Our bodies contain billions of bacteria – and we need every single one! So much emphasis is placed on looking after your body externally, but what about your insides?
Each of us has an internal ecosystem, with our organs working continuously to maintain a balance between all the healthy and not-so-healthy things we put into our bodies every day.
One of the hardest-working internal organs is the intestine, and making sure the intestinal environment is healthy is one of the keys to overall health.
So why do we need good bacteria?
Health conditions associated with probiotic deficiencies (low levels of good bacteria) include gingivitis, thrush, urinary tract infections, allergies (such as hay fever), candida, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, cold sores, strep throat, acne, athlete’s foot, psoriasis, constipation, chronic diarrhoea, Crohn’s disease, IBS, eczema, colic and nappy rash in infants, premature ageing, hyperactivity, gout and migraines.
Did you know that, at any one time, you have more bacteria in your body than the total number of people who have ever lived on the planet? You have more than 400 different species of bacteria inside your gastrointestinal tract, weighing in at around 1½kg.
These bacteria, both good and bad, provide your body with important functions – and, in order to remain in good health, you need vast numbers of the good bacteria in your system.
Probiotics (beneficial bacteria) promote your body’s natural immunity and aid digestion and overall health. The term probiotics is derived from the Greek language and literally means “for life”.
It’s used to describe the friendly bacteria that live and work in your gut, guarding you against harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses, and strengthening your immune system.
In adequate amounts, probiotics improve digestion and increase absorption of important nutrients like calcium. They also support healthy liver function, produce B vitamins and promote bowel regularity. They can aid against wind, bloating and belching, too, and can assist in managing your cholesterol.
Aiding the troops
When harmful bacteria invade your system, they take up residence on the lining of your intestinal tract and gradually win the battle against the good bacteria. They multiply and spread out, taking over even more of your intestinal area.
To help your body fight back, you can take supplements to increase your good bacteria – but how do they work, and how much of them is enough?
In order for the beneficial bacteria in your gut lining to work, supplements deliver the bacteria to your intestines alive. To get the benefits, you should consume supplements every day, or at least four times a week.
Even though the silly season is over, you may still be feeling a little worse for wear. That extra weight that's crept on, or the bloating from the all the food you consumed may want to stick around permanently.
The answer? Probiotics. By using a probiotic supplements, you are supplying billions of live bacteria that actually improve digestion, support the immune system and bolsteroverall health.
The health of the entire body is dependent on a well-functioning digestive system.
Critical to this, is gut microflora; a healthy balance in gastrointestinal microbiota (good and bad bacteria) is essential for optimal human health.
Intestinal microflora levels are easily altered through stress, poor diet, infections and some types of medication. Dysbiosis results when these flora levels are out of balance, increasing the risk of digestive disturbances, infection and disease.
About 70% of our immune system is located in our digestive tract, this is why probiotics are so important to support our immunity.