Dr. Dean Ornish answered:
The vagina, like the gut, contains bacteria in a dynamic equilibrium, which is one of the reasons why women often develop vaginal infections after taking antibiotics that kill good bacteria as well as harmful ones. Spermicides and birth control pills may also disrupt this internal ecology. Several studies show that friendly microorganisms may help prevent vaginal infections in women. For example, Lactobacillus acidophilus makes the vagina too acidic for most of the harmful bacteria to survive. In one study, Israeli researchers recruited forty-six women who had suffered at least four vaginal infections caused by yeast or bacteria during the previous year. The researchers gave them yogurt either with or without live probiotic Lactobacillus (about 1 cup a day). After two months, the women who ate the yogurt with the probiotic bacteria experienced significantly fewer vaginal infections.
Other research has shown that probiotics may help the large number of people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome as well as those with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Several studies have shown that probiotics may help prevent recurrences of these illnesses.
Probiotic bacteria in the intestine also have other benefits. They have two types of antibiotic action: they secrete some antibiotic compounds, and they form a living barrier that helps prevent bad bacteria from attaching to the intestinal wall and entering the bloodstream.
Probiotics also help prevent allergic reactions. Preliminary research suggests that in children, probiotics reduce the risk of eczema. Animal studies suggest cholesterol-lowering and tumor-preventive action. And probiotics have some antioxidant action, which may help prevent the cell damage at the root of heart disease and many cancers.
At birth, infants’ digestive tracts contain only small populations of Bifidobacterium. But breast milk contains these bacteria, and breastfeeding raises newborns’ population of good bacteria in their gut substantially within a few days. That’s one reason why breast-fed infants are less likely to contract infectious diarrhea, a major killer in the developing world.Find out more about this book: The Spectrum: A Scientifically Proven Program to Feel Better, Live Longer,...The vagina, like the gut, contains bacteria in a dynamic equilibrium, which is one of the reasons why women often develop vaginal infections after taking antibiotics that kill good bacteria as well as harmful ones. Spermicides and birth control... More