Discovery Guides Areas


Bugs in Our Guts—Not All Bacteria Are Bad
How Probiotics Keep Us Healthy

(Released September 2006)

  by Leila Kiani  


Key Citations

Web Sites





The flora in the human gut constitute "an extremely complex living system that aggressively protects your body from outside offenders" (12). The average American also eats far too many sugars, some 175 pounds per year, feeding the unhealthy bacteria, which stimulate disease. Chemicals can also disrupt the microflora. The "bad" bacteria largely reside in "the intestinal lining (mucosal barrier) that is over 300 square meters, or about the size of a tennis court" (12).

Beneficial bacteria can boost the immune system, prevent allergies, and stop eczema and heal the intestines. A good diet, supplemented with a high-quality probiotic, will improve the balance of good and bad bacteria (12).

In spite of the problems with dosage and viability of probiotic strains, lack of industry standardization, and potential safety issues, there is obviously considerable potential for the benefits of probiotics over a wide range of clinical conditions. Ongoing basic research will continue to identify and characterize existing strains of probiotics, identify strain-specific outcomes, determine optimal doses needed for certain results, and assess their stability through processing and digestion (2).

Gene technology will certainly play a role in developing new strains, with gene sequencing allowing for an increased understanding of mechanisms and functionality of probiotics. In addition to such basic research, industry-centered research will focus on prolonging the shelf-life of probiotic products and likelihood of survival through the intestinal tract, optimizing adhesion capacity and developing proper production, handling and packaging procedures to ensure that the desired benefits are delivered to the consumer (2).

Over time, new food products containing probiotics will emerge, such as energy bars, cereals, juices, infant formula and cheese, as well as disease-specific medical foods. The establishment of standards of identity for probiotic-containing food products will serve to accelerate their development and availability (2).

Available data from traditional medicine and clinical use clearly state that probiotics have great health potential, particularly today with the increasing threat of antibiotic over-usage and prevalence of antibiotic resistant microorganisms (10).

Thanks to Deborah Whitman for all of her help, without which this Discovery Guide would never have been written

© Copyright 2006, All Rights Reserved, CSA


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