The Role of Probiotics in the Immune System By Jana Jennings
For any nutrition to make a difference in our immune system, and thus our health, it must be received in an environment conducive to absorption. Probiotics help contribute to a healthy intestinal environment. For Beginning Nutritional Students of All Ages.
Introduction A large portion of our immune system is in our digestive system.
Doctors’ opinions of the amount of our immune system residing in our digestive tract range from 40 – 80%. At any opinion, it is worth giving attention to the military based in our gut.
Probiotic Functions Dr. Joseph Mercola suggests six vital functions of probiotics in the digestive tract. Your friendly bacteria help to… • Digest and promote absorption of some undigested starches, fiber, and sugars. • Produce K and B vitamins and promote mineral absorption. • Metabolize and break down toxins.
Probiotic Functions • Keep bad bacteria under control. Probiotics also act as anti-inflammatories for bacteria-induced types of inflammation. • Prevent allergies. • Provide vital support to your immune system.
Gut Bacterial Ratio Optimally, these nice guys should outnumber the bad guys by 85 to 15 percent.
Gut Bacterial Ratio Many health issues can be resolved by restoring the optimal ratio between the good and the bad bacteria, helping us to heal from malnourishment and toxicity.
Dietary Choices For those exceptional people who make perfect dietary choices, probiotic supplementation is very seldom needed. But some circumstances may warrant supplementation for optimal recovery, such as overconsumption of sugar and taking antibiotics.
Antibiotics Broad spectrum antibiotics not only kill bad bacteria, but also kill your good bacteria, and can create “superbugs” when the course of treatment isn’t completed as directed.
Bad Bacteria Bad bacteria thrive on sugar and starch carbohydrates, but starve in the absence of carbohydrates.
Probiotic Strains There are many different strains of probiotics and each target different bacteria in their anti-inflammatory functions. Strains continued on next page
Probiotic Strains For example, one study found that Lactobacillus and Propionibacterium groups were more effective anti-inflammatories in the inflammatory marker, CRP, which contributes to cardiovascular problems. Return to probiotic functions
Shopping for Probiotic Supplements In addition to looking for various probiotic strains in your probioticsupplements, also look for those that… • need no refrigeration, • have a long shelf life, • can survive stomach acid in order to pass into small intestine, and • will reside long enough to colonize. • In addition to looking for various probiotic strains in your probiotic supplement, also look for those that… • need no refrigeration, • have a long shelf life, • can survive stomach acid in order to pass into small intestine, and • will reside long enough to colonize.
What did we do before supplements? For centuries and millennia past, we fermented foods. Only homemade and unpasteurized, lacto-fermented foods made from raw ingredients, actually offer the best probiotic treatment.
Kefir Kefir is loaded with beneficial enzymes and bacteria, especially if made with raw milk. It is rich and creamy, and very easy to make. It is almost lactose free as well.
Sauerkraut This batch of sauerkraut has been fermented with caraway seeds. Sauerkraut is another lacto-fermented food that has been providing superb nutrition for many centuries. It is eaten as a condiment at most meals for some people around the world.
Captain Cook The sauerkraut had preserved sufficient quantities of vitamin C to protect the entire crew from scurvy. (Nourishing Traditions) For his second round-the-world voyage, Captain Cook loaded 60 barrels of sauerkraut onto his ship.
Nourishing Traditions An excellent resource packed with recipes for excellent nutrition and tons of nutritional information and history is Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon Return to Captain Cook
Conclusion Making dietary changes that optimize the good to bad bacteria ratio is a must in order to achieve the goals intended with the remainder of our good nutritional choices. If the intestinal walls and its environment are not healthy, nutrients cannot be adequately absorbed.