Good Health Begins in the Stomach
Think of your digestive system as a barrier between you and the outside world. There are three different ways that the digestive system and probiotics help build your immunity.
In your digestive system there is a community of flora, or naturally-occurring bacteria, that it's important to keep in balance.
Probiotics help maintain an optimal balance of the good flora in your digestive system. They also help out-compete the bad bacteria that may cause harm, and they secrete chemicals that kill off some bad bacteria. When good bacteria beat bad bacteria, it helps you stay healthier.
An intestinal mucus layer lines the digestive tract and acts as a barrier and protection to keep bad bacteria out of your body.
Probiotics help stimulate the production of the protective mucus layer and can also line the mucus layer to add an extra level of defense.
70% of your body's immune cells are found in the intestinal immune system. The intestines have an incredibly large surface area. If stretched out, the area is equal to the size of a football field! The surface area is necessary for nutrient absorption, but it presents a defensive challenge – that large area needs to be policed to keep bad things out of your body.
Immune cells in your intestinal immune system are constantly on guard, testing all the things that enter your body to decide whether they are good (let them in) or bad (keep them out). Probiotics help stimulate and exercise the immune cells by going through a sampling and screening process that acts just like a fire drill. So, probiotics help prepare your immune cells to fight off any bad bacteria that come their way!
There is good reason to believe good health begins in the gut (digestive tract). The gut is responsible for digesting foods aided by several organs, specific enzymes, good bacteria and nutrients. The digestive process feeds the cells and provides energy for life, however the average American diet assaults the digestive processes with toxins that come from our foods, water and air.
The ubiquitous use of prescribed antibiotics, over the counter drugs and our feedlot animals impair beneficial bacteria necessary for a healthy digestive system. Additionally, birth control pills, chlorine and fluoride in drinking water, chemotherapy, the use of alcohol and tobacco impede friendly bacteria in the body. Surgery, parasites, trauma and stress also trigger intestinal imbalances that lead to illness and dis-ease.
Beneficial bacteria, known as friendly bacteria or probiotics (for life), lives in the gut in massive amounts. It protects the body from harmful bacteria. Friendly bacteria play multiple roles that include:
- manufacturing B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and milk-digesting enzymes like lactose
- protects against radiation damage
- helps to recycle estrogen
- improves efficiency of the digestive tract
- improves bowel function
- boosts the immune system
The Lactobacillus family contains many types of friendly bacteria that help the body’s resiliency to illness and disease. Lactobacillus acidophilus is present mainly in the small intestine and works at lowering cholesterol levels, LDL levels and killing candida yeasts. They produce lactase, an enzyme required for the digestion of milk sugar.
Bifidobacterium is found mainly in the large intestine and also in the lower part of the small intestine. These friendly bacteria prevent toxicity that comes from nitrites in food, helps detoxify bile and assists in the management of some liver conditions and illnesses.
Lactobacillus Bulgaricus helps make yogurt and kills harmful bacteria.
Due to our lifestyles, the body constantly fights the invasion of bad bacteria and toxins that lead to chronic illness and disease. Because friendly bacteria have such powerful ability to rid the body of toxicity and unfriendly organisms, it is necessary to consume them on a regular basis.
A study was conducted in Sweden in a company examining the effect of probiotics on their ability to improve work-place health by reducing short term sick-leave caused by respiratory or gastrointestinal infections. The results were outstanding. Ten out of 94 workers using the probiotic took sick time during the study compared to 23 in the placebo group. Furthermore, none of the 26 workers using the probiotics lost any time due to illness compared to nine out of 27 in the placebo group.
Do you think this employer will recommend the use of probiotics? Read details of the study at http://www.ehjournal.net/content/4/1/25
Everyone is exposed to toxins and bacteria on a daily basis so it is not only prudent, but necessary to take probiotics for preventive measures. I have witnessed extremely favorable outcomes from clients who use probiotics regularly. The key is to use a very good product regularly.
Contrary to popular belief, consuming frozen yogurt, fruity dairy yogurts, yogurt covered raisins or nuts, does not provide any protection. There are several high quality products in the marketplace.
Some final thoughts:
- You may wish to consult an integrative health professional familiar with the benefits of friendly bacteria.
- Probiotics are safe for infants who suffer from colic.
- Take probiotics when traveling. Traveling stresses our bodies, especially out of the country with time changes and diversity of foods
As always, a wholistic lifestyle that includes a good multi-vitamin, healthy eating, exercise, stress management, rest and moderation of behavior (temperance) are important. There is no silver bullet. Lifestyle is the key. Make it a priority.