Healthy Living Made Easy
Probiotics are known to help prevent gas, diarrhea, and cramping that are often caused by antibiotics. Antibiotics kill bad bacteria but often if used for long durations of time end killing certain types of bacteria that our bodies actually need. Probiotics are said to help the colon by improving the intestinal microbial balance, known as waste.
Probiotics may be used for the prevention of infections in the digestive tract, to help control the immune response, inflammation as in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Lately you may have heard Probiotics mentioned in the media, and here to explain why Probiotics are good for us is Nicolette Pace from NutriSource Inc. Find out why including Probitoics into your daily food intake is healthy, especially if you or a loved one suffers from high blood pressure or colitis.
HN: In the simplest terms, what are probiotics? What are considered probiotics precursors?
NP: Probiotics are live microorganisms that include a variety of species and yeasts that can improve the balance of the intestinal climate in which they reside. They include the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species. We can consider prebiotics as probiotic precursors. These are generally non digestible carbohydrates that are given to fermentation. They stimulate the growth and activity of the beneficial bacteria that are normally present in our body. Common examples include whole fruits, vegetables, and legumes. The use of prebiotics with probiotics may enhance the effectiveness of the probiotics.
HN: Who should be taking Probiotics, is there a guideline, amount?
NP: The public has been advised to take probiotics from encouraged consumption of dairy and yogurt or by choosing a supplement. These recommendations have stemmed from scientific research into proposed health benefits. Some of the research in still in development and not yet substantiated to specifically recommend the type of bacteria and the dosage. This is an emerging area of research. Food manufacturers have prematurely publicized some research to drive product sales. Having been sued for some health claims these companies have had to retract their statements. Probiotics are recommended for re-colonizing the normal colonic bacteria after antibiotic treatment, for some cases of diarrhea and for those with digestive problems. Typical doses of probiotics range from 1-10 billion colony forming units (CFU) taken a few times a week. There are many types of bacteria available but mostly they include strains of the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains. Yogurts that contain these are functional foods.
HN: If someone doesn’t eat yogurt on a regular basis, should they consider supplementing?
NP: Not necessarily. It depends on several factors. It is best to get specific advance from a health professional as it relates to your needs.
1. We know that the presence of some bacterial flora declines with advanced age or from disease so correcting the underlying problem has to be factored in.
2. Eating a wide and varied diet can help ensure normal immune functioning – and making sure you include foods that are good sources of probiotics and probiotic (see food sources below) would be the best and safest way to ensure good health.
3. Research is looking at the specific functions of various strains and proposed benefits in helping bad breath, gum health, skin, cancer fighting, cholesterol lowering, diverticulosis, reflux disease, food allergies the list goes on and on.
HN: Does the need to take probiotics have to do with the increase of processed food intake, non-organic food, etc?
NP: No not necessarily, but as our diet devolves into less whole foods and more processed foods with additives etc, the overall quality of our diet has gone down. Using probiotics by returning back to a whole foods diet is a good thing.
We may look to more probiotic due to an ever expanding use of antibiotics which destroy normal intestinal flora as part of curing an infection. Using probiotics therapeutically to restore normal intestinal micoflora is established and can help to decrease the antibiotic associated diarrhea and other side effects that can occur with antibiotic treatment.
HN: Why didn’t we need this before (or why was the need not as prevalent)?
NP: Perhaps it stems from the fact that we ate a wider and varied diet. And naturally occurring probiotics – and their food fruits prebiotics were consumed more.
HN: What’s the relationship between probiotics the gut and the immune system?
NP: The link to immunity has been proposed for over 100 years. It is believed that the probiotics may modulate immune system functioning. The immune system is a complex system and has delicate checks and balances between the host (us) and the microclimate in the form of the bacteria that exist in the colon. These intestinal microflora are important for the development of normal cells (size, shape, function), maturation of the immune system, and for an intact and functional intestinal barrier (skin lining our intestine). The acidic environment that the bacteria produce leads to improvements in absorption of key nutrients like calcium as well.
HN: What are good food sources of probiotics and “pre-probiotics”?
NP: Probiotic food sources include:
1. fermented cultured dairy products like yogurt, kefir, koumis, leben, dahi,buttermilk, some fermented cheeses
2. soy products like miso, tempeh, some soy beverages
3. sourdough breads, sauerkraut, salami (may contain lactobacillus plantarum species)
4. probiotic yeast (saccharomyces boulardi)
1. fruits contain fos (fructooglisaccarides)
2. Basically all fibrous plant foods ie vegetables , legumes, whole grains – soy beans, flax seeds etc.
3. Another good reason to “Eat your fruits and veggies”
HN: Is there a need for men and women to take them differently?
NP: No, but consumers should be aware at new marketing campaigns targeted to men to and their perceived concerns over oral health and bad breath. Food companies are working on probiotic gum to market the proposed health benefits to men.
HN: What type of dieter (low carb-high protein, gluten free, etc) should be more aware of including probiotics in the diet?
NP: People who exclude entire food groups for a prolonged period should be concerned over the lost nutrients that would accompany such a diet -probiotic activity and probiotic activity included. For those on self-directed fad diets this could potentially be a concern.
Normally, therapeutic diets for weight loss or gain, or management of a medical condition, if provided by a licensed nutrition professional would address not only the inclusion of probiotics but all of the necessary nutrients that are needed for optimum health in order to provide the consumer with a higher degree of safety and efficacy to achieve results and long term good health.
HN: Do fitness aficionados/sports amateurs need them more than sedentary people?
NP: No, be cautious of marketing campaigns that are targeting specific groups these are mostly used to expand the appeal of probiotics to more of the population. Historically, women and children have been the primary targets but this is changing now. Again some of the research and recommendations on the myriad of benefits that support probiotic use has not yet been standardized.
HN: Thank you Nicolette, we learned a lot!
Here’s to a Healthier You!
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