Probiotics contain antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help combat chronic diseases, including heart disease, and even certain types of cancers. Probiotics for Health: 100 Amazing and Unexpected Uses for Probiotics (Adams Media, 2017) by Jo A. Panyko shows all the benefits that good bacteria can bring, from weight loss, to better skin and a better immune system. Panyko is a master nutrition therapist and professional member of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals and works as a functional medicine nutrition therapist at her company, Chrysalis Nutrition and Health.
If someone told you he had a product that could help resolve constipation and diarrhea, ward off infection, boost your immune system, assist your body in fighting off cancer, curb allergies, and even help you fight obesity, you would probably be pretty wary, but such a product does exist and you probably have it in your home at this very moment. This product is probiotics.
What exactly are probiotics? The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “Live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” The term comes from the Latin preposition pro meaning “for” and the Greek word biotikos meaning “life.” Probiotics are living microscopic creatures that you ingest to gain myriad health benefits — they are, in fact, beneficial microbes.
“Beneficial microbes” may seem like an oxymoron; after all, you no doubt have heard that microbes such as bacteria are bad, that they are the cause of illness and disease and must be eradicated from your home and living spaces if you want to stay healthy and germ-free. And while it is true that some microbes are bad for your body and do cause disease, this is not true for all microbes. In fact, in your body right now you have beneficial microorganisms that regulate your digestive system, immune system, and countless other body functions. These microbes are a necessary part of your body, but many of the things you do or consume can kill or injure them, leaving your body open to ailments.
Enter probiotics. These helpful microorgansims keep you functioning properly by helping you absorb important nutrients in your digestive tract, by reducing the presence of pathogens, and by regulating the removal of wastes out of your body. When you lose beneficial microbes — either through sickness or through certain medications like antibiotics or antifungals — it leaves your body vulnerable and then pathogenic forms of bacteria, viruses, and yeasts can take hold in your system causing everything from yeast infections and irritable bowl syndrome to eczema and hair loss.
There are now hundreds of known uses for probiotics that not only include digestive help but also benefits against many internal health conditions, from the common cold and asthma to certain forms of cancer. Probiotics can also help with your external health as well. They have been shown to help reduce the signs of aging, improve nails and hair, and even fight bad breath and acne. The benefits of probiotics can be felt throughout your entire body and mind.
In this book you will find 100 uses for probiotics to improve your health and well-being on the inside and the outside. You will learn how to take probiotics, which kind may be beneficial for your condition, and what the possible effects might be. You will discover that true health and beauty doesn’t come from big pharma companies or in those expensive tubs of beauty creams and lotions; it comes (literally) from within your own body and promoting the health and numbers of your beneficial microbes. So let’s get started on improving your health and your life!
Calms Reactions to Foods
Different people react to foods differently. What may be nourishing to one person may be another person’s poison. We don’t normally think of foods as being poisonous because they usually are not deadly, but foods can be toxic to a person who is allergic, intolerant, or sensitive to them. The difference in toxicity may show in symptoms.
In a food allergy, there is an immediate immune reaction to the offensive food. Classic allergic symptoms such as tingling lips, burning/tightness in the mouth/throat, gastrointestinal upset, difficulty breathing, rashes, hives, and even anaphylaxis may be present. Although any food can cause an allergic reaction, the most common offenders are peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, fish, shellfish, eggs, soy, and wheat.
In a food intolerance, the body is not able to properly handle the food, but there is not an allergic reaction. A classic example is lactose intolerance. Please see the section on lactose intolerance for more information.
In a food sensitivity, the immune reaction is delayed, usually several hours to days after the exposure. Food sensitivities are the most difficult to determine since there is not an immediate reaction. These kinds of issues with foods can cause a wide range of physical and mental problems. An elimination diet followed by reintroduction is one of the best ways to determine a food sensitivity.
Food allergies and sensitivities both involve the immune system, albeit in different ways. Many types of probiotics can help modulate the immune system, and they can calm these conditions, not only via immune regulation, but also through prevention of intestinal permeability, improved intestinal motility, and communication with your genes.
Endless crying or wailing, sleepless nights both for baby and parents, and feelings of helplessness are common in colic. If your baby has colic, you are not alone. It is estimated that up to 25 percent of infants suffer from colic.
Sometimes the underlying cause is easy to discern, such as when the breastfeeding mother eliminates milk from her diet, or when the formula-fed baby is switched off milk-based formula. Other times the causes are not obvious. Breastfeeding mothers may be advised to eliminate cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower, as well as garlic and onions or spicy foods, to prevent the carryover of these foods into breast milk. However, indiscriminately eliminating such foods can have health consequences to the mother and to the nutrition content of her breast milk.
Babies with colic are frequently given simethicone drops, a medication to reduce gas formation in the baby’s digestive tract. Since colic appears to be a problem in the digestive system, probiotics may help. Indeed, research shows that colicky babies have less diversity in their gastrointestinal (GI) microbiota, and it is well-known in the probiotics world that less diversity in the GI tract usually equates to a less healthy body. Research also shows that different species of probiotics in the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium genera as well as Streptococcus thermophilus can soothe the symptoms of colic and in some cases resolve the issue.
Mother and Baby can Benefit
Since babies need a variety of beneficial microbes in their system for normal, healthy development and to possibly avoid future health conditions, probiotics taken by the breastfeeding mother as well as probiotics given in drop form to babies may ease the misery of colic for baby and parents. Please consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns about using probiotics with yourself or your baby.
Reduces Causes of Anxiety
Anxiety is a normal reaction to situations that are unfamiliar, and it brings with it a heightened sense of stress. While occasional anxiety is normal, anxiety becomes a disorder when it is persistent, overwhelming, and interferes with everyday activities.
There are many types of anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and separation anxiety, but what they all have in common is that they seem to be uncontrollable. It can seem like no matter how much you try to rationalize with your brain that you are overreacting, the effort is futile.
The gut microbiome is known to affect cognitive functions such as anxiety. Studies show that introducing a pathogen in low doses in animals can create anxiety even without an immune response to the pathogen or an established infection. Studies also show that taking the feces from an anxious rodent and transplanting them into a nonanxious rodent causes the nonanxious rodent to develop anxiety.
Probiotics of many types can help with anxiety by controlling the pathogens that induce anxiety, and by interacting with the enteric nervous system in the gut as well as the vagal nerve, which runs from the brain to the abdomen and gastrointestinal tract. Also, probiotics, particularly many Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species, produce neurotransmitters that interact with your own neurotransmitters to produce a calming effect to reduce levels of stress that contribute to anxiety.
Anxiety is a normal response to unfamiliar situations, but it can become crippling and persistent. Probiotics work on some of the root causes of anxiety without the side effects of drugs such as benzodiazepines.
• If you are being treated for anxiety with medications, do not abruptly stop taking your medications. Doing so could have serious mental and physical consequences.
Excerpted from Probiotics for Health by Jo A. Panyko. Copyright © 2017 Adams Media, a division of Simon and Schuster. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.