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Probiotics: Healthy Cultures For the GI Tract

By: Corinna Underwood - Updated: 3 Jul 2013 | comments*Discuss
Probiotics Gastrointestinal Tract

Though you may not be aware, the intestinal tract is inhabited by more than 500 types of micro organisms. Though some of these live bacteria can cause disorders such as IBS, allergies and Crohn's disease, other strains of them are actually beneficial. The beneficial bugs boost your immune system healthy by assisting the body in the release of toxins. The beneficial micro flora develop in the colon shortly after birth. If you maintain a healthy diet they will usually continue to help your digestive system throughout your life. For times when you need to boost your beneficial bug colonies, such as after illness, commercial probiotic supplements are now available.

Therapeutic strains of probiotics

While a healthy diet helps maintain beneficial bacteria colonies, several things can affect there stasis. One example is antibiotic overuse. Antiniotics work to combat disease by killing off any harmful bacteria. Research has shown that antibiotics also kill the helpful microflora that reside in the GI tract. Probiotic supplements should be taken for 3-4 weeks after you have taken a course of antibiotics.

Research has shown that the probiotic strain Lactobacillus Plantarum variant OM helps lower cholesterol levels by increasing your uptake of omega-3 fatty acids. It also enhances the break down of protein; this makes it beneficial for digestion. Lactobacillus reuteri produces reuterin. Reuterin helps to keep harmful bacteria at bay.

. Lactobacillus bulgaricus, is found in cottage cheese and yoghurt. Though it is a transient probiotic, while it is present in your system L. bulgaricus helps to increase the acidity levels which prevents harmful bacteria from developing. It also gives the immune system a boost. Bifidobacteria bifidum, is found in the large intestine, the small intestine and the vagina. It increases intestinal acidity, killing harmful bacteria.

Sources of probiotics

You have two choices, probiotic food sources or probiotic supplements. In effect, the only food sources of probiotics readily are sauerkraut yoghurt and cottage cheese. These foods contain Lactobacillus acidophilus and Streptococcus thermophilus. These strains are short lived so some foods may only contain very small amounts.

Supplements are available in capsule form. Probiotics are measured in Colony Forming Units (CFUs). This indicates how many live bacteria are contained in each probiotic servings. On average, one capsule will contain at least 1.25 billion CFU. Dosage ranges between 2-4 capsules each day. The label should provide all this information as well as the life span of the probiotic.

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