Have you ever thought about what goes into your body each and every day? If not, you should. One of the key ways to ensure that you feel good and are healthy is by eating nutritious food and making sure your GI tract has the tools it needs to digest and absorb nutrients as best possible. The GI tract, which includes the stomach and intestines, works to digest food and eliminate waste. A variety of "good" intestinal bacteria, called probiotic bacteria, can help to keep the digestive system running by helping to digest food, process waste, and keep the "bad" bacteria in check.
Although some kinds of bacteria do cause illness and diseases in humans, the majority of bacteria do not cause disease. There are actually types of bacteria that are beneficial. Probiotic bacteria are used in the manufacturing of food and beverages and can be found in buttermilk, yogurt, cheese, sausage, and acidophilus milk. The same probiotics can be found in our intestines, where they help to keep the digestive system running by digesting food and processing waste. Probiotics are live bacteria that are non-toxic and do not cause disease. Some of the best known probiotic bacteria include members of the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium groups. These probiotic bacteria are also known as lactic acid bacteria because they have the ability to break down lactose. Both of these types of probiotic bacteria are well studied and are available in both food and dietary supplements. The bacteria that are found in yogurt, our intestine, and most natural supplements are the same types of probiotic bacteria, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria longum. Because of this, these bacteria are referred in a generic sense as probiotics or "good" bacteria. Lactic acid bacteria can be found naturally in milk. The probiotic bacteria used in food and natural supplements are harvested through a highly controlled fermentation process which results in high numbers of quality bacteria.
Normal microflora (intestinal bacteria) is associated with good health, while an imbalance if frequently associated with various disease states including yeast infections and colon cancer. Eating foods or taking a nutritional supplement that contains probiotic bacteria can help support and modify the large intestine microflora, which assist digestion by making the intestines more inhospitable to invading bacteria species, protection against disease-causing bacteria, and stimulation of the immune system.
Lactose, which is an important sugar that is converted to lactic acid by lactic acid bacteria, can lead to lactose intolerance when the body is unable to digest lactose which results because of genetics, gastrointestinal disease, or a decline in the amount of intestinal lactase levels. Those who are deficient in lactase accumulate non-absorbed lactose in the GI tract, which draws water and electrolytes into the gut and speeds water through the intestines, causing bloating, cramping, and diarrhea. About 50 million people in the United States have some form of lactose in tolerance.
Digestive enzymes, which consist of protease, amylase, and lipase, act upon food by breaking it down into similar components that are used by the body for energy. Without these enzymes, digest could not take place and the food we eat could not be absorbed and utilized by our bodies. Probiotics help the enzymes in our bodies digest food and process waste, ensuring that the digestive tract is running smoothly. When taken with enzymes, the enzymes ensure greater levels of digestion and absorption of food while the probiotic bacteria aid the enzymes in digestion and keep problems in check.
Helping to ensure a healthy digestive system is not the only use for probiotics, as Lactoabcillus acidophilus has been found to help prevent vaginal yeast infections in women that suffer from these reoccurring infections. Probiotic bacteria have also been demonstrated to have anti-cancer properties. In one study, colon cancer patients given Lactobacillus acidophilus showed a significant increase in numbers of intestinal Lactobacilli and a decrease in risk factors associated with colon cancer. Patients suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases can also benefit from probiotic bacteria supplements. Probiotics supplementation can also improve and prevent skin diseases such as eczema. Scientific research has shown that probiotic bacteria can actually control inflammation associate with skin conditions.
Since probiotic bacteria do not permanently stay in the body, they need to be replenished through the consumption of foods which contain probiotic bacteria or taking a natural probiotic supplement daily. If you choose to take a probiotic nutritional supplement, the critical factor is how many bacteria reach the intestines healthy. A quality supplement should deliver at least 1 billion living probiotic bacteria per dose to your intestine and be mixture of both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. A good quality probiotic nutritional supplement will have guaranteed levels of live bacteria at when it is consumed. Other, lesser, brands will just merely state levels of live bacteria at the point of manufacture. Look for a product that has a use by, or expiration date that is clearly stated on the package. It's also important to find a supplement that does not require refrigeration because one can never be sure whether the supplement was refrigerated during shipment and storage to the retail store. A scientifically validated process (True Delivery Technology) assures that live bacteria are delivered to the intestine by suspending the probiotic bacteria in a moist paste and sealing the bacteria in a seamless spherical gelatin ball protected from air and dryness. Since lactic acid bacteria aren't very resistant to stomach acid, the harsh environment destroys the majority of the bacteria. This new coating process protects the bacteria from the stomach acid, as the sphere is specially developed to dissolve in the intestines. Although this specialized process is expensive, it has many advantages to you. The gelatin spheres "seal" the bacteria in the capsule, protecting them from air, which can injure or kill probiotic bacteria and eliminating the supplement's need to be refrigerated. By protecting the bacteria on the shelf and in the stomach, the probiotic bacteria are able to successfully reach the intestine. This means that, there will be a greater number of healthy bacteria that can arrive in the intestine. If you do not like the taste of yogurt, acidophilus supplements are available and can be found at your friendly online vitamin store.
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