In my last post I addressed the critical part that digestion plays in staying free of inflammation. If nutrients are improperly absorbed and toxins are not discarded right, then chronic inflammation begins to manifest.
Digestion is the engine that drives our health.
Lots of common conditions that begin to show up as abdominal bloating, acid reflux, constipation, infections, diarrhea, low energy, and food allergies are indicators that digestion is sluggish and weak.
Protection of the digestive system starts with our natural microflora.
Our normal microflora is present in the digestive tract to protect it from being invaded with disease causing bacteria, viruses, and fungi. We have trillions of microorganisms mostly bacteria, living in our intestinal tract mainly in the colon. Around 85% of the bacteria in our intestines are benign and around 15 % are pathogenic.
It is critical to keep this balance in check otherwise pathogens begin to thrive and cause infections and inflammatory conditions.
Also, without the right amount of our microflora present, nutrients in the intestines are not absorbed correctly. If harmful bacteria colonize the intestinal tract walls, then they can damage its cells and keep nutrients from being absorbed. The permeability of the membranes in the intestine are compromised and toxins, pathogens and undigested food can leak out back into the circulation.
When nutrients are not absorbed correctly and toxicity is recycled back into the circulation, it is easy to see how infections, food allergies, and inflammatory conditions get started.
They also lower the pH in the intestines and create an acidic environment by releasing lactic acid .This acidic environment is harmful to pathogenic bacteria and viruses. Additionally they produce substances such as hydrogen peroxide and organic acids wich work like natural antibiotics to eliminate pathogens.
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium which are benign bacteria, are able to make lactase which is an enzyme which breaks up lactose (dairy). They are able to metabolize undigested carbohydrates like lactose which is very beneficial especially if you are lactose intolerant.
Additionally they produce short chain fatty acids which are building blocks to restore and build up the cellular membranes which are the gates in the intestinal tract.
Foods and drinks such as processed, high-fat and junk food, red meat, refined sugars, chlorinated water, excess alcohol, and sodas can run down our microflora levels.
They are also depleted by common medications especially antibiotics, antacids, corticosteroids, NSAID’s, and birth control pills.
Antibiotics and birth control pills can reduce benign bacteria to the point that Candida which is a fungus is overgrown and chronic fungal infections start to show up.
Other factors such as stress, digestive disorders, pesticides, and environmental pollution also reduce it.
Fermented foods are foods that are made or preserved by microorganisms. Some of the best foods to replenish the microflora are yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, cottage cheese, kefir and kombucha tea.
Prebiotics are foods that nourish the existing micoflora. These are non digestable fibers and carbohydrates such as inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS) found in some fruits and vegetables like onions, garlic, asparagus, bananas, and oats.
A combination of live cultures of Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Saccharomyces with the genus and species listed on the label for example: Lactobacillus (genus) acidophilus (species),
At least 1 billion colony forming units (CFU) per tablet or capsule
The date stamped on the label stating the expiration of viable microorganisms
Enteric coated or encapsulated to be able to pass through the stomach
Freeze-drying process to be stable at room temperature.
Laboratory with good manufacturing practices which has tested the strength and microorganism composition
Adult dosages can vary from 1 to 15 billion units daily.
Primal Defense by Garden Of Life
Probiotic All Flora by New Chapter
Jarrow- Dophilus by Jarrow Formulas
Ultimate Flora Critical Care by Renew Life
Nutrition Science News, June 1999 A Probiotics Primer, David Wolfson, N.D.
Enzymes and Probiotics are Keys to Healthy Digestion , Decker Weiss, NMD