How Probiotics Fight Disease
Probiotics, the good bacteria present in yogurt cultures, are known to aid digestion. But scientists have discovered that these valuable bacteria do more than just support intestinal health . They now know probiotics offer a whole range of health benefits.
The passage of time, antibiotics, and poor eating all disrupt the delicate balance of gut bacteria, which can lead to the development of such chronic conditions as diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disorders, metabolic syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). So while we think of probiotics primarily as providing protection against intestinal diseases like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and colon cancer, scientists now know they play a vital role in fighting the degenerative disease that can accompany aging.
Supplementing with the correct mix of probiotic bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species can protect against many of the factors that lead to chronic disease. Probiotics are a way to reinforce and in some cases, restore your natural intestine-based defenses against an array of non-intestinal diseases.
Here are some of the many health conditions that can be positively affected by the use of probiotics:
Intestinal health – As noted above, probiotics can help with a number of intestinal disorders. They have been shown to improve both diarrhea and constipation, providing better quality of life to people who suffer from IBS and ulcerative colitis.
Diabetes and metabolic syndrome – Probiotics have proven to improve insulin resistance and support significant reduction in blood sugar concentrations.
Obesity – Studies show a relationship between overuse of antibiotics (which destroy bacteria) and obesity. Supplementation with probiotics show a reduction in body weight and the accumulation of fat. When pregnant women took probiotics from at least one month prior to birth and for six months afterwards, weight gain was reduced in both mothers and children.
Cardiovascular disease – Probiotics have been shown to decrease total and LDL cholesterol, and increase HDL cholesterol. They also reduce the absorption of cholesterol and inflammation in fat stores. These changes help decrease formation of the inflammatory plaques present in early atherosclerosis.
Cancer – Probiotics are known to reduce the risk of cancer, especially colon cancer. Research shows supplementing with Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium longum decreases dangerous DNA damage.
Respiratory infections – Probiotics suppress respiratory infections like colds and the flu, especially if you take them prior to the cold and flu season. This can be especially helpful to small children, older people, and anyone dealing with a compromised immune system.