Gets Help From Probiotic Bacteria

Let’s take a look at all the ways probiotic bacteria aid us.

  • Nutritional - Manufacture vitamins in our foods and bodies: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, K, and sometimes vitamin A.
  • Digestive - Digest lactose. Allow some people with lactose intolerance to eat yogurt and cultured dairy products. Help regulate peristalsis and regular bowel movements. Digest protein to free amino acids. Establish good digestion in infants, preventing colic, diaper rash, and gas.
  • Immune - Contribute to both humoral and cell-mediated immune function. Produce antibiotics and antifungals that prevent colonization of harmful bacteria and fungus. Protect against development of allergic conditions. Increase the number of immune system cells.

Activate mucosal-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT). Manufacture essential fatty acids, 5 to 10 percent of all short-chained fatty acids. Increase the number of immune system cells. Create lactic acid that balances intestinal pH. Break down bacterial toxins and prevent production of bacterial toxins and colitis.

Have antitumor and anticancer effects. Protect from xenobiotics like mercury, pesticides, radiation, and harmful pollutants. Break down bile acids. Manufacture hydrogen peroxide, which has antiseptic effects.

  • Heart - Play a role in normalization of serum cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • Metabolism - Break down and rebuild hormones. Promote healthy metabolism. Convert flavonoids—useful as antitumor factors and to reduce inflammation—to usable forms.

In addition to these nutritional and digestive benefits, probiotics enhance immune function. They manufacture antibiotics, such as acidophilin, produced by acidophilus, which are effective against many types of bacteria, including streptococcus and staph.

Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus have been shown to be effective in laboratory testing against the following pathogens: Bacillus subtilis, Clostridium botulinum, Clostridium perfringens, Escherichia coli, Proteus mirabilis, Salmonella enteridis, Salmonella typhimurium, Shigella dysenteriae, Shigella paradysenteriae, Staphylococcus aureus, and Staphylococcus faecalis.

Candida albicans, a fungus that causes infections in nails and eyes, thrush, and yeast infections, is controlled by acidophilus.This works in at least two ways. First, acidophilus bacteria ferment glycogen into lactic acid, which changes the pH of the intestinal tract.

Since candida and many other disease-causing microbes thrive in alkaline environments, this action discourages many disease-producing microbes. Second, specific strains of lactobacillus produce hydrogen peroxide, which kills candida directly.

Studies show that supplementation with a hydrogen peroxide–producing strain of acidophilus, DDS-1, reduced the incidence of antibiotic-induced vaginal yeast infections threefold. Other probiotics have antitumor and anticancer effects.

Probiotics also help us metabolize foreign substances, like mercury and pesticides, and protect us from damaging radiation and harmful pollutants. Friendly bacteria also help us in other ways. Studies have repeatedly shown that lactobacillus bacteria can help normalize cholesterol levels.

Probiotics also rebuild and break down hormones such as estrogen. Probiotics aid digestive function, improve peristalsis, and help normalize bowel transit time. Finally, bacterial balance is essential for healthy metabolism. Many superthin people have been able to gain weight when their bacteria were rebalanced, although the mechanism is not yet understood.

Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus are two other friendly inhabitants of our digestive tracts. Transient residents of the digestive tract, these flora are not native to it. They “vacation” in us for up to twelve days, which gives them time to have a beneficial effect on the intestinal ecology.

Their most obvious function is to enhance the production of bifidobacteria. They have also been shown to have antitumor effects, and Lactobacillus bulgaricus has antibiotic and antiherpes effects as well. They are found in cultured dairy products or can be taken in supplement form.

Saccharomyces boulardii, another probiotic, is a friendly yeast that enhances levels of sIgA. In France, it’s called “yeast against yeast.” It has been well studied and used clinically for more than fifty years. It is safe for people of all ages, including infants.

It is resistant to antibiotics, except antifungal medications, so it can be used while taking antibiotics. It helps protect and restore normal flora. It stimulates the production of sIgA and IgG, antibodies that are the first line of defense against pathogens.

It also stimulates enzymatic production, helping to repair and maintain normal gut mucosa, and stimulates the activity of short-chain fatty acids and disaccharide enzymes, such as lactase, maltase, and sucrase, which can help prevent diarrhea.

When used therapeutically, S. boulardii is useful for stopping diarrhea caused by traveling, antibiotics, AIDS, and severe burns. It has also been used effectively in people with Crohn’s disease, significantly reducing the number of bowel movements and diarrhea, and it has been used to help people with diarrhea-type irritable bowel syndrome.

S. boulardii helps protect against bacteria and bacterial toxins by preventing them from attaching to the intestinal mucosa or specific receptor sites. Studies have shown its effectiveness against disease-causing strains of E. coli, Clostridium difficile, cholera, and Entamoeba histolytica.

Studies indicate that it may also be effective against salmonella, the main cause of food poisoning. E. coli Nissle strain has also been used effectively in digestive diseases. It’s best studied for its role in protection from inflammatory bowel diseases and irritable bowel syndrome.

Probiotic supplements may be beneficial for the following health conditions:

  • Vaginal infections
  • Recurrent urinary infections
  • Diarrhea in adults and children
  • Complications from antibiotic therapy
  • Traveler’s diarrhea and/or colitis
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Hypertension
  • Cancer
  • Immune system stimulation
  • Small bowel bacterial overgrowth
  • Kidney stones
  • Elevated blood cholesterol
  • Allergy, including food allergies
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases and pouchitis
  • Flatulence
  • Bacterial and fungal infections
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus erythematosus
  • Alcohol-induced liver diseas

Bacterial infections, antibiotics use, high stress levels, excessive alcohol intake, poor diet, and a number of other factors can disrupt the delicate balance of beneficial bacteria in our gut. Often, disease-producing bacteria and fungi will proliferate, causing symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, and gas.

If left unchecked, they can contribute to long-term conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome. It would be impossible to write about each of the probiotic bacteria. Here are the highlights of a couple:

Lactobacillus reuteri (L. reuteri)

  • Inhibits growth of disease-causing microbes including gramnegative and gram-positive bacteria, yeast, fungi, and protozoa
  • Has a protective and therapeutic effect on vaginal infections
  • Shortens duration of rotaviral infection, which causes diarrhea in children
  • Has been found to colonize well in the human GI tract
  • Appears to inhibit adherence of pathogens in gut

Bifidobacteria infantis (B. infantis)

  • Is the primary bacteria in the GI tract of infants
  • Is useful in the treatment of colic, cradle-cap, and eczema in infants and babies
  • May protect against bacteria that promote inflammatory bowel diseases
  • Colonizes well in the GI tract after ingestion
  • Contributes to reduction in illness and deaths associated with infants with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) when used with L. acidophilus
  • Has antitumor properties in test research and possible therapeutic value in use with solid tumors, such as breast cancer.