What are probiotics good for ?
This is one question that is getting harder to answer – just ask the EFSA – the European Food Safety Authority.
In 2010 the EFSA assessed over 800 health claims made by well known brands about their of probiotic products helping to improve the immune system and gut problems.
Journalist Felicity Lawrence reported in the Guardian newspaper;
“The panel concluded that the evidence the industry had submitted to support its claims that various food additives could strengthen the body’s defences, improve immune function and reduce gut problems were either so general as to be inadmissible, or could not be shown to have the claimed effect.”
Over the last ten years the probiotic industry has grown into a multi – million dollar industry. Although the probiotic industry is becoming a huge market it has grown without a proper and independent assessment of its health claims.
What Exactly Our Probiotics?
There is no exact date when probiotics were invented, but they began to appear around the early 1990’s. There is no clear evidence who came up with the term ‘Probiotic’ , however if you understand Latin, probiotic means ‘to give life’
We know from our own anatomy that our digestive system contains billions of microorganisms or intestinal flora. There are good bacteria and bad bacteria and the good guys are often referred to as friendly or beneficial bacteria.
They are essential to the health of our digestion because they boost our immune system and keep the bad guys under control.
Probiotic bacteria do not occur in nature. They are made-made, meaning they are cultured in laboratory conditions through a fermentation process. There are many different strains of probiotics with similar characteristics to our own bodies intestinal flora.
For example, many probiotic products contain various strains of the Lactobacillus bacteria. This probiotic strain is often added to food products such as yogurts, yogurts drinks, milk and dietary supplements.
The health of our digestive system relies heavily on the fragile balance between good and bad bacteria. Our own intestinal flora can be destroyed by taking antibiotics, drinking alcohol, smoking or eating an unhealthy diet.
These lifestyle choices creates a highly acidic gut environment that encourages the growth of disease causing pathogenic microbes. When the bad guys spread and overrun your gut – digestive disorders and chronic disease will eventually follow.
Probiotics Are Not New A Invention
Humans have been eating probiotic foods for thousands of years, for example the Babylonians where preserving their food through fermentation over 5,000 years ago. This fermentation process created friendly microbes that interacted with the juices and acids of the food to make it more appetizing.
These fermented foods have been perfected down the centuries, especially in Asia where fermented probiotic recipes included kimchi, tempeh, tofu and miso.
In more recent times the beneficial bacteria cultured in fermented milk, cheese and yogurt has been known to help enhance the balance of our intestinal flora, especially after taking a course of antibiotics or to alleviate the symptoms of diarrhoea.
With this knowledge, food manufacturers obviously seen an opportunity to develop highly processed and packaged probiotic drink products and sell them at a high margin.
According to the recent report “Probiotic Markets (2009-2014) published by Markets and Markets – the global probiotics market is expected to be worth US$32.62 billion.
More Probiotic Concerns
As well as the unsubstantiated health claims there are also concerns regarding the quality of probiotic products. Probiotics are living microorganisms and are very fragile and easily perishable when exposed to oxygen and warm temperatures. For this reason, probiotics need to be freeze dried to preserve them.
Enter any health food store or pharmacy selling probiotic supplements and you will find many of the containers are stacked on shelves under very hot lights. In these warm conditions it is highly unlikely the probiotic cultures are alive.
You should also question how the probiotic supplements are transported. To preserve the probiotic live cultures they need to be transported in refrigerated storage containers. If not, the live probiotic cultures will not survive for too long in the back of a boiling truck – meaning they are more or less dead by the time they reach the shelves.
Take for example probiotic cultured drinks and yogurts, these are often pasteurized, meaning they are treated at very high temperatures to kill off all bacteria, including the good stuff.
As there are many question marks over the health benefits and quality of manufactured probiotics you should consider alternative ways to boost the health of your digestion.
Why not create your own probiotic foods and drinks? These are very easy to make and because you have made them you will be safe in the knowledge the probiotics are fresh and alive.
Why Prebiotics Are A Better Way To Boost Your Own Probiotics
No matter how many probiotic supplements you take there benefits will be limited if you do not boost them with nutrients that support them.
These essential supportive nutrients are insoluble fibers better known as prebiotics. They should not be confused with probiotics as they are completely different. In simple terms prebiotics feed your probiotics.
Unsupported, probiotics have a very slim chance surviving the highly acidic environment of your stomach. If your gut is already overrun with harmful bacteria the probiotics have an even less chance of survival.
In order for the probiotics to reach your intestinal tract in sufficient numbers, to take hold and cultivate, they need to have the right environment. This is where the prebiotics will make the difference.
Prebiotic rich foods include Jerusalem artichoke, unrefined wheat, bananas and kiwifruit. These prebiotics ferment in your small intestine and colon and produce a nutritious food that your intestinal flora can feed on. The prebiotic fiber also acts as a colon cleanser – scraping away bad bacteria, toxic waste and dead cells.
Whether you supplement your probiotics or not, the benefits will be limited if you do not obtain a sufficient amount of prebiotics.
There is only one prebiotic supplement we use and recommend that helps create the perfect environment for your beneficial bacteria to thrive in and that is – MX Kiwi Biotic.
This is an all natural prebiotic supplement made from 100 per cent ripened kiwifruit. This little fruit happens to be one if the most nutritious and prebiotic rich foods on the planet. Taking one capsule a day will ensure your good bacteria obtain all the nutrients they need to help boost your immune system and stop disease causing bacteria in their path.
If you want to experience greater digestive health and energy – click here – to learn more about MX Kiwi Biotic’s benefits.