Did you know there are thousands of tiny microorganisms living in your gastrointenstinal tract? These “good bacteria” — or flora — provide a balance to your digestive tract, killing off bad bacteria, aiding in digestion, and helping fight off infections. A healthy gastrointestinal tract is the base of a solid foundation of health. In addition to digesting food, it is also in charge of absorbing nutrients, preventing the absorption of toxins, and eliminating toxins in the stool. It also plays a major role in the immune system. A poor balance of microflora in the intestines can lead to poor nutrition, malfunctions of the immune system, and absorption of toxins. So, so what can you do to prevent an imbalance of good bacteria?
What causes an imbalance of good bacteria?
It’s a good idea that if you are prescribed an ANTIbiotic 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.
So, what are the other things that can upset this delicate balance of good and bad bacteria?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Taking an antibiotic. As mentioned before, 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.
- 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.
The best probiotics
The reality is that the average American diet does not result in a good balance of intestinal flora, so it’s very important to adjust your diet or supplementation to get a good balance of good bacteria. Good bacteria can be found in a number of foods, such as yogurt, kefir, miso, sweet acidophilus milk and others. The benefit to taking a probiotic supplement is that you can get a better variety of strains of good bacteria, providing better protection against infection.
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