Probiotics are beneficial to take every day to support your immune system. 80% of our immune system is in our GI tract so taking Probiotics daily can help keep the bacteria well balanced in the GI system. Between 400 and 500 different species of bacteria reside in your GI tract making up your microbiome which is your “helpful” bacteria. These bacteria help you break down your food and absorb vitamins and minerals from your diet. If you don’t have the right bacteria you can eat and not absorb nutrients, the body keeps thinking it is hungry and the result is being overweight.
Good bacteria is also important to keep the potentially dangerous ‘bad’ strains of bacteria under control. When you experience an imbalance in your healthy bacteria you experience symptoms such as diarrhoea, low energy, allergy or infection. We can never eliminate all “bad” bacteria but for humans to have a healthy digestive system it is all about balancing out the good and bad bacteria in your gut –taking probiotics can help us with this.
Probiotics of particular importance whenever antibiotics have been administrated because antibiotics wipe out both the good and the bad bacteria of the microbiome. There are many different types of probiotics some are best taking whilst taking antibiotics and some are best after. If you are taking a “live” bacteria that is kept in the fridge it should be taken two hours apart from your antibiotic. Take your antibiotic as prescribed, wait two hours after your dose for the antibiotic to exit your gut and enter the bloodstream then take your probiotic.
Now, as well as probiotics there is also prebiotics which are non-digestible carbohydrates that act as food for probiotics. When probiotics and prebiotics are combined, they form a symbiotic. Fermented dairy products, such as yoghurt and kefir, are considered symbiotic because they contain live bacteria and the fuel they need to thrive. Probiotics are found in foods such as yoghurt, while prebiotics are found in whole grains, bananas, onions, garlic, honey and artichokes. In addition, probiotics and prebiotics are added to some foods and available as dietary supplements.
Probiotics may help with:
- Treating diarrhoea, especially following treatment with antibiotics
- Preventing and treating vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
- Treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Speeding up the treatment of certain intestinal infections
- Preventing or reducing the severity of colds and flu
Side effects are rare, and most healthy adults can safely add foods that contain prebiotics and probiotics to their diets. If you are considering taking a probiotic supplement check with your pharmacist, doctor or naturopath. Good quality probiotics contain a mixture of strains. When buying probiotics look for a blend that a combination of different strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria and delivers the highest number of live organisms to the intestinal tract, at LEAST 5 billion! Listed below are some of the common strains found in supplements and what they help with.
Bifidobacterium bifidum- Prevents diarrhoea and supports production of vitamins. Most common probiotic in infants.
Bifidobacterium breve- Prevents diarrhoea, alleviates IBS symptoms and supports natural immunity.
Bifidobacterium infantis- Fights E. Coli and protects against inflammation of the colon and stomach, alleviates IBS symptoms, diarrhoea and constipation.
Bifidobacterium longum- Supports liver function, reduces inflammation, removes lead and heavy metals, reduces lactose intolerance, diarrhoea and food allergies.
Lactobacillus acidophilus- Relieves gas, bloating, improves lactose intolerance, fights E. coli, helps to lower cholesterol levels.
Lactobacillus bulgaricus- Aids digestion and reduces acid reflux, stable in stomach acid digestive juices, fights harmful bacteria that invades your digestive system and naturally produces its own antibiotics.
Lactobacillis brevis- Survives the GI tract, boosts immunity and inhibits h. pylori bacteria.
Lactobacillus casei- Boosts immunity, inhibits h. pylori and helps fight infections.
Lactobacillus plantarum- Protects against gram-negative bacteria and produces natural antibodies, alleviates IBS symptoms.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus– Survives the GI tract, supports healthy skin, fights urinary tract infections and respiratory infections as well as reducing anxiety.
Saccharomyces boulardii– A yeast probiotic strain that restores natural flora in the large and small intestine and improves intestinal growth. Treats inflammatory conditions like Chron’s Disease, reduces toxins, and antimicrobial effects.
Streptococcus thermophilus- Strong antioxidant activity, relieves diarrhoea.