What are probiotics?
Probiotics are the friendliest types of bacteria which are found in the normal ‘microflora’, and there is increasing evidence that significant health benefits can frequently be observed if we increase their intake by supplementation.
Our Friendly Microflora… Billions of Little Helpers!
Although you can’t see them, we have hundreds of billions of bacteria called the ‘microflora’ living on our skin, in our mouth and nose and most notably, in our intestines.
“5% of our total energy comes from the breakdown of fibre by our microflora”
Astonishingly, the microflora in our intestines weighs about 1.5 kilos which is the same weight as our liver and numbers of bacteria total 10,000 times the number of people on the planet! These bacteria which take up residence from the day we are born, and remain with us all our lives, are friendly and very beneficial to our health.
How is the Microflora beneficial?
The microflora has a multitude of benefits – in fact we couldn’t survive without it.
The main benefits of the microflora are:
- It helps us to digest food – especially certain types of fibre, providing us with about 5% of our total energy needs as well as being essential in helping us absorb the beneficial antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables.
- It acts as a barrier to infection – particularly in the intestine and genito-urinary tract, where it forms a carpet like layer and ‘blocks’ the entry of potentially harmful microorganisms. The reason certain types of infection such as diarrhoea, and ‘thrush’ are often associated with antibiotic use is because the antibiotics compromise this protective barrier allowing infection to occur.
- It helps drive the ‘correct’ development of the immune system in the newborn infant and then primes the immune system for the rest of our lives. Research increasingly suggests that this ‘priming’ helps protect against the development of allergies and possibly autoimmune disease.
- It helps us to digest food
- It acts as a barrier to infection
- It helps drive the ‘correct’ development of the immune system