Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms, including certain strains of bacteria and yeasts, that reside in our gastrointestinal (GI) tracts and have been studied for their health benefits. We consume “friendly” or “good” microorganisms in fermented foods, such as yogurt, miso, tempeh, and sauerkraut, to help us maintain a healthy probiotic population or “microflora.” Probiotics can be replenished via food and supplements.
Probiotics support the health of their host—us—in several ways. One of the most important is to promote a normal balance of microbes, or microflora, in the GI tract. A healthy GI microflora can contribute to the function of the gastrointestinal tract; support the immune system of the host; and promote digestion, absorption, and GI health. Some strains of beneficial microorganisms have even been found to produce vitamins and digestive enzymes in the GI tract.*
Probiotics are not the same as prebiotics. Probiotics are the beneficial microorganisms themselves. Prebiotics are typically carbohydrates, such as lactulose, fructooligosaccharides, arabinogalactan, and inulin that stimulate the growth and activity of probiotic organisms. Prebiotics themselves are found to have immune-supportive effects.*
Individuals who don’t regularly ingest probiotic organisms through their diet and would like to maintain a healthy GI
flora may benefit from probiotic supplementation. Research published in the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners suggests that probiotics contribute to the health and function of the gastrointestinal tract in a variety of settings.*
Maintaining the natural balance of microflora can support normal bowel function and the immune function of
the gastrointestinal tract itself, where the majority of our immune tissue is found.
Current studies indicate that probiotics can be effective in maintaining an array of normal GI functions that contribute to overall health. Positive scientific evidence likewise suggests that probiotics may support the health of the liver and pancreas, as well as dental and immune health.*
There are over 400 types of “good” microbes in a healthy human’s GI tract, including those of the family Lactobacillaceae, strains of Bifidobacterium, and even a friendly yeast called Sacccharomyces boulardii (S boulardii). The total population of GI tract microbes has been estimated at a staggering 100,000 billion! The most prevalent group is lactic acid bacteria, starring the well-known species Lactobacillus acidophilus found in yogurt, cultured milk products, and nutrition supplements.
Several microbial strains have been studied for their role in human health, with ongoing research indicating that different strains have specific roles and benefits. Certain strains have immunologic benefits such as activation of our immune cells, promotion of antibody production, and support of normal immune responses. Other strains directly compete with unfriendly microorganisms, assist in the digestion of food, and help protect us against free radicals and toxins. The probiotic yeast S boulardii has been found to be particularly effective in supporting gastrointestinal health and normal cytokine balance when the host is challenged by unfriendly microorganisms.
This advantageous result is due, in part, to the degradation of bacterial toxins by a protease enzyme produced by S boulardii. Health-promoting S boulardii also helps support a healthy gastrointestinal tract by assisting in the normal control of unfriendly yeast.*
Whole Health Nutrition carefully reviews current research studies when choosing strains for its probiotic formulations and provides probiotic strains that do not contribute to the potential antibiotic resistance of unfriendly microorganisms.*
Whole Health Nutrition offers the following probiotic formulas and their specific strains:
- ProbioMax Plus DF™ provides HOWARU® Bifido (Bifidobacterium lactis HN019), Lactobacillus acidophilus La-14, Lactobacillus plantarum Lp-115, Bifidobacterium longum B1-05, Saccharomyces boulardii, and the prebiotic fiber arabinogalactan.
- ProbioMax Daily DF™ and ProbioMax DF™ provide HOWARU® Bifido, Lactobacillus acidophilus
La-14, Lactobacillus plantarum Lp-115, and Bifidobacterium longum B1-05.
- Probio Defense™ provides Lactobacillus helveticus Rosell-52, Lactobacillus rhamnosus Rosell-11, and
- Saccharomycin DF™ provides the probiotic yeast Saccharomyces boulardii.
Daily use of probiotics for GI health and overall immune function is commonly recommended by functional medicine experts. Beneficial microbes usually survive for a few days in the GI tract and then are replaced by new ones. Daily intake through food and supplements provide ongoing support for the health and function of the gastrointestinal tract.
When specific probiotics are being used for a particular purpose, consult your healthcare practitioner for intervention and guidance. Refer to each product’s label instructions for directions, storage, and cautions.
Individuals taking antifungal or other medication should discuss potential interactions with their healthcare practitioner.*
Supplemental probiotics should not be given to children who are immunosuppressed, who have short-bowel syndrome, or who have bloody diarrhea unless they are closely monitored by their healthcare practitioner. Risk factors for adults include the presence of a central venous catheter and disorders associated with increased bacterialtranslocation or immunosuppression. Though no side effects from taking probiotics have been reported in pregnant women, consulting with a healthcare practitioner is recommended.*