| Probiotics are beneficial living microorganisms that support healthy gastrointestinal and immune systems. Hundreds of diverse microbial species, some essential for health, others pathogenic, inhabit or pass through the gastrointestinal tract. In a healthy digestive system, these microorganisms coexist in a balanced harmony.|
Research has shown that diverse probiotic strains are able to inhibit the growth and control populations of pathogenic microbes by competing for nutrients and adhesion sites, producing anti-microbial compounds such as organic acids, hydrogen peroxide and bacteriocins, and stimulating the body’s own healthy immune responses. Probiotics have been found to favorably modulate the immune system locally in the bowel mucosa, distantly at mucosa surfaces throughout the body, and systemically.
Probiotic microorganisms maintain and strengthen intestinal barrier function as well as regulate bowel motility. They promote normal colonic blood flow, produce essential nutrients for the colon mucosa, synthesize vitamin K and B vitamins, and facilitate nutrient and mineral absorption, especially calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Probiotics degrade and detoxify carcinogenic enzymes and other molecules as well as hormones and drugs.
Probiotics have been clinically shown to support against respiratory and skin allergies by virtue of their immune effects systemically and at mucosal surfaces outside the bowel. Most strains effectively reduce lactose intolerance and many can degrade endogenous opioids. An emerging hypothesis suggests that probiotics may play an important, complementary role in detoxification protocols.
The standard Western diet is deficient in the essential probiotics needed to maintain health. Highly processed, canned, and frozen foods lack the healthful microorganisms the body requires for a normally balanced microflora. As a consequence, most people in North America and Western Europe lack important probiotic bacteria normally found in healthy people consuming a diet based on plants, fibers, fresh fruits, and vegetables. In addition, the normal intestinal balance of microorganisms can be disrupted by stress, disease, poor nutrition, toxins, and medications, such as antibiotics, immunosuppressants, and gastric acid inhibitors, resulting in intestinal and systemic health disturbances. Probiotic nutritional supplementation can support the body in restoring and maintaining a healthy, balanced gastrointestinal microflora.