A probiotic is a live microorganism, usually a type of bacteria, that is similarto beneficial bacteria found in our digestive systems. A prebiotic is a form of indigestible carbohydrate that stimulates the growth of probiotic organisms.
The balance of different types of bacteria in the GI tract may become disturbed due to infection or treatment with antibiotics. This off-balance state is sometimes referred to as “dysbiosis”. Dysbiosis can alter the way the intestines perform the function of absorption1.
Dysbiosis may underlie such signs and symptoms as bad breath, body odour, bloating, gas, nausea, and constipation. It has been associated with conditions such as attention deficit–hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and nervousness, brain fog and confusion, digestive problems, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease, immune disorders (autoimmune disease, allergies, recurrent infections), liver dysfunction, malaise and fatigue, chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivity), muscle and joint aches and pains, skin conditions, and feeling “off” or “toxic”2.
A part of the immune system known as gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) is embedded in the GI tract. Probiotics appear to play a role in modulating immune system activities related to these tissues and thereby have an impact on infections, allergies and chronic conditions like asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and others.
When dysbiosis occurs, or even just a health-promotion measure, it may be helpful to support the microfloral balance by consuming probiotic supplements, along with foods like yogurt and sauerkraut.
Here are some things to keep in mind if you choose to take a supplement:
■ look for a supplement that provides more than one type of microorganism;
■ choose a supplement that guarantees to provide billions of live cells;
■ keep the product refrigerated or follow label instructions for storage;
■ follow the manufacturer’s instructions unless otherwise instructed by your health care practitioner;
■ do not take probiotics at the same time of day as any antibiotics or antimicrobial herbs.
Probiotic Factors by Alpha Science Labs is a superior probiotic formula providing 10 billion live cells at time of manufacture. It is also psyllium free, so perfect for those with sensitivity to psyllium and its derivatives. The product is shelf-stable and due to the moisture in a refrigerator which could activate the probiotic cells before ingesting, it is recommended to store this product in a cool, dry location, not in the refrigerator. We usually think about eating in a way that promotes our health as a whole but by ensuring adequate intake of fibre, enzymes and probiotics, we can build and maintain the health of the system that is so vital to our overall well-being; the digestive tract.
1 Rakel, David Integrative Medicine, 2nd Ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, An Imprint of Elsevier, 2007. p.21
2 Rakel, David. ibid. p. 620 3H Gill, J Prasad Probiotics, immunomodulation, and health benefits. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology 2008; 606 (5): 423-454