Probiotics are "friendly" bacteria that help support the proper functioning of the gastrointestinal system. At any given time, hundreds of different strains of microorganisms, both beneficial and pathogenic, might be populating or passing through the intestinal tract. In a healthy digestive system, these bacteria are able to coexist in a balanced state.
Research has shown that different strains of probiotics have the ability to inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria through "crowding out" and pH-lowering activity. They can help boost immunity by stimulating natural antibiotic, antimicrobial, and antiviral mechanisms. They can strengthen mucosal membranes, regulate intestinal motility, and normalize bowel function.
Probiotics also can assist in managing allergic inflammation, reducing the symptoms of lactose intolerance, and aiding with mineral assimilation and metabolism (particularly calcium, magnesium, and zinc). Certain strains can improve digestion and stimulate the production of digestive enzymes and B vitamins. An emerging hypothesis suggests that probiotics can play an important complementary role in detoxification protocols.
Stress, disease, improper nutrition, antibiotics, medications, pesticides, and toxins can upset the delicate balance of intestinal flora. This imbalance can reduce the number of friendly bacteria and set the stage for digestive disorders, reduced immune function, increased allergic sensitivity, infection, and inflammation. Supplementation with probiotics can support the body in maintaining a healthy intestinal balance.