Probiotics – When Do I Need Them?

vt-20.jpgProbiotics encourage the growth of the specific bacteria that may be causing some of the symptoms you accept as normal. Find out what probiotics do, how they can improve your quality of life and, maybe, help you live longer.

About 100 years ago, Nobel Prize winner Dr. Elias Metchnikoff wrote a book called Prolongation of Life in which he revealed the connection between ‘good’ bacteria, good health, and aging. In those days, and for several decades thereafter, the soil in which our food was grown contained everything our bodies needed to produce beneficial bacteria but, unfortunately, that is no longer the case: Years of pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals have compromised our soil so thoroughly that problems relating to inadequate good bacteria are among the most common reasons people visit their doctor. However, supplementing your diet with probiotics — elements that encourage the growth of good bacteria — may help eliminate a variety of physical problems and, as Dr. Metchnikoff said, may even help you live longer.

How does taking probiotics and producing good bacteria keep you healthy? Bacteria, protozoa, algae, fungi and other beneficial microorganisms in the body — thought to number in the hundreds of trillions — create an intestinal ecosystem that protects us against parasites, harmful bacteria, yeast, and viruses. Without this ecosystem intact, the body has no defense against disease. Although the disease-producing elements are always present, whether or not they get the upper hand depends on having enough good bacteria to keep them in check.

How do you know you have an imbalance of bad to good bacteria? Some of the most common symptoms are:

  • indigestion or an upset stomach
  • constipation or diarrhea
  • heartburn
  • low energy
  • muscle weakness
  • frequent colds or infections
  • food allergies
  • lactose intolerance

In fact, many of these symptoms are so common they are considered somewhat normal. But nothing could be further from the truth: They are serious warning signs that your body is being killed off by the elements that cause disease and, sometimes, an early death.

How can you fix the problem? You can start with a good diet — low in sugar and ‘bad’ fats, alcohol and junk food — but, frankly, there’s going to be some deterioration with age regardless of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Bodies wear out, plain and simple. But they don’t have to wear out quite as fast as we may think, and we don’t have to live the last decade or two of our lives in severe discomfort.

If you have any of the above symptoms, you would be wise to give probiotics a try. In fact, even if you’re symptom free, taking probiotics may help keep you that way.

Although Dr. Metchnikoff’s pronouncements were initially met with some skepticism a hundred years ago, it is now widely acknowledged that good health begins in the gut. Check out probiotics and see what they can do for you.

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