Question

Dietary Supplements

How do probiotics work?

A Answers (3)

  • AStacy Wiegman, PharmD, Pharmacy, answered
    Probiotics are "good bacteria" that are the same as or similar to the bacteria naturally present in healthy bodies. For example, you normally have a thriving population of bacteria in your gut, which help you digest food. Probiotic supplements can increase your levels of these good-for-you microorganisms. This is especially helpful if you have been taking antibiotics, which can kill beneficial bacteria along with ones that cause disease.

    Probiotics can help keep you healthy in several ways. When they are abundant in your body, it's harder for bacteria that cause illness to get a foothold. Probiotics may also produce compounds that help keep illness-causing bacteria from thriving. Finally, probiotics may stimulate your immune system.
  • AEva Cwynar, MD, Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, answered
    One way to help manage problems of the gut is by supporting the intestinal flora through the use of probiotics. Probiotic literally means "for life." The World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as "live microorganisms, which when given in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host." In other words, probiotics are living bacteria that are similar to the friendly bacteria found in the human intestinal system. They live symbiotically in the gut, meaning they form a give-and-take relationship where they help us fight off the bad guys in return for a warm place to live. There are a few common probiotics, such as Saccharomyces boulardii, that are yeasts, which are different from bacteria.

    Probiotics work by constantly adjusting the intestinal immune environment to help correct the balance between beneficial and harmful bacteria and to prevent disease-causing bacteria from attacking and colonizing the gut. They restrict the overgrowth of harmful bacteria and promote the growth of helpful bacteria, which in turn enhances digestion and absorption of nutrients.
  • ASarah LoBisco, Integrative Medicine, answered

    The GI tract is home to over 70% of your immune system (Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue) and the major site of your neurotransmitter production (Enteric Nervous System). In other words, your belly is a powerful force in modulating infection, inflammation, and mood!

    Your body contains 10 times the number bugs to cells in your body! These microorganisms in your gut interact with your immune system to create signals for the body to modulate inflammation and fight diseases. Due to the wide reaching effects of the immune system, studies show that probiotics are helpful for various health conditions ranging from diabetes, gas, Autism and weight loss! Your gut should have a healthy balance of 85% beneficial bacteria with 15% pathogenic to modulate perfect inflammatory and immune balance.

    Leon Chaitow, N.D., D.O. and Natasha Trenev explain some of the many other benefits we acquire by homing beneficial probiotic bacteria in our gut.

    Good microflora has the following roles: 

    • They manufacture B-vitamins, such as biotin, niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6) and folic acid.
    • They act as anti-carcinogenic (anti-cancer) factors, with powerful anti-tumour potentials.
    • They act as ‘watchdogs’ by keeping an eye on, and effectively controlling, the spread of undesirable microorganisms (by altering the acidity of the region they inhabit and/or producing specific antibiotic substances, as well as by depriving rival unfriendly bacteria of their nutrients). … lactobacilli is”Candida albicans,” now implicated in many health problems in people who are malnourished or whose immune systems are depleted.
    • They effectively help to control high cholesterol levels, thereby affording us protection from the cardiovascular damage which excessive levels of this nevertheless important substance can create.
    • They sometimes act to relieve the symptoms of anxiety
    • They play a role in protecting against the negative effects of radiation and toxic pollutants, enhancing immune function.
    • They help considerably to enhance bowel function. Where bowel bacteria are absent, the function of peristalsis is impaired, and the amount of time it take for food to pass completely through the system is much increased.
    • 60 percent of the circulating female hormones such as estrogen are excreted into the GI tract in the bile. (That is, probiotics help remove inflammatory hormones and prevent their recirculation)
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