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Posts tagged ‘Bifidobacterium’

The Good Bugs: Why You Absolutely Need Them

Lactobacillus acidophilus

Image by AJC1 via Flickr

Probiotics, we hear all about them now. TV, radio and print ads! It’s great, considering that just a few years ago, most people didn’t know what they were. Probiotics, otherwise known as “good germs”, are part of the normal flora of our intestinal tract. They begin to inhabit our intestinal tract as soon as we’re born (by vaginal delivery, rather than caesarian delivery). They are nourished by eating healthy foods from infancy, starting by drinking mother’s milk (rather than cow’s milk or soy milk). As we age and are exposed to poor diet, antibiotics, chlorinated water, steroids and environmental pollutants (xenoestrogens), their numbers begin to decline. When their numbers decline, pathogenic yeast begin to overgrow (as well as bacteria), causing symptoms in both men and (more obviously in) women (such as vaginal discharge). Known functions of probiotics include: 1. the manufacture of B vitamins (such as folic acid, biotin, B3 and B6); 2. the manufacture of the enzyme “lactase”; 3. produce antibacterial substances; 4. produce anti-carcinogenic compounds; 5. help reduce high cholesterol levels; 6. improve the efficiency of the digestive tract; 7. help recycle hormones such as estrogen; 8. protect against radiation;  and 9. deactivate certain toxins, among many others. The primary bacteria inhabiting the small intestine is Lactobacillus acidophilus while that of the colon is Bifidobacterium bifidum. It is essential that these organisms be replaced when taking antibiotics of any kind. In today’s world, it’s a good idea to incorporate probiotics in a wellness program because of the antibiotics that we’re unknowingly exposed to (from food and perhaps, our water supply). There are different brands available. Some need to refrigerated while others do not. They come in various forms such as powders, liquid, capsules or “pearls”. To find out which brands are better, check out a study done by Consumer Labs. In the study, they found out that claims made by some companies such as number of viable organisms in their product somehow vary from the actual live cells. Factors such as improper storage and handling as well as shelf life affect these numbers. Therefore, it’s always important to do your own research.

We Need Bugs….

The good ones, that is. In a recent article in Scientific American magazine, it was reported that prophylactic bacteria may protect critically ill patients against pneumonia. The study was done at the Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska and was subsequently published earlier this month at the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. This is great considering that you rarely hear about preventive medicine in mainstream medical journals. Good bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifodibacterium are part of the body’s normal flora. Their numbers can decrease due to factors such as antibiotic intake, NSAID use, and even just by drinking tap water (chlorinated and fluoridated). When this imbalance between good and bad bacteria happens, conditions such as antibiotic-related diarrhea, small bowel bacterial overgrowth, candidiasis and “leaky gut syndrome” could occur. Symptoms of these conditions could range from gas, bloating, food sensitivities, allergies, joint pains, muscle aches, fatigue and brain fog. It’s really important to take probiotics on a regular basis nowadays (even without a history of taking antibiotics or NSAID’s because our water supply is not as safe as it used to be). Typical water purification methods usually remove particulate matter and certain microbes. It does nothing however for removal of heavy metals (lead, mercury, arsenic, etc.), VOC’s (volatile organic chemicals), certain bacteria (such as Cryptosporidium), and mostly importantly, pharmaceutical drugs (from people flushing them in the toilet, etc). It certainly won’t hurt to invest in a good water purification system. Remember, most water sold in plastic containers may just be filtered municipal water. Let’s not even get into that now! I’ll save that rant for another day. How about that? In the meantime, take a good probiotic supplement daily and make sure to stay hydrated with pure water. By the way, the probiotic that I use is called Life 5.

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