Probiotics: What's all the buzz about?
Did you know that your body is actually an ecosystem? The human body is home to about ten times as many bacterial cells as body cells. These symbiotic bacteria live with us and, in most cases, assist and protect our bodies, in exchange for a place to live and food. For example, we have bacteria in our gut called gut flora that plaster the inner lining of the gut with a protective coating, like a carpet. Gut bacteria (also known as gut flora) help us to digest food, and actually provide us with some nutrients such as vitamin K2, which is important for blood clotting. Gut bacteria are also vital for the function of our immune systems. Did you know that 80% of your immune system resides in your gut, and that beneficial bacteria are essential to its optimal function? It's a win-win situation, when it comes to "beneficial" bacteria.
Our bodies do, however, harbor some bacteria that are not as beneficial, such as MRSA, C-difficile, or pseudomonas aerugenosa. (Hey, not all of neighbors are nice.) Most of the time, our immune systems keep the levels of these "bad" bacteria in check, and therefore their partying is kept to a minimum. In some situations, however, these "bad" bacteria can gain a growth advantage, and they begin to grow like weeds. Examples of situations that allow "bad" bacteria to thrive include stress, use of antibiotics, and poor dietary choices. When this happens, a condition called "intestinal dysbiosis" arises - literally, dysfunction of the population of gut flora that inhabit our bodies.
What might this do to our bodies? Well, according to this review (click here to access full text), dysbiosis can contribute to (or cause) diseases such as IBD, arthritis, and food allergy. None of which you want.
So let's take another few words to talk about use of antibiotics as a cause of intestinal dysbiosis. There is a time and a place for antibiotics, and if you truly need them, they can be lifesaving. However, it is well known that antibiotics are far over prescribed, and sometimes for conditions that do no necessitate their use. What does an antibiotic do? Well, it kills bacteria, of course! But how does it know what's "good" bacteria and what's "bad" bacteria? The answer is that IT DOESN'T. Antibiotics, especially "broad spectrum" antibiotics, will kill beneficial and bad bacteria alike, which can decimate the population that lines your gut. Does that sound like a bad idea? Well, having damage to the inner lining (also known as Leaky Gut Syndrome) can cause a host of problems such as Crohn's Disease, food allergies, gas pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. Again, none of which you want.
Medical doctors have been warming to the idea of replacing antibiotic-decimated gut bacteria with the administration of probiotics, but many have yet to embrace the use of probiotics for maintenance or promotion of health. Further, misinformation abounds with respect to what constitutes a "good" probiotic, and what's an appropriate dose.
Fortunately for you, we've already done the research for you. We carry Advanced Naturals probiotics in doses appropriate for post-antibiotic gut flora restoration, and for maintenance of healthy gut flora. These are dairy, shellfish, nut, and gluten-free, and shelf-stable (a good advantage for viability; most good quality probiotics must be refrigerated, and have a limited shelf-life). We recommend that everyone from kids to elders to promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria, which will in turn help your digestion, your immune system... and your ecosystem! So when you're in for your next adjustment, feel free to ask us which is right for you. It'll be another great step in your path to health!