Fermentation Zone

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are friendly bacteria and good yeast. Over thousands of years our bodies and probiotics have developed a mutually beneficial relationship. The probiotic bacteria can't live without us - and we can't live without the probiotics! Scientists have only recently discovered how they can harness the power of these pint-sized probiotics. Here is a partial list of what probiotics do for you:

  • Enhance immunity
  • Improve digestion
  • Decrease Allergies
  • Improve Mood

What are probiotic strains?

Probiotic strains are the different types of probiotics that scientists have isolated. Some strains are great for digestion, others are great for immunity and others are great for decreasing cholesterol. You have more than 500 probiotic strains in your body.

How Can Probiotics Benefit Your Health?

The health benefits to probiotics are extensive. There are currently 144 known benefits of probiotics. They fall into 3 main categories of benefits:

  • improve digestion
  • enhance immunity
  • reduce allergies

Beyond those extensively proven benefits, there are also other probiotic benefits:

  • improve nutrient absorption
  • improve cholesterol
  • improve sleep
  • improve women's health
  • fight food poisoning
  • improve dental health
  • improve mood
  • fight various cancers – stomach, liver, colon, and others

Probiotic Benefits to Women's Health

Probiotics have been proven to have significant benefits to women's health. Beyond the typical benefits of probiotics, probiotics also support women's vaginal health. Also, if women are breastfeeding, a Swedish study showed that probiotic supplementation improves infant heath.

  • improve infant health for breastfeeding women
  • inhibit vaginal candida & yeast infections
  • decrease risk of cervix cancer
  • fight vaginitis/vaginosis

Probiotic Benefits to Infant Health

Infants get their first dose of probiotics from vaginal birth and other substances excreted at birth. After that, breast feeding gives infants the next dose of probiotics. I believe that for proper development of an infants immune system, breast feeding is extremely important. It's the way nature designed us! In addition to breast milk, infants seem to pick up beneficial probiotic inhabitants by putting their mouth on...everything!Below is emerging research on what other benefits probiotic have for infants:

  • normalize gut colonization for formula fed infants
  • reduce lactose intolerance symptoms
  • increase growth in preterm infants
  • reduce necrotizing enterocolitis
  • establish infant microflora
  • fight rotavirus infections
  • treat colic

Immunity Strengthening Benefits

The latest scientific research suggests that probiotics are responsible for 70-80% of our body's immune response. Let me detail how this works!Probiotic immunity begins begins in our nose, mouth, ears. Probiotics live in our mucus there and help repel outside invaders and defend us from illness. They are the first line of defense.Here a list of some of the researched immunity benefits:

  • increase production of virus specific antibodies
  • fight intestinal infections (eg. C. difficile)
  • improve immune system efficiency
  • reduce burn infections (topical)
  • reduce postoperative infection
  • reduce nasal cavity infections
  • fight ear infections

Digestive Benefits of Probiotics

Over 90% of all probiotics in your body live in your small intestine, large intestine and colon. Since most of our digestive processes take place in our intestines and colon, it makes sense that probiotics strongly affect our digestion.Very recent research has shown that a lack of probiotics in the intestines also strongly contributes to intestinal permeabiilty (aka. leaky gut), IBS, etc. Here's a list of some of the many digestive benefits of probiotics:

  • Improve intestinal barrier function (heal leaky gut)
  • Reduce flare-ups of chronic pouchitis
  • Inhibit antibiotic-related diarrhea
  • Reduce flatulence (gas/farting)
  • Reduce abdominal pain in IBS
  • help fight diverticulitis
  • inhibit/reduce diarrhea
  • reduce bloating in IBS
  • relieve constipation

Allergy Reduction Benefits

For me, learning about probiotics relationship with allergies was exteremly surprising. But, in the end, it makes sense since these beneficial bacteria help regulate our immune system...and in many cases allergies can be thought of as an over-active immune response. But, as everything we mention on probiotics.org, we let the scientific back up all information on this website about probiotic benefits to your health. Here is a partial list of proven allergy benefits of probiotic wonder-bacteria:

  • reduce seasonal allergies (pollen specifically)
  • reduce allergenic response (general)
  • decrease inflammation (general)
  • reduce atopic dermatitis4
  • decrease hypersensitivity (MCS - multiple chemical sensitivity)
  • reduce eczema

What Medical Conditions Are Negatively Affected By Probiotics?

Since probiotics are technically bacteria, there is evidence that severely immune-compromised individuals can have contraindications from Lactobacillius strains. Regarding soil based probiotics, my research has shown there are not appropriate for long term use. Short term use is fine for many people. However, individuals sensitive to yeasts (eg. Candida Overgrowth) should proceed cautiously with these types of strains. Always consult with you doctor, but it seems probiotics are safe for diabetics. There is also evidence that probiotics help regulate glucose metabolism. This strain and this strain have been researched to improve glucose metabolism. I am not a medical doctor - please check with your doctor. Bifidobacterium are not known to have any contraindications.

Are probiotic supplements safe for pregnant/nursing women?

There is strong evidence that probiotic supplementation during pregnancy improve newborn's immunity and decrease allergies. For nursing infants, immunity/allergy improvements have also been observed.In thousands of hours of research, I have not come across evidence of probiotics being unsafe for pregnant/nursing women. But, as always, please consult a physician before taking supplements when pregnant/nursing. But, you should still check with your doctor to be 100% that any supplement, including probiotics, is safe for you during pregnancy.
Lastly, people with liver/kidney issues should proceed cautiously with probiotic supplementation.

Do Probiotics Have Side Effects/Dangers?

Probiotic side effects are typically mild, temporary and often a sign that the probiotics are working. The side effect symptoms are often part of the natural cleansing process...they typically mimic mild detoxification reactions.
Here are the most typical side effects:

  • minor constipation
  • Mild diarrhea
  • mild rash
  • cramps
  • gas

Very rarely people have more intense reactions - though they are quite mild compared to many pharmaceutical drugs.

Vegetarian/Vegan Probiotics

Unless the product is using dairy, probiotic products are Vegan.

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