July / September 2017
By Dr. Adivtya (Adi) Malhotra
Probiotic is a preparation containing live bacteria that is taken orally to restore beneficial bacteria to the body. A probiotic supplement is made of a “friendly” or “good” bacteria. They are ubiquitous (universal) and symbiotic throughout the gastrointestinal system, where they have an important and protective role.
History of probiotics
The credit for discovering probiotics or simply “good bacteria” goes to Russian scientist and Nobel Prize winner, Elie Metchnikoff of the Pasteur Institute in Paris. In 1907, working in Bulgaria, Metchnikoff was intrigued as to why certain inhabitants of the Bulgarian population lived much longer than others. His research led him to discover that the villagers living in the Caucasus Mountains were drinking a fermented yoghurt drink called “Kefir” on a daily basis. His studies found that a probiotic called Lactobacillus bulgaricus improved their health and may have helped the longevity of their lives.
Metchnikoff ’s pioneering research prompted him and others to look further into probiotics, leading scientists to discover many types of probiotics, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Saccharomyces boulardii, and Bifidobacterium infantis, all of which have various properties and different beneficial effects on the body.
How do probiotics help me?
Probiotics are a mix of healthy bacteria, and studies have shown them to have beneficial effects on gastrointestinal health. Gastroenterologists routinely see patients reporting beneficial effects of probiotics for bloating, abdominal cramps, diarrhea and constipation.
- Probiotics also aid in the digestion of food, manufacturing vitamins B-12 and Vitamin K.
- Probiotics support our immune systems. They inhibit the action of disease-causing alkaline bacteria by maintaining an acidic environment in the gut.
- Probiotics can also increase the nutritional value of some foods by augmenting the breakdown and absorption of nutrients. Some produce antibiotics and are anti-carcinogenic.
- Some probiotics boost the immune system and help prevent urinary tract infections, vaginal infections, and inflammatory bowel disease.
- There are numerous other claims that have yet to be proven scientifically, but existing research leaves no doubt that some probiotics do exert positive effects, especially on the intestinal tract.
Why do we need probiotics more in the 21st century than we did in the 20th century?
There are multiple reasons why the use of probiotics is more helpful to us in the 21st century than the last century.
We are living in the Era of Antibiotic; although they have been lifesaving, they have created some new problems, as their usage has risen exponentially. It is widely recognized that antibiotics cause imbalances in the protective flora of the gastrointestinal and vaginal tracts, leading to weakened immune systems and digestive problems. Taking probiotics helps to negate the detrimental effects of antibiotics.
Other factors which lead to a depletion of healthy bacteria include the chlorination of water and the addition of pesticides in our food.
How do I know which probiotic to take?
Choosing the right probiotic for you and/or your family can be overwhelming. With hundreds of different brands to choose from, how do you know which one is best for your needs?
Very importantly, look for a probiotic that is delayed release. This allows the capsule to bypass the acid in the stomach and populate the bowels with the beneficial bacteria. A delayed release probiotic is designed to release in the digestive tract, where the probiotics need to be.
Choose a probiotic with a high potency of live bacteria. This will ensure maximum effectiveness and a greater chance of survival to the cultures contained in the capsule. Vegetable capsules contain no milk, wheat or soy products, making that a valuable choice of probiotic. Remember to use shelf-stable probiotics; these are easy to store and the beneficial effects are guaranteed since the bacteria are freeze dried and variable when ingested.
Over the last few years, the probiotic market has seen rapid growth. Dr. Adi Malhotra (Founder of Simply Biotic), a practicing gastroenterologist, realized that his patients are buying poor quality probiotics with low bacterial counts (measured in CFU). This is a disturbing national trend observed by his colleagues in other parts of the country, as well. In a quest to give the best probiotics to his patients, he formulated Simply Biotic and Simply Biotic plus. These probiotics are available in his office at 1015 Medical Center Blvd, Ste 1300, Webster 77598. Order online at www.simplybiotic.com or Call 800-471-2596.