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Did you know our stomach and intestines are the largest component of our immune system? It represents approximately 70% of our entire immune system. Your gut contains both good and bad bacteria. Ideally, the balance of gut flora should be approximately 85 percent good bacteria and 15 percent bad bacteria. The good news is that our gastrointestinal system is relatively stable throughout adulthood for the majority of us. Unfortunately over time many factors can affect your gastrointestinal system. Factors include aging, overuse of antibiotics, nutrition, disease and even cellular stress. Those considered high risk for battling digestive issues are the very young and the elderly population. Research has shown that probiotics can help prevent and even treat some conditions of the gut and help provide a higher quality of life.
Probiotics are the “good bacteria” found in many foods and supplements and can help provide a healthier gut. Although the body already contains good bacteria in your immune system, there are many factors that can affect the amount of good bacteria that you have. Bad bacteria is also present in your gut. Bad bacteria causes inflammation and interferes with the homeostasis of your gut.
Probiotics work by adding good bacteria in your gut. Probiotics can help increase good bacteria that helps fight inflammation in the gut. Inflammation increases the risk for gut related illnesses such stomach ulcers, Crohn’s and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, colitis and other gastrointestinal disorders and even some cancers. Probiotics can also help to regulate your enzymes, hormones, digestion, mood, and even your quality of sleep! Most health experts agree that the gut is the first place to focus on if you want to optimize your health.
Probiotics have been shown to be effective against side effects caused by the use of antibiotics. How? Antibiotics destroy all bacteria-the bad and the good. This disrupts the gut flora balance causing symptoms such as diarrhea and yeast infections. Probiotics help introduce the good bacteria into your gut and restores balance. Certain probiotics have even helped with treating the bacterial infection C.diff when used in conjunction with antibiotics.
Why are probiotics beneficial to the elderly?
As the body ages, our immune system is less efficient. The intestinal motility and digestion slows down. Some common ailments among the elderly are digestive issues such as difficulty with their bowels (constipation and diarrhea), decrease appetite, bloating, indigestion and other abdominal discomforts. Probiotics can increase good bacteria into the gut and can therefore help fight many of the discomforts associated with the gut.
Ask your health care provider about probiotics if you or your loved one are suffering from digestive issues. Also, to ensure best quality, make sure the manufacturer is cGMP certified as this means they’re using General Manufacturing Practices, the highest quality standards in the industry. Most cGMP products proudly display this certification on their label and/or website.