The human gastrointestinal (GI) tract hosts more than 100 trillion bacteria!
The GI tract is sterile at birth and bacteria are introduced directly from the mother during delivery.
Imbalances of GI bacteria are directly linked to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis), susceptibility to infection, and even obesity and diabetes. Therefore, an important feature of any wellness program is to support a healthy bacterial population throughout the GI system. We can work towards this goal by using probiotics.
Probiotics are living microorganisms known as “friendly bacteria.” Since more than 80 percent of our immune system resides in the GI tract, they have a tremendous impact on immune health.
These Are Some Of The Many Benefits Associated With Probiotics:
- Protect against invasion by unwanted GI bacteria and yeast
- Assist in detoxification by the liver
- Support digestion and absorption of nutrients
- Combat diarrhea
- Assist with lactose digestion
- Exert anti-cancer effects
- Improve immune resistance
- Help reduce leakiness of the gut to discourage food intolerance/allergy
What to look for in a probiotic and how to get the most benefit from them:
- We ideally want a broad combination of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species.
- Consume probiotics with moderate amounts of food no warmer than room temperature.
- Purchase refrigerated brands: Industry and consumer studies have found that 30 to 50% of probiotic products available in retail stores contain significantly less viable microorganisms than claimed on their labels.
- Always use along with antibiotics, but take at least 2 hours away from the antibiotic, and use for at least 2 weeks after discontinuing antibiotic treatment.
- The bottle should indicate that the contents contain live cultures.
Food sources of probiotics:
- Kefir: 99% lactose free and can be made with coconut milk for those who don’t tolerate dairy products
- Fermented foods: Sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh
- Kombucha: Kombucha tea is produced by fermenting sweet black tea with a flat culture of bacteria and yeasts known as the kombucha mushroom
Potential Side Effects:
- Gas and bloating which is usually mild and will typically resolve after your body adjusts.
- Those on chemotherapy should check with their doctor first, since very low white blood counts can be a contraindication to using probiotics.
What about for infants? I am currently giving culturelle to my 7 month old for 1.5 weeks now. He has been having constipation issues. How long does it take for probiotics to take effect or settle in?
I’m not familiar with all of the different culturelle products, but as far as I know they are mainly lacto GG. While this is an excellent form of lactobacillus, infants and toddlers GI strains are predominantly bifidobacteria, so you may want to try a product with bifido as well as lacto.
Hope he feels better.