|Probiotics for Life|
|Probiotics for Life|
Probiotics, which mean "for life", are friendly bacteria that contribute to the intestinal microbial balance.
Almost a century ago, Russian researcher Dr. Elie Metchnikoff became convinced that yogurt contained the organisms necessary to protect the intestine from the damaging effects of other harmful bacteria. Further research revealed that Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus (Enterococcus) are the major probiotics among the 400 different bacteria in the human intestinal tract.
In the 1950s, a probiotic product was licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture as a drug for the treatment of scour (E. coli infection) among pigs. Despite its benefits, however, big pharmaceutical companies used millions of dollars in research, development, marketing and promotion to take over the market with antibiotics - the miracle drugs of the time. Meanwhile, probiotic firms lacked the funds to compete with the big drug firms and subsequently lost the battle for the market.
Probiotics resurfaced in the 1970s when it was discovered that the probiotic product licensed by the government was as effective (97 percent) as the antibiotic Neomycin Sulfate in combating E. coli. Manufacturers and marketers soon began promoting probiotics for both human and animal uses. Quality control standards for probiotics were also introduced during this time.
Probiotic products are now available in different formulations with Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifodobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium infantis, Enterococcus faecium and others with or without probiotic Fructooligosaccharides (FOS). Some of the most common probiotic products are Lactobacillus acidophilus with FOS, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidus longum with FOS, and Bifidus infantis and Lactobacillus acidophilus with FOS.
The benefits of Probiotics include:
Aid in digestion and alleviate digestive disorders.
Enhance synthesis of B vitamins and improve absorption of calcium.
Protect against E. coli infection
Improve lactose tolerance and digestibility of milk products.
Reduce vaginal infection and yeast infection
Improve immune function
Promote anticarcinogenic activity
Help prevent peptic ulcer caused by H. pylorie
Research shows that 70 percent of women and 40 percent of men have yeast infection to some degree as a result of heavy use of antibiotics, cortisones and poor eating habits. Studies at the Minneapolis VA Hospital show that average people do not have much friendly bacteria in their intestines. It is apparent that a polluted environment, processed food, chlorinated water and heavy use of antibiotics and other medications can destroy friendly microflora (probiotics), thus making the body susceptible to yeast infection and other diseases.
Those familiar with the benefits of probiotics often consume yogurt, a long-recognized source of friendly bacteria. Unfortunately, most commercial yogurts, including those fortified with Latobacillus acidophilus, do not have viable probiotics, as they tend to produce bacteria-killing acids. Even fresh, homemade yogurt, which is certainly a more reliable source of probiotics, does not provide sufficient amounts for its intended purpose. Supplementation of probiotic capsules, tablets or powder is therefore recommended to achieve the two to five billion live organisms (CFU) necessary for daily maintenance. Higher quantities are recommended following antibiotic therapy or under conditions of yeast infection, ulcer, high cholesterol, digestive disorders and acne.
All probiotic products are not the same, however. In choosing a quality probiotic product, it is important to look for a probiotic that:
Contains the right strain
Remains stable and viable for a long period
Has the ability to survive in the intestine
Produces beneficial effects in the intestine
Additionally, some manufacturers include a prebiotic FOS to help enhance the growth of probiotics in the gut or use nitrogen-flushed packaging to enhance its shelf life. It is also important to remember that probiotic products that are not refrigerated lost potency first. For this reason, refrigerated, viable probiotic products are often recommended. Those allergic to dairy product or diagnosed with a yeast infection also may want to stick with a non-dairy probiotic.
1. Fuller, R, Probiotics - The Scientific Basis. Chapman and Hall, London (1992)
2. Bagchi, D. and S.K. Dash. "Lactobacillus acidophilus-Natural Antibiotics and Beyond." Townsend Letter 78-82 (1996).
3. Sehnert, K.W. The Garden Within, Acidophilus-Candida Connection (1989)
4. Hilton, E. "Ingestion of Yogurt Containing Lactobacillus acidophhilus as Prophylaxis for Candidal Vaginitis." Annals of Internal Medicine 116:353-357 (1992).
5. Elmer, G.W. "Biotherapeutic Agents." Journal of the American Medical Association 275:870-876 (1996)
6. Dash, S.K. "How to select an Acidophilus Supplement." Paper presented at the Canadian Health Food Convention, Vancouver, Canada, October 1989.
Dr. Dash is an expert in probiotics and is known for his many contributions to probiotic research and development. He is the founder and president of UAS Laboratories