What are probiotics? The Food and Agricultural Organization defines them as live microorganisms administered in adequate amounts which confer a beneficial health effect on the host. Probiotics explained are simply bacteria found in certain foods, such as yogurt, or dietary food supplements.
The healthy body contains trillions of these “friendly” microorganisms. The vast majority of these "good bacteria" live in the colon, where they perform a multitude of health-supporting tasks. Their most important role is helping to maintain a healthy balance with other less desirable organisms.
Enhancing the friendly microorganisms through diet and probiotic supplements can promote long-term colon health. Research shows that friendly bacteria help the body fight a variety of health conditions from diarrhea to autoimmune diseases.
We would not survive without bacteria. They help us digest our food, produce vitamins, and occupy niches that would otherwise be available for competing pathogens. This competitive effect becomes apparent when we wipe out a large proportion of our intestinal flora, for instance by an antibiotic that is prescribed to treat a bacterial infection.
Diarrhea is frequently the unwanted result, as ‘foreign’ bacteria take their chance to occupy the ‘empty’ niches. Healthy bacteria take over in time, so that in most cases the side effects of antibiotics are soon gone. Bacterial populations grow into a state of equilibrium until some external factor disturbs it again.
There are 400 to 500 types of bacteria in our digestive systems, falling into three basic categories: the good, the bad, and the indifferent:
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 mentioned above, but within each group are different species (for example, lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium bifidus), and within each species, different strains (or varieties).
Research has shown that healthy populations of beneficial microflora also play a crucial role in detoxification of chemicals in the colon. When environmental pollutants and food-produced toxins are processed by the liver, they are released into the small intestine as detoxified compounds in bile. Undesirable bacteria in the colon, can produce enzymes which “unbind” the bile compounds. Studies indicate that increasing dietary intake of lactobacilli can significantly reduce the activities of these unbinding enzymes.
Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria also actively support healthy colon cells. When beneficial microflora ferment fiber in the colon, short-chain fatty acids are formed, which the tissues of the colon preferentially utilize for energy. There is evidence that increasing the levels of short-chain fatty acids in the colon may help control chronic conditions of the colon. By supporting healthy colon cells, lactobacilli and bifidobacteria may help further mitigate the effects of toxic compounds in the colon.
Research has also shown that dietary intake of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria can help maintain healthy, normal populations of beneficial microflora even in people taking antibiotics. Studies also suggest that increased dietary intake of beneficial microflora can help maintain gastrointestinal health when traveling in developing countries.
One of the country's leading researchers in the world of probiotics is Gary Huffnagle, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan Health System, a professor of internal medicine and microbiology and immunology. He has published more than 90 articles about microbes and the immune system in peer-reviewed scientific journals, academic reviews and textbooks. He is the co-author of The Probiotics Revolution: The Definitive Guide to Safe, Natural Health Solutions Using Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods and Supplements.
Huffnagle's research documents the key role of good bacteria and prebiotics in restoring healthy balance to our bodies, improving immune system functioning, and curbing inflammation.
He advocates the use of good bacteria foods and supplements to prevent and relieve allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, yeast infections, and the negative side effects of antibiotic use.
He presents new evidence that these microorganisms may help fight asthma, cardiovascular disease, breast and colon cancer, autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, gout, etc), chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia—and even obesity (a factor in joint pain and overall health).
It is the bad microbes that cause disease. Good microbes work with the body’s immune system to keep the bad microbes at bay by crowding them out. In the symbiotic relationship between good and bad microbes, recent research has uncovered the importance of these good microbes.
“The good microbes – and this is where probiotics come in – keep the bad microbes in small numbers. But they also stimulate the immune system and improve our digestive function. That’s the subject of research that has been going on for years,” Huffnagle says.
Probiotics are supplemental populations of the “friendly bacteria” residing in the colon which help to maintain healthy intestinal microbial balance. The term was first used to refer to live microorganisms in supplement form that were fed to farm animals to stimulate growth and to improve resistance to stress. 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.*
Research shows that regular dietary intake of beneficial microflora must be maintained to maintain high levels. One top-of-the-line probiotics supplement uses state- of-the-art exclusive technology for guaranteed delivery. It has patented triple encapsulation and uses only natural ingredients to protect microflora until they are released in the intestine.
A product of this quality offers a safe and natural way to supplement the diet with beneficial microorganisms naturally found in the gastrointestinal tract.*
Probiotics are also bacteria in certain foods that we eat and they’re good for our health but most often don't live long enough to make it through the stomach into the intestine. They are found in a number of foods that are readily available in the supermarket, and they taste good. You can support probiotic growth by increasing the amount of cultured dairy products you eat, such as cheeses and yogurt, and the foods that encourage probiotics from these dairy products to multiply even further: spices, tea, red wine, berries, apples and beans.
Huffnagle says that most of these good microbes exist within our body in the digestive tract, with the largest number occurring in the small and large intestines.
“It’s the job of these good microbes to stimulate our immune system, and the other job they do is to stimulate good digestive health,” he says.
Prebiotics are nutrients which selectively feed the friendly bacteria. Research has shown that supplementing with prebiotics and probiotics simultaneously can significantly increase populations of beneficial microflora.*
When probiotics are coupled with a prebiotic supplement, these two supplemental components work together to help beneficial bacteria flourish in your intestinal tract to support whole body health.*
The prebiotic powder featured on this website is a pleasant-tasting drink mix that contains 3 grams of dietary fiber and preferred nutrients which selectively feed the friendly bacteria, including fructooligosaccharides (FOS). Inulin and Jerusalem artichoke.
Another emerging topic of probiotics research examines a possible link between good bacteria and obesity, and a number of researchers around the country are starting to look at this connection.
"We should have known that probiotics and the gut microflora play a role in metabolism " it's a connection that's been known in the agriculture industry for years," Huffnagle says.
Agriculture experts quickly noted that sick livestock gained weight when dosed with antibiotics, leading to the industry practice of routinely rotating various low-dose antibiotics in livestock feed. Huffnagle says the antibiotics actually change the metabolism of the animals, creating something called "enhanced feed efficiency" " an improved ability to retain fat.
"We take the antibiotics to recover from a microbial illness, but the trade-off is that fat we eat may be staying with us instead of being metabolized and converted to energy," Huffnagle says.
He says that antibiotics are important for fighting disease and should always be taken according to physician recommendations. However, making a point of eating dairy products rich in probiotic microbes and foods that provide nutrition for the probiotics will help these microbes prevent immune system and metabolic problems.
Producing a high quality probiotics supplement is not easy. Sophisticated manufacturing and testing equipment is required to formulate and protect delicate strains The dietary supplement industry is not rigidly regulated. Supplements are considered as foods, not drugs.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stringent requirements for pharmaceuticals, but not for supplements. Nearly two-thirds of supplement manufacturers are in non compliance with industry guidelines. Six separate studies found 95 of 106 probiotic supplements failed to provide viable bacterial counts when compared to labels.
This does not bode well for expecting to find quality in the average probiotics supplement.
It's imperative to choose carefully the probiotics supplement brand to get the most for your money.
Years ago I prepared a list of 30 questions to help me find the best dietary supplement company in the industry. The answers led me to a clear cut winner, the #1 natural nutrition company in the U.S., founded in 1956.
It was not easy to find any supplement company with a large staff of scientists, or that voluntarily does clinical studies and pre-market testing on its products to ensure their efficacy. Such diligence is not required in the industry, and, for most makers, is prohibitively costly.
We discovered only one company that goes the extra mile to ensure absolute purity, safety and effectiveness of its nutritional products. Their 'beyond organic' manufacturing approach screens for over 350 contaminants, pesticides, and impurities on every new botanical. This is three times more than U.S. Pharmacopeia standards. In addition, they perform over 100,000 quality tests per year to ensure purity and to guarantee that the final finished product is free of contaminants.
Their company motto is "The Golden Rule". They are obsessed with quality. They have invested more than $250 million in clinical testing. They have had over 100 of their studies published in the country's top peer reviewed medical journals. They are truly a completely different company compared to their competitors.
A quality probiotic supplement delivers guaranteed live microflora through the stomach into the intestine where they promote colon health by supporting the growth of healthy microflora naturally found in the colon. This supplement greatly aids digestion and immune health.
To supply live probiotics to their intended target is not as easy as it sounds. The supplement must be uniquely designed in a capsule that is guaranteed to withstand the acidic environment of the stomach.
The featured probiotic supplement delivers unique benefits via a proprietary formula with 10 billion CFUs with four bacterial strains, including the powerhouse Bifidobacterium lactis™ Other features:
It's scientists believe the digestive and immune enhanced blend of 10 billion CFUs is a special perfect level studied by clinical research, and includes these strains:
The featured probiotics supplement is available as a system of two products or as a probiotic or prebiotic individually. Click on each link below for more information or to order.
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.
Other unique features and benefits include:
Try one or more of the above probiotic supplements and see if these natural, safe treatments work for you.
* Disclaimer: Health statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.