Our bodies are teeming with life. Not just our own but that of over 1 trillion microorganisms which outnumber our bodily cells 10 to 1. In our GI tract alone, there are up to 400 – 500 species of bacteria.
There’s good bacteria and bad bacteria. For us to experience good health, an ideal balance to strike is 85% good and just 15% bad. If harmful bacteria increase, more toxic products are able to be absorbed by the digestive organs and the blood. Over prolonged periods, this can lead to premature aging, inflammation and organ failure.
Probiotics help the body achieve that much-desired healthy balance. We can ingest them from the food we eat (especially fermented foods like cheese, yogurt, kimchi) and from supplements. But how exactly do probiotics benefit their host?
First, they compete with harmful bacteria for nutrients. Second, they provide useful end products that enhance the pH balance in the colon such as acids, lactase, B vitamins and substances with natural antibiotic properties. Probiotics form a defensive barrier between pathogens and the intestinal mucosa. They also act as decoys by drawing pathogens away from adhering to the colon. (Think of it as a garbage sorting and disposal system). Lastly, probiotics enhance the host’s metabolism by breaking down sugar-related molecules. This is essential as, otherwise, waste would collect in the GI.
It is clear that the proliferation of good bacteria helps reduce and / or prevent infection and disease. And there is significant growth potential for helpful probiotic supplements to be used in a variety of medical fields.