Probiotic Supplements for Optimal Digestion & GI Health
"Improve your health with my personal probiotic regimen. Results guaranteed or your money back!" - Lee Swanson, President of Swanson Health Products
One of my dearest friends in the natural health field, until his untimely passing, was Dr. William Crook, renowned author of the best-seller The Yeast Connection. In our many discussions over the years, Dr. Crook impressed upon me the vital importance of probiotics, which he described as "the master key to better health." Based on our discussions, I joined forces with the world's leading probiotics researchers to develop the highest quality probiotic supplements ever created—formulas proven stable at room temperatures to deliver guaranteed levels of viable organisms every time. The culmination of our efforts can be found in my Swanson Probiotics formulas.
Just over 2 years ago, I started taking one ProLacto Acidophilus capsule in the morning and one ProBiotic-4 capsule at night and I noticed a dramatic improvement in my GI tract health in the first two weeks. More recently, I added something else to my probiotic regimen that made it even more effective: NutraFlora®, a prebiotic supplement consisting of 95% fructooligosaccharides (FOS). These natural nutrients serve as food for beneficial bacteria, maximizing the effectiveness of probiotic supplements. Research has shown that just one gram of NutraFlora per day can increase probiotic bacteria levels by 500% in just four weeks. Now I take a NutraFlora capsule every morning to help me get the most benefit out of my daily probiotics.
What are probiotics?
We generally tend to think of bacteria as bad for us. But there are certain types of "friendly" bacteria that actually work in a symbiotic relationship with the body to help keep us healthy. They're called probiotics (a term that literally means "pro life"), and their role in maintaining good health is tremendous.
The history of probiotics
Although foods containing probiotic organisms have been part of the human diet throughout history, the bacteria themselves were not discovered until late in the 19th century, through the work of Russian microbiologist Ellie Metchnikoff, winner of the 1908 Nobel Prize for Medicine. Dr. Metchnikoff's interest in probiotics stemmed from his observation that certain populations of Bulgarian peasants who consumed yogurt regularly tended to live longer than most other people. After extensive research, he eventually attributed this increased longevity to the health-promoting properties of the lactobacillus bacteria found in yogurt. In time, Dr. Metchnikoff came to the conclusion that much of the aging process was avoidable, and he would go on to devote the last decade of his life to the study of probiotic bacteria as a means of increasing human longevity. While the scientific link between probiotics and good health was first established with the research and writings of Dr. Metchnikoff roughly a century ago, modern scientists are still researching these health-promoting organisms and gaining new insights into their benefits to this day.
How do probiotics protect your health?
To understand the role probiotics play in maintaining good health, it's important to understand the internal environment of the digestive tract. The human digestive tract has its own ecosystem, with billions of microorganisms such as bacteria and yeasts residing there. To put it simply, probiotics are your allies. And the more allies you have the better. Through probiotic supplementation and consumption of probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt and kefir, you can increase your level of intestinal "allies," shifting the balance in your favor. That's why it's important to replenish your probiotic levels regularly.
Probiotics and digestion
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Because probiotic organisms reside in the intestinal tract, it's not surprising that they play an important role in healthy digestive function. In the intestines, partially digested food is metabolized by billions of microorganisms, working synergistically. More than 400 different kinds of bacteria live in the gastrointestinal tract. The body depends on probiotic bacteria to manufacture certain B vitamins as well as to produce lactase, the enzyme that digests the dairy sugar known as lactose, which is why many lactose-sensitive individuals find probiotic supplements particularly helpful.
Why should I take a probiotic supplement?
Probiotics have such a wide range of positive roles in the body that nearly everyone could improve their health through regular probiotic supplementation. The most obvious and immediate benefit of probiotic supplementation is improved digestion. The immune-boosting benefits of probiotics may not be as immediately evident, but are by no means less significant. By enhancing digestive function, probiotics can help optimize the nutritive value your body derives from all the foods in your diet, which can have a profound impact on your overall health and well-being.
What to look for in a probiotic supplement
There are hundreds of probiotic supplements on the market today, varying widely in quality and effectiveness. The key thing to remember is that probiotics are living organisms, which is why shelf-life is so important. A probiotic supplement with no living organisms is essentially worthless. That's why you should look for a probiotic supplement with an expiration date that guarantees levels of viable organisms at time of purchase, not just time of manufacture. In addition, it is important the probiotic supplements feature strains that are able to withstand the stomach's acidic environment so they can take up residence in the intestinal tract. To maximize the benefits of probiotic supplements, you should also include fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a natural carbohydrate found in fruit. FOS serves as a food source for probiotic organisms, helping them to thrive, which is why it is commonly known as a "prebiotic."
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