(NaturalNews) The microflora in the gut is intimately linked with the health and immunity of individuals of all ages, health statuses, and environments. Hundreds of different species (both beneficial and pathogenic) live symbiotically in the colons of humans. The beneficial microbiota are known to produce vitamin K and B vitamins, aid in digesting foods, help neutralize toxins, and preventing the pathogenic bacteria from dominating. Now, researchers are showing how supplementing with probiotics can bolster immunity, improve intestinal health, and support a healthy pregnancy.
One recent study showed college students who supplemented with probiotics for 12 weeks saw significant bolstering of their immune system. All students caught colds, but those taking probiotics experienced shorter duration of symptoms, 34 percent less severity of symptoms, and a higher quality of life during the illness. If an individual resorts to antibiotics, probiotics can still be used to reduce the negative side effects of those antibiotics.
Probiotics can also reduce the risk of diarrhea caused by antibiotics. RAND, a non-profit research organization, pooled results from studies that examined whether probiotic use can prevent and treat anibiotic-associated diarrhea, and found that probiotic use resulted in a 42 percent lower risk of diarrhea. This is good news for the 30 percent of antibiotic-users that commonly experience diarrhea while taking the drugs.
If intestinal integrity is weak from food allergies, toxins, malabsorption disorders, inflammatory conditions, or antibiotics, taking prebiotics too can help regrow a new and better gut. A study recently conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois demonstrated that supplementing the diet with prebiotics (fibers that beneficial bacteria use as food) called fructooligosaccharides will support intestinal healing and repair.
The research also demonstrates the supportive effects of probiotics during pregnancy. Supplementing with probiotics during the last trimester of pregnancy is associated with an increased immunity and anti-inflammatory effect. Probiotics can change the internal environment of the mother and may even prevent pre-term birth. Furthermore, a baby's exposure to beneficial bacteria may even lead to better immune function and overall health over that child's lifetime.
The microflora in the intestine has even been collectively considered an organ because of their ability to support the immune system, regulate intestinal health, support healthy metabolism, and contribute to overall health and wellness.
About the author: Katherine Leonard is a Holistic Nutritionist with a passion for supporting people as they transform their lifestyles and focus on wellness. She has a BA in Psychology from the University of Chicago and an MS in Holistic Nutrition from Hawthorn University. She is a certified First Line Therapy Lifestyle Educator and helps her clients regain their health by adopting a nourishing lifestyle. Katherine is a member of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals and the Weston A. Price Foundation. She is in the process of becoming Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (expected early 2013).
Katherine believes that optimal health is achieved through organic whole foods, a toxin-free environment, stress management, and physical activity. Her passion is to design personalized programs to help others live nourishing lifestyles.
For more information and to sign up for a complimentary 15-minute consultation, visit www.holistic-nourishment.com. Follow her on Facebook: facebook.com/HolisticNourishment Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/PhytoNutrition
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