metchnikoffBack in the late 19th century, a Russian scientist named Elie Metchnikoff, who would one day receive the Nobel prize for his discoveries about the immune system, was in Bulgaria observing the lives of rural farmers. He was particularly interested in the fact that these people had a remarkable lifespan, despite the fact that they had to endure long hours of back breaking work, harsh winters, and lived on a meager diet.

His fascination with their longevity would eventually gift the world with the discovery of probiotics, microorganisms that benefit the host organism. Metchinkoff’s observations of these rural Bulgarians focused on one particular aspect of their diet that seemed distinct from other populations. Their dietary staples were predominantly fermented dairy products. He spent a great deal of time studying milk and fermentation in order to discover what ingredients in these products were contributing to increased longevity.

Eventually he developed a theory. Because the fermentation is caused by bacterial overgrowth in the dairy, he reasoned that it were these particular bacteria that, when consumed, were causing a number of positive health effects inside the digestive system of the Bulgarians. In his book, The Prolongation of Life: Optimistic Studies, he lays down his theory of longevity as it relates to intestinal bacteria. He believed that there existed bacteria in the intestines that produce harmful substances such as ammonia, and that the eventual domination and intoxication from these substances caused aging and eventual degradation and death. He believed that the consumption of these fermented dairy products rich in lactic acid bacteria would replace the harmful bacteria and thus extend life.

His conviction for this theory was so strong that he consumed sour milk every day for the rest of his life, as did many other people inspired by his works, and it even became popular in many parts of Europe. Interestingly, Metchinkoff did live to the ripe old age of 71, which at that time was quite an achievement, since the average lifespan was below 60. He died of heart failure in 1916. If only he had understood the relationship between dairy and cholesterol, perhaps he may have lived longer.

Eventually Metchinkoff’s theories were debated when it was found that the particular strain of bacteria he claimed extended life could not live in the human intestinal tract. However, even though his theory relating to this strain of bacteria was incorrect, the concept of function for true probiotics is still accurate, though it has been significantly expanded.

intestinal floraWe now know that our intestinal tract is a very biologically rich environment with many strains of different species of microorganisms all competing for resources. In fact, reading about the interactions of intestinal microorganisms often sounds more like tribal warfare than biology. Bacteria, viruses, parasites, yeasts, algae, fungus, mold, and in rare cases, even worms can live and grow inside the intestinal tract. Our digestive tract is the first line of defense for our immune system, its where are nutrients get broken down and absorbed, and it is where harmful toxins and substances are excreted from the body. Ensuring the proper function and health of this system is critical for well-being and longevity. Metchinkoff wasn’t so wrong after all.

Considering the fact that inflammatory bowel diseases are on the rise, as well as cancers of the digestive tract such as colon, pancreatic, and stomach, it is not a far stretch to come to the conclusion that we are seriously mistreating our digestive systems. The food we consume is not intestinally beneficial, but is instead causing serious imbalances between the healthy and unhealthy intestinal organisms.

At our center, where we have analyzed thousands of stool tests, we frequently find patients with intestinal yeast overgrowth, such as Candida albicans, or intestinal parasites like Giardia and B. hominus, as well as amoebas, molds, fungi, and inflammatory markers. This type of imbalance comes as a direct result of consuming foods that, not necessarily contain these organisms, but actually feed these organisms and perpetuate their existence. Eating too many refined carbohydrates, sugars, and certain dairy products, and not eating enough vegetables, fresh fruits, starches, and fiber, create a serious imbalance in the types of organisms that thrive in the intestines.

antibioticsIt is not only poor diet that can create intestinal imbalance. The term probiotics was coined back in the 1950s as a direct contrast to antibiotics, substances which destroy microorganisms. Antibiotics, since their creation, have been designed to target certain microorganisms that are causing health problems and destroy them. While some antibiotics are an effective last resort, and have saved very many lives, the fact remains that they inflict collateral damage in the intestines because they also destroy beneficial bacteria. Today, antibiotics are very much overused and are prescribed or taken for some of the most trivial health conditions that could easily be resolved by either a healthy immune system, or through vitamin or herbal supplementation.

Probiotic supplements seek to restore healthy balance to the intestines by delivering beneficial bacteria back into the intestines in order to combat and remove harmful organisms. There are several strains of bacteria, and bacterial combinations, that have been found to possess a number of health benefits when consumed regularly.

Many probiotics species have been found to:

  • Reduce the instance of diarrhea
  • Increase bowel function regularity
  • Reduce inflammation and hypersensitivity in the gut
  • Improve immune system performance
  • Reduce lactose intolerance
  • Inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria, including yeasts and intestinal parasites
  • Reduce the risk of certain cancers, namely colon and intestinal

  • Bifidobacerium lactis, often called “Bifidus” is among the most documented probiotics and its health benefits have been analyzed in hundreds of studies. Its ability to prevent bacterial infection is well known. It has also been shown to have health benefits in both infants and adults, and can be beneficial to pregnant and nursing women to improve the health of both mother and child.

    Among its proven benefits are:

  • Reduced risk of bacterial and parasitic infection
  • Reduced risk of respiratory infection in infants
  • Improved metabolism in adults
  • Reduced intestinal allergic inflammation
  • Reduced incidence of antibiotic induced diarrhea

  • Some of the most common probiotic strains are the lactic acid bacteria, namely the Lactobacillus family. L. acidophilus is perhaps the most famous. It is frequently used in yogurt cultures and it is fed to many livestock animals in order to improve their health. Because many livestock animals are given frequent treatment with antibiotics to prevent and remedy illness, the antibiotics destroy the acidophilus that lives in the intestines and protects the animal from intestinal infections like Salmonella, Streptococcus, H. pylori and others. In humans, acidophilus can help prevent yeast overgrowth, bacterial infection, and reduce inflammation in the intestine. It is commonly used to prevent traveler’s diarrhea, which is a result of foreign bacteria and parasites entering the gut.

    There are also many other beneficial strains of probiotics, such as L. plantarum, which may have a beneficial effect on patients with IBS, and B. coagulans, which has been shown to improve immune system function.

    At the Nutrikon Wellness Center, we have been doing stool analysis and probiotic supplementation for well over 25 years. We have noticed that probiotics are extremely beneficial for people suffering from:

  • Candia yeast infections
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases such as: Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Parasitic infections
  • Mold and fungi growth

  • Probiotic supplements are only half the battle though when it comes to addressing intestinal health issues. Lack of probiotics is not the true cause of these conditions, but rather poor diet, allergies, and environmental and genetic factors. These must also be addressed in order for true and permanent symptom relief to occur.

    That is why we incorporate all of these factors in designing a program that meets all of your needs and addresses all of the factors that contribute to your intestinal health and well-being.

    healthy tummyIntestinal health has been grossly overlooked and the result is that many people are suffering unnecessarily. Probiotics are a safe, effective, and inexpensive method to improving your health.