Lactose Intolerance Diets Columbia SC
Spring Valley Family Practice
Cardiology, Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Disease
Alternative Medicine Cabinet - Why You Should Eat Bugs
By Catherine Guthrie
Its name isn’t sexy, and neither are its living arrangements. Probiotics, which are live microorganisms (read bacteria) that are added to your gut, sound like some sort of squirming critter you’d rather steer clear of. But because of their supposed powers to soothe stomachs and boost immunity, probiotics have become increasingly popular. Last year, sales soared 12 percent, making them among the fastest-growing supplements in the United States.
And that’s a bit ironic, because it’s hard to know if you’re getting the genuine article. According to a recent test by ConsumerLab.com, an independent laboratory that tests supplements, one-third of probiotic products have far fewer live organisms than their labels claim. Many of the supplements tested had only 1 percent of the billion or so organisms you would expect to find; some had only one-ten-thousandth. Overall, one-quarter of the probiotic products analyzed made claims their labels couldn’t support.
So how do you make sure you’re not getting stiffed? And should you even bother with probiotics? They may be selling big, but the claims take some sorting through; the evidence is stronger for some than for others.
First, a bit of Biology 101. Our intestines sport a steamy forest of bacteria, whose balance is essential to health. When the balance is upset by an external influence, mainly food-borne bacteria or antibiotics, our bodies become unhappy in any number of ways. Our digestive systems suffer, our immunity can wane, and according to many practitioners, this bacterial imbalance plays a role in ailments as wide-ranging as lactose intolerance, respiratory problems, and even heart disease. The job of probiotics is to repopulate our gut with the bacteria that have been lost.
So far, most of the research has focused on probiotics and diarrhea. In addition to reseeding the intestines with beneficial bacteria (which antibiotics typically kill off), probiotics release acids that kill harmful bacteria. This double whammy has proven so effective that many practitioners now routinely prescribe them—in supplement form or in foods like yogurt and kefir—to patients on antibiotics.
These good bacteria may also relieve the opposite problem, constipation. According to several studies, probiotics may increase acid levels, which boosts the gut’s ability to push waste through. They may also inhibit the staying power of Helicobacter pylori, a type of bacteria associated with gastritis, ulcers, and gastric cancer. In fact, many practitioners are using probiotics to treat a variety of intestinal ailments, including inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and colitis.
When Rahima Hirji, a naturopath at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, Ontario, prescribed probiotics to an 18-year-old woman with irritable bowel syndrome, her pain and irregularity significantly improved after only three weeks.
Some research supports Hirji’s clinical experience. A ...
Author: Dorothy Foltz-Gray
Copyright 1999-2009 Natural Solutions: Vibrant Health, Balanced Living/Alternative Medicine/InnoVisi...