Simply put, probiotics are a series of microorganisms which you can consider friendly bacteria that help our intestines absorb nutrients and protect the intestinal wall – this in turn helps prevent “bad” bacteria from going into our blood or lymph system. Furthermore, “good” bacteria helps kill off bad bacteria and in a way, teaches our body and immune system to recognize and fight against invaders.
It’s said that we have over 500 different types of bacteria in our body and over a trillion units of bacteria at any given time. These bacteria live in our pharynx, stomach, intestines, and vagina (yikes).
You may have heard the term “microflora” which can be described as the collection of bacteria and the subsequent environment produced. For optimal digestive and overall health and wellness, we strive for a balanced and healthy microflora.
What’s important to understand about probiotics is that since there are so many different types, you need to know which type will aid and support your body for a specific health concern.
Many female readers may have been told that probiotics can help with yeast infections – this is true. For example, with a yeast infection, what is happening is that there is a yeast over growth. The overgrowth is likely due to dysbiosis – or an imbalance in your microflora where the bad bacteria outweigh the good bacteria and it’s important for you to address with root cause of this with your health care practitioner and not simply reach for an over the counter yeast infection medication. A Naturopath or Holistic Nutritionist is able to review your diet and lifestyle practices to determine what is causing the overgrowth and can put you on a protocol to permanently kill the bad bacteria and re-establish a balanced microflora. For the ladies out there reading, the type of probiotics that will likely be recommended in the case of a yeast infection are L. Acidophilus, L. Casei GG, and Bifidobacteria.
Yogurts are a popular way of obtaining probiotics, but make sure they have at least one of the three aforementioned strains. A reputable natural supplement called HMF Intensive by Genestra is also a good way to ingest probiotics to combat yeast infects and can be found in most natural health stores. Another popular alternative is Bio K which is good for people who are gluten and lactose intolerant because it comes in a dairy, soy, and rice format.
What’s cool about probiotics is that like I said, different types are good for different things. For kids with diarrhea for example, try a Saccharomyces Boulardii based probiotic. In the past few years, there has been a lot of hype over the usefulness of probiotics for digestive health. In the case of digestion, one bacteria that is naturally occurring in our intestines is L. Acidophilus which produces an acidic state in the intestines. The acidity is what stops harmful bacteria from over growing.
To give some context, HMF Intensive has 30 billion units of Bifidobacterium lactis (a bacteria found in the intestines) per capsule whereas Activia yogurt has 1 billion units. You may have heard that Danone’s Activia paid out millions of dollars for making false claims as to the benefits of their product on digestive system health. Ultimately, these claims were considered misleading because in order for an individual to feel the benefits for Activia yogurt, you would need to consume it at least 3 times a day.
Come back for tomorrow’s to learn about the common causes of dysbiosis and learn what you can do to keep your digestive system in balance!
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