Thursday, February 14, 2008

Are probiotics important to keep you healthy?

Some researchers believe so. Probiotics have been defined as "live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host."
Microorganisms are all around us and our bodies are loaded with both good and bad bacteria. What we call “good” bacteria seems to be absolutely necessary to our immune system and its fight against microorganisms that cause disease. They are also a vital part of our digestion and absorption of food and nutrients. Research has shown that our digestive track has cells that have been linked to our immune system and because of this research some theorize that if you introduce probiotics to the intestinal tract, you may be able to increase the immune systems defenses.

The National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine co-funded a conference on the subject of probiotics and according to the conference report, there is evidence supporting the use of probiotics for the following:

1. To treat diarrhea (this is the strongest area of evidence, especially for diarrhea from rotavirus)
2. To prevent and treat infections of the urinary tract or female genital tract
3. To treat irritable bowel syndrome
4. To reduce recurrence of bladder cancer
5. To shorten how long an intestinal infection lasts that is caused by a bacterium called Clostridium difficile
6. To prevent and treat pouchitis (a condition that can follow surgery to remove the colon)
7. To prevent and manage atopic dermatitis (eczema) in children

On a personal note, I had a horrible sinus infection that was very painful and got rid of it without antibiotics in a week and a half, by using probiotics and pre-biotics, the food that the good bacteria eats, thus promoting the natural formation of good bacteria (FOS-fructoligosaccharides and inulin-found in Kefir (Lifeway organic lowfat kefir is my favorite) and Stonyfield Farms low fat yogurt has inulin). I also included powdered vitamin C in my 1/4 cup pomegranate juice (not from concentrate) mixed with water. Many of my patients who have sinus infections get on antibiotics prescribed from their doctor and express complaints about how they can't tolerate lactose anymore and sometimes have various intolerances to wheat and gluten. Antibiotics deplete the natural friendly bacteria present in your GI (gastrointestinal) tract. We need friendly bacteria to help reduce inflammation in our body, keep our immunity up, and have optimal nutrient absorption from food. Of course, if you need to take antibiotics, please do, but make sure you take a probiotic while you're on them, to help sustain your natural microflora. The best one out there that I have discovered is by Metagenics: Proboulardi -to order go to, click on the link to sign up and purchase. Proboulardi can be taken while on antibiotics and it prevents diarrhea. The two probiotics that I recommend on a daily basis is either Proboulardi (if you have diarrhea) and Ultra Flora Plus (for overall general health-can also be purchased on the products page of, metaehealth link). Just take one capsule a day and keep probiotics refrigerated. Please consult with your MD and a Registered Dietitian to assure you are making the optimal choice for you.

Optimal health to you!
Your Livitician, Deborah A. Klein, MS, RD

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