The term probiotic is derived from the Latin and Greek language with the literal meaning “for life” - and when you look at their many health promoting effects it’s easy to see why. The digestive process is highly dependent on the balance of beneficial bacteria throughout the digestive tract. Probiotics enhance digestive system function and overall wellbeing, as well as regulate immune function through interacting with the large proportion of immune cells located in our digestive system.
The Beneficial Bug Barrier
The gastrointestinal system is comprised of bacteria; roughly 400 species of good bacteria live inside your digestive tract. In fact, you have more bacteria living inside you than you have cells in your entire body! To maintain optimal health and wellbeing, it is important to have the right balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria making up your intestinal microflora. An overgrowth of pathogenic “bad” bacteria can cause various symptoms such as:
Poor digestive function
Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome - constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and/or flatulence.
Increase in allergies/intolerances or eczema.
Pain and inflammation.
Autoimmune diseases such as Hashimotos Thyroiditis, Ulcerative Colitis, Chrons Disease and celiac disease
Barrier Blowout – What are the Causes?
An important role of the intestinal microflora is to create a “barrier effect” in the gut, which helps the “good” bacteria to flourish while reducing “bad” bacteria. The integrity of this barrier can become impaired due to stress, illness, antibiotic treatments, excess alcohol and drug intake, certain medications, poor diet (particularly high sugar intake, processed foods, trans fats and lack or vegetables and good quality fibre), pesticide and chemical exposure or physical alterations in the gut. These factors contribute to the overgrowth of “bad” bugs, causing an imbalance known as dysbiosis, which affects digestion and immune system function.
Probiotic supplements, prebiotic fibres such as oat bran psylium, vegetables and cultured foods and fermented vegetables can help replenish the “good” bacteria, supporting the integrity and function of the gastrointestinal tract.