The human intestinal tract is home to trillions of “friendly” bacteria that are crucial in maintaining good health. These bacteria are instrumental in protecting against tummy problems, supporting digestion and absorption of nutrients. The balance of this gut micro flora is also intrinsically linked with immunity, ensuring a positive balance of beneficial gut bacteria will give your immune system a fighting chance of beating off the majority of opportunistic pathogens.
Antacids, antibiotics and low fibre refined diets all disrupt this delicate balance. This is possibly why an estimated 1 in 5 adults in the UK suffer from gastrointestinal complaints. Rebalancing the gut micro flora through the diet or by taking a “probiotic” supplement containing strains of friendly bacteria has been shown to help maintain the health of the intestinal tract and aid digestion, reduced bloating and the establishment of a regular bowel habits.
Our immune system is used to dealing with bacterial or viral challenges on a regular basis, but when we travel we can encounter different or possibly more pathogenic strains that then cause us to become ill. A change of food may also upset a sensitive tummy, as well as traveller’s diarrhoea people may also suffer from bloating or discomfort. You can reduce your chances of falling ill by giving your immune system and gut flora extra support by taking a probiotic supplement before jetting off to exotic destinations. Closer to home evidence continues to grow that probiotic supplements are a key element in the management of IBS, a combination of L.plantarum and L.acidophilus has been found to be especially effective.
Choosing a probiotic supplement
The effectiveness of probiotics is linked to their ability to survive the transit from stomach to small intestine; to do so they must be able to resist both acidic and alkaline conditions.
To confer health benefits probiotic supplements must contain live bacteria capable of adhering to the intestinal lining and colonise in the colon. Always choose products by trusted and established manufacturers.
Lyophilised (freeze dried) bacteria are stable at room temperature so do not need refrigeration.
Look for a delayed release product, delaying the release of the bacteria until they reach the small intestine protects them against the acidic environment of the stomach and delivering them directly where they are needed.