Probiotic Supplements –
A Gut Check for a Healthier Life
Interest in probiotic supplements and probiotics in general has mushroomed into the latest craze in modern health: microflora of “good bacteria” that’s found naturally in the human body. Some research shows these supplemental populations of “friendly bacteria” residing in the colon help to improve diverse health issues from diarrhea to gout.
Probiotic supplements benefit a wide range of health issues
According to the U.S. government’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), some uses of probiotics for which there is encouraging evidence from scientific study of specific probiotic formulations are as follows:
- To treat diarrhea (this is the strongest area of evidence, especially for diarrhea from rotavirus, a viral infection of the digestive tract. It is the most common cause of severe diarrhea in infants and young children in the United States)
- To enhance the immune function
- Reduce the development of allergy in children
- Decrease Helicobacter pylori (H-pylori) colonization of the stomach
- Help patients cope with side effects of antibiotic therapy (most notable: diarrhea)
- To prevent and treat infections of the urinary tract or female genital tract
- To assist lactose intolerant people with lactose digestion
- To treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- To reduce recurrence of bladder cancer and decrease the risk of certain other cancers (colon, stomach)
- To shorten how long an intestinal infection lasts that is caused by a bacterium called Clostridium difficile
- To prevent and treat pouchitis (a condition that can follow surgery to remove the colon)
- To prevent and manage atopic dermatitis (eczema) in children
- Keeping healthy people healthy
In studies of probiotics as cures, any beneficial effect was usually low; a strong placebo effect often occurs; and more research (especially in the form of large, carefully designed clinical trials) is needed in order to draw firmer conclusions. Nonetheless, it is unmistakable that probiotic supplements are helpful with a myriad of health conditions.
You may need probiotics supplements if you have the following symptoms
Here are the most common warning signs of a bacterial imbalance (if you suffer one or more of these problems it is quite likely that taking probiotic supplements could help balance your intestinal microflora):
- Allergies and food sensitivities
- Difficulty losing weight, sugar/carbohydrate craving
- Frequent fatigue, poor concentration
- Frequent constipation or diarrhea
- Faulty digestion, acid reflux and other gut disorders
- Sleeping poorly, night sweats
- Painful joint inflammation, stiffness
- Bad breath, gum disease and dental problems
- Frequent colds, flu or infections
- Chronic yeast problems
- Acne, eczema skin and foot fungus
- Extreme menstrual or menopausal symptoms
Long-term imbalance of bacteria in the colon can manifest serious health problems, including stomach and colon cancers. Under any circumstances, long-term imbalance underlines your body's need for probiotic supplements.
Other common factors challenging good bacteria
We never really kill off all of our probiotics, but we can quickly and easily disrupt their fragile balance. Here are other common factors that challenge our good bacteria and put our ratio of good bacteria/bad bacteria:
- Birth control pills
- Steroidal and hormonal drugs
- Non steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and pain killers (both prescription and OTC)
- Flouride (naturally found in tea, but also added to toothpaste and sometimes even to drinking water)
- Chlorine (a chemical added to water to kill bacteria; also kills friendly bacteria)
- Excessive alcohol consumption Coffee/Tea
- Carbonated drinks, colas
- Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, and gastroenteritis.
- Relieve inflammation
- Synthetic vitamins (a problem with many manufactured vitamin supplements)
- Radiation (may come from many sources around the home, including TV’s and mobile phones)
- Stress and tension (can also affect the composition of the flora, including a significant decrease in beneficial bacteria)
- Preservatives(added to most processed foods), excess sugar and carbohydrates
- Additives (colorings, flavorings, and many other chemicals that are commonly incorporated in processed foods)
- Pesticides (residues in most vegetables and fruit; a reason to go organic)
- Fertilizers (toxic chemicals all add up and tax the body’s microflora)
- Traveling outside the country two, three or more times a year.
- Other toxins such as excess uric acid from gout (one-third of uric acid is eliminated from the body via the colon)
What can cause an imbalance in good bacteria in the gut?
As living organisms, the beneficial bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract are susceptible to many of the same challenges as you are. Some of the challenges to beneficial bacteria include:
- Antibiotic Use. The most common cause of imbalance in normal microflora populations is the use of antibiotics. Not terribly specific, antibiotics simultaneously kill both harmful and helpful bacteria throughout our system,
including the mouth, urogenital tract, gastrointestinal tract, and skin, leaving these territories more vulnerable to organisms that are resistant to the antibiotic used.
The overuse of broad-spectrum antibiotics is a growing public health concern. Experts are concerned that the routine use of antibiotics as domestic animal feed
additives, as well as the unwarranted use of prescription antibiotics, may be contributing to an increasing ability of undesirable microorganisms to resist antibiotic control.
There is also increasingly widespread use of low-dose topical anti-bacterial products, including household cleaners, hand soaps, and hand lotions. There is currently no way to know whether this addition to the antibiotic “load” in the environment may also contribute over the long term to the prevalence of drug-resistant “super-bugs.”
- Antibiotic use in children is of particular concern. It is estimated that the use of pediatric antibiotics has been increasing by as much as 15 percent per year since 1990, due largely to the treatment of middle ear infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotics may be overused in children, as well as misused, particularly when prescribed for non-bacterial infections which cannot be cured with antibiotics. To help inform parents about the proper use of antibiotics, the CDC developed a webpage entitled "Get Smart- Know When Antibiotics Work".
- Age. Research shows that the populations of beneficial microflora steadily decline with increasing age in both men and women. In addition, research has shown an increase in undesirable microorganisms in postmenopausal women. Studies suggest that age and related modifications in hormone patterns may induce changes in the normal microflora populations of women.
- Diet. The typical “Western” diet—high in meat, high in total fat, and high in animal fat and protein—is associated with reduced populations of beneficial microflora. Studies have shown that when migrants from countries that do not follow Western eating habits settle in Western countries, their health patterns change to match the typical health profile of their adopted country.
- Fiber Intake. Beneficial microflora “feed” on the otherwise undigested dietary fiber that is found in the colon. Diets low in dietary fiber are associated with lower populations of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Transitional Microflora Populations. The balance of intestinal microflora is constantly ebbing and flowing. Research has shown that regular dietary intake of beneficial microflora must be maintained to maintain their higher
Each of the above challenges to the balance of good bacteria in your gut may be indicative of the need for probiotic supplements.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are dietary supplements of live bacteria or yeasts thought to be healthy for the digestive tract. By definition, probiotics are live microorganisms (microflora) which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.
Most probiotics are good bacteria similar to those naturally found in people's guts, especially in those of breastfed infants (who have natural protection against many diseases). Most often, the bacteria come from two groups, Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium. Within each group, there are different species (for example, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidus), and within each species, different strains (or varieties).
Probiotics help to maintain healthy intestinal microbial balance. The term literally means “healthful for life,” and today, probiotics has a broader definition: a live microbial supplement which beneficially affects the host by improving its microbial balance.
Uniquely designed probiotic supplements are able to pass through the stomach to deliver live ‘good bacteria’ into the intestine
A quality probiotic supplement delivers guaranteed live probiotics through the stomach into the intestine where they promote colon health by supporting the growth of healthy microflora naturally found in the colon.
To supply live probiotics to their intended target, the supplement must be uniquely designed in a capsule that is guaranteed to withstand the acidic environment of the stomach.
Advanced supplement designs often use patented or exclusive technology, such as triple encapsulation using only natural ingredients to protect microflora against stomach acid in a seamless outer shell. Middle layer protects against oxygen and moisture and inner layer or core hold and protects microflora until released in the intestine.
What Are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are nutrients which selectively feed the friendly bacteria. Research has shown that supplementing with both prebiotics and probiotics can significantly increase populations of beneficial microflora.
A quality prebiotic supplement should be a pleasant-tasting drink mix that contains at least three grams of dietary fiber and features additional nutrients that selectively feed the friendly bacteria. These include fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a family of short-chain carbohydrates that deliver an immediate food source to nourish friendly bacteria; and inulin, long-chain carbohydrates that also provide nutrients for beneficial microflora.
Other nutrients in a good quality prebiotic include Jerusalem artichoke, a vegetable containing a natural source of inulin and FOS, as well as gamma tocopherol (related to alpha-tocopherol, the most well-known member of the vitamin E family), found in relatively high levels in colon cells. Studies have shown that dietary intake of vitamin E, and particularly gamma-tocopherol, may reduce levels of potentially toxic oxidation products in the colon.
What are synbiotics?
As probiotics are mainly active in the small intestine and prebiotics are only effective in the large intestine, the combination of the two may give a synergistic effect. Appropriate combinations of prebiotic supplements and probiotic supplements are called synbiotics.
Synbiotic components work together with probiotics to help beneficial bacteria flourish in the intestinal tract to support whole-body health. To optimize “friendly flora” a synbiotic (two product supplement) is recommended.
Research confirms safety of probiotic supplements
Research shows that regular dietary intake of beneficial microflora must be sustained to maintain their high levels. Probiotic supplements offer a safe and natural way to supplement the diet with beneficial microorganisms naturally found in the gastrointestinal tract.
Research studies indicate that normal, healthy colonies of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria can help maintain a healthy balance between beneficial and undesirable bacteria. Bifidobacteria constitute up to 25% of the total bacterial population of healthy adults, and up to 95% in newborn babies. Lactobacilli are common inhabitants of the intestinal microflora, usually found higher in the gastrointestinal tract than bifidus.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) these live microorganisms have a long history of use in probiotics without causing illness in people. Side effects, if they occur, tend to be mild and digestive (such as gas or bloating).
Probiotic supplements are regulated as foods, not drugs
It should be noted that probiotic products taken by mouth as dietary supplements are manufactured and regulated as foods, not drugs. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for overseeing the public safety in both areas.
Unlike drugs, there is no requirement that a dietary supplement prove its efficacy. Foods are not regulated as rigidly as drugs. For instance, the quality of probiotic supplements or gout supplements on the market can vary widely from one manufacturer to another.
How to find a nutritional supplement company you can trust
It is of utmost importance to choose a manufacturer of probiotic supplements carefully. Find a company that has a large staff of scientists and voluntarily does clinical studies and pre-market testing on its products to ensure their efficacy. Natural supplements are often tried for many conditions based on tradition, anecdotes, or marketing, but not all of these uses are supported by reliable or credible scientific research.
To help with the process of how to choose the best dietary supplement company, a list of questions has been prepared by our website. To view these, click on the following link: 30 questions.
Statistically speaking for the need of probiotic supplements
A great many people in the United States may be affected by factors which compromise the healthy balance of their intestinal microflora:
- Sales of antibiotics topped $23 billion in 2007.
- 36 million women are experiencing menopause.
- Up to 50 percent of children in the United States take antibiotics for ear infections three or more times before they reach the age of five.
- It is estimated that 40 to 50 percent of people traveling in developing countries run the risk of experiencing gastrointestinal distress due to microflora imbalances.
- In addition, anyone eating a typical “Western” diet which is high in fat, high in animal protein, and low in fiber, may be at increased risk for disturbing the optimal balance of their intestinal microflora.
As you can see, there are a myriad of situational causes for using probiotic supplements on a regular, daily basis.
Featured pre-biotic and probiotic supplements
Arthritis-Relief-Naturally was created to help people with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and related disorders, such as gout, to learn about natural treatments to ease symptoms and improve overall health.
A healthy colon supported by the growth of healthy microflora naturally found in the colon is an important gout consideration.
After extensively researching probiotic supplements as a treatment option for many types of arthritis we have discovered a product that delivers live optimum flora that we’ve had tremendous success with.
This probiotics supplement is available as a system of two products or as a probiotic individually. Click on each link below to order or for more information.
Product One (Prebiotic)—4 grams
A pleasant-tasting drink mix that contains 4 grams of dietary fiber and features FOS and Jerusalem artichoke to selectively feed the friendly bacteria, and gamma tocopherol to help reduce levels of potentially toxic oxidation products in the colon.
Poduct Two (Probiotic)—500 million
The prebiotic above is taken with the probiotic, a unique, seamless capsule that is guaranteed to withstand the acidic environment of the stomach and deliver 500 million live beneficial microflora (250 million each of bifidobacterium longum (bididus) and lactobacillus acidophilus (acidophilus) to the intestine.
Pre-biotic/Pro-biotic together as system.
Other unique features and benefits include:
- No artificial flavors, sweeteners, colors, or preservatives have been added.
- Caffeine free.
- Refreshing, mild sweet flavor.
- No refrigeration is nessary (refrigeration may maintain activity longer).
- Patented triple-encapsulation uses only natural ingredients to protect microflora until they are released in the intestine.
- Seamless outer shell protects microflora against somach acid.
- Middle layer protects against oxygen and moisture.
- Inner core holds and protects microflora until they are released in the intestine.
Try one or more of the above probiotic supplements and see if these natural, safe treatments work for you.
Probiotic Supplements Disclaimer: Health statements on this probiotic supplements page have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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Valerian. Sleep well tonight with this safe herbal choice as a natural dietary supplement for insomnia relief, restlessness and anxiety. Click here for more information
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