Can probiotics contribute to a healthy gastrointestinal system?

Jorge A. Gilbert, MD
In the intestine, "good" bacteria is present to help digest the food we eat. Also, 80% of the immune system is located in the gut, so the good bacteria help fight infections against bad bacteria. Taking a probiotic can help aide in digesting foods, particularly foods that a person is sensitive to. Probiotics also enhance the synthesis of B vitamins and increase calcium absorption. Probiotics also help promote healthy good bacteria, especially if the patient is taking an antibiotic as some antibiotics can kill off the good bacteria. 
Michael Jurgelewicz
Chiropractic Medicine

The Russian Pathologist, E.E. Metchnikoff said in 1900, "Death Begins in The Colon". The truth is there are over 400 species of microbes in the human intestinal tract totaling over 15 lbs! That's a mass that exceeds all other organs in the body other than skeletal muscle.

There are more microbes in a human's intestinal tract than there are stars in the galaxy exceeding all other cells in the body combined. According to Bengmark, "The dominating part of the immune defense, even if flora is excluded, is localized in the gut- no less than 75% of the immune cells of the body are suggested to be found in the GI tract."

Dysregulation in the intestinal tract or gastrointestinal system can lead to a change in this homeostasis and to an increase in disease states. Whenever you have inflammation present, the tight junctions and intestinal mucosa can become damaged causing gaps or “pores” in the lining of the GI tract. Then toxic byproducts in the digestive tract can be absorbed into the bloodstream and transported on to the liver. The molecules of food and toxins are “leaked” through the GI lining and then eventually they affect systems throughout the body causing inflammation in our joints, expressing toxins in skin disorders, autoimmune conditions, and food sensitivities.

For many years now, probiotic supplements have been helping people’s bellies feel better and function more reliably. One benefit of taking probiotics is to help encourage microbial diversity, especially if the probiotic supplement is of mixed species. In ecological terms, it is more stable to have diverse populations in any ecosystem. The same is true for the microbiome, the ecosystem of microbes in the GI tract. So eating a diverse, plant-based diet to provide a variety of feedstuffs for them as well as us, helps their populations remain balanced and robust.

For healthy gut maintenance, you may think eating your daily Activia has been a good idea. But not that many of us have healthy bowels these days, so we often need more intense “inoculation” with good bugs! You are going to need quite a bit more than that.



Probiotics are "good bacteria" in foods and supplements. People already grow good bacteria in their intestines. If the balance of good bacteria is upset, however, the health of the gastrointestinal (GI) system may be compromised. Probiotics are used to correct this imbalance.

The balance of bacteria is upset when certain types of bacteria, fungi, or parasites out-number good bacteria, causing GI discomfort. In addition, antibiotics can kill good bacteria. Probiotics may help GI discomfort if taken along with or after antibiotic doses.

Probiotics can treat diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome, and shorten the life of some intestinal infections.

Continue Learning about Dietary Supplements

Dietary Supplements

Whether you're visiting the drug store, grocery or natural food shop you'll likely find an aisle where there are jars and bottles of things for you to put in your body that are neither foods nor medicines. Ranging from vitamins an...

d minerals to fiber and herbal remedies, these supplements are not regulated in the same way as either food or medicine. Some of them are backed by solid research, others are folk remedies or proprietary cures. If your diet does not include enough of certain vitamins or minerals, a supplement may be a good idea. Natural treatment for conditions like constipation may be effective. But because these substances are unregulated, it is always a good idea to educate yourself about the products and to use common sense when taking them. This is even more true if you are pregnant or taking a medicine that may be affected by supplements.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.