11 Nov 2012
November 11, 2012

Tune-up for Your Digestive System III

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Finally, for a smoothly running system, our body needs something called probiotics. Science has only recently begun to understand how the microbial flora in our intestines function.  A classic definition of “probiotics” would be “a live microbial feed supplement which beneficially affects the host animal by improving its intestinal microbial balance”.

Digestively, probiotics are usually a type of beneficial microbial bacteria found in many foods or available in dietary supplements, and which are similar to the friendly bacteria called flora which are naturally present in our own digestive systems.

Internal imbalance

Within our bodies, there are many different types of bacteria in the gastro-intestinal tract, and elsewhere in the body, which ideally maintain themselves in a healthy interactive balance.  This harmony can become disturbed due to infection in our bodies, misuse of alcohol or other drugs, or inappropriate antibiotic exposure. When the microbial balance is disturbed, an off-balance state called Dysbiosis occurs.

Dysbiosis

Dysbiosis is most prominent in the digestive tract, and may underlie such signs and symptoms as bloating, gas, nausea, constipation, bad breath and body odour. Dysbiosis has been associated with many other conditions such as attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, chronic digestive problems, IBS, some immune disorders, liver dysfunction, chronic fatigue, malaise, and more. If you are suffering from any of these conditions, probiotics could be of great benefit by restoring balance.

Probiotics benefits

Research suggests that probiotics play a role in modulating our immune system activity related to the gut-related lymphoid tissue (GALT) – tissue which is embedded in the gastro-intestinal tract. Probiotics are currently being credited with many inter-related health benefits including: alleviation of chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases such as IBS, prevention and treatment of pathogen-induced diarrhea, uro-genital infections, and atopic (allergic hypersensitivity) diseases.

Probiotics in our diet

Live probiotic cultures are available in many fermented foods.  Dairy products such as yogurt and kefir; and other fermented foods such as tempeh, pickles, sauerkraut, miso; as well as whole grain breads and honey contain probiotics.

Probiotics supplements can be found in a variety of tablets, capsules, powders and even sachets containing the bacteria in freeze dried form.  When adding a probiotic supplement to your diet, choose one that provides more than one type of microorganism and look for a supplement that guarantees to provide billions of live cells. Be careful to store your probiotics as instructed by the manufacturer in order to get the most benefit from the live cell cultures.