Probiotics “For Life”

Articles
August 10, 2010

Probiotics “For Life”

The term probiotic literally means “for life.” Elie Metchnikoff, a Russian physiologist and Nobel-prize winner is credited for discovering probiotics, and was the first to suggest in the early 20th century that consuming bacteria could have a beneficial effect in the body.

The term probiotic literally means “for life.” Elie Metchnikoff, a Russian physiologist and Nobel-prize winner is credited for discovering probiotics, and was the first to suggest in the early 20th century that consuming bacteria could have a beneficial effect in the body.

His theory was based on the observation that the Bulgarian people lived very long and healthful lives and regularly consumed yogurt. He determined that the acid-producing organisms in fermented dairy products could prevent “fouling” in the large intestine – and as a result, if consumed regularly, would lead to a longer, healthier life.

What you need to know:
Probiotics are living microorganisms, “friendly” bacteria, usually lactic acid bacteria.

The benefits of probiotics are realized by shifting the pH of the intestine downward; creating a less desirable environment for pathogenic or bad, bacteria. People over the age of 60 have 1,000 times fewer good bacteria than younger adults!

The World Health Organization (among others) suggests that probiotics, when consumed on a daily basis, may be beneficial in one or more ways: They help strengthen the body's natural defenses- 70% of the body’s immune system is inside the digestive tract! Microflora act as a physical barrier to help fight diseases; probiotics regulate the balance of bacteria and increases the “good bacteria” reinforcing this barrier.

Some of the benefits that have been shown by research so far: 
Allergies: in some people, probiotics positively impact the mucosal barrier of the intestinal tract, keeping it healthy and inflammation at bay.

Cholesterol: probiotics can raise the level of HDL – the good cholesterol.

Colon health: probiotics help maintain a healthy intestinal microflora, promoting a healthy intestinal environment.

Constipation: probiotics can help shorten intestinal tract transit time, improving regularity.

Diarrhea: probiotics maintain the level of "good bacteria" which balances bacterial and viral infections which can lead to diarrhea.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): probiotics help restore the balance of bacteria and can eliminate abdominal pain, gas or constipation

Remember, all yogurt products do not contain live cultures or probiotics – read labels and ingredients, look for the “Live Active Culture” seal on the package – which requires that the product contains at least 108 viable lactic acid bacteria per gram for refrigerated products and 107 for frozen. However this seal does not differentiate probiotics from starter bacteria and should not be used to determine the content of probiotics. Take care to make sure you refrigerate yogurt products Look for Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium on the ingredient list to verify that the product does contain probiotics.