You may have heard the term “probiotics” before. Probiotics are bacteria with the potential to provide profound health benefits. Dr. Greif confirms that these “good bacteria” can play starring roles in your picture of optimal health.
Probiotics: Bacteria for Good Health
There’s a battle going on in your body, every minute of every day. As part of your immune system, millions of microscopic bacteria constantly defend your body. According to Dr. Greif, the balance between the white hats (good bacteria or probiotics) and the black hats (disease causing pathogens and viruses) is surprisingly delicate.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as “live organisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.” Dr. Greif of course agrees with the WHO’s assessment, and agrees that common types of bacteria can bestow a myriad of advantages to your health.
There are three types of ingestible bacterial biotics:
Probiotics: Live organisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit.
Prebiotics: Non-digestible food ingredients that selectively stimulate the growth and/or activity of specific bacteria in the colon to improve wellness.
Synbiotics: A combination of prebiotics and probiotics.
General families of probiotic bacteria include: Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Streptococcus.
Probiotics are available as a powered supplement. Additional good sources of probiotics include organic kefir and organic yogurt.
The “short list” of positive effects of probiotics includes:
- Reduction of cancer-promoting gut enzymes.
- Prevention of respiratory tract infections.
- Relief from gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation and related diseases.
- Prevention and relief of diarrhea and constipation.
- Prevention of allergies.
- Alleviation of lactose intolerance.
- Treatment of urogenital infections.
There are also strong indications that probiotics help with certain types of heart and autoimmune disease, and prevent dental cavities.[i]
Research infers that one strain of bacteria, Bifidobacterium infantis 35624, aids the entire body.[ii] This bacterium combats dangerous pathogens that not only are associated with gastrointestinal problems, but also may suppress inflammation — an immune system response that sometimes goes haywire.
In addition, probiotics may guard the intestine’s mucus barrier, which could thwart gastric cancer.[iii]
Finally, an animal study concludes that oral probiotic treatment can decrease both insulin resistance and the effects of a high-fat diet on the liver.[iv] It may also ease faulty inflammatory signaling.
Bacteria for Babies?
A newborn baby’s clean digestive system quickly becomes populated with “millions of competing microorganisms” as he or she begins to eat and interact with the world. At birth, these varied bacteria begin a lifelong dance in the body, with the balance between beneficial and destructive microbes continually adjusting.
Though it may seem counterintuitive, certain bacteria can be introduced into infants to build immunity to allergies and infection, particularly respiratory illness.[v] These good germs continue to bolster resistance to disease throughout the first two years of life.
Early probiotic intervention is so important that Yale University School of Medicine recommends it to treat and prevent several types of childhood diarrhea.[vi] Yale also suggests using probiotics to trigger an immune response, which can lessen complications from cow’s milk allergy.
Immune System: Bacterial Foot Soldiers
In the immune system, hundreds of species of microbiota (miniature life forms) jockey to maintain homeostasis, or balance.[vii] This commotion sparks immune actions and responses that fight disease.
Many of these battles occur in the GI tract, where research has shown that probiotics can modulate the immune system.[viii] These bacteria may also prevent and treat a spectrum of food allergies.
A comprehensive, three-year Italian study determined that probiotics can ward off infectious respiratory maladies, such as cold and flu, and strengthen intestinal function.[ix] When illness is contracted, the same bacteria reduce severity and duration.
The Italian study also advises regular, long-term intake of synbiotics, a potent blend of both pre- and probiotics, to improve physical well-being. Synbiotics can also make colds less frequent and less serious.
While the immune system activates when invaders trespass, probiotics can stop pathogens from moving into the body at all. Probiotic microorganisms interfere with the ability of unwelcome visitors to establish colonies and mount attacks from inside the body.[x]
Gastrointestinal Benefits Galore
Some of the most pronounced demonstrations of probiotic efficacy are against diarrhea.[xi] This affliction has many causes; it can be diet or virus related, or caused by antibiotics, which upset the equilibrium of gut bacteria.
Another frequent cause of diarrhea is lactose intolerance. Again, probiotics come to the rescue. A Czech Republic study shows that ordinary probiotics can diminish the digestive problems linked to milk products.[xii]
Probiotics also neutralize hazardous intruders that can wreak havoc in the GI tract. A Brazilian laboratory trial successfully used kefir — creamy, fermented cow’s milk — to inhibit threatening microbes, such as salmonella, staph and E. coli.[xiii]
IBS and Constipation
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common diagnosis in gastroenterology. New techniques have identified that a bacterial imbalance in the upper small intestine may cause much of the pain and misery of IBS.[xiv] The good news is that probiotics are effective at relieving these unpleasant symptoms.[xv] Plus, the Journal of Family Practice lists probiotics as a top treatment for IBS.[xvi]
Constipation, another widespread condition, affects up to 27 percent of the Western population.[xvii] One study found that helpful probiotic bacteria, in yogurt and fermented milk, relieved bloating and other symptoms, and increased stool frequency.[xviii]
Strong bones are essential for longevity. Prebiotics have been proven to have positive effects on mineral absorption and on bone composition and architecture.[xix] Other advantages include widening the surface areas that soak up minerals, and multiplying the proteins that bring calcium into the bones.
Please Ask for More Information
Ask us for more information today about good bacteria, and find out how to use them alongside chiropractic care to become an altogether healthier you!
Dr. Greif’s Suggestions
Dr. Greif suggest chiropractic plus probiotics for these conditions:
GI Tract Disruption
- For many GI complaints, chiropractic adjustments may bring immediate and dramatic improvement.[xx]
- Patients with inflammatory bowel disease use chiropractic to reduce pain, cramping, bloating and diarrhea.[xxi]
- Following chiropractic adjustment, patients with allergy symptoms experienced relief, which lasted longer as care continued.[xxii]
- Allergy patients, including those with eczema, find that chiropractic adjustments work well with traditional therapies.[xxiii]
- For infants who have trouble digesting cow’s milk, chiropractic care and dietary modification may improve, or eliminate, the problem.[xxiv]
[i] Adv Biochem Eng Biotechnol 2008;111:1-66.
[ii] PLoS Pathog 2008;4:e1000112.
[iii] Immunopharmacol Immuntotoxicol 2008;30:503-18.
[iv] J Hepatol 2008, Epub.
[v] Pediatrics 2008;122:8-12.
[vi] J Clin Gastroenterol 2008;42:S104-8.
[vii] Inflamm Bowel Dis 2008, Epub.
[viii] Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol 2008;8:243-8.
[ix] J Clin Gastroenterol 2008, Epub.
[x] J Clin Gastroenterol 2008, Epub.
[xi] Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2006;15:558-62.
[xii] Ceska Slov Farm 2008;57:95-8.
[xiii] Appl Biochem Biotechnol 2008, Epub.
[xiv] J Clin Gastroenterol 2008, Epub.
[xv] Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2008;27:48- 57.
[xvi] Source: New York Times Health 9.02.08.
[xvii] Curr Opin Pharmacol 2008, Epub.
[xviii] Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2007;26:475-86.
[xix] J Nutr 2007;137:838S- 46S.
[xx] J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2007;30:65-8.
[xxi] Am J Gastroenterol 2004;889-93.
[xxii] J Manipulative Physiol 1995;18:38-41.
[xxiii] J Manipulative Physiol 1995;18:38-41.
[xxiv] J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2006;29:469-74.