Probiotics: Say Hello To Your Little Friends – Part 2

Probiotics are a revolutionary breakthrough in medicine that is in the process of becoming established. Your body hosts trillions of microoragnisms. There are many types of microorangisms. It is estimated that about 40,000 different species live in the human gut.[1] Some types of microoragnisms help your health. Others types of microoragnisms hurt your health. And still others have no affect on human health. By causing the community of microorganisms that your body hosts to be dominated by microorganisms that support good health, you can have literally trillions of friends that are partners in creating excellent health.[2]

The “outside” of your body is constantly exposed to things from your environment. The most obvious part of the “outside” of your body is your skin. However there are many other parts of your body that are exposed to the things from your environment and are therefore considered “outside” your body. In addition to your skin, your lungs, mouth, sinuses, stomach, small intestines, large intestines, rectum and anus are all part of the “outside” of your body. The “inside” of your body consists of all the areas where your blood vessels and internal organs lie: the liver, kidneys, brain, heart, etc. The inside of your body is essentially microbe-free — at least when you are healthy.[3]

On the other hand, the “outside” of your body is host to trillions of microbes. If you could extract them all and put them in a container. You would have more than a quart of cream colored sludge. Individually your microbes are tiny, however, collectively they weigh close to 3 pounds. That is more than your kidneys, your pancreas and you heart put together.[4]

Check out this video: Probiotics

Your body is made of 10 trillion cells and your body host 100 trillion microbes. Our own cells are outnumbered 10 to 1. A fact that is both surprising and does not seem right until you take into account that our cells are 20 times bigger than microbes and thus your own cells make up the difference in bulk.

Where did all of these microbes come from?

We are exposed to a limited number of microorganisms when we breath, eat and touch things. The remaining microorganisms are created thru replication. Under ideal conditions bacteria have the ability to divide every 20 minutes to form new microorganisms. This mean at the end of an 8 hour period, one bacteria can produce 42.5 million microorganisms all by itself. Bacteria are constantly replicating within us. Also they are constantly passing through us. Around one-third of the dry weight of fecal material (poop) consists of both live and dead bacteria.[5]

The microorganisms that your body hosts have a profound influence on your physiology[6]:

Recent research has shown that gut microbes control or influence nutrient supply to the human host, the development of mature intestinal cells and blood vessels, the stimulation and maturation of the immune system, and blood levels of lipids such as cholesterol. They are, therefore, intimately involved in the bodily functions that tend to be out of kilter in modern society:  metabolism, cardiovascular processes and defense against disease.

Checkout this article: Bacteria ‘R’ Us

Most of the life on planet earth is composed of bacteria.  Bacteria was present on earth well before human life. It is becoming clear that these tiny living organisms are not just accidental passengers, they regulate the internal environment of the human beings they inhabit.

   

A new understanding of our relationship with bacteria is emerging. Instead of the Darwinism model of evolution, tree-of-life notion, a model of evolution that is more like a web has been uncovered. In this model different life forms influence the evolution of each other. In the microscope world, bacteria go so far as to exchange portion of their generic code. In the macroscopic world different life forms have been shown to have formed interdependent relationships. For example the interdependent relationship between bobtail squid and the bacteria V.fischeri:[7]

A few scientists noticed in the late 1960s that the marine bacteria Vibrio fischeri appeared to coordinate among themselves the production of chemicals that produced bioluminescence, waiting until a certain number of them were in the neighborhood before firing up their light-making machinery. This behavior was eventually dubbed “quorum sensing.” It was one of the first in what has turned out to be a long list of ways in which bacteria talk to each other and to other organisms.

Some populations of V. fischeri put this skill to a remarkable use: They live in the light-sensing organs of the bobtail squid. This squid, a charming nocturnal denizen of shallow Hawaiian waters, relies on V. fischeri to calculate the light shining from above and emit exactly the same amount of light downward, masking the squid from being seen by predators swimming beneath them.

For their lighting services, V. fischeri get a protected environment rich in essential nutrients. Each dawn, the squid evict all their V. fischeri to prevent overpopulation. During the day, the bacteria recolonize the light-sensing organ and detect a fresh quorum, once again ready to camouflage the squid by night.

This tale of bobtail squid would be just another mildly jaw-dropping story in a natural world full of marvels if it weren’t a portal into an unsuspected realm that has profound consequences for human beings. Regardless of the scale at which we explore the biosphere — whether we delve into the global ocean or the internal seas of individual organisms — bacteria are now known to be larger players than humans ever imagined.

Your body welcomes and supports friendly bacteria. Friendly bacteria are recognized by your immune system and are never attacked. On the other hand, your immune system swings into action at the first sign of a dangerous microbe. Also mucosal surfaces actually feed friendly microbes. One reason that mucus is sticky is that it contains sugar, which microbes use as food.

You benefit from the presence of friendly microorganism in a number of ways. One of the ways that microorganisms aid your health is by helping you digest your food. In order for your body to utilize the nutrients in your food, the nutrients must be in a bio-available form. Microorganism aid this process by helping breakdown food particles. [8]

Another way that friendly microorganisms help you create and maintain excellent health is by aiding your immune system. You immune system acts like a police force. It protects you from harm. In order to do this it maintains an army of cells that roam your body looking for potential threats. This army of cells has an arsenal of weapons that available for attack. A trigger happy immune system may discharge its potential weapons against harmless substances including its own cells. This results in autoimmune problems and problems with allergies. Friendly bacteria are capable of sending all is well signals to the immune system, which helps the immune system stay in control.[9]

Another way that friendly bacteria helps the immune system is by competing with harmful microorganisms. Certain strains of friendly bacteria produce antibiotics, all produce acid, and some produce hydrogen peroxide. All of these substances effectively inhibit harmful bacteria. Also a healthy colony of friendly bacteria will compete for nutrients and for space on the intestinal walls, which makes it difficult for harmful bacteria to get established. One final bonus of a friendly bacteria is they are anti viral. Viruses are older that bacteria on the evolutionary scale. Bacteria have developed methods of controlling viruses in order to protect themselves and when the bacteria your body is hosting protect themselves from viruses they indirectly protect you from viruses.

There have been many studies that have shown evidence that some bacteria strains support human health. There is a long list of ailments which may be treated and/or prevented by cultivating a friendly microorganisms. This is because friendly microorganisms support healthy immune system function and aid your body’s ability to extract nutrients from food. Here is a list of ailments treated and/or prevented by cultivating a friendly microorganisms[10]:

                Digestive Disorders

                                -Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome

                                -Irritable Bowel Syndrome

                                -Pepic Ulcers

                Allergic Diseases

                                -Asthma

                                -Hay fever

                                -Eczema & Atopic Dematitis

                Urogenital Diseases

                                – Vaginitis

                                -Urinary tract infections

                                -Kidney Stones

                Autism

                Cardiovascular Disease

                Obesity

                Oral Health

                Mental Health

                Fibromyalgia

                Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

While all of these ailments are worth noting and there are more that could be added to the list, asthma is particularly interesting because it points to the affect of antibiotics on our wellness. The number of people suffering from asthma in the United States has dramatically increased since the introduction of antibiotics. The center from disease control and prevention shows the following increases between 1980 and 1995:

                Among people age 15 to 64         70% Increase

                Among people age 5 to 14           80% Increase

                Among people age 0 to 4             160% Increase

A theory as to why this is happening was proposed by David Strachan in 1989, The Hygiene Hypothesis. According to the Hygiene Hypothesis childhood exposure to microbes is actually beneficial for health. Numerous studies have shown evidence to support this hypothesis. For example, 10,000 parents of toddlers were asked such questions about hygiene practices, such as “How often in a normal day are hands cleaned before meals?” From the answers the investigators gave each child a hygiene score. They found the higher the hygiene score the more likely the youngster was to develop asthma.

Since then more has been learned about why exposure to microbes protects us from developing allergies. A new hypothesis has been developed, the Microflora Hypothesis. According to the Microflora Hypothesis, key microbes in our digestive tract protect us from asthma. Evidence in support of this hypothesis is that gut flora of individuals who suffer with allergies has been compared to the gut flora of people who do not have allergies. Those with allergies have lower levels of probiotic microbes. Antibiotics can kill both unfriendly and friendly bacteria. Thus use of antibiotics may be to blame for the increase in incidence of asthma.[11]

When born a baby comes into the world clean, however, babies pickup friendly bacteria from their mothers during their passage through the birth canal. Also, the mother’s mammary gland ducts are colonized with probiotic microbes, which she passes onto the baby when she breast feeds. In fact, an Italian group has shown that probiotics can significantly relieve infant colic.[12] It seems nature’s design has set us up to receive friendly bacteria and thus receive its benefits throughout our lives.

However, dangerous bacteria often cause ailments. The discovery of antibiotics gave us the ability to treat disease that are caused by causing dangerous bacteria. Mass production and distribution of antibiotics began in about 1945. Antibiotics were a medical miracle that has transformed public health. However, this medical miracle has a dark side. The friendly microbes that your body is hosting are easily killed by antibiotics and they do not necessarily easily recover. Thus, antibiotics have saved the public’s health in many ways, however, they have damaged the public’s health in different ways.

I decided to write about probiotics after I listened to the following radio interview while driving to work a few weeks ago. In it a father describes his experience curing his daughter’s autism symptoms with probiotics: Cities97 Radio Interview

Checkout the CoCoKefir website: http://www.cocokefir.com/

There are many products on the market that can help improve the community of micoorganism in your gut. These products are called probiotics. Yogurt is one of the most commonly known probiotics. In fact, Dannon Yogurt company had a major ad campaign for Activa. The following is the Activia website:

http://www.activia.us.com

It is important to know that most commercially produced yogurts do not provide a meaningful supply of probiotics. Often less expensive bacteria (not the friendly bacteria your body needs) are used to culture the yogurt, and yogurt products are commonly pasteurized (thus killing the bacteria).

There is still a lot of guesswork concerning which strains of bacteria are best, how many friendly bacteria to consume and how often to consume them.

See WebMD Article: The Best Ways to Use Probiotics

See Harvard Health Publications: Benefit of Probiotics: Should you take a daily dose of bacteria?

Eventhough the recommendations for probiotics are not fully established yet all in not lost. There is little danger of taking too many probiotics. According to Natasha Trenev, it is recommended that everyone take probiotics daily throughout their life. As far as beneficial bacteria are concerned, the more the merrier. An effective supplement should contain a minimum of hundreds of millions to billions of bacterial cells per day. Look for products that contain L. acidophilus, B. bifidum & L.budgaricus. [13]

Natasha Trenev, author of Probiotics Nature’s Internal Healers, has a whole line of probiotic products: Natren

I love things that can have a significant positive effect on health, are safe, low cost, and require minimal discipline. I love them because they me feel clever, clever, clever!!! The positive health benefits of probiotics is the process of becoming fully established. However, it is clear that they are safe, and they are beneficial. How beneficial…anyone’s guess. But you as a Happy Deviant can benefit them now and the results may astound you.

If you are interested in learning more. I recommend the following two books:
The Probiotics Revolution: The Definitive Guide to Safe, Natural Health Solutions Using Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods and Supplements

Probiotics: Nature’s Internal Healers


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~ by happydeviant on January 23, 2011.

One Response to “Probiotics: Say Hello To Your Little Friends – Part 2”

  1. Say hello to your little friends

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