Digestive health plays a huge role in the functioning of the human body. After all, we get many of our nutrients from food sources and without our digestive system we wouldn't be able to process these foods properly. Everyone needs these vital nutrients for energy, growth, cell repair and other activities so it’s pretty crucial to make sure you’re getting the right amount into your body.
Your gastrointestinal tract does most of the hard work in digesting all of the food or liquid you consume each day. Most of the time it will function as it should, without the need for any extra attention or care on your part. Sometimes, however, it can require a little extra help to get things started again.
That’s where probiotics can come in handy for keeping the intestines healthy and assisting the digestive system to function at its best.
What are probiotics, and how do they work?
Probiotics are specific types of organisms or bacteria that are thought to improve aspects of human health. It might sound strange putting more bacteria into your system, but the truth is there are actually many different types of organisms already living in various parts of the body.
The digestive system alone hosts over 500 different types of bacteria which are involved in keeping everything running smoothly. Most of these cause no harm to health and some can even promote better health and wellbeing, such as probiotics.
When your digestive system is unbalanced or not functioning as it should be, you might experience stomachaches, constipation, acid reflux, diarrhoea or more serious symptoms. Probiotics can help keep your digestive health in the best condition by working to rebalance the ratio of ‘good’ to ‘bad’ bacteria in your gut.
They work by interfering with the activity of pathogens (disease-causing organisms in the body) and may even strengthen the inner walls of the intestine by encouraging the production of infection-fighting antibodies and antibacterial substances.
However, effectiveness tends to vary between different strains of probiotics, so it’s important to know your way around the most beneficial types. There are several key criteria to keep in mind when choosing a probiotic. To be truly beneficial, it should be stomach acid and bile resistant, of human origin and able to stop the growth of ‘bad’ bacteria. It should also be able to grow in the human digestive system and adhere to the intestinal wall.
The difference between probiotic strains
The Lactobacillus species of probiotics is one of the most widely used for treating and preventing digestive health conditions. Within this species there are several strains that have been linked to specific benefits for the human body.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus has been proven to aid in supporting the immunity of the intestines, by stimulating the production of cells that produce antibodies. Research has also shown this strain helps to inhibit harmful bacteria such as E.coli and Salmonella spp. L. rhamnosus is also thought to adhere particularly well to the intestinal walls.
Lactobacillus acidophilus is also good at sticking to intestinal cells and is the most commonly used strain for treating health complaints. L. acidophilus is responsible for creating several substances that make the surrounding environment unsuitable for ‘bad’ bacteria. It can also help to replace the numbers of beneficial bacteria living in the intestine.
Another beneficial probiotic strain is Lactobacillus plantarum. L. plantarum is able to thrive in the human gut and may help in preventing pathogenic bacteria from taking up residence in the intestines. A study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found it was also effective in alleviating the symptoms of abdominal pain and bloating in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.
If you would like to boost your intake of this healthy bacteria, it can typically be found in supplement form or fermented foods and drinks such as miso soup, live-cultured yoghurt, the German delicacy sauerkraut, and others. It’s generally safe to take for adults and children, but you should speak to your healthcare professional if you have any concerns.
Inner Health Plus is one of the strongest medical strength probiotics available in Australasia. With 25 billion good bacteria in every capsule, Inner Health Plus provides your digestive system with enough good bacteria to keep it healthy. Buy it now from our secure online shop.
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