What are probiotics?

Whether we’re still in our mother’s womb, a child or a grown adult, consuming probiotics provides countless benefits.

The World Health Organization defines them as follows: “A probiotic is a living micro-organism that, when ingested in sufficient quantities, provides beneficial effects on the health of its consumer”. In other words, probiotics, meaning “for life”, are the good bacteria that are beneficial to our body, specifically for our digestive and immune systems. Probiotics have a positive effect on our body and constantly interact with our intestinal flora, also called the intestinal microbiota.

What is intestinal flora?

In order to understand the benefits of consuming probiotics daily, we must first understand the importance of the intestinal flora, which represents all bacteria, both good and bad, naturally found in our intestinal tract. Together, these bacteria form a complex ecosystem that plays a major role in maintaining our health.

ACQUIRING BACTERIA1


First contact – Birth

In the mother’s womb, a baby’s intestines are deemed “sterile” and only upon birth are they populated with their first batch of bacteria. In fact, bacteria are the first organisms we come in contact with when we’re born, even before taking our first breath of air!

Studies have shown that the way a child is born has an impact on its intestinal flora.


Natural birth: Bacteria from the mother’s vaginal and intestinal flora are transferred to her child. As a result, the first bacteria to populate its intestinal tract are lactobacilli and bifidobacteria.

Caesarean section: Bacteria from the birthing environment, including air, medical staff and the mother’s skin flora, are transmitted to the child. As a result, flora integration differs from babies born naturally, and includes enterobacteria, staphylococcus and enterococcus.

Interesting fact :

Babies born through Caesarean section are more susceptible to immune deficiencies.

The length of the pregnancy, the labour process, the environment in which the baby grows, its diet and the medication it takes, especially probiotics, will greatly affect its intestinal flora’s composition. Bacteria populations will increase and diversify; by age 2, it is said that a child’s intestinal flora corresponds to that of an adult.

Intestinal flora is an organ in its own right and plays a key role in our life and our bodily functions. That’s why we must take care of it.

MATURE INTESTINAL FLORA2, 3


  • Contains 100,000 billion bacteria (good and bad), 10 times more than the total number of cells in our body.
  • Contains over 3 million microbial genes (microbial DNA), 150 times more than human genes.
  • Over 1,000 species of bacteria have been catalogued from intestinal flora, but only 150 to 170 predominate in a given individual. There are many possible combinations and some say we could be identified as much by our bacteria as by our DNA.
  • The entire intestinal flora can weigh up to 2 kg! It takes up such an important part of our body that it is often considered to be a distinct organ. As said flora is comprised of microscopic bacteria, one can only imagine how many are needed to reach that weight!
  • Basically, we’re walking microbes!

(As said flora is comprised of microscopic bacteria, one can only imagine how many are needed to reach that weight!)

INTESTINAL FLORA is our second brain!

Intestinal flora fulfills multiple functions, and its bacteria are in constant communication with our body’s cells; to the point that our intestinal flora is said to be our second brain! The bacteria produce molecules that send signals to our intestinal cells; for example: we’re missing this or you should produce more of this. This is referred to as cross-talk, a sort of dialog between intestinal flora and the body’s cells. Bacteria can also be identified by our immune system and, based on the signal received, bacteria are then directed to where they would be the most effective. Bacteria are involved at all levels, which is why they are so important to us.

Bacteria play three important roles4, 5, 6:

  • They are our digestive tract’s soldiers, preventing foreign substances (pathogens, toxins, allergens) from coming through, thereby lowering infection and illness risks
  • They help digest food by processing it and producing new molecules (vitamins, enzymes, fatty acids, etc.);
  • They help develop the immune system and intestinal lining, ensuring better protection.

Interesting fact :

Nutritionists promote a varied diet as a way to stay healthy. As each type of food is “supported” by its own bacteria, the more varied our diet is, the more protected we’ll be by our intestinal flora 9.


What happens when our
intestinal flora is unbalanced?

When intestinal flora is unbalanced, the so-called “bad” bacteria take over, which can lead to illness, infections, digestive issues, fatigue, depression, etc.

Factors affecting
the intestinal flora

Every day, our intestinal flora is disrupted by our diet, stress, medications (especially antibiotics) and lifestyle. Sometimes, this is for the better, but other times for the worse, and this is when problems happen7, 8.


Interesting fact :

70% of the immune system’s cells are found in the intestinal tract, so it goes without saying that your immune system can be thrown out of whack when your intestinal flora is unbalanced, like during a round of antibiotics10!


As our intestinal flora can have repercussions on our health, it is important to keep it diversified and balanced.


This is where probiotics come in!

How do probiotics affect
intestinal flora?

In competing with bad bacteria (pathogens), probiotics help boost the amount of good bacteria throughout the intestinal tract, thereby contributing to the maintenance of a balanced intestinal flora.

Through a modulation process, probiotics, beyond their own positive effects, help intestinal flora fulfill its physiological functions.

What are the benefits
of probiotics?

While probiotics contribute to healthy bowel movements, they also do so much more!

Interesting fact :

Studies on probiotics have shown that they have over a hundred positive effects12.

Indeed, an increasing amount of research on probiotics has shown a significant impact on 11:

  • inflammatory diseases (including allergies)
  • digestive illnesses (irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, etc.)
  • side effects from a course of antibiotics
  • various infections (for example due to Clostridium difficile or H. pylori)
  • diarrhea, infectious diarrhea (such as traveler’s diarrhea)
  • constipation
  • skin conditions (eczema, dermatitis, etc.)
  • Obesity, metabolic illnesses
  • cancer
  • and many more…

Why choose 

As shown in peer-reviewed clinical studies published in scientific journals, Bio-K+® is a 100% probiotic product with proven benefits and effectiveness on human health.

Besides helping to maintain a healthy intestinal flora, regulate intestinal functions and reinforce the immune system, Bio-K+® is also known for the following health claims:

  • 50 billion capsules: helps reduce the risk of diarrhea due to antibiotics.
  • C. difficile capsules: helps reduce the risk of diarrhea due to Clostridium difficile in hospitalized patients. This is the ONLY probiotic product in the WORLD to make such a claim!
  • Based on sound clinical studies published in the most prestigious medical journals, such as the American Journal of Gastroenterology, these claims confirm that Bio-K+® is a safe product with proven results.
  • The bacterial concentration in Bio-K+® products is guaranteed upon consumption, rather than on the manufacturing date, as is the case for many other probiotics on the market (it’s always useful to know the exact amount of probiotics we’re ingesting!).

The company guarantees that its product goes through the entire digestive tract

  • During the manufacturing process, the bacteria contained in Bio-K+® fresh products are not processed, meaning they are still alive and maintain their intrinsic ability to resist gastric acidity and bile salts. Moreover, the substrate (milk, soy or rice) provides both nourishments and additional protection.
  • Bio-K+® capsules ensure bacteria are protected and delivered efficiently. They each feature targeted release technology – an enteric coating that ensures the bacteria’s viability until they reach the intestines. As probiotic bacteria delivered in capsule form are made vulnerable by the freeze-drying process (used to convert them to powder form).The bacteria are greatly affected by the stomach’s acidity and bile salts. Therefore, using the enterosoluble technology was a clear choice for the company.

The unique patented formula created by Bio-K+® (L. acidophilus CL1285®, L. casei LBC80R® and L. rhamnosus CLR2®) has been thoroughly studied, and its three bacteria have been proven to be synergistic (lack of competition between them) and therefore, work more effectively together.

Bio-K+® was created by a Québec-based company whose core priority is quality control. Moreover, standardized manufacturing processes that comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s good manufacturing practices. It ensures strict quality control to enable the company to provide consumers with a high-quality product at all times.


Interesting fact :

A study of 17 probiotic products in capsule form has shown that products WITHOUT any enteric coating did not survive their passage through the stomach13.


References :

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Metagenomics of the intestinal microbiota: potential applications. Gastroenterol Clin Biol. 1:S23-S28.
Rastall et al. 2005.
Modulation of the microbial ecology of the human colon by probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics to enhance human health: An overview of enabling science and potential applications. FEMS Microbiology Ecology. 52: 145-152.
2-Hogenauer et al. 1998.
Mechanisms and management of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Clinical infectious disease. 27:702–710.
3-Kolida et al. 2006.
Gastrointestinal Microflora: Probiotics. Adv Appl Microbiol. 59:187-219.
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Incomplete recovery and individualized responses of the human distal gut... PNAS. 108(suppl1) : 4554- 4561.
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In vitro evaluation of the microbiota modulation abilities of different sized whole oat... Anaerobe 16 : 483- 488.
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Le grand livre des probiotiques et prébiotiques. 2014. Quotidien Malin Éditions.
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Immune adaptation that maintain homeostasis with the intestinal microbiota. Nat rev Immunol. 10(3):159-169.
Rijkers GT, Bengmark S, Enck P, et al.
Guidance for substantiating the evidence for beneficial effects of probiotics: current status and recommendations for future research. J Nutr. 2010;140:671S-676S.
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http://probiotics.org.
Millette, M., et al. 2014.
Gastrointestinal survival of bacteria in commercial probiotic products. International Journal of Probiotics & Prebiotics, in press.