Probiotics are beneficial bacteria which are normally found in the healthy human digestive tract. Many different strains exist, each having their job to perform, some with overlapping roles.
Certain strains like Lactococcus lactis support healthy digestion so we have access to the life giving nutrients in our food, some like Bifidobacterium bifidum help us to produce vitamins, some for example Lactobacillus helveticus, help to balance the quality of our stools aiming for the ideal (soft but formed).
A healthy immune response can be supported by good bacteria such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus, which has also been shown to support healthy skin. Our digestive tract starts with our mouth, and good bacteria such as Lactobacillus salivarius, can support healthy gums.
Probiotics have even been found to affect our brain chemistry and ultimately support brain health. Research is currently underway to show the relationship between the gut flora and signals in our brain, which could be promising for those in the search for an answer to Alzheimer’s.
Negative changes in the gut flora can lead to chronic diseases of the digestive tract, bad breath, urinary tract infections, lowered immunity, the expression of allergic symptoms and skin issues. Â While keeping our levels of good bacteria up can keep us in the healthy zone, some strains of good bacteria can also get us back on track, when we are out of balance- Bifidobacterium longum is an example of a probiotic that can help us to conquer an overgrowth of bad bacteria, Bacillus subtilis acts as a prebiotic for other strains to support their growth, while Bifidobacterium bifidum can lower the pH in the large intestine to promote a healthy digestive environment for the good bacteria to flourish.
Approximately 70% of our immunity comes from our digestive tract. After having a stomach bug, or taking a course of antibiotics, it can take up to two years for the body to rebalance our inner ecosystem on its own, and we remain vulnerable in the meantime to a repeat performance of the invading bug.
It is now recognised that allergic disorders, asthma and even obesity can be related to an unhealthy population of intestinal bacteria. Overweight people have shown to have lower levels of beneficial bacteria than slender people do. Long term exposure to unhealthy bacteria can contribute to the development of “the metabolic syndrome” which disturbs fat and glucose metabolism.
Even just getting older gradually shifts our intestinal bacteria numbers towards a disease promoting, rather than a disease prevention state.
Taking a broad spectrum probiotic supplement like Lifestream’s advanced Probiotic which covers multiple strains, for a wide variety of health benefits can be a helpful tool in our “get healthy, stay healthy” kit. A multi-strain approach is a better option for overall health than high levels of just a couple of strains.
Karin Spicer N.D, Dip Med Herb, Lifestream Naturopath