The Health Benefits of Probiotics

Pamela Egan: Nurse Practitioner, Diabetes Educator and Health Columnist Practical Practitioner

 

By: Pamela Egan, FNP-C CDE

 


 

The Health Benefits of Probiotics

 

 

MAY 13, 2008 – How many times have you been treated with antibiotics, but never told to supplement with Probiotics or acidophilus? Probiotics are the good bacteria that are present in yogurt or buttermilk; however, flanked by sugar and pasteurization, very little good bacteria are left in these products.

Every time you drink chlorinated water or fluoridated water, you are wiping out your good intestinal flora. Birth Control pills, many other medications, stress, and poor diet (sugar) eliminate the healthy flora from our gut.

Many people are on stomach medications for indigestion or reflux. What they don’t realize is that many of these medications were not meant to be taken long term. These medications alter the pH of the stomach thereby decreasing the absorption of nutrients leaving them nutritionally depleted. Supplementation with probiotics, water with lemon or apple cider vinegar, and Aloe Vera juice will relieve gastritis and other stomach ailments while maintaining the integrity of the gastrointestinal system.

Diabetics often have high blood sugars which feed yeast infections. Diabetics often complain of candidiasis or skin infections. All diabetics would benefit from probiotics.

What are probiotics?

Few people realize that a healthy immune system is dependent on a healthy lower intestine. What are probiotics, you may ask? A probiotic is an organism which contributes to the healthy balance of the intestinal tract. A probiotic is also referred to as the “good” or “friendly” bacteria. These beneficial bacteria help to maintain a healthy intestinal tract and help fight illness and disease.

New research shows that probiotics are vital to proper development of the immune system, protection against microorganisms that could cause disease, and the digestion and absorption of food and nutrients. These friendly bacteria enhance the immune system altering the gut micro-ecology and preventing unfriendly bacteria from taking over the body. They prevent the overgrowth of yeast and produce substances that can lower cholesterol.

Unfriendly microorganisms such as disease causing bacteria, yeasts, fungi, and parasites can also upset the balance. Research has shown that probiotics could suppress the growth and activity of unfriendly bacteria that lead to infectious diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease such as Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, infection with Helicobacter pylori- a bacteria that causes most ulcers and chronic stomach inflammation, tooth decay and periodontal disease, vaginal infections, stomach & respiratory infections that children get in daycare, and skin infections such as eczema.

Doesn’t it make sense to replace the good bacteria that antibiotics, medications, poor diet, chemicals, etc. have depleted? The answer to this one should be a no-brainer.

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Pamela Egan, FNP-C, CDE is a board certified Adult & Family Nurse Practitioner, Certified Diabetes Educator & Clinical Specialist in Mental Health. She practices in Women’s Health with Kathy Posey, MD & can be reached at 985-867-1700 or www.pamelaegan.com.

 

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