There has been a recent explosion of food products claiming the health benefits of probiotics. Even my local ABC news station had a prime time segment about the health benefits of probiotics. This article will help you understand probiotics, what role they play in your health and how they can help you slow down the aging process.
What are Probiotics?
The word “Probiotics” is a combination of two words “pro” and “biota” and means “for life.” Probiotics are beneficial bacteria or microbes that you need “for life.” And, you need to continue to properly support them for the rest of your life.
For microbes or bacteria to be considered a probiotic they must meet the following three rules:
It is estimated that 100 trillion microorganisms representing over 500 different species inhabit the healthy bowel of most individuals. When in proper balance these microorganisms or bacteria don’t make us sick; rather they play an incredible role in keeping us healthy by:
... as well as a whole host of additional benefits that we will look at.
Simple History Lesson!
The use of beneficial bacteria to help preserve food has been around for a long time. Ancient civilizations like the Sumerians painted pictures of fermented cheese as early as 2500 B.C. But the concept of using beneficial bacteria to improve and extend life didn’t surface until the early 1900s. During this time Dr. Elie Metchnikoff traveled through Eastern Europe and noted that many people were living to the age of 100 or older. He concluded that one of the factors that allowed this to occur were the large amounts of yogurt they consumed.
Dr. Metchnikoff studied the effects of lactic acid bacteria, which is found in high quantities in milk. He noted that many disease-producing organisms either died or could not develop in milk when it contained high concentrations of these powerful bacteria. This led Dr. Metchnikoff to conclude that lactic acid bacteria aided a person’s immune system. Current research has confirmed what Dr. Metchnikoff suspected based on observation.
Health Benefits of Probiotics!
The gastrointestinal microflora of your body is made up of about three and a half pounds of bacteria. Some are good, some are neutral, some are changing and some are bad. When these bacteria are in proper balance they will aid your body to operate at peak efficiency. Unfortunately, as we age and as we consume a diet high in fats, proteins and refined sugars and starches we disturb this balance and our bodies suffer.
It’s also important to note that not all probiotics are created equal nor will they have a beneficial effect. Each stain of probiotics is usually very specific in its health benefit. Thus, it’s important to know the family or genus of the bacteria, the type of specie and also the type of strain. For example lactobacillus is the family (genus), acidophilus is the species, and NAS or DDS-1 are separate strains. It is this specific process of trying to identify each probiotic that gets most people confused. It is one of the reasons why people will rely solely on a reputable probiotic manufacturer to do the research and then formulate the best probiotic product.
When done properly, a good formulation can help people enjoy the following general health benefits of probiotics:
Currently, research is looking at how the health benefits of probiotics can have a positive impact on the following health issues:
Aging and Digestion!
Aging can have several affects on the digestive system. One of the most common is the digestive tract’s inability to produce enough lactase, an enzyme the body needs to digest milk related products. This usually results in bloating, gas and/or diarrhea after consuming milk products. One of the health benefits of probiotics is their ability to assist lactose metabolism to enhance the digestion of dairy products which curbs or eliminates bloating, gas and/or diarrhea.
Because our American society leans towards medication to try to solve health issues, it is not uncommon that older adults are taking multiple medications. Drugs typically disrupt the natural balance of the gastrointestinal microflora of your body. Additionally, the liver is not as effective or as efficient in ridding the body of drugs and toxins. This helps to compound the microflora imbalance. The net effect is excessive growth of certain bacteria which can lead to pain and bloating. Additionally, bacterial overgrowth can lead to decreased absorption of certain key nutrients like folic acid, iron, and calcium. One of the health benefits of probiotics is to maintain the natural balance of your microflora to help prevent or lessen this issue.
One final common ailment of aging is constipation. Part of constipation is the slight slowing of the movement of the contents of the large intestine. One of the key health benefits of probiotics is their ability to produce organic acids that aid in normal elimination.
General Purchasing Recommendations!
Probiotics are an important tool in aiding the body in maintaining good health and in slowing down the aging process. The challenge for consumers is finding the right probiotic products that will benefit them. It is why many people will rely on a reputable probiotics manufacturer who will research and formulate a product that provides the best and most beneficial bacteria available. Here are several tips to aid you in your purchase of a probiotic supplement:
Bacteria affect the health of all people. Learning how to utilize the health benefits of probiotics can enhance the good bacteria so that they can aid you in keeping the bad bacteria in check. This will improve your overall wellness and help you to slow down the effects of aging.
Until next time, may we both age youthfully!
P.S. The following articles will provide you with additional information on probiotics:
What are Probiotics and Answers to Other FAQs! (coming soon)
Best Probiotics for Optimal Oral Health! (coming soon)
Probiotic Links! (coming soon)
Return from Health Benefits of Probiotics to Probiotics