Help for Humans, Cats and Dogs!
An army of staunch defenders is slowly entrenching itself along the seemingly endless barricade of the great wall. Shoulder to shoulder these soldiers cover every square inch leaving no space for an intruder to enter or any subversive undesirables able to leave. There is no doubt that these powerful protectors will win: they are determined in their goal. Are we talking about the army of some great emperor of the past? Indeed not. These soldiers are the gut microflora, one of the strongest weapons in the fight to keep the digestive system working well.
Every digestive system needs microflora, the beneficial bacteria called probiotics. Probiotics is defined as naturally occurring, health-enhancing microorganisms consumed as a food component or as a dietary supplement. This intestinal flora consists of 100 million bacteria from as many as 100 plus species, containing within them, a variety of enzymes to protect, enhance, and heal digestive functions. It’s a very big job, but they are up to it.
For centuries, people have consumed probiotics as a part of their food supply in the form of fermented milk, and in the same fashion probably gave their animals the same probiotics. In 1908 the first publication involving probiotics was published. The Elongation of Life by Dr. Elie Metchnikoff brought the health benefits attributed to the drinking of fermented milk to the world’s attention.
Probiotics thrive on lactose and produce lactic acid, which in turn acidifies the colon. These bacteria normalize bowel movements by processing body wastes and decreasing the time it takes for waste products to travel through the system. Putrefaction doesn’t have the opportunity to occur and pathogens can’t stick to the walls of the intestines. Bloat and gas, rumblings and discomfort are eliminated once the intestinal lining is saturated with good bacteria.
But that’s not all they do. Probiotic replacement is extremely important if there has been damage in the GI tract: damage from stress, surgery, drug therapy, a poor prolonged diet, chronic illness, and other factors that lead to a severe loss of beneficial flora. Repair comes from simply replacing the correct flora. A minimum dose of billions of probiotic bacteria per day is regarded as necessary for a healthy system.
The word “correct” is important. The effectiveness of probiotic supplementation depends on what strains are in the product, and the product itself, how it is prepared, processed, and packaged. Flora strains are extraordinarily plentiful. Some play a major role in the small intestines, others in the large intestine, while a few have minor roles in both. A system needs two major strains: the super-strains of Lactobacillus. acidophilus, various strains of bifidobacteria species and other migrating and minor strains.
The first lactobacillus acidophilus, colonizes the small intestine and the later bifidobacteria colonizes the large intestine. They are the permanent strains. There are transient strains as well such as a Bulgaricum species, one of the world’s most powerful beneficial bacteria. It can also be used since its benefits lies in its migrating between the two parts of the intestines. Each type of bacteria is suited for its own environmental niche. The acidophilus strains are grown in milk-based formulas or in dairy-free formulas such as in a garbanzo bean extract for any GI system that is lactose-intolerant. The others can come in a vegetable oil base. Strains are usually freeze-dried, a process referred to as lypophilizing, a way to preserve their potency and enable them to to survive in stomach acid.
Probiotics have been one of most ignored therapeutic tools of medicine and underutilized by conventional practitioners. However, no digestive system can work without them. They improve every aspect of digestion and can heal most problems of the digestive tract. They help in protein metabolism keeping the kidneys detoxed. Anyone with any renal (kidney) dysfunction absolutely needs probiotics to counteract the cascade of problems resulting from poor toxin elimination. The probiotics will stimulate the appetite, reduce the amount of ammonia and phenol build-up in the blood warding off complications such as seizures, and help relieve nausea.
Without normal microbial populations, the body cannot make some vitamins it needs. Beneficial flora produce vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin named menaguinone, manufactured only in the intestinal tract in the presence of intestinal flora. No flora, no vitamin K. Vitamin K helps to prevent internal bleeding and hemorrhaging and contributes to the formation of the blood-clotting factor prothrombin. A person or a pet with serious blood problems or blood loss needs supplementation to manage symptoms. Along with vitamin K, probiotics help to produce the essential B family of vitamins. Every B vitamin is a part of an important team of 11 members and related compounds, part of whose work is to prevent cancer through disintegrating tumor cells, altering their membranes, and preventing chromosome damage. The B family helps promote energy, slows down mental deterioration and aging, and is especially needed in any nervous system problem. Probiotics help regulate cholesterol levels, hormone level, and triglyceride levels and in the elderly especially, can control hyperlipemia, an excess of fats or lipids in the blood partly due to a failing liver. Lacto-bacilli flora from L.acidophilus increases the bio-availability of calcium, thus preventing bone loss and degeneration of the density and strength of bone matrix.
Beneficial flora slows down the body’s natural aging process, supports the host’s immune system responses, and plays a big part in the body’s ability to resist infection. Japanese researchers working with elders found that daily dietary supplementation of probiotics, as in cultured milk products, prevented constipation and a host of geriatric diseases. When further research in Japan looked at the relationship between liver cancer and probiotics, L. Acidophilus supplementation in patients suppressed liver tumors by 65 %, particularly those caused by E. coli, S. faecalis, and C. paraputrificum that reside in the intestines. It seems only logical to transfer this information into our own lives.
Lactobacillus bulgaricus, the flora that resides in both small and large intestines, is the most potent producer of much needed lactic acid, which lowers the pH in the colon and forms a hostile environment for disease causing bacteria. It establishes a pH of 5 creating a desirable environment for all the other bifidobacteria to thrive in. Bulgaricus produces anticarcinogenic (anti- cancer) compounds; it helps to increase the number of leukocytes, particularly the T-lymphocytes or white blood cells that fight off dangerous pathogens; the strain stimulates anti-tumor activity through macrophage production, the molecules that acts as one of the first defense systems against foreign particles entering the body; it enhances the production of immunoglobulin A, an antibody looking out for invading microorganisms; it regulates peristaltic action in the intestinal tract; and bulgaricus provides food for the resident flora. After the bulgaricus cells die, the resident strains eat pieces of the inner and outer cell, ensuring their own survival and growth.
Those of us individuals on a standard Western diet can use up to 80% superdophilus strains coupled with 20% bifidonate strains. Added to these permanent residents are 30 to 40% transient strains. Our pets need the same.
Probiotic flora helps to destroy a huge spectrum of disease-causing pathogens just by being present in sufficient numbers to crowd them out. They inhibit the growth of Salmonella, E. Coli, and Shigella which cause gastroenteritis or virulent diarrhea. They also produce a fatty acid that helps ward off fungi and yeast overloads such as Candida of the intestines. Any case of Candida ( yeast) needs supplementation. Any system that is constipated or has a history of loose stools benefits from probiotic supplementation. The incidences and durations of many types of diarrheal illness can be reduced or shortened with probiotics.
Probiotics are present in live cultured, unflavored yogurt and this food is a good adjunct to a diet. But it is not the solution to a probiotic deficiency. First, there are many brands of yogurt on the market; however, many popular products incorporate inexpensive, poor quality or dead flora which are useless, and the flavored varieties often contain sugars which can actually feed a yeast problem. Probiotics should be sold by themselves and should state on the label the “viable cell count” along with the identity of the living bacterial strains. Look for the most powerful strains of each species. Products should list a genus or species such as L. Lactobaccillus acidophilus, bulgaricus, or casei, etc. In the case of bifidobacteria the label should read bifidus, logum, or infantis, etc. Does the product contain a minimum total of 2-3 billion microorganisms per dose? Is the expiration date far enough in the future to be practical? And has it been refrigerated to keep it from losing its usefulness? These are very important considerations.
The liquid culturing medium called the supernatant is an essential part of the product and is as important as the live bacteria itself. Many probiotic manufacturers avoid the supernatant when they freeze-dry their product as it can add substantially to the production cost. The supernantant contains by-products produced by the microorganisms and bacteria which make the product more effective by up to 50% and guarantee a longer shelf life. Use probiotics that retain their supernatant. This information should be on the label.
Some products can have additional ingredients such as vitamins and/or minerals as an extended benefit. But a minimum of bacteria added to a multivitamin/mineral supplement will probably not have enough viable cells to supplement flora replacement. The intestinal tract needs multiple strains and plenty of them!
Probiotics are sold in capsule, powder, and gel forms. If you decide to use probiotics to combat an existing problem, you or your pet can start off with a program of one dose two times a day, 10 to 15 minutes before food. Repeat daily for two weeks. Then you can continue with one dose a day. Starting off with more frequent doses restores colonies fast. Once established, dosage can be dropped down. If a digestive system is healthy, the dose of probiotics can be once or twice a week. Always keep your probiotics in the refrigerator.
If you or your pet have been on steroids, hormone replacement therapy drugs, immuno-suppressive drugs, chemotherapy agents, have had a chronic viral, bacterial or parasitic infestation, have been on poor quality, commercially-prepared food especially food that is loaded with additives, you are prime candidates for probiotic supplementation. Any system that has been on a course of broad -spectrum antibiotics for weeks or on several courses over time, has little good bacteria left in his GI system. The system is unprotected. The doors are open to malabsorption, dysbiosis, leaky gut syndrome, or irritable bowel syndrome.
If the tongue shows signs of a burned look, or is spotted, has soreness and cracks in the corners of the mouth, and bad breath and gum problems, probiotics are needed. In a case of hives, a fungal infection particularly between the toes, chronic rashes, hot spots, itching, bleeding, and acne, there is a case of a probiotic deficiency. In the respiratory system, there may be swollen membranes which produce a nagging cough, congestion, and allergic reactions. In the nose, it could be clogged sinuses. In the urinary tract, it may be repeated kidney and bladder infections. In females, it may show up as hormonal imbalances, vaginitis, pain, and infertility.
Because the intestines are a major detox system for the body, something like acne is a signal that the skin is unable to breathe and eliminate toxins from the liver, kidneys, and intestines. Continued outbreaks suggest a problem with fat absorption or a fat accumulation. In any detox process, the liver is the major player and it works by dumping the undesirable toxins into the intestines. The intestines need to be able to handle this elimination. If antibiotics are used to treat acne, they will create resistant bacterial survivors that aggressively monopolize the space on the intestinal wall, blocking out the healthy bacteria needed to process nutrients from food to the blood which subsequently cleanses the skin. Probiotics and skin products that contain flora clean up both areas, skin and intestines.
When the intestinal wall is inflamed and lacking in flora, the digestive process is not able to break macro-nutrients from food into the smaller particles called micro-nutrients. The nutritional benefits diminish and partially digested food especially proteins, bacteria, and toxins enter the blood stream from the intestines. Once there, the immune system recognizes the proteins as “foreigners” in the body. The antibodies put out by the immune system combine with the “foreign” proteins to form circulating immune complexes. If the antibodies cannot distinguish between normal body components and circulating immune complexes, they may attack the body components. This reaction gives rise to food allergies or sensitivities and also to the autoimmune phenomenon. The loss of good intestinal flora and the development of intestinal inflammations also lead to arthritis, chemical sensitivity, lupus, and even cancer. This situation is known as “leaky gut syndrome”, a condition that puts an added burden on the liver, circulatory system, lymphatic system, and excretory organs such as the lungs and kidneys. "Foreign" chemicals in the body can alter cellular RNA and DNA, the blueprints for cellular manufacturing and if tampered with, abnormal cell reproduction can occur.
Bacterial and viral infections, as well as parasitic infections, can also be harmful to the digestive system. An abnormal growth of these organisms in the gut is known as dysbiosis. It occurs when there is an over-abundance of pathogenic organisms and under-abundance of normal flora. In either problem, leaky gut syndrome or dysbiosis, the mucosal wall must be repaired. Along with the best intestinal flora, adding essential fatty acids, the amino acid glutamine, and the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione are the best solutions.
There are several strategies for getting probiotics into the system. If using powders, mix all the strains together - L acidophilus super strain, B. bifidum super strain, and bulgaricus super strain together in about a glass of filtered, unchilled water. This can be used before meals. You can mix the powders into plain, live-cultured yogurt. Microflora comes in capsules as well for easy use.
In addition to probiotic supplements, there is a new weapon against intestinal problems called soil-based organisms (SBO’s). SBO’s are tiny microbes that live in the soil, producing and releasing powerful enzymes that sterilize the soil. They kill off huge volumes of yeast, mold, fungi, and other organisms that can harm plants. They go further beyond just protection in that they release nutrients to help plants grow and mature. When you or your pet eat fresh vegetables and fruit, you ingest many forms of SBO’s as well. And these organisms form colonies that attach themselves to the intestinal wall and cover the length of the entire tract. There they dislodge and flush out accumulated putrefaction and associated pathogens. They break down food allowing for fuller absorption and greater over-all nutritional benefits.
Researchers Peter Rothschild and William C. Bryce showed that soil-based organisms stimulate the body’s own production of sixteen of the possible twenty subspecies of alpha-interferons. Alpha-interferons are proteins that have multiple immune modulating effects: different sub-species protect cells against different viruses, and unlike synthetic varieties of alpha-interferon these natural agents are pure, non-toxic, and easily assimilated for use by the immune system.
When soil based organisms mass in the GI tract, the body reacts to them as it would to an antigen or foreign substance; it immediately begins producing high volumes of white blood cells called lymphocytes along with antibodies. These antibodies are non-specific and their benefit is they can be held in reserve until an actual pathogen invades or an infection begins, at which point they spring to the body’s defense, reducing the burden on the body’s total immunity. The organisms also produce superoxide dismutase (SOD) a powerful enzyme and a major cellular microbe scavenger. SBO’s are vastly underappreciated but can be a potent weapon in restoring and preserving intestinal health. The best source of soil-based organisms come from high quality, organically grown vegetables and fruits.
After 100 years of research, the consumer has more than enough evidence of the value of probiotics. They provide a huge amount of health in the simplest, cheapest way. What’s stopping you from rushing out right now and buying these wonderful products?
For supplies and further information consult Marie Cargill.