Medication and Food Supplements


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Probiotics

Probiotic Defined

The word probiotic comes from the Greek word “pro” meaning “for” and “biosis” meaning “life”, that is the opposite of “antibiotic”. Probiotic and digestive enzyme supplementation is a way of encouraging the proliferation of certain “good” (beneficial) bacteria to work in concert with the digestive process. This microbial balancing act can be accomplished by taking beneficial bacteria and digestive enzymes, daily, where together they can create an ideal environment for these microorganisms to flourish.

Categories of Bacteria

There are three categories of bacteria: beneficial, harmful and neutral. For optimal health your body needs a balance of these bacteria to keep each in check. You will remain healthy as long as the balance of “good & bad” bacteria remains constant and the gastro-intestinal tract is stable. When the balance is upset, you may not be able to digest properly or assimilate the nutrients you need from his food. When this occurs, it may begin to show up as an inability to maintain weight, colic (or colic like symptoms), or other medical conditions including diarrhea or constipation.

This good microflora in your intestine can provide a protective effect only when a proper balance is maintained among all the different bacteria that normally reside in your intestine. If your normal bacteria become depleted or the balance is disturbed, potentially harmful bacteria can overgrow and become established, causing digestive and other health problems. These harmful bacteria are known as pathogenic bacteria, and they have the ability to cause gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea or abdominal pain if not kept in check by the beneficial bacteria.

The most frequently used probiotic genera are Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. The potential mechanisms of their action include competitive bacterial interactions, production of antimicrobial metabolites, mucosal conditioning, and immune modulation. The emerging use of probiotics in several gastrointestinal disorders (e.g., inflammatory bowel disease) has led to increased interest in their use in patients with IBS.

An estimated 400-plus species of beneficial bacteria live in the digestive tract. Various species are found in different regions when we are in good health. The total weight of these bacteria amounts to approximately three and one half pounds.

Benefits

Health benefits attributed to the consumption of probiotics include:

- maintenance of the normal gut flora

- alleviation of lactose (milk-sugar) intolerance

- improvement of digestive processes and absorption of nutrients, and

- stimulation of the body’s immune system.

Furthermore, other health benefits of probiotics are being investigated at various medical and research centers around the world.

References

Vitamin Bible. Mindell, Earl
Vitamins & You. Benowieez, Robert
The People’s Guide to Vitamins & Minerals. Bosco, Dominick
The Complete Book of Vitamins. Gottlieb, William
Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Phyllis A. Balch, CNC and James F. Balch, M.D.

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