The importance of probiotics

Posted on: March 24th, 2011 by sdavis

Lucinda Harms, RPh, is the director of pharmacy at CarePro Compounding and Advance Health.

I think most people are aware that if you are prescribed an ANTIbiotic , that it is a wise choice to also take a PRObiotic.  This is because taking an antibiotic for an infection not only kills the bacteria causing the infection, but other bacteria that may be ‘friendly’ and necessary in the body to maintain good health.  Antibiotics don’t discriminate but kill off any bacteria that are susceptible to its actions.  What you may not know is that there are other reasons why you might need a probiotic.

To give you an idea of one of the ways that probiotics contribute  to our overall health, think of your yard at home.  You may have a good stand of grass in your yard, in which case you probably don’t have a lot of weeds.  But if you have ever built a new house and had no grass for a time or plowed under a yard that had grass in it, it doesn’t take long for the weeds to completely take over space that has little or no grass.  The more desirables in your yard, the less undesirables you have.  The body is the same.  When you take an antibiotic or do any number of other things that kill off the normal, friendly flora in the body, you have created a situation that is ripe for the overgrowth of the bad, or potentially, infection-causing bacteria.  We call this dysbiosis.

So what are the other things that can upset this delicate balance of good and bad bacteria?

  1. Drinking tap water.  Tap water is generally treated with chlorine to kill bacteria in the water, making it safe to drink.  But it also can kill off the bacteria in your gut.
  2. Eating fruits and vegetables that are not organic.  Produce that has not been raised organically has been sprayed with pesticides, which are used to kill pests.  This can also affect the normal flora in your gut when you eat the produce.
  3. Eating meat that has been given feed containing antibiotics.  The antibiotic may be retained in the meat that you eat, affecting the normal flora in your gut.
  4. Taking an antibiotic.  As I already mentioned, these can upset the normal flora in the gut causing diarrhea, in the vagina causing a yeast infection, on the foot causing athletes foot, in the mouth causing thrush and many others.
  5. Taking an acid blocking medication, such as Prevacid, Nexium, Zantac (ranitidine) and others.  These medications alter the normal pH of the stomach, allowing for potentially pathogenic bacteria, that might normally be killed by the acid in the stomach, to stay alive and overwhelm your population of good bacteria and cause a secondary infection.

So, I guess that about covers everybody.  There is probably not a single person alive who can’t benefit from probiotics.  These friendly bacteria are also available in some foods, such as yogurt, kefir, miso, sweet acidophilus milk and others.  The benefit to taking it in a supplement form rather than food, is that you can get more variety in the strains providing better protection from a dysbiosis.

In good health,

Lucinda

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