PROBIOTICS


Origins
According to Lita Proctor, director of the Human Microbiome Project, a National Institutes of Health initiative, "It's during the event of birth that the initial and important inoculums of microbes happen." She added that babies born by cesarean section might get a different dose of bacteria. "Nature meant for us to be born vaginally, and babies that do not get that exposure might not start out with the bacteria they are supposed to have."

Your first wave of gut bacteria comes from the wild ride through the birth canal, according to Proctor. Breast milk is another important source of gut bacteria, according to Lita Proctor as it also contains crucial antibodies. "There's a purpose for breast milk."

Four Winds Nutrition Recommends...
Take this combination of 2 products. Food Enzymes for much better digestion and assimilation AND Bifidophilus.
Bifidophilus is recommended for daily use to maintain a healthy balance of friendly bacteria in the intestinal tract, to enhance the production of vitamins by the microbes and to support the immune system. This is a great daily probiotic for adults and children of all ages, particularly females because it protects against unwanted invaders that cause health concerns, especially in the urinogenital tract. 

Digestive enzymes are very important to helping balance the pH. 

Food enzymes: Highly recommended for people over 40 (As we age the body loses approx. 10% of its enzymes reserve for every 10 years of age) .

They are taken with meals to help the body metabolize food correctly so as to avoid a build-up of acid waste and toxins. 

They can also be taken between meals to help rid the body of excess proteins that may be causing acid in the blood.

This product contains Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium longum plus two additional bacterial strains, Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus rhamnosusfor a more complete probiotic formula and added support for the immune system. 

To ensure the potency of this product, NSP added fructooligosaccharides (short-and long chain), which support the growth of these beneficial organisms. 

Each capsule provides a good balance of 4 billion beneficial bacteria and is coated to ensure its sustained release in the intestine. 


What are "Probiotics"?

Probiotics are defined as organisms such as friendly bacteria which contribute to the health and balance of the intestinal tract, protecting against disease and improving nutrition. (1)
Many of these tiny beings exert their beneficial effects in a transitory nature, and are either not resident in the gastrointestinal system of humans, or reside only in the GI tract of infants, conferring immunity until their adult complement of intestinal flora is acquired.

Altogether the total microflora (bacterial population) of the human body may weigh up to 4 pounds and, according to different authors, is comprised of from 100 to more than 400-500 different species of bacteria! (Feeling a little crowded?) (3) Another interesting fact about gut bacteria is that they outnumber the cells of your own body 10 to 1!

Since the mouth and GI tract are part of the same system, it makes sense that the organisms found in one area could be found in nearly all areas. But why are they also found in the vagina? First of all the microflora play a role in maintaining the health of that area. Even the allopathic medical community is becoming aware of this fact, since the prestigious New England Journal Of Medicine has published a research article indicating acidophilus can prevent and possibly cure yeast infections.(4)

Symptoms or signs indicating Gut/Bacteria Issues

Digestive Issues
 
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Heartburn/acid reflux
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Irritable Bowel Disease (including Crohn’s and Ulcerative colitis)
Mental Issues
There might be a link between gut (bad) bacteria and the following issues:
 
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Brain fog
  • OCD (Obsessive-compulsive disorder)
  • Autism
Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
If you are deficient in any of the below (your medical doctor can tell you), you might have an unhealthy gut.
 
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin B12 and B7
  • Magnesium
Antibiotics
 

Antibiotics clean out bad bacteria, but they also get rid of many of the good bacteria in the gut and those are essential for your health. Antibiotics are unable to discriminate between both good and bad bacteria.

Chronic, Unmanaged Stress

 

Unmanaged stress raises cortisol levels, which can stop the gut from working properly. If you have been stressed for the past few months (or years, or decades) but have not acted to manage your stress, you are more likely to have an unhealthy gut.

Skin Conditions
It is now a known fact that many skin conditions have a lot to do with an unhealthy gut. Balancing your gut bacteria might help solve such skin issues.
 
  • Acne
  • Rosacea
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
Autoimmune Diseases

If you have to deal with any of the health issues listed below you might be able to make your symptoms go away by simply taking care of your intestinal flora.

 
  • Hashimoto’s
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
   


Most Common "Friendly Bacteria"

Lactobacillus acidophilus
This is one of the most popular probiotic strains due to its wide reaching benefits, such as reduced IBS-related inflammation, decreased allergic response, inhibition of pathogenic bacteria, and much more. This probiotic strain also naturally adheres to human intestinal cells and produces anti-microbial substances, while surviving better in the human gastrointestinal tract than other strains.

Lactobacillus casei
This strain provides many of the same benefits as acidophilus, with the addition of reduced H. pylori (a common cause of stomach ulcers and even cancer) severity, and protection against salmonella. Despite what the name may lead you to believe, many strains of Lactobacillus may be beneficial for those with lactose intolerance.

Bacillus coagulans
Shown to boost immune system response and to reduce IBS-related abdominal pain.
Bifidobacterium infantis – Reduces diarrhea, inflammation, and allergic responses. This bacteria strain has also been shown to be naturally resistant to stomach acid.

According to WebMD... Bacillus coagulans is also used for general digestion problems, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis), a bowel disorder called Clostridium difficile colitis, excessive growth of “bad” bacteria in short bowel syndrome, and infection due to the ulcer-causing bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Some people use Bacillus coagulans to prevent respiratory infections and ramp up the immune system. It is also used to prevent cancer or the formation of cancer-causing agents.

Note: Lactobacillus family exist happily in the small intestine, whilst some such as the Bifidobacterium family prefer the large intestine.


Scientific back-up

Probiotics probably have the most clinical evidence! In fact, regarding Lactobacillus only, a quick search of the National Institutes of Health PubMed will provide you with more than 5,300 clinical studies outlining its effects under a variety of conditions.

Benefits

Promoting a healthy digestive tract and a healthy immune system are their most widely studied benefits at this time.

According to WEBMD, probiotics help move food through your gut. Some common conditions they treat are:

Irritable bowel syndrome
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
Infectious diarrhea (caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites)
Antibiotic-related diarrhea

There is also some research to show they help with problems in other parts of your body. For example, some people say they have helped with:

Skin conditions, like eczema
Urinary and vaginal health
Preventing allergies and colds
Oral health

According to Medicinenet.com...
Research into the benefits of probiotics has been branching out, and new areas are emerging. Preliminary research has linked them to supporting the health of the reproductive tract, oral cavity, lungs, skin and gut-brain axis, and the prevention and treatment of obesity and type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Why do most of us need probiotics on a daily basis?

They offer a double protection. First by the role they play in our digestive tract. Second they definitely have an impact on our immune system. Although the specific functions listed for probiotics are many, perhaps the most awe-inspiring is that of allowing us to adapt to diversity in our environments. Because the predominant species of probiotic bacteria changes with circumstance, one can digest and extract nutrients from beef in the US, grains in the Middle East, and lichens (yes, those papely growths on logs!) in Lapland. The intestinal flora adapts to your dietary intake. 7

Other functions are less spectacular but no less necessary for our health: keeping the pathogenic bacteria under control by producing lactic acid, which attacks harmful bacteria (8) enhancing digestion and absorption of both protein and fats, and possibly enhancing the absorption and retention of minerals such as phosphorus, calcium and iron.9

L. acidophilus and its cousins produce the enzyme lactase, which breaks down milk sugar (lactose); they also produce B vitamins, reduce cholesterol, inhibit Candida albicans and prevent yeast infections, and at least one strain of L. acidophilus has been proved to secrete a substance exhibiting an antimicrobial effect, inhibiting 27 different types of harmful bacteria, including strep, staph and salmonella.
The second part of this one-two punch, is the ability to suppress toxin production of pathogens. Since many pathogenic bacteria, such as E. coli must attach to the lining of the intestinal tract to cause disease, probiotics compete for receptor sites with these organisms, preventing the absorption and passage of toxins into the blood. As early as 1950, acidophilus was recognized by the US government (presumably the FDA) as a drug, when it was found equally effective as neomycin sulfate for E. coli infections. (Unfortunately, the idea of healing with probiotics wasn't as appealing or as lucrative as patented Neomycin.)

Several authors attribute stimulation of the immune system to the presence of probiotic flora.
Indeed, the list of claims for these amicable microbes seems endless. The multiplicity of roles probiotics play in health has caused leading researchers in Europe to claim that as much as 80% of all degenerative diseases result from an imbalance in the intestinal flora.

So what is the problem?

The problem is, both our lifestyles and the environment are constantly subjecting us to unhealthy, downright unfriendly substances: toxins and poisons in the pollution of air, water and food, medications (antibiotics, steroids, birth control pills), caffeine and alcohol, poor dietary habits (high fat, sugar, salt) and stress, which damage or destroy our probiotic friends.

As our normal flora are depleted, harmful bacteria which reside in the gut take over, producing symptoms of illness. Gas, heartburn, diarrhea, fatigue, yeast infections, constipation and lactose intolerance all signal a disturbed intestinal flora and the need to augment the good guys.  



Fixing it

For once there is good news! That sensible diet (?) you have been eating, with lots of vegetables, little meat and few refined sugary foods certainly helps the process. And supplementation comes in many forms. Yogurt, kefir buttermilk, cheese and acidophilus milk all provide some probiotics.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell how many organisms one is ingesting in foods, and there is some question regarding the ability of the probiotics to survive either on the shelf, or in stomach acid in quantities capable of colonizing the gut and producing adequate protection.

Products abound containing single and multiple cultures and species of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. It is important to consider several factors:
1. Type/species of probiotic
2. Potency or number of organisms per capsule, tsp, gram or whatever dosage is given
3. Shelf life. Whether a single organism supplement is better than a supplement with multiple species depends on which author and what research you read.

Dosages recommended range from 3 to 7 BILLION organisms per day for maintenance, 18 to 24 BILLION organisms per day. Shelf life can be enhanced by keeping the product cool.

By taking supplemental probiotics, you are sending in the cavalry to make sure the good guys, and ultimately you, win.

Footnotes
1 "Probiotics: What They Are and How They Work" Handout on MEDNET, page 1.
2 A Chart of Microorganisms Used As Probiotics Handout by Jennija Lj. Rasic, Ph.D.
3 Carol Radice, "Digesting the facts about Probiotics, " Vitamin Retailer, October 1994, p. 34.
4 Dr. S. K. Dash, "Acidophilus: The Friendly Bacteria, " in Total Health, 1995, p. 27.
S A Chart of Microorganisms Used as Protobiotics Handout by Jeremija Lj. Rasic, Ph.D.
6 Natasha Trenev, "Acidophilus-Type Baby Bacteria" in The Nutrition and Dietary Consultant, May 1989.
7 Christopher Hobbs, Foundations of Health, The liver and digestion herbal (Capitola, CA: Botannica Press 1992), pps 62-63.
8 "Acidophilus—Because Balance is Important" in Health Counselor vol. 6, No.s, p. 40.
9 "Super Blue Green Bifidus" Body Education, MEDNET