By Dr. Dana Myatt
It’s a "big news day" when holistic and conventional medicine agree on something.
Nurse Mark and I attend a LOT of continuing medical education conferences so we can stay on the leading edge of health and medicine. Two recent conferences — one, a naturopathic conference on Infectious Diseases and the other a conventional medical conference on Managed Care — surprisingly both gave the same message on what is probably the most important immune supplement known right now: Probiotics. It turns out that holistic and conventional medicine currently completely agree on a natural substance and its importance to health. Here’s the "short course."
Probiotics are the bacteria that inhabit the small and large intestine. Humans carry around three pounds of these organisms in the gut. When we’ve got "the good stuff" (lactobacillus and bifidobacterium species), these bacteria perform a number of important and health-maintaining functions for us including:
- preventing bad bacteria from colonizing the gut
- helping the body recognize "safe" versus "non safe" substances and directing the appropriate immune response
- protecting the GI barrier so that foreign substances are not absorbed
- assisting digestion
- immune modulation: helping keep the "right amount" of immunity — not too much, not too little
Having a large population of these good bacteria plays a huge role in normal immune function. If the gut has lots of good bacteria then we’ve got on our armor against many diseases and insults. This effect is so strong that medicine is looking at "vaccinating" against infectious disease simply by ensuring a healthy gut bacterial population.
Many factors can alter the population of good gut bacteria, decreasing numbers of The Good Guys and/or increasing numbers of The Hoodlums. These factors start at birth. Vaginal-birthed babies are more likely to have "good bacteria" colonizing the gut whereas babies delivered by C-section are tend to have unfavorable strains colonizing the gut. This is important because it sets the tone for lifelong immunity.
Other factors that effect the gut micro flora include diet, antibiotics both in food and when used medically, and aging.
The take home points from my two recent conferences are as follows:
- maintain a bountiful "garden" of good gut bacteria in order to keep the immune system strong and prevent disease
- lactobacilli and bifidobacterium of various strains are the "good bacteria"
- taking a probiotic supplement might be one of the most powerful things we can do to protect ourselves from disease including wintertime infectious diseases like colds and flu
- we need to take a LOT (high bacterial count) of "The Good Guys" in order to get the desired effect
For this reason, I am discontinuing our regular Supremadophilus and offering my 35 Billion Probiotic formula exclusively. Although it looks more expensive, it isn’t because you need to take less.
For general immune support: 1-2 capsules per day (divide the dose if you are taking two caps). Take with a meal.
When taking antibiotics: 2-3 caps per day with meals. Continue for 6-8 weeks after discontinuing the antibiotic.
I have started taking 35 Billion Probiotics twice per day with meals and will do so at least all Winter and Spring long. While those around me are dropping like flies, succumbing to colds, flu and the like, I’m willing to wager that I won’t be among the fallen this season.
1.) Man AL, Bertelli E, Rentini S, Regoli M, Briars G, Marini M, Watson AJ, Nicoletti C. Age-associated modifications of intestinal permeability and innate immunity in human small intestine. Clin Sci (Lond). 2015 Oct;129(7):515-27. doi: 10.1042/CS20150046. Epub 2015 May 7.
2.) Sassone-Corsi M., Raffatellu M. No vacancy: how beneficial microbes cooperate with immunity to provide colonization resistance to pathogens. J Immunol. 2015 May 1;194(9):4081-7. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1403169.
3.) Bermon S, Petriz B, Kajeniene A, Prestes J, Castell L, Franco OL. The microbiota: an exercise immunology perspective.Exerc Immunol Rev. 2015;21:70-9.
4.) Yoon MY, Lee K, Yoon SS. Protective role of gut commensal microbes against intestinal infections. J Microbiol. 2014 Dec;52(12):983-9. doi: 10.1007/s12275-014-4655-2. Epub 2014 Nov 29.
5.) Bermudez-Brito M., Plaza-Díaz J, Muñoz-Quezada S., Gómez-Llorente C., Gil A.
Probiotic Mechanisms of Action. Ann Nutr Metab 2012;61:160–174.
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