What are probiotics?
According to the World Health Organization, probiotics are “live micro-organisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host1. Probiotics help intestinal bacteria perform their tasks more efficiently. They take over when your intestinal bacteria have too much work, or are weakened, or even destroyed by antibiotics, stress, poor nutrition or any other factor.
No two probiotic formulas produce the same results. The benefits observed clinically among probiotics vary according to strain, and the manner in which those bacteria are prepared and preserved. Time and again, surveys of Canadian doctors acknowledge Bio-K+® as the probiotic they most often recommend2.
How do we benefit from probiotics?
There are as many as 100 trillion bacteria belonging to more than 400 species in the intestinal flora. The beneficial bacterial strains aid digestion through the production of enzymes, stimulate the immune system, produce antimicrobial substances, and compete against invading micro-organisms3. Probiotics help fortify the population of beneficial bacteria in the intestine, which promotes a proportionately healthy balance in the microflora, allowing it to assume its functions in the digestive and immune systems.
The intestinal flora represents a first line of defence against microbes and other infectious germs. The bacteria of the flora temporarily adhere to the intestinal wall and reinforce this physical barrier to pathogens and blocking them from adhering while also competing directly with them for the nutrients found there. Lactic acid bacteria produce organic acids that contribute to a low intestinal pH level, bacteriocins, and hydrogen peroxide, all of which actively discourage the propagation, growth, and survival of pathogens4.
1. Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Evaluation of Health and Nutritional Properties of Probiotics in Food Including Powder Milk with Live Lactic Acid Bacteria, October 2001.
2. Medical Post. May 2010
3. Luquet FM. and Corrieu G. Bactéries lactiques et probiotiques. Édition Tec et Doc, 2005. 307 pages.
4. Penna FJ et al. Up to date clinical and experimental basis for the use of probiotics. J Pediatr. 2000:76 (suppl): 209-217.