Probiotics and Probiotic Supplements
What are they, their benefits,
and what foods they are in?
What are probiotics?
What are probiotics, you ask? They are simply the healthy effects of good bacteria that live in your gastrointestinal tract. Probiotics keep your gastrointestinal tract functioning properly and when there are not enough of them or they become imbalanced, you might experience digestive problems.
At least 400 different species and possibly more as yet undiscovered microflora live in your gastrointestinal tract. Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum are the most important of these “friendly bacteria.”
What foods contain probiotics?
Most people in the world eat foods fermented with probiotics, especially Lactobacilli. If you enjoy cheese, yogurt, and miso, you are ingesting some degree of a probiotic food. And that’s a good thing, because Lactobacilli and you have a history together, a symbiotic relationship with nutritional and therapeutic bonuses. Food sources, with no supplementation, of probiotics are usually not going to improve a digestive problem.
You weren’t born with probiotics and Lactobacilli in your gastrointestinal tract; they colonized after your birth. B. bifidum made its way to your infant gut through breast feeding, and other bacteria moved in later from world contact, like the beneficial strains L. casei, L. fermentum, L. salivores, and L. brevis. Sadly, bad bacteria also eventually invade your colon.
Please meet the probiotics in your intestine. They are:
- L. acidophilus
- L. bifidus (Bifidobacterium bifidum)
- L. brevis
- L. casei
- L. cellobiosus
- L. fermenti
- L. leichmannii
- L. plantarum
- L. salivaroes
To provide your digestive tract with benefits, products containing L. acidophilus and B. bifidum must be delivered in a way that they’ll survive the gastrointestinal tract, which is a hostile place.
Some factors affect successful probiotic colonization of your gastrointestinal tract, such as species, strain, adherence, growth media, and diet. Usually, a top-notch commercial preparation yields more good bacteria than simply downing your favorite yogurt. Why? Yogurt, a probiotic containing food, is typically made with L. bulgaricus or Streptococcus thermophilus; they have some health benefits, but are visitors that don’t dwell in the colon.
Proper production, packaging, and storage of probiotic supplements are necessary to ensure feasibility, moisture level, and to prevent contamination. Lactobacilli can be easily damaged by freeze-drying (lyophilization), spray drying, or regular frozen storage. When there are extreme temperatures during the packing or storing processes this can greatly diminish longevity. In addition, unless the product is ‘stable’-not sensitive to specific temperatures-you must refrigerate it. Some probiotic supplements don’t have to be refrigerated until after you open the bottle.
Speaking of supplements, there are a number of reputable companies that provide high-quality ones, however, it is difficult to trust every manufacturer’s claims. Some products don’t even contain any active L. acidophilus! Do your homework and use caution when shopping. This is one reason it is a good idea to consult with a natural health expert, like me, to determine your specific probiotic needs and which type might be best for you.
Intestinal flora plays a major role in your overall health and especially in your digestive system. Your probiotics are intimately involved in your nutritional status and affect immune system function, cholesterol metabolism, carcinogenesis, and aging. Because of the significance of L. acidophilus and B. bifidum to your health, probiotic supplements can be taken to promote overall wellbeing.
There are specific uses for probiotics:
- To promote a proper intestinal environment
- To help partially treat and prevent vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
- To be taken after a course of antibiotics to reduce gastrointestinal side effects.
- To help in strengthening your immune system.
- Therapeutic for many gastrointestinal problems
- Your body produces certain B-vitamins because of probiotics
- To stop harmful bacterial overgrowth.
- They also have anticancerous properties
Fructooligosaccharides, FOS for short, is a food component that promotes the growth of your body’s friendly bacteria. Fructooligosaccharides are not digested by human beings and are very beneficial to your gastrointestinal system, because they provide food for probiotics to grow and flourish.
Other benefits of Fructooligosaccharides are:
- Increased production of short-chain fatty acids
- They improve your bodies liver function
- Can reduce your cholesterol and blood pressure
- Improve your bodies elimination of toxic compounds
Fructooligosaccharides are found in:
- Jerusalem artichokes
Supplementation of FOS may help boost your FOS intake and help the growth of your friendly bacteria.
Probiotic supplementation is extremely safe and is not associated with any side effects. Dosages range depending on what you are looking to accomplish.
Not quite sure whether your need probiotics, what types, what dose and how to properly take them? My digestive health service can help you determine what is needed to rebalance your body and have you on your way to better gastrointestinal health.
Robert Galarowicz, ND
Naturopathic Doctor, Clinical Nutritionist
AIM Center - Alternative Integrative Medical Center
1 Sears Dr. Fl#4
Paramus, New Jersey 07652
My office is located in Bergen County with 50 minutes from bethpage, n.y. great neck, n.y. port washington, n.y. picatinny arsenal, n.j. new milford, n.j. valley stream, n.y. far rockaway, n.y. vauxhall, port washington, n.y. new rochelle, n.y. bedford hills, n.y. centerport, n.y.fairlawn, n.j. ridgewood, n.j. paterson, n.j. hawthorne, n.j. midland park, n.j. glen rock, n.j. haledon, n.j. sparrow bush, n.j. patterson, n.j. chester, n.j. mountain lakes, n.j. newfoundland, n.j. and berkeley heights, n.j.