Why Probiotics?

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Probiotics, according to Phyllis Balch in Prescription for Nutritional Healing, “are beneficial bacteria normally present in the digestive tract. They are vital for proper digestion and also perform a number of other useful functions, such as preventing the overgrowth of yeast and other pathogens, and synthesizing vitamin K.”

Linda Page writes in Healthy Healing: “Probiotics compete with disease-causing microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract. They are responsible for several activities, including the manufacturing of B vitamins like biotin, niacin, folic acid and pyridoxine (B6), improving digestion, combating vaginal yeast infections, and killing harmful bacteria by changing acid/alkaline balance and depriving the harmful bacteria of nutrients they need.”

If good bacteria are present in our digestive tracts, why are probiotic formulas available for purchase? An article by Jean Shaw entitled Probiotics—Why Your Health Depends on Them (www.probioticsforhealth.com) provides several factors that can upset our intestinal bacteria balance: diets high in acid-forming foods, antibiotics, birth control pills, steroids/hormonal drugs, fluoride, chlorine, coffee/tea, carbonated drinks, radiation, stress, preservatives, additives, pesticides and fertilizers.

She says a balanced diet consists of 80 percent alkali-forming foods (vegetables, salads, fresh fruits except cranberries and plums, almonds and raw milk) and 20 percent acid-forming foods (animal proteins like meat, fish, eggs, cheese, poultry, nuts except almonds, sugars, and all cereal foods and starches including bread and flour). For a detailed acid-alkaline balance chart, see: http://www.cayce.com/acidalkalinefoods.htm. Our good bacteria produce enzymes, says Shaw, which digest and deliver nutrients in our bodies. “Enzymes are necessary for life and are responsible for every metabolic process in your body—all the building and all repair.”

An About.com article (http://altmedicine.about.com/cs/herbsvitaminsad/a/Acidophilus.htm) lists ailments that may benefit from probiotic use: diarrhea due to antibiotic use, traveler’s diarrhea, side effects of radiation therapy, irritable bowel syndrome, vaginal yeast infections, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, immune support, lactose intolerance, prevention of colds, allergic rhinitis/hay fever, constipation, colon cancer prevention, pouchitis, small intestine bacterial overgrowth, canker sores.

Quite a list, huh?! Wishing you balance, Becky

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