Go to Health! – Probiotics
Probiotics are living microscopic organisms that scientific research has shown to benefit health. Most often they are bacteria, similar or identical to the bacteria already in our intestines. The most common probiotic bacteria are Lactobacillus or Bifidobacteria, but there are many other bacterial strains that are useful for various illnesses.
We humans have more than 400 bacterial species in our guts; bacteriali numbers exceed by 10 fold the number of tissue cells in our bodies. About 70 % of the body’s immune system is found in the digestive tract, in lymphoid tissue that stores immune cells such as T and B lymphocytes, and defends against disease causing bacteria and viruses.
Research is ongoing to elucidate the effects of probiotic bacteria on the immune system. Some current uses of probiotics are for the following ailments:
*Infectious diarrhea caused by bacteria (salmonella, campylobacter, some strains of e coli) and viruses (especially rotavirus in children)
*antibiotic related diarrhea – there is evidence that taking probiotics when you start on an antibiotic may halp prevent diarrhea.
* childhood allergy - In a recent trial, Lactobacillus rhamnosus was given to pregnant women for four weeks prior to delivery, and then to newborns at high risk of allergy for six months. As a result that there was a significant reduction in early skin allergies.
•bladder infections in women – certain strains of e coli in the bowel are responsible for about 85% of bladder infections. Studies have shown that daily oral capsules of certain lactobacillus strains have lowered the risk of repeated bladder infections, when used with weekly insertions of capsules in the vagina.=
*Yeast and bacterial vaginal infections - (not sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea or Chlamydia) there is evidence that oral and vaginal lactobacillus can reduce the recurrence of these common problems
*recurrence of superficial bladder cancer – Japanese researchers have shown that oral capsules of certain probiotics, and the use of probiotics instilled in the bladder along with chemotherapy agents, have prevented recurrence without side effects, or prolonged the time of cancer recurrence.
*Research is ongoing in the use of probiotics for irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis.
You can easily get the benefits of probiotics by eating yogurt or other cultured milk products. Read the label to make sure that they contain ‘living cultures’. Adults who want a more concentrated form of probiotics can take them in capsules.. Choose a brand from a reputable supplement company; make sure that the capsule contains lactobacillus acidophilus, and bifidobacteria and that each capsule contains at least 3billion bacteria. Capsules should have been refrigerated, and should be refrigerated after you buy them. Since, the beneficial bacteria are only retained for days or weeks, continued use is required. Children can take probiotics; for this, confer with your child’s doctor.
Certain foods, called prebiotics, have carbohydrates that promote the growth of probiotic bacteria in the gut: bananas, berries, asparagus, garlic, whole wheat, oatmeal, barley, flaxseed, tomatoes, Jerusalem artichoke, onions and chicory, many greens ( dandelion greens, spinach, collard greens, chard, kale, mustard greens), and legumes (lentils, and beans). These are great foods that we all should be eating!
Submitted by Sadja Greenwood MD –