Ensure healthy gut function with probiotic supplementation
Probiotics - What are they?
A "probiotic", by the generally accepted definition, is referring to "live beneficial bacteria" such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacteria. Normally found in the intestinal tract of the human body, they play an important role in maintaining good health.
Some products, such as yoghurt, contain beneficial active bacterial cultures. However the acid in our stomach can neutralise up to 95% of this, before it reaches our intestinal tract. A number of health companies now produce either an enteric coated capsule or make an acid and bile resistant product, to ensure these beneficial bacteria are released in the intestinal tract, where they are needed most.
Under normal circumstances, trillions of bacteria exist in the intestines. As part of the body's defences, they help maintain good health by preventing harmful microorganisms from infiltrating the body. Medications, such as antibiotics, reduce the number of beneficial bacteria, as an unwanted side effect. As well of this, a diet high in refined carbohydrates, sugars and also alcohol will also alter this balance, leading to an overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria and yeasts.
What does probiotic supplementation do?
Probiotic supplementation will help to maintain a healthy intestinal tract and is beneficial for digestive complaints such as gas, diarrhoea, constipation, candida, IBS, stomach problems and urinary tract infections to name a few.
At Healthyonline we stock 2 main brands of probiotic. Nature's Way Primadophilus range and Ethical Nutrients Inner Health range.
Nature's Way Primadophilus have a wide range of products to suit the whole family. Their capsules are made with a special enteric coat made with cellulose, which allows them to pass through the stomach, where most active cultures without an enteric coating are destroyed. With all those acids in the stomach, it is not an easy place for anything to survive, even for bacteria. In most acidophilus products, including yoghurt, up to 95% of the active bacterial cultures are destroyed before leaving the stomach. But because primadophilus capsules are enteric coated, they can survive the acidic environment of the stomach and release in the intestine, where these naturally occurring bacteria are needed most. If you were to try and get the same amount of beneficial bacteria from eating yoghurt, compared to taking one Primadophilus capsule, you would have to eat a whole litre of yoghurt! Primadophilus have a whole family of probiotics, including Optima, which contains a huge 35 billion beneficial bacteria per 1 capsule, Child, a powder for children and Reuteri, specific for diarrhoea.
Ethical Nutrients have produced acid and bile resistant strains of probiotics. It adheres to the gut wall and rapidly repopulates intestinal flora levels that have been reduced by antibiotic or oral contraceptive use. Inner Health Plus Capsules and Powder combine both lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis in the one formulation. Each one capsule contains 25 billion beneficial bacteria. This is the equivalent amount of bacteria you would find in 22 tubs of yoghurt. Ethical Nutrients are the only company we know that stock a 100% dairy free product too, Inner health Dairy Free. They also have other strains of probiotics, specific for some immune regulation, in scientifically proven therapeutic doses. They also have a powdered formula specific for children, which is dairy and gluten free.
Who should take an acidophilus supplement?
Anyone who has taken antibiotics needs to take an acidophilus supplement. This is because this medication affects the balance of beneficial bacteria in the intestines. It is said that for each one course of antibiotics you take, you need to take an acidophilus supplement for 2-3 weeks afterwards, just to replace the good bacteria that was depleted from this one course!
Acidophilus supplementation should also be taken by those who have digestive disorders, ranging from the newborn to the elderly, including stomach problems, gas, diarrhoea, constipation, candida, thrush, urinary tract infections, irritable bowel syndrome and colitis, bacterial vaginosis or gardnerella, gastric ulceration, lactose intolerance, elevated cholesterol and prevention of colon cancer- to name a few. Probiotic supplementation will help to maintain a healthy intestinal tract and help to promote an efficient elimination of waste materials, as well as good nutrient absorption. It also supplies a natural hydrochloric acid to the stomach, which aids in digestion.
Some interesting information about probiotic supplementation
L. acidophilus and bifidobacteria inhibit pathogenic bacteria by stimulating the production of the body's internal antibiotics (bacteriocins). As well as this, it lowers the pH level of the bowel by producing organic compounds, such as lactic and acetic acid, which compete for intestinal space and nutrients and bind to bile acids. Other species of Lactobacilli produce hydrogen peroxide and other inhibitory antibacterial substances.
Probiotic cultures significantly inhibit serum cholesterol levels by their ability to absorb cholesterol. This has the positive effect of reducing cholesterol levels, benefiting cholesterol problems. Preventatively speaking, all people can benefit from the routine use of an acidophilus. It is well documented that as human beings age, the number of beneficial bacteria in the colon diminish and the growth of fungi increases.
Intestinal flora overgrowth
Literature states that most gastrointestinal symptoms result from a bacterial overgrowth in the small &/or large bowel. This overgrowth of unfriendly and unhealthy bacteria is associated with many health problems such as a malabsorption of essential nutrients, including the B vitamins & essential fatty acids, various forms of diarrhoea, susceptibility to infections in the body, constipation, vague and acute abdominal symptoms, fatigue, high cholesterol levels and in the production of carcinogenic metabolites.
Pregnancy & Infant Eczema & Allergic Rhinitis
Used in Europe for many years, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) is one of the most extensively studied probiotic strains. In a clinical trial, LGG was shown to be effective in helping reduce eczema in children at high risk. The trial was conducted on 159 pregnant women with at least one first-degree relative with eczema or allergic rhinitis. The results showed that the infants whose mothers were given LGG during their pregnancy and breast feeding reduced the incidence of eczema by 47% compared to the infants in the placebo group. Studies have shown that talking LGG in infancy may be beneficial in decreasing the symptoms of eczema such as itching and sleeplessness.
Medically Diagnosed IBS
Inner Health IBS (A specific probiotic for irritable bowel syndrome) assists in the management of medically diagnosed IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) Each capsule contains a proprietary strain of Lactobacillus plantarum, that has been extensively researched and is widely used in Europe for the management of medically diagnosed IBS.
Information on taking a Probiotic supplement
You can view my latest video here about what it takes to find the best Probiotic Supplement.
Q. Some people say you shouldn't take an acidophilus supplement until you have finished a course of antibiotics. Is this correct?
A. No, this is not correct. Ideally probiotic supplements should be taken either 2 hours before or after ingestion of the antibiotics. You should take this each day, for 2-3 weeks after each course of antibiotic supplementation. We have found this definitely helps reduce side effects from the antibiotics.
Q. Some Acidophilus supplements recommend consumption before a meal and others after. Which is it?
A. It doesn't really matter what time of the day you take your probiotic, although we usually suggest taking it upon rising and at bed time, on an empty stomach.
Q. Is refrigeration of the probiotics critical?
A. Yes. Without refrigeration, the micro-organisms will gradually die and be gone after a period of 48 hours. We dispatch all our probiotics with a reusable gel freezer pack, to ensure they are kept cool while being sent to you.
Q. Should you take probiotics with any other supplements?
A. We have found that when people take a probiotic with the supplement Colostrum, they have had much faster relief of their symptoms. Inner Health has combined colostrum with their probiotic formulas, except in the Dairy free range. Ask for an information sheet and the Colostrum Newspaper for more information on this wonder food.