The human gut contains 100 trillion bacteria, 10 times more than there are cells in the human body. This colony of friendly bacteria, referred to as intestinal flora, constitutes a major element of our immune system.
There are many different beneficial species of bacteria in our gut. The most well known is L. acidophilus. A healthy colony of beneficial bacteria in the gut will:
Ø prevent gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and bad breath;
Ø assist lactose digestion;
Ø produce certain B vitamins;
Ø inhibit invasions of pathogens such as E. coli and Candida albicans;
Ø protect you from travellers’ diarrhea.
A diet with refined carbohydrates (sugar and white flour) creates an imbalanced flora by feeding the bad bacteria. Taking antibiotics will kill off the good bacteria as well as the bad, creating an opportunity for the pathogens to gain a foothold. To maintain a healthy intestinal flora, avoid refined carbs, and re-colonize your gut regularly with healthy bacteria species.
There are two main sources of beneficial bacteria. Fermented dairy products like yogurt and kefir may contain a live culture of one or a few species (read the label carefully). Supplements have the advantage of containing multiple species and strains of beneficial bacteria and very high numbers (in the billions).
To reduce damage by stomach acid, the capsules are best taken on an empty stomach with a glass of water to quickly flush them into the small intestine. The capsules of some brands are enteric coated which only open in the alkaline environment of the small intestine.
For more information on your “garden within”, drop in and talk to Stan. We have books and brochures on the subject, and a wide variety of probiotic supplements from which to choose.
This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.