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Probiotics and "good" bacteria

Is this for real?

"This improved breath or less turbulent gut all starts with bacteria, of all things. The relationship between the good and bad bacteria in your gut, or in your mouth, is vital to your health. Five years ago few doctors would have believed in probiotics. Now a growing number of physicians are suggesting that patients eat more foods with live cultures or probiotics, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and miso soup.

Inside your small and large intestines there are 400 to 500 different species of bacteria that live in synergy, as long as the good bacteria outweigh the bad bacteria. If the balance gets upset and the bad becomes more prevalent, you can develop many symptoms and sicknesses. The most immediate effects are excess gas, bloating and diarrhea. A worse-case scenario would be what happens when you have food poisoning. Your body reacts violently to expel the bad bacteria.

The two main families of friendly flora are lactobacillus, needed in the small intestine, and bifidobacterium, needed in the large intestine. Within these families are species and within that, strains. The flora in each person’s intestines vary as distinctly as their fingerprint, says Marc Lalonde, vice president of Harmonium International, a natural product supplier. So it is important to look for a variety of probiotics to make sure you re-supply whatever deficit exists in your intestines.

Here’s good news: Studies show you can’t consume too many probiotics. “When you are sick, you want to saturate the flora with good bacteria as soon as possible,” says Lalonde. “You can’t take too many. No bad side effects have ever been reported in the literature.”

Building stores of the right probiotics are essential to your overall health not just to prevent or correct an overgrowth of bad bacteria, but because they support absorption of nutrients within the intestines. “The largest aspect of our immune system is in our intestine, called the Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue, or the GALT,” says Alex Kraft, a naturopathic physician, licensed acupuncturist and lead practitioner at a Pharmaca integrated drug store based in Seattle’s Madison Park neighborhood. “There’s little patches along the whole gastro-intestinal tract, trying to detect what is foreign or not. Our intestine is much more permeable than our skin. Our skin acts as a barrier but the intestines need to absorb things back and forth all the time, so the intestines have to have a good immune system. Some of the probiotics actually secrete things that help boost that immune system.”


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Tue. Mar 20, 8:46am

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one of the guys I work with swears by all those natural products. Probotics is one of the things he takes daily. He seems pretty healthy to me.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007, 9:14 AM

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There's a short article in Women's Health magazine this month about how some probiotic supplements don't actually have enough to make a difference - apparently the minimum effective dose is 1 billion organisms. Like Rite Aid's Acidophilus only has 100 million, so it's not much use. The tests were done by consumerlab.com, but unfortunately you need to be a paid member to access all the results. The link below takes you to limited results - they tested 22 products, and this list only has about 5 or 6 on it, but it'll give you an idea what to look for.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007, 10:31 AM

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