This term may be unfamiliar to many readers refers to the so-called friendly bacteria that live within the gastrointestinal tract. These good bacteria, which include the strains L. acidophilus and Bifidobacteria bifidum, must be kept in balance with the "bad" or pathogenic bacteria, such as E. coli. If not, a number of health problems, including digestive disorders, headaches, and cadidiasis (overgrowth of the bacteria Candida albicans) are likely. There are over 400 different bacteria living in the human GI tract. However, of all these, Lactobacillus acidophilus is one of the major components of the probiotic fighters. It has been shown that L. acidophilus produces natural antibiotics acidophilin, lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide which generate antimicrobial activity against food and environmental-borne pathogens.
There is no doubt that L. acidophilus enhances the immune system. In addition, it has been shown to do the following:
- digest food
- alleviate digestive disorders
- prevent bad breath
- enhance synthesis of B vitamins
- improve calcium absorption
- promote anti-tumor and anti-cancer activity
- improve tolerance and digestibility of milk products
- fight vaginitis and candidiasis
The positive role of acidophilus and other probitiocs in maintaining GI health has been repeatedly demonstrated by scientists and clinicians. This is especially helpful for the many factors that contribute to poor gastrointestinal health, thereby reducing levels of acidophilus.
Who Needs Probiotics?
There is no question that candiasis sufferers require supplemental use of probiotics to replenish beneficial GI bacteria and rebuild the immune system. But even if you don't have candidiasis, environmental and food toxins coupled witht he high-stress lifestyle of most North Americans are good indicators of the widespread need for probiotics.
This is especially true if you are consistently taking antibiotics, or if you have ever been on a course of particularly strong antibiotics, have frequent colds, or exhibit any symptoms of candida related problems. The reason for this is that antibiotics kill bacteria both good and bad. Despite their value, antibiotics have been overused to the point that there are at least two bacteria that have developed complete resistance to antibiotics. Needless to say, these bacteria present a serious problem to our health.
Where Can I Get Probiotics?
You can get probiotics from food sources. Cultured dairy products, such as natural cheese, yogurt, kefir and buttermilk, are perhaps the best food sources of probiotics. Green foods, such as wheat grass, spirulina and chlorella, are also rich sources of probiotics. They're also packed with vitamins, minerals and important nutrients, are powerful immune system stimulants, and help detoxify the body. Stay away from probiotic supplements that contain sugar or glucose, both of which can inhibit the growth of lactobacilli. As for dairy versus dairy-free formulas, it depends on your eating practices and your tolerance of dairy products. So improve your health take a probiotic today!