The health benefits of probiotics
Probiotics are strongly believed to be a vital component of good health as they offer incredible support to the condition of your digestive system, immune system, brain health and emotional wellbeing.
Regular analysis of probiotics reveals the importance of correctly balanced gut flora and its effects on so many aspects of daily life and health.
The world we live in is anything but sterile. It’s riddled with bad bacteria and this is also true of the body. Research shows that both the inside and outside and of our bodies are breeding areas for bacteria and other micro-organisms, like yeast. This makes perfect sense as we are warm and constantly providing nourishment to bacteria in the form of dead skin and ingested food.
The colon, the most bacteria-rich part of the body, is known to hold trillions of bacteria. Micro-organisms make up to 60% of dry waste mass and around 1000–1150 different species inhabit our bodies. This set of species is termed the ‘microbiota’. Other common terms for the micro-organisms in the gut are ‘intestinal flora’ or ‘commensal bacteria’.
What exactly are probiotics?
Probiotics are bacteria and yeasts that are known to be the most beneficial to human health. There are thousands of strains of these micro-organisms that make up the ‘gut flora’ in our intestines, some of which we are born with whilst others are obtained from unwashed food and fermented foods such as yoghurt and sour milk. Not all strains of bacteria are beneficial but a healthy body manages its population of intestinal flora, normally without problems. The important point is to provide it with the raw materials for such a healthy colony, which often doesn’t happen when the fresh food we eat has been washed until it is almost sterile, or when we are undergoing antibiotic treatment.
Probiotic cultures and good Bacteria
Probiotic cultures in food supplements offer vital support to the overall health of the body, they work symbiotically with the body to survive and support functions ranging from digestion to immunity. They also produce enzymes that help balance bacteria in the digestive system and help the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Modern life can deplete the amount of bacteria in your gut. Stress, pollution, processed foods, lack of nutrients and other factors can unbalance the beneficial bacteria in the gut.
The key to a healthy digestive system is to have the correct levels of healthy bacteria in the gut.
‘Good’ bacteria are essential to overall health. Under ideal conditions around 90% of all bacteria in the body are ‘good’ or beneficial and they can keep the ‘bad’ or harmful 10% in check. When conditions are not ideal due to illness, infection, taking antibiotics, poor diet or too many processed foods, the balance is thrown out and numbers of harmful bacteria increase.
How do probiotics work?
It is believed there are three main courses of action for probiotics that appear to make them beneficial.
1. Probiotics could make it more difficult for pathogenic bacteria to survive in the body’s micro-environments.
2. Probiotics can interact with the body’s cells to encourage them to increase their defences against problematic micro-organisms.
3. Probiotics can enhance performance and function of the immune system.