/antibody complexes).  In the colon, probiotics ferment insoluble fiber, starch, and undigested carbohydrates.  This is crucial for individuals with diabetes.

The short-chain saturated fatty acids produced by this fermentation are the principal source of energy for the epithelial cells of the colon. In addition probiotics manufacture vitamins that not only help with energy and nerve function but are necessary for brain health: Biotin, Choline, Folic Acid, Inositol, PABA (Para Aminobenzoic Acid), Vitamin B2, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin K.

Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are considered a soluble fiber and a prebiotic that support the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestinal tract while inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria. FOS provide nourishment to most types of beneficial bacteria living organisms requiring  nutrition like any living organism.

Pharmaceutical antibiotics destroy the body’s beneficial bacteria – as a side effect of their primary purpose of killing detrimental bacteria. Long-term usage (e.g. more than one month) of grapefruit seed extract, significant amounts of raw garlic, goldenseal, and pasteurized foods have been found to destroy the body’s endogenous probiotics in the digestive tract equally.

Ideally, retailers of probiotic  products should store their inventory under refrigeration (beneficial bacteria die at a much faster rate when they are not refrigerated).  A recent survey conducted by the National Nutritional Foods Association (USA) found that 50% of probiotic supplements in retail stores contained significantly fewer viable beneficial bacteria than claimed on the label. Freeze-dried (lypholized) probiotic  supplements, usually in the form of powder have a longer shelf life than non-freeze-dried products.

To healthy guts full of happy probiotics

 

Y. Y. Loong et al. A Review on the Effects of Probiotics and Antibiotics towards Clostridium difficile Infections. Pertanika Journal of Science and Technology, 21 (2): 293 – 302 (2013)
S. Hempel, S. J. Newberry, A. R. Maher, Z. Wang, J. N. V. Miles, R. Shanman, B. Johnsen, P. G. Shekelle. Probiotics for the Prevention and Treatment of Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2012; 307 (18): 1959 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2012.3507
American Gastroenterological Association. “Feeding gut microbiota: Nutrition, probiotics key factors for digestive health.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310111541.htm>.

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