The human digestive system is home to over 1000 different species of bacteria. Each of us acts as host to over 200 species in our own diverse collection of long-term resident microorganisms, called the gut microbiota. This biodiversity is due to a combination of nature and nurture. We host microorganisms ranging from good, to bad, to downright ugly. These bacteria can assist in the absorption of nutrients from food, promote strong immune responses, and lead to intestinal health benefits, as long as they stay in a healthy balance. Some of these are friendly, while others are not. The critical balance can be disturbed by changes in environment including stress, travel, diet, illness, and (commonly) by taking antibiotics which can kill both friendly and unfriendly bacteria. Probiotics are live microorganisms (bacteria or yeast) that can help maintain the protective barrier function of the intestines. They can help restore a healthy balance of our own bacteria so it can do its job in supporting our immune system through disruptive environmental changes.
Why is balance so important? From healthy-looking skin to proper hydration along with absorption of nutrients that the body needs, there are few aspects of our health that aren’t affected by our gut.1,2 In fact, most people are unaware that 70% of the immune system is located within our digestive system. Your grandmother was right after all when she said, “you are what you eat” and “if your gut is unhealthy, it shows everywhere!”. The typical American diet loaded with processed foods and sugar, can result in a disruption of the healthy balance of intestinal bacteria. An imbalance of intestinal bacteria is often at the root of many health concerns. Our genetics set the stage, but differences in environment are key, especially our diet. Our own microbiota is as unique as a fingerprint, even genetically identical twins have different microbiota. Despite this diversity, our gut microbiota play a truly similar and starring role in every healthy individual. If the bad bacteria takes over this balance, it can lead to trouble with everything from intestinal distress to bad moods.2 Probiotics are live microorganisms that benefit health by promoting the balance of natural intestinal flora. When the balance of friendly bacteria is upset, probiotics can help keep bad bacteria in check by stimulating increased production of healthy infection-fighting antibodies.3 Optimize your immune system with a daily probiotic and consider it the daily vitamin for your gut!
The question is with all those options in the probiotic aisle, which probiotic is the right one for you? As you might suspect from the huge variation in price, as usual, you get what you pay for. All probiotics are not created equal. There are two major differences between probiotics. Although they are all live friendly microorganisms, they can be either friendly yeast or friendly bacteria. One of those boxes on the shelf may contain Saccharomyces boulardii, a friendly yeast found naturally on the skin of lychees and mangosteens (tropical fruits). Oral antibiotics can destroy bacterial probiotics and the acids in the stomach can disable a probiotic before it can do you any good. The heartier friendly yeast cell naturally survives the “gauntlet of the gut” to go to work helping those microscopic friends in our lower GI tract. Unlike yogurt and many bacterial probiotics, antibiotics do not destroy a yeast. So even when your doctor prescribes antibiotics, you can take a yeast–based probiotic daily to help maintain the critical balance of healthy bacteria. The friendly yeast, comes to us from nature, yet it can be freeze-dried and packaged utilizing the highest quality standards. The friendly yeast probiotic is perfect for travel and active lifestyles. Look for a lyophilized (freeze-dried) yeast probiotic with a long shelf life. No refrigeration is required, so you can toss it in your bag and take it with you wherever you go. You can easily find one brand, Florastor, at your local pharmacy. Florastor is a natural yeast probiotic supplement to optimize digestive and immune health. It’s appropriate for adults and children as young as two months of age. Taking the right probiotic can deliver whole-body benefits. What are you waiting for? Go do something big for your health, by helping the smallest of your body’s friends.
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1 Swidsinski A, Loening-BauckeV, Verstraelen H, Osowska S, Doerffel Y (2008) Biostructure of fecal microbiota in healthy subjects and patients with chronic idiopathic diarrhea. Gastroenterology: 135 (2): 568-579.
2 Martins FS, Silva AA, Vieira AT, Barbosa FH, Arantes RM, ET al. (2009) Comparative study of Bifidobacterium animalis, Escherichia coli, Lactobacillus casei and Saccharomyces boulardii probiotic properties. Arch Microbiol191: 623-630
3 Buts JP, Bernasconi P, Van Craynest MP, Maldague P, De Meyer R (1986) Response of human and rat small intestinal mucosa to oral administration of Saccharomyces boulardii. Pediatr RES 20: 192-196