Did you know that the largest part of your immune system resides in your gut? It is true: your gastrointestinal tract is the home for colonies of “good bacteria”, called probiotics, which try to protect you from any pathogen that finds its way inside your body. They act like your very own miniature defense forces and they are 100 trillion strong! Ingesting probiotics may seem strange in our hygiene-obsessed culture, but this article will hopefully demonstrate why you can't achieve optimal health without a symbiotic relationship with the “friendly bacteria” living in your body.
There are ten times more of these microorganisms in your gut, than there are cells in your entire body. In other words, 90 percent of the genetic material in your body is not really yours! It belongs to the bacteria living in your gastrointestinal tract. Your intestinal microflora is estimated to weigh between three and five pounds (that's more than a kilo). There are more than four hundred species of different microorganisms living in your gut.
That's what makes probiotics, with their living bacterial content, such a powerful ally in defending and improving your health.
It is proven that the gastrointestinal microflora influences your immune system, your weight, mental health and memory, and even your genetic expression. The beneficial bacteria play a part in decreasing the risks of numerous chronic and acute diseases, like cancer and diabetes. Recent research suggests that intestinal inflammation may be involved in the development of certain cancers. In fact, it is becoming increasingly clear that lacking beneficial bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract is a primary factor in raising disease rates. However, helping your body fight those diseases could be as easy as adding probiotics to your daily diet!
These beneficial bacteria help your body break down the foods you eat: your body cannot directly absorb carbohydrates and proteins; they first need to be broken down into simple sugars and amino acids respectively. The “good bacteria” are involved in the production of those vitamins that your body cannot produce on its own, like the vitamin K, and are known to enhance the synthesis of B-vitamins; additionally, they have an important role in improving the calcium absorption. Beneficial bacteria, like the strains found in the high-quality probiotics products, are not only crucial to digestive health, helping you keep a healthy balance of intestinal microflora and aiding in a production of essential nutrients, but are also important for your immune system functioning, and promoting vaginal health in women.
You were first colonized by these “good bacteria” through your mother during pregnancy, but as you mature, the beneficial microorganisms in your gut face many threats. Drinking the chlorinated water, using antibacterial soap, eating overly processed food, drinking alcohol, taking antibiotics and other medications, and even emotional stress and lack of sleep, can all cause an imbalance of microorganisms in your stomach. It looks like the modern world is bent on destroying the health-promoting bacteria!
Taking probiotics insures that you're promptly replacing the supply of beneficial bacteria in your gut, and reaping all their health benefits. The signs that the bad bacteria may be overrunning the good bacteria in your gut include bad breath, foul gas, impaired digestion and absorption, Candida yeast overgrowth, chronic fatigue, brain fogginess, toxemia and lowered immunity. That's why it is recommended to include in your regular diet, as often as possible, the fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, natto, kefir, lassi, tempeh and black garlic. However, the number of actual live organisms in these products can vary greatly depending on method of preparation.
The best way to reseed the beneficial bacteria in your gut is to add high-quality probiotics to your diet. ‘Probiotics’ (literally: ‘pro life’) is just another name for the naturally occurring microorganisms present in every healthy digestive and reproductive tract. Probiotics, taken either in the form of food and supplements are an essential part of a healthy diet. There is an increasing wealth of knowledge on the health benefits of probiotics.
It has been proven that when taken in an adequate amount, those live bacteria can help maintain and improve the health of your gastrointestinal tract. Probiotics can be used to treat and prevent diarrhea, especially when it is caused by taking antibiotics, and shorten the course of infectious diarrhea in children and infants. They are helpful in cases of not only diarrhea, but symptoms such as bloating, cramping and gas, that often follow the antibiotic treatments. Taking Probiotics has been proven to speed the treatment of some intestinal infections and prevent infections in the digestive tract.
Studies suggest that probiotics can help maintain remission of ulcerative colitis, the recurrence of its frequent complication, Pouchitis, and prevent relapse of Crohn's Disease. That is why there are digestive disease specialists nowadays recommending probiotics for Crohn's Disease and other chronic gastrointestinal illnesses, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Probiotics can also be of use in maintaining urogenital health. Since they can help balance the natural vaginal microflora, preventing the overgrowth of harmful microorganisms and restoring the beneficial ones, they are used for prevention and treatment of vaginal yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and urinary tract infections. They can reduce the recurrence of bladder cancer.
To maintain a strong immune system, and consequentially prevent autoimmune and allergic diseases, your immune system needs to be challenged from time to time. Taking probiotics is the best way to go about strengthening it in a healthy, controlled manner. probiotics are most commonly used as immune support in the prevention and reduction of the severity of colds and flu. Since they help control immune response i.e. inflammation, they are being studied for benefits in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
In children, probiotics can delay the development of allergies and prevent and treat eczema. Studies show that probiotics can lower the risk of common childhood illnesses such as ear infections and strep throat. They can help treat a serious condition called necrotizing enterocolitis in infants.
They are commonly used for treating conditions as diverse as constipation, small intestine bacterial overgrowth, canker cores, allergic rhinitis and hayfever. Probiotics are also used for colon cancer prevention, and for alleviating the side-effects of radiation therapy. Interactions with other food or medications are not expected, and there are no side-effects.
Adding probiotics to your diet can have a profound effect on not just your gastrointestinal function, but on your overall health as well.
Read more about the probiotics offered by AquaSource here: Probiotics.