Master of Oriental Medicine
Probiotics are the friendly bacteria in our intestines that are essential for good health. There are over 500 different strains and a perfect combination is required for good health. The lack of certain bacteria can cause severe imbalances. The overabundance of some strains can cause severe metabolic disturbances. Most people have drastically altered their normal intestinal bacterial flora.
Friendly bacteria help in digestion and breaking down nutrients to be absorbed by the intestines. They help control bad bacteria that cause digestive problems such as gastritis, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, yeast and fungal infections, etc. Some strains of bacteria show anti-carcinogenic activity against particular cancer cells, especially those found in the esophagus, stomach, colon, prostate, breast and pancreas. It has been shown to modify and inhibit the growth of Candida Albicans. Most raw foods feed good bacteria, most cooked and processed foods feed harmful bacteria. Undigested foods also feed pathogenic bacteria. When the intestinal flora is out of balance, it becomes essential to take supplements of friendly bacteria.
Antibiotics will kill all bacteria in the body, both good and bad. This will drastically change the way your digestive system performs and it sets the body up for numerous problems such as food allergies, inflammation, constipation, diarrhea, fungal infections, and yeast infections, such as candida which can be very debilitating if left unchecked. As a rule of thumb you should never take an antibiotic unless you have a severe illness. Antibiotics only work on bacteria, and they have no effect on viral infections. Most colds, flues, and sinus conditions are viral in nature and antibiotics are totally ineffective for these conditions. Furthermore taking an antibiotic literally weakens your immune system, because the drug is doing the work the immune system was meant to do. The more antibiotics you take, the weaker your immune system becomes.
The friendly (good) bacteria are needed to;
• Reduce cholesterol in the blood
• Produce certain digestive enzymes
• Help control the pH factor (acid/alkaline balance)
• Reduce unhealthy (bad) bacteria
• Reduce high blood pressure
• Detoxify poisonous materials in the diet
• Strengthen the immune system
• Assist in elimination of ailments and irritations of the colon
• Reduce constipation, diarrhea, acne, liver and kidney problems
• Produce cancer-suppressing compounds
• Increases calcium assimilation
• Helps eliminate bad breath and intestinal gas
• Retards yeast and fungal infections
• Help alleviate anxiety and stress
What disrupts the friendly bacteria? (In order of importance)
• Drugs – especially antibiotics
• Alcohol – destroys enzymes, friendly bacteria and brain cells
• Cooked meat – feeds the bacillus E. coli (harmful bacteria), which destroys the friendly bacteria
• Bread – especially white flour or wheat bread
• Sugar – including most breakfast cereals, chocolate, cakes, pies, cookies, ice cream, soda pop, etc.
• Fried foods – potato chips, French fries, or anything fried in oil
• Acid-forming foods, when overused – processed/cooked foods
Probiotics are responsible for making many vitamins in the intestinal track, such as certain B-vitamins which are important for the regulation of appetite, metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. They facilitate normal functioning of the nervous system, involved in energy production, relaxation, reduction of stress and fatigue, regulate the health of skin, hair, eyes, and liver. It increases immunity, reproduction, brain function. It reduces anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, and hyperactivity. It may be helpful for premenstrual and menopausal problems, withdrawal from drugs and/or alcohol, and may be helpful in treating herpes infections.
Seek professional help in finding a good quality probiotic. The proper balance of the various bacteria is important. Knowing how the product is manufactured and produced is critical. Understanding the shelf life and how to store your probiotic is important. Read the labels carefully. A quality product will have “billions” of bacteria. Many products tell you how many millions or billions of bacteria per dose were living at the time of manufacture, but the shelf life can range from 30 days to three years, depending on the care and quality of manufacturing process.
Probiotics do not need to be used regularly unless one is a heavy smoker or consume more than two drinks per day. Typically probiotics are taken for a specific course of treatment to repopulate the colon. Once these friendly bacteria have established a healthy intestinal flora you can suspend this supplement. You should take probiotics after taking any antibiotics, or for intestinal yeast overgrowth. Otherwise take it for one or two weeks once or twice a year.