Probiotics, Friendly Bacteria
By Nathan Zassman
Many people are aware of antibiotics, drugs used to help kill bacterial infections. An antibiotic is a drug that kills or prevents the growth of bacteria. They have no effect against viruses or fungal infections. While antibiotics can be helpful, they are not selective.
We have billions of beneficial bacteria in our body in the small and large intestine. Beneficial bacteria are critical to normal functioning of our digestive system, and as a result on our immune system.
Beneficial bacteria assist in the absorption of nutrients through the small intestine, and produce a variety of vitamins and enzymes that enhance our health by acting as cofactors in the production of energy. Probiotics also promote the production of digestive enzymes, aiding in the digestion and absorption of nutrients from foods.
Probiotics are one of our most important nutritional supplements. Improper diet, antibiotics, even excess sugar in the diet, can adversely affect the levels of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system (also called "probiotics."). Aviva carries a wide variety of beneficial probiotic bacteria products, and I feel that the use of a beneficial bacteria supplement, or probiotic, can enhance and improve everyone's health.
Health Disclaimer. Copyright Aviva Natural Health Solutions.
Introduction to Prebiotics and Probiotics
There's been a lot of talk in the news about prebiotics and probiotics. Here is a basic summary of what probiotics are and what they can do for you health. Most people aren't aware that there are millions of bacteria living in their intestines. Certain types of these bacteria are considered "friendly" and perform functions for your digestive tract that helps your body to stay healthy. "Good" bacteria help prevent "bad" bacteria from multiplying, they help make vitamin K, and they keep your immune system functioning properly. The role of prebiotics and probiotics in your diet is to assist in restoring a proper balance of good bacteria in your digestive system.
Probiotics are a beneficial bacteria found in food. Common strains include the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families of bacteria. They are naturally found in fermented foods like sauerkraut and yogurt, although many foods are now having probiotics added to them. Some of the health benefits of including probiotics in your diet are:
* reduction in the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
* help cure candidiasis (yeast infection) and other female uro-genital conditions
* assists in healing many intestinal infections
* possibly a reduction in allergy symptoms
* helps control lactose intolerance
* promotes regular bowel movements
* help treats eczema in children
Probiotic bacteria taken together with prebiotics that support their growth are called "synbiotics." They work together more efficiently to increase the benefits of probiotics.
Current research indicates that taking probiotics and prebiotics is good for your health on many different levels. However, there are currently no regulations regarding the labelling of foods that contain prebiotics or probiotics. A label can say that their product contains some, but there is no second-party measurement that validates this claim. One of the main concerns is that products saying they contain live cultures do not actually contain enough live organisms to be beneficial, or the organisms are not resistant enough to survive the passage through the stomach acid to reach the intestine. As well, not all strains of probiotics are beneficial to your health, yet there are no rules saying which strains can be added to food products.
Preliminary tests and results certainly show that probiotics and prebiotics are a promising food additive. More research is required to further explore the benefits and costs of these bacteria. Be sure to talk to your doctor or nutritionist about how you can increase your intake of probiotics and prebiotics to create a nutritional plan that promotes whole body health.
Health Disclaimer. Copyright ©2008. Published with permission. Cristel Gunn is a freelance writer and is not affiliated with avivahealth.com.
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