Probiotics improve gut flora

The human intestines are up to 7 metres long and populated by huge numbers of microorganisms both bacteria and fungi called the ‘bowel flora’. Our health can be greatly affected by the composition of this population.

Today I see a lot of people with very poor bowel conditions and this could be due to a history of heavy antibiotic use.  It is well known that most antibiotic drugs destroy the favourable Lactobacilli and the Bifidobacteria of the bowel, leaving an opportunity for other species to proliferate and replace them.  Deterioration of the flora can also occur from a poor diet, use of steroids including the contraceptive pill and excess alcohol and tobacco use.  These adverse bowel conditions are termed ‘dysbiosis’.  To avoid ‘dysbiosis’ we need to aim for a bowel flora comprising about 80% of the ‘good bacteria’ and only 20% of the ‘bad bacteria’.  Most of us probably have a gut flora composition in reverse so far more bad bacteria than good.

In the early twentieth Century, Eli Metchnikoff observed that Bulgarian peasants who consumed large quantities of fermented milk exhibited good health and lived longer. So there was a tradition concerning a relationship between good health and consuming live yoghurt.  Eventually this was replaced by scientific research that showed that it was primarily through the multiplication of Lactobacilli in the milk that benefits to health were obtained.  Now we also know that Bifidobacteria is a similarly beneficial organism.

However, for some if they are have an intolerance to dairy then other fermented products such as live sauerkraut or kombucha (fermented black or green tea) may be preferable or using a high quality probiotic which can be purchased through me.