Take any shopping trip to the grocery store and you are bound to see probiotics all around you.  You can find them in items such as yogurt and kimichi and also as stand-alone supplements.  But why all the excitement?  What exactly are probiotics and why are they so ubiquitous? According to the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization of the United Nations, “probiotics are live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.”  It is estimated that the human digestive tract contains approximately 400 different probiotic microorganisms.  Among these organisms of the gut flora are members of the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria groups and various yeasts such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae or Saccharomyces boulardii. Now what are some of the health benefits of probiotics that make them so interesting and important?

Health Benefits of Probiotics:

  • Increases absorption of minerals and vitamins
  • Relieves constipation and irritable bowel syndrome
  • Reduces urinary and vaginal tract infections
  • Inhibits the bacterial cause of stomach ulcers
  • Prevents intestinal tract infections caused by bacteria, viruses or yeast
  • Improves kidney and liver function by eliminating toxins
  • Reduces allergic reactions
  • Reduces blood cholesterol
  • Stimulates the immune system
  • Alleviates bloating
  • Increases resistance to infectious disease
  • Improves lactose digestion
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Prevents osteoporosis

To give a specific example, Saccharomyces boulardii is a probiotic yeast which is resistant to stomach acid.  In 2006, Harvard researchers noted that S.boulardii modulates host signaling pathways involved in intestinal inflammatory responses.  They found that as a result of the signal modulation this yeast blocked activation of key inflammatory molecules.

After seeing that impressive list of all the benefits that these special microorganisms offer the message is clear – get your probiotics daily!

Here at the office we have a couple of excellent probiotics supplements that have worked wonderfully for so many of you!  Flora Myces from Designs for Health contains Saccharomyces boulardii, good yeast to fight the bad yeast.  Apex Energetics’ Strengtia is another top-notch supplement (also with S.boulardii)–it combines pre and probiotics.  Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth and/or activity of bacteria in the digestive system, food for probiotics in other words. Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are common prebiotics.

Tried our selection of probiotics?  Thought about it but had questions?  Still not sure what the fuss is all about?  Share your experiences, ask questions, and, as always, drop by the office for all the information you need.

Oh, and don’t forget – get your probiotics daily!

References

Agin, Katie. “Probiotics: Linking Gut Health to Whole-Body Care.” Whole Foods Magazine, http://www.wholefoodsmagazineonline.com/supplements/features/probiotics-linking-gut-health-whole-body-care-0.

WebMD. Digestive Disorders Health Center, “Probiotics – Topic Overview.” 
http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/tc/probiotics-topicoverview?print=true#

Wikipedia Probiotics.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prebiotic_(nutrition)

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