The Yogurt Cure: Probiotics Are Good for Our Digestion. But They Can Also Combat Flu, Allergies and Bad Breath

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Most of us
know something about the good bacteria (probiotics) in our stomachs,
thanks to advertising.

Two million
of us now consume them in the form of drinks, yogurts, powders and
capsules.

Science has
come to accept there is some truth in the enthusiastic claims made
for probiotics that they help fight ‘bad’ bugs in your gut and improve
intestinal health.

And now research
suggests that probiotics could have benefits that extend beyond
the gut, such as treating illnesses from type-1 diabetes to fibromyalgia.

There is also
interest in preliminary research suggesting that probiotics might
even be able to enhance weight loss.

Scientists
are developing specific probiotics to prevent dental cavities, probiotic
lozenges for sore throats, probiotic nasal sprays and probiotic
deodorant sticks that deal with the bacteria that cause body odour.

They’re talking
about probiotic vaccines to treat inflammatory diseases and probiotic
cleaning products for the home.

In her new
book, Good
Gut Bugs
, leading nutritionist Kathryn Marsden presents
a comprehensive analysis of the science of gut bacteria and the
latest thinking about using probiotics to treat a wide variety of
illnesses – not just to boost general well-being.

With more than
20 years of experience in treating patients, she has devised a unique
guide to probiotics and how to use them to treat your ailment.

SO WHAT
ARE GUT BACTERIA?

There are varying
levels of bacteria living all over and in our bodies – mostly in
our intestines.

They are known
as commensal bacteria, which under normal circumstances cause no
harm. Some are useful (these are the good bugs) but others have
the potential to be very harmful.

For example,
the ‘superbug’ bacterium Clostridium difficile or the ulcer infector
helicobacter pylori may live harmlessly within us, but can be the
cause of serious illness if the gut environment gets out of balance
and they multiply.

The good bacteria,
sometimes called ‘friendly flora’, are on our side. These live micro-organisms
improve the balance of the intestinal soup by depriving polluting
and dangerous bacteria of food and inhibiting their growth.

Left to their
own devices they aid digestion and the absorption of nutrients (basically
determining how well-nourished we are).

They also oil
the wheels of peristalsis (the process by which food and wastes
move through the system). They look after the mucus membranes in
our body by stimulating the production of mucins (the proteins in
mucus that lubricate and protect our ‘inside’ skin) and secreting
nutrients that are used for tissue repair.

And they improve
the balance of friendly flora in the urogenital area, reducing the
risk of bladder or vaginal infections.

Bugs in the
bowel help in the production of B vitamins – vital for the efficient
running of our nervous system. however, our natural probiotic levels
are easily damaged by factors such as poor diet, stress, alcohol,
hormonal fluctuations, cigarettes, surgery and drugs.

Once the critical
balance of good bacteria is impaired, bad bacteria waste no time
in grabbing any opportunity to take over.

AM I LACKING
GOOD BACTERIA?

If you have
a problem with body odour, suffer with bloating/noxious wind or
are plagued by fungal infections, then your bad bacteria are very
likely taking control – but take the quiz at the bottom of
the page to help you decide.

HOW BAD
BUGS COULD BE MAKING YOU ILL

Research suggests
that many common ailments are linked to bad bacteria. here we reveal
how:

BAD BREATH

Most body odours,
such as bad breath, are caused by bad bacteria.

Malodour can
be caused by rotting teeth, unhealthy gums, poor digestion, the
ulcer bacteria helicobacter pylori or any number of other illnesses.

But the biggest
problem is the bacteria in our mouths that feed on the almost constant
supply of food that comes their way.

Some people
naturally have low numbers of bad (pathogenic) bacteria and far
higher levels of protective bacteria in their mouths. Sadly, only
two per cent of the population fall into this category and the rest
of us have to work on rebalancing our bug population.

Treatment:
As well as practising good dental hygiene, boost your good gut bugs
by adding fermented milk products, such as live yogurt, to your
diet.

Take a probiotic
supplement regularly. There is good evidence it helps to regulate
the growth of troublesome bacteria.

Such supplements
work by reducing the risk of dental decay in children’s teeth, meaning
that fewer adult cavities develop later in life and lessening the
likelihood of mouth ulcers and other oral infections.

CONSTIPATION

A sluggish
bowel is often the result of disturbed intestinal bacteria: you
don’t have enough good gut bugs. If things are persistently foul
smelling, the problem will almost always be a large bowel with too
much bad bacteria and a lack of good bacteria.

Treatment:
Improve your diet. Many people have far too little fibre in their
diets, but there’s more to a healthy colon than bran breakfast cereals.

Read
the rest of the article

May
28, 2010

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