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Probiotics - "For Life!"

Probiotics are live microorganisms (mainly bacteria) which confer a health benefit to the host, when administered in adequate amounts in foods and supplements

By improving microbial balance in the intestines and other areas of the body they help fight illness and disease.   Microorganisms were used in the 19th century to prevent and cure diseases and were added to domestic animal feed to enhance growth. Probiotics are a major support for the immune system.

Probiotic health benefits

Some probiotic foods: 

  • Raw milk.   Contains probiotic bacteria, pasteurized milk does not.
  • Live yogurt/kefir.   Probiotics are destroyed during pasteurization but are sometimes added back into pasteurized foods, such as yogurt and kefir. Some brands of yogurt state on their label that the yogurt has been heat-treated after the cultures were added -since the heat destroys the added bacteria, the only gain is the tangy taste.
  • Miso, tempeh, natto (fermented soy), kimchee
  • Some cheeses
  • Probiotic fruit juice

Taking a probiotic supplement will ensure you’re getting enough.  However, you need to choose the right bacterial strains and potency.

How to obtain probiotics

Intestinal flora benefit health

In the intestines microorganisms are called microflora or flora, and benefit the host by:

  • Increasing resistance to new colonization of invading bacteria and viruses, and protecting against the overgrowth of already-present, potentially pathogenic organisms;
  • Aiding digestion and assimilation of food -of particular note is their role in increasing phytase enzyme activity, which reduces phytate (a potent inhibitor of mineral and trace element absorption) found in grains (especially brans), legumes, nuts and seeds;
  • Stimulating the immune system
  • Scavenging superoxide radicals
  • Enhancing intestinal barrier function – by stimulating epithelial mucin production; particularly helpful for IBS patients
  • Helping make some vitamins

 “Body’s Flora

Bacterial name:   includes a Genus, species and strain.

E.g. Lactobacillus rhamnosus ATCC531-3

Trade names of bacteria are denoted un-italicized/bold type:

E.g. Activia’s Bifidus Regularis is the marketing name for Bifidobacterium animalis 173-010.

Probiotics are used for food preservation

Lactic acid bacteria, such as Lactobacillus species, have been used for thousands of years to preserve foods and prepare alcoholic beverages by fermenting them, which by lowering the pH level (increasing acidity), prevents contamination by potential pathogens. In the book of Genesis, references are made to the preparation of fermented milk. Today, fermentation is still used globally to preserve raw agricultural materials, such as cereals, roots, tubers, fruit, vegetables, milk, meat, and fish. As a dual function, fermented foods impart the health benefits of their inherent probiotics.

Probiotics vs. antibiotics

  • In contrast to probiotics, antibiotics are chemical substances produced by microorganisms that inhibit the growth of or destroy bacteria and other microorganisms.
  • Bactericidal antibiotic.   Kills bacteria usually by interfering with formation of bacterial cell wall or its contents.E.g. penicillin.
  • Bacteriostatic.   Stops bacteria from multiplying.    E.g. The probiotic bacterium Lactobacillus acidophilus produces an antibiotic substance called acidophilin which helps prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
  • Commercial antibiotics.    Produced by fermentation, where the source microorganism is grown in large containers of liquid growth medium under optimal conditions.The natural wild type microorganisms used have often been genetically modified to maximize production.

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