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The term "Probiotic" means "in favor of life". It was coined in 1910, by a Russian physician named Metchnikoff, who promoted a theory of longevity which associated prolonged life and improved health with decreased gastrointestinal toxicity. He suggested that aging is a process mediated by chronic exposure to putrefactive intoxication caused by imbalances in intestinal bacteria and that this process could be halted by the routine ingestion of lactic acid bacteria and their "fermented" ("cultured") food products. Almost 90 years have passed since he introduced these radical ideas; however, in many respects his ideas have been proven to be true. Consumption of lactic acid bacteria, or food cultured or fermented with these friendly microorganisms does extend life in animal experiments and does dramatically reduce a wide range of intestinal metabolites, such as indoles, polyamines, cresols, nitrates/nitrites, and carcinogens which we now know are counterproductive to good health.
What are the health benefits of consuming friendly bacteria?
Friendly bacteria restore intestinal balance, which results in
*the prevention of adherence of unwanted microorganisms
*the production of a wide array of antibacterial and antifungal compounds
*improved resistance against bacteria like E.coli, Salmonella, and H. pylori
Friendly bacteria enhance immunity by
*promoting improved anti-viral immune system function
*increasing NK cell activity
* producing nitric oxide
*modulating cell mediated immune response
*activating the reticuloendothelial system
*promoting a more balanced production of cytokines
*promoting resistance against some autoimmune processes
*evoking anti-Tn antibodies
*decreasing IgE-mediated responses
*enhancing immune system response to administered vaccines
*mediating against radiation-induced depression in white blood cells
In many respects, friendly bacteria can be thought of as having "adaptogenic" effects on your immune system. They appear to modulate the nonspecific immune response differently in healthy and hypersensitive subjects. This is seen as an immuno-stimulatory effect in healthy subjects, and as a down-regulation of immuno-inflammatory responses in hypersensitive subjects.
Friendly Bacteria Promote Detoxification by
* inactivating and eliminating carcinogens
* decreasing mutagenic compounds
* decreasing activity of nitroreductase and azoreductase
* decreasing activity of B-Glucuronidase
* decreasing activity of B-Glucosidase
* decreasing activity of ornithine decarboxylase
* decreasing activity of tryptophanase
* decreasing activity of neuraminidase and mucinase
* decreasing levels of polyamines, cresols and indoles
* decreasing ammonia
* decreasing levels of nitrates and nitrites
* enhancing liver function and promoting elimination of bile acids
* enhancing cholesterol metabolism
Friendly bacteria promote healthy digestion by
* normalizing stool volume and regularity
* producing digestive enzymes that help digest proteins, carbohydrates, and fibers
* decreasing intestinal permeability
* decreasing food sensitivities
* decreasing lactose intolerance
* decreasing intestinal inflammation
Friendly bacteria enhance bioavailability of nutrients by
* alleviating symptoms of malabsorption
* increasing the absorption of zinc, calcium, iron, copper, manganese, and phosphorous
* increasing the production of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, A, K, folic acid, biotin, and tocopherols
Cultured Fruits, Vegetables, Spices, and other food substances contain
* vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals which promote good health
* high levels of vitamin K, tocopherols and vitamin B12
* powerful antioxidant activities
* anti-mutagenic properties
* excellent growth promoting substrates (e.g. act as prebiotics) for friendly bacteria
Cultured foods also allow for
* ease of digestion and improved bioavailability of nutrients
* increased bioavailability of compounds like isoflavones and bioflavonoids
* improved amino acid and protein efficiency ratios
* improved stability and retention of vitamin C levels
* augmentation of some of the metabolic benefits of these foods
* improvement of alcohol metabolism
* promotion of improved cardiovascular health
Why should Probiotics be taken consistently?
Even using strains of friendly bacteria that have a great ability to survive digestion and colonize your digestive tract, there is a tendency for a gradual decline in the quantity of these bacteria over time. This decline is substantially worsened with stress, poor dietary choices, antibiotics and other drugs. In today's world, with all of it's modern pressures, the ability to maintain an optimal intestinal microbial balance is almost always taxed. It has also actually been estimated that we consume 1 million times LESS healthy bacteria in our diet today than are ancient ancestors consumed.
Why do we combine so many strains of good bacteria?
It is simple really, friendly bacteria work better when more of them are combined together. There are actually hundreds of strains of bacteria in your digestive system and the friendly bacteria actually operate as a team, promoting the beneficial effects of each other. The term "Synergism" best describes the interrelationship of friendly bacteria. They mutually support each other by producing bacteriocidins and organic acids that they are resistant to, but which decrease pathogenic bacteria. In fact, these bacteriocidins are up to 1000X more active when combined then when they are isolated. But even more importantly, health effects of one strain of friendly bacteria are often not duplicated by other strains. So a more complex mixture, combining more friendly strains of bacteria, translates into more profound long-term health benefits.
What does blood type have to do with friendly bacteria?
There are two things actually.
First, your blood type antigens are actually prominent in your digestive tract and, in about 80% of individuals (secretors), are also prominent in the mucus that lines your digestive tract. Because of this, many of the bacteria in your digestive tract actually use your blood type as a preferred food supply. In fact, blood group specificity is common among intestinal bacteria with almost 1/2 of strains tested showing some blood type A, B, or O specificity. To give you an idea of the magnitude of the blood type influence on intestinal microflora, it has been estimated that someone with blood type B will have up to 50,000X more of some strains of friendly bacteria than either blood type A or O individuals.
Second, some strains of beneficial bacteria actually can have lectin-like hemagglutinin activity directed against your blood type.
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