Probiotics

Did you think you were entirely human?

Well you are not. None of us are, and thank goodness. (Yes I have been delving into one of my favorite subjects again, the GI flora. ) We know that our bacterial flora are very important because they are a part of our immune system and they can synthesize certain vitamins for us, but their integral symbiotic relationship and usefulness is still being learned.

There are helpful bacteria in all parts of the intestines, but the highest concentration is in the large intestine. We have up to 500 species of bacteria in us, and their total cell numbers are more than our total human cell numbers. Any inflammatory conditions of the GI affect our microflora. Conditions such as IBS, Celiac, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis.

And why is that a problem? Because disruptions in our bacterial counterparts lead to problems that seem far removed from the GI. Problems such as joint pain, eye issues, ankylosing spondylosis. (Current Rheumatology Reports, March 2013). Yes, lactic acid producing probiotics demonstrate immune regulating and anti-inflammatory effects.
How anti-inflammatory? Here’s a useful example: mothers who take probiotics during pregnancy and lactation have babies with less risk of eczema. (Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2012).
In other examples, people with many varied health issues, including RA, can often improve with probiotic use.

A loss of probiotic flora with inflammation can lead to the varied problems listed above, but often starts with what is now termed leaky gut. Needless to say it is very important for our health to prevent this. Leaky gut, or intestinal permeability, is often the initiator for problems like allergies, asthma, even autism. Some factors that promote leaky gut are gliaden (gluten), also stress, infections, medications like anti biotics. even heavy long term exercise without adequate nutritional support.

There are some fundamental nutrients to consider in reducing intestinal permeability. The first and foremost is the amino acid glutamine. This amino acid supports GI lining repair, is the main fuel used by GI cells for energy, and when deficient, is shown to increase leaky gut. Zinc also helps stop leaky gut, and it is needed to make many enzymes used in the GI system. Next is vitamin A, which is needed for epithelial (cells that line surfaces) repair.
Some other considerations are not using stomach acid blockers for any significant period of time, and controlling stress.