Although I consider them essential for health, there is quite a bit of confusion on the topic of probiotics, aka “healthy bacteria” and on this, I’d like to shed some light. First understand that “pro” means “for” and “biotic” means “life”: Therefore, “probiotic” equals “for life.”
Probiotics are finally being understood for their extreme importance in intestinal health and immune system strength. Stomach upset, fatigue, frequent colds and flu, sensitivity to milk and dairy products, are some of the signs that your friendly bacteria needs to be replenished. Antibiotics (against life) kill not only the bad bacteria, they also kill the friendly bacteria that we need for health and well being. Unfortunately, even if we haven’t take prescription antibiotics we are still regularly exposed to them. Since half of the antibiotics produced each year are fed to animals, we take in antibiotics every time we eat meat or dairy products. If that is not enough, the body’s friendly bacteria is depleted by many other factors including, stress, carbonation, laxatives and even the natural aging process.
The human body is made up of an estimated 100 trillion bacterial cells from at least 500 species, not including viruses and fungi. These bacteria (probiotics) are referred to as “friendly” bacteria and are responsible for several important biological functions. Some of these functions include assisting with digestion, keeping other harmful bacteria at bay and stimulating the immune system. A healthy “GUT” is essential for a healthy immune system. Adults and children, including infants, would all benefit from the use of probiotics on a regular basis. The need for antibiotics would be greatly reduced and the hopeful reduction of resistant strains of bacteria would likely occur.
The Standard American Diet (SAD) that consists of mostly processed and refined foods contributes to an unhealthy environment consisting of an overgrowth of yeast (Candida) and unfriendly bacteria. Those who think eating a commonly advertised yogurt to add friendly bacteria, would have to eat approximately two gallons per day to get what a good supplement would give you. Not only that, most advertised yogurts are loaded with artificial flavors, sweeteners and chemical processing — YUK! Antibiotic use also kills friendly bacteria, and although they may be life-saving at times, there are many instances of antibiotic use that is not necessary. Thankfully, many doctors are not so quick to prescribe unnecessary antibiotics as they are aware this has definitely contributed to the formation of “superbugs” or resistant strains of bacteria that can be deadly to us.
Many of you may be surprised that I am not in favor of multi-vitamins and other supplements that are synthetic. There are a few exceptions, but Vitamin D3, digestive enzymes and fish oils rank much higher in protecting and preventing illness in the body.
Probiotics would benefit everyone at any age. Once a day dosing makes it easy and convenient. If you notice a gurgling, bloated feeling after taking them — it may suggest yeast or Candida overgrowth which means you need them all the more. Many people also suffer skin rashes and infections that could have been avoided had they been taking probiotics. Wounds heal faster and the risk for infection is greatly reduced.
Unfortunately not all probiotics are the same. I see many taking acidophilus which is only one of many strains we need and therefore not very effective as a single remedy. Also, I would not buy my probiotics from a refrigerated shelf. This just tells me that the product is unstable at room temperature and will most likely be unsuccessful colonizing the lower intestinal tract. Products with multiple types of friendly bacteria work best.
I highly recommend probiotics following ANY antibiotic treatment. Antibiotics can be life saving in some situations, but they also kill the friendly bacteria and we need to replace the good bacteria very quickly in order to maximize a rapid return to health and healing and/or a recurrence of illness.
Consider daily supplementation of a multi-strain probiotic formula to keep illness and other aliments at bay. There are many good ones on the market or you can always visit my supplement website gifts4healing.com for suggestions.
Catherine Stack is a doctor of naturopathy and certified nurse midwife. Her practice is located at Journey II Health in Niagara Falls. She can be reached at 298-8603 or at her website at journeyiihealth.com.
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