Probiotics are friendly bacteria that exist in our gut, mouth, throat and in the vaginal tract. They come by the millions. They are called friendly because unlike regular bacteria, which cause illness, probiotics will attack any harmful organisms in your body and destroy them, keeping you well and disease free.
There are two major types of probiotics, and they exist in different areas of the intestinal tract. Lactobacilli, the most common and most useful strain of probiotics, exist in the upper gut. It coats the stomach lining, so that any pathogens that get into the stomach encounter the probiotic first. Lactobacilli are also responsible for digestion of milk and milk products; when you don’t have it, you will suffer lactose intolerance. They are also the ones that cure diarrhea.
The second type of probiotic is called bifidobacteria, and this one lines the colon. This is the probiotic type that is responsible for stopping constipation and inflammation in the colon. It ensures that there is proper pH balance so that your waste, or digested food, gets what it needs to be expelled properly. When you are short of bifidobacteria, you will suffer constipation. In fact, it can get much worse with time because your gut is open to infection. Colon cancer can occur because waste spends too much time in your body.
Sometimes you will take in lots of water, but you still get constipation because the cells that line your colon draw all the water out of the stool. Probiotics will target these cells so that it can adjust their water absorption. Sometimes, your colon is lined with organisms so that even if you eat roughage, your stool doesn’t get the grip it needs to be expelled. Other times, there might be bacteria which prevent peristalsis, the movement of the colon muscles that causes you to excrete. All these can be corrected by taking the right probiotic.
The way to make sure that you always have optimal levels of probiotics is to take them in your diet or to take them as supplements regularly. In the diet, you can take them in the form of milk and milk products like yoghurt and cheese. You can also get probiotics from vinegars and from garlic. These are all easily incorporated into the diet and commonly available.
You need to replace one type of probiotic at any one time. If you take probiotic supplements that contain both bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, one of them will be rendered inactive. It’s a waste. What is recommended is that you switch regularly from one to the other. Check the labels when you buy to see what strain you are getting.
In the diet, your body knows where probiotic replacement is needed most, and so whatever you consume will be taken to that area. The best way to ensure that you are well supplied at all times is to make probiotics a part of your daily diet.
- http://www.ei-resource.org/related-conditions-books/digestive-disorders/digestive-wellness/ Probiotics and Prebiotics by Liz Lipski
- Laurel On Health Food – http://www.laurelonhealthfood.com
- National Institutes of Health – http://www.nih.gov/
- U.S. National Library of Medicine – http://www.nlm.nih.gov/