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Probiotics 101: A Beginners Guide

Did you know that the number of bacteria in your body outnumbers your body’s cells 10 to 1? It’s true, and most of them reside in your gut. There’s no reason to worry – most bacteria are harmless, and having the right bacteria can even help! This leads us to the topic at hand, probiotics. While this buzzword has been around for a while, what are these tiny-but-mighty organisms and what do they really do?

probiotics

 

What Are Probiotics?

Often there is confusion surrounding what a probiotic is, exactly. Simply put, they are live and naturally occurring microorganisms, bacteria, or yeasts, that support overall health. These microorganisms come in a variety of strains that can colonize the gut and thereby work to help maintain optimal bacterial balance.While these strains can and do act similarly at times, each has a slightly different purpose or use. Multiple strains, taken together, is often a preferred and effective way to support the needs of most individuals! There are a number of foods or supplements that contain these friendly bacteria and are supposed to help colonize our guts with health-boosting microorganisms, and their importance can not be overstated.

 

The History of Probiotics:

Starting in ancient Egypt, physicians used probiotics in the forms of fermented or soured foods for specific health-related conditions.  Think of popular foods such as kombucha, kimchi, or kefir!  At that time they did not know how or why these foods worked, they just knew that they did!  Thanks to years of scientific research, we now know that these foods were beneficial due to the naturally occurring bacteria that multiplied and fermented the food.

Dr. Eli Metchnikoff was the first to identify probiotics and their support of overall health. He proposed that by consuming these beneficial microorganisms, one could improve health.  He named these organisms “probiotics” which means ‘for life’ in Latin.  Dr Metchnikoff was a Russian biologist, zoologist, and protozoologist who did significant pioneering research into the immune system. His research was so significant that in 1908 he received a Nobel Prize for his work.

Types of Probiotics:

There are dozens of different probiotic bacteria, and the most common groups include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.  However, there are many different species within each group and each has many strains. It is important to keep in mind that this is a new and rapidly expanding area of research, but the most commonly used probiotics on the market today include the following:

Bifidobacterium

Bifidobacterium bacteria are probiotics that can naturally reside in the mouth, digestive system, and vagina. There have been at least 52 different species of bifidobacterium identified to date. These bacteria are classified as anaerobes. This means that they do not need oxygen to grow or live, though this classification is not completely correct for all bifidobacterium.  

Bacillus

Bacillus bacteria can be found throughout the natural world including in the soil and water. These bacteria, unlike bifidobacterium, can be aerobes, meaning that they need oxygen to live, or they can be facultative anaerobes, which means they can live with or without oxygen. Bacillus bacteria can form spores, or more precisely spore-like forms that protect the bacteria and allow them to survive for extended periods in a dormant state. Only two species of this particular bacterium are particularly good for use in supplementation:

  • Bacillus coagulans
  • Bacillus subtilis

 

Lactobacillus

Lactobacillus bacteria are probably the most well known of the groups of probiotics. There have been approximately 180 different species of lactobacillus identified to date. These bacteria are non-spore forming bacteria that can that naturally reside in the digestive, urinary and genital systems.   Lactobacillus are the bacterium that are often associated with fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut.

 

What Do Probiotics Do?

Now that you’ve got the 101 on what these important organisms are, we can talk about what they do for your health + wellness! In the case of probiotics, there is a symbiotic relationship which means one organism provides help for the other.  In this case, humans provide food (nutrition) and shelter for the microflora while the bacteria support the health of the human host. But, how?

 

Probiotics and Gut Health

The complex community of microorganisms in your gut is called the microflora.  Your microflora actually contains hundreds of different types of microorganisms, and this includes bacteria, yeasts, and viruses! Most of this microflora is found in the colon and performs many functions that are important for health. Your body needs this good bacteria to absorb undigested starches, fiber, and sugars in foods. Having that healthy balance allows your digestive system to efficiently convert these carbohydrates into valuable nutrients and energy!

Additionally, as the microflora metabolize nutrition for themselves, they produce B vitamins, vitamin K, free fatty acids, digestive enzymes, natural amino acids, all of which the human host uses.

 

Probiotics and the Immune System

When you think about your immune system, where do you picture it? Most have no idea where to begin since it isn’t confined to one organ in particular. Instead, most of your immune system resides in your gastrointestinal tract! It’s this location that means what happens in your gut influences your immune function.

When your gut and microflora are healthy, your immune system has a large, thriving population of beneficial probiotics supporting those immune system receptor cells in your gut. These can help form a protective barrier within your colon and intestines and even help to train your immune system to respond in a normal way to antigens! Supporting a healthy presence of probiotics in your gut is an important step in supporting your health and well being.

 

 

Supplementing with Probiotics

Probiotics are more popular than ever before, and there is an ever-growing volume of research to support the use of probiotics for adults and children for a myriad of health and wellness needs. While there are dozens of supplements on the market, the all-new Probiotics-10 is a great way to ensure you’re providing your body with the right balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria!

 

 

This hot new product offers 10 billion CFUs from 10 of the most-studied and well-supported probiotic strains, utilizing the unique benefits of each to synergistically support numerous areas of health while also defending against the effects of stomach acid to ensure the highest percentage of CFUs reach their destination viable + alive!

If you’re searching for a probiotics supplement to help support your microflora and digestive health, grab your Probiotics-10 here!

 

 

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Tayler Glenn

Tayler Glenn