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Yes-biotics No-biotics, all about probiotics

There are over 400 types of bacteria that are actually beneficial to our health. These good bacteria help the body resist the multiplication of other illness-generating bacteria. These good bacteria are usually called probiotic bacteria. We provide them with shelter and food and they, in turn, provide us with protection.

It’s been found that probiotic bacteria help taking care of bacterial infections and preventing them, and also taking care of viral/fungal infections. They contribute to a healthy digestive system in many ways, there are also ongoing scientific evidence that they contribute in preventing specific types of cancer. Maintaining a good balance of probiotic bacteria creates a cleansing effect in the body, which helps preventing illnesses caused by excessive accumulation of toxins, including autoimmune illnesses (when the body attacks itself), allergies and cancer.

Probiotic bacteria improve food absorption- it’s one of their most important functions. Without them we would have disorders in the physical processes that the food we eat goes through (digestion, absorption and toxins neutralization). This is also why, when we take antibiotics, we get a sense of discomfort in our digestive system, because antibiotics destroy both the good and the bad bacteria in the body.

A lot of probiotic bacteria species create enzymes in the digestive system that help fully discharge food, therefore, allowing it to be absorbed better in the body and decreasing the sense of swelling and flatulence in the stomach.

Probiotic bacteria produce nutrients - B vitamins: Biotin (B7), Thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), Pantothenic acid (B5), Pyridoxine (B6). They also produce antioxidants, Amino acids and vitamin K which helps with bone construction and maintaining a healthy heart.

Probiotic bacteria invigorate the immune system – they stimulate the production of antidotes and increase the activity of white blood cells.

Probiotic bacteria delay the spreading of cancerous tumors – they stop the activity of materials that turn healthy cells into cancerous cells and decrease the concentration of enzymes which turns pre-cancerous situations into cancerous situations. More specifically, they help preventing colorectal cancer.

Probiotic bacteria fight infections - the population of intestinal bacteria creates chemical materials that destroy harmful bacteria. Furthermore, they suppress the multiplication of bacteria, monoclonal fungi (for example: Candida) and viruses. 

They prevent food allergies – Researches show that probiotic bacteria are effective in cases of food sensitivity. They decrease intestinal infections.

They fight the excessive multiplication of yeasts - mostly that of the Candida Albicans which is found naturally in the digestive system and in all the mucous systems of the body. Fungal infections may affect the vagina, bladder, mouth and throat, breasts (for those who breast feed), skin, nails and sinuses or spread to all the parts of the body. Also, when the immune system is at a low – for patients with cancer or undergoing cancer treatments or suffer from an illness that prevent the immune system from functioning correctly.

Probiotic bacteria prevent and also take care of diarrhea and constipation – studies on this focused mainly on kids- just for stopping diarrhea, but since probiotics increase PH levels and constipation is partially caused by a decrease in PH levels they help also in that matter. It has been my experience that probiotic bacteria help in both cases- I have given it to a lot of my patients and in both cases, it has proven to be effective and at times even led to a full recovery.

They also prevent and take care of bad breath – persistent bad breath is usually the result of an imbalance between the good and the bad bacteria in the upper digestive tract, except, of course, in cases of gum problems.

Probiotic bacteria take care and prevent gastric ulcer and stomach cancer – most types of gastric ulcer are caused by a bacterium called Helicobacter Pylori which increases the chances of getting stomach cancer. When there’s a higher enough concentration of good bacteria they protect the internal coating of the stomach from the Helicobacter Pylori bacteria. The body can take care of itself if when given the right conditions to do so.

They prevent and take care of inflammatory bowel diseases – researches support the use of probiotics as a complementary therapy for patients with Crohn disease (Ulcerative Colitis) and Irritable bowel syndrome. These diseases are often directly linked to an imbalance in the internal ecological system.

Probiotics also help maintaining a healthy skin – as a naturopath I believe that the skin on the outside reflects the body’s state on the inside, it is the body’s way of releasing toxins. Probiotic bacteria contribute to the removal of toxins as they pass through the digestive tract, so they are not absorbed back through the walls of the colon, leading to their discharge through the skin. Therefore, it is recommended for all those who suffer from Acne, Dermatitis, Psoriasis, Eczema and other skin problems to take probiotics as part of their overall therapy.

It is also very recommended to take probiotics in order to take care of different kinds of allergies, Asthma and Eczema. Since probiotic bacteria has a great way of encouraging the immune activity in those who don’t have it, and on the other hand of reducing susceptibility to inflammatory responses in those who are hypersensitive. 

The reasons for a decrease in probiotic bacteria population in the body:

  • Many babies are born by Caesarean section or feed on milk substitutes. These two aspects delay the primary development of a healthy probiotic population. When a baby goes through the birth canal, he receives from his mother his first dosage of probiotic bacteria and afterwards begins producing them by himself. Also, some of the probiotic bacteria is being transferred to the baby through breast milk.
  • These days we consume products that contain a considerably low level of Lactobacillus and other good bacteria compare to what humans used to consume during the stone age, for example.
  • A High on carbohydrates and processed sugars nutrition – increases the multiplication of bad bacteria and fungal infection both in kids and adults. When the menu is rich on meats and low on vegetables and fruits it tilts the scale towards the creation of bad bacteria.
  • Purified water.
  • Exposure to antibiotic medicines – thinning out the population of good bacteria in all the parts of the body. It is known for many years now that antibiotics not only kill the bad bacteria but also the good bacteria in the body.
  • A frequent use of antacids and other medicines for reducing acidity – decreases the acidity in the digestive system, which creates a hostile environment for the good bacteria.
  • Artificial estrogens – birth control pills or any other hormonal treatment (menopause). This is also why antibiotics can neutralize the effect of the birth control pills and cause irregular bleeding for women with menopause.
  • Steroidal oral medications such as: Prednisone, inhaled steroidal medications for patients with Asthma.
  • Emotional and mental stress – good bacteria are sensitive to the amount of stress we’re under. Pressure and stress break the balance of important hormones and this can cause a dilution of the probiotic population in the body.  

Probiotic bacteria can be found naturally in several places of the body: the digestive system, the bladder, the vagina (women) and the respiratory airways. Therefore, people who struggle with infections, specifically infections that affect the digestive or mucous systems (including the bladder, vagina and respiratory airways), would do wisely to take a probiotic product in order to improve and quicken their healing process.

The most common probiotic bacteria that you can find from products that are being sold in pharmacies and natural ingredients stores are: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium Longum, Enterococcus pithium.

When you’re buying a probiotic product it’s better to make sure that it contains at least two types of good bacteria or even more, if possible.

I would recommend taking probiotics to:

  • People with the aforementioned problems.
  • People who are 50 years old and above- due to the natural decrease of good bacteria in the body.
  • Women with menopause.
  • In any illness of an infant or a child (there’s a probiotic product that comes in the form of a powder which you can easily mix into a liquid in a bottle or glass and give it to the baby/child).
  • Your pets – yes them too! From my experience (we have a sweet dog at home) animals, or at least those walking on four legs (dogs, cats) suffer from illnesses that are quite similar to ours. Therefore, if your pets are sick or have digestive problems of any kind you can give them probiotics (maybe the one that comes in the form of a powder and then melt it in liquid or even regular pills, from my experience these also do the job perfectly and don’t have any disturbing taste).

I hope that all the information I’ve gathered here for you has been helpful and has shown you the importance of probiotic bacteria. It should help you know and decide when to take it and for which problems. I personally recommend taking it anytime you are sick, whether it’s a viral infection or a bacterial one, it always helps!