Probiotics are beneficial organisms, most of which are normally found in the healthy human gastrointestinal tract. Many different strains of probiotic organisms are in use, which have different but overlapping benefits. Probiotic organisms work through several interrelated mechanisms to promote health at the molecular level. They conquer potentially dangerous organisms in the intestine, reducing the risk of infection or toxin-mediated diseases. They regulate immune responses which enhance healthy reactions to dangerous infectious organisms, and they suppress excessive inflammation. Additionally, probiotics promote the function of the intestinal inner lining, enhancing its ability to act as a barrier to the entry of potentially dangerous organisms and chemicals.
All of these actions depend on a system of biochemical signals between your intestinal bacteria and human cells that comprise the rest of your body.
When things go wrong in the balance of intestinal organisms, the consequences can be tremendous.3 Negative changes in the intestinal microbiome are firmly associated with chronic diseases that include inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and the metabolic syndrome. We now recognize that allergic disorders, asthma, and even obesity are also related to an unhealthy population of intestinal bacteria.
Due to modern diets and lifestyle, as well as environmental factors such as pollution and the irresponsible overuse of antibiotics, the beneficial bacteria in your microbiome is at risk which can lead to an increased incidence in metabolic and inflammatory chronic diseases. Even simple aging gradually shifts your intestinal bacterial population towards a disease-promoting, rather than a disease-preventing, state.
The good news is that probiotics can help restore balance and cellular communications with regard to the body’s healthy bacterial population. In the digestive tract, probiotic therapy has been used to prevent or treat lactose intolerance, intestinal infections and diarrhea, gastritis and ulcers caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, colitis caused by excessive antibiotic use, inflammatory bowel diseases, and irritable bowel syndrome. They are also proving instrumental in preventing colon cancer.
Probiotics Boost Immunity
In recent years the enormous importance of the gastrointestinal tract in modulating the immune system has been increasingly recognized. Not only does more than 70% of the human immune system reside in the gut, but the intestinal immune system produces more antibodies than the rest of the body put together.46 As a result, gastrointestinal secretions are as rich as breast milk in health-supporting and disease-preventing factors.
A poorly functioning immune system is at the root of many chronic degenerative diseases. Too little response makes us vulnerable to the infections that claim the lives of so many older adults. But inappropriate overactivation can produce chronic inflammation that contributes to the litany of age-related disorders such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and the metabolic syndrome.