Bacteria is not a dirty word even though we have been taught that it is something to disinfect and eradicate. In fact, inside each of us is about 100 trillion bacteria, most of which reside in the gut. This is 10 TIMES the number of cells in our body! It works out to be approximately 4 pounds of bacteria within the gut which weighs as much as a brick!

The bacteria that grow naturally in the intestinal tract aid in the nourishment and defense not only of the digestive tract but of the whole body. These beneficial bacteria are known as PROBIOTICS which actually means “for life”. Probiotics help our bodies recognize and defeat any harmful bacteria or pathogens we may ingest, they protect us. For this reason, we are going to refer to this balance of bacteria in your gut as your “GPS”, your very own Gut Protection System!

Just like we all have a unique set of fingerprints, we all have a unique bacterial make up in our body. The bacterium that is established in your intestinal tract within the first two years of life is what you will have into adulthood. This microbial “fingerprint” may dictate the difference between someone who has strong digestive health and someone who does not.

What do these bacteria do? 
•    Synthesize vitamins such as thiamine (B1), folic acid (B9), pyridoxine (B6) and vitamin K.
•    Produce digestive enzymes and aid in the absorption of calcium, magnesium and iron.
•    Improve the strength and function of the lining of our colon. This mucosal barrier helps to prevent harmful organisms and toxins in the intestinal tract from passing into the bloodstream.
•    Help to control inflammation in the body.
•    Stimulate and support the immune system.
•    Maintain regularity and health of the bowel.

Imbalance in the GPS
Pathogenic organisms are always present to some extent in the GI Tract but are normally outnumbered and neutralized by the beneficial bacteria. When the beneficial and harmful bacteria levels become imbalanced you have what is called DYSBIOSIS. This can lead to digestive upsets in the short term and sets the stage for the development of disease in the long-term. What can cause dysbiosis?

One of the most potent factors that can derail your GPS is antibiotics. While Probiotics mean “for life”, antibiotics mean “against life”. When prescribed appropriately for bacterial infections, antibiotics do their job by killing off the “bad guys”, the problem is that antibiotics also kill off the “good guys” (PROBIOTICS) in the process. The result is that you may have cured the infection however you have seriously compromised your “GPS”. The Center for Disease Control has said that almost 50% of antibiotics are unnecessary and inappropriately prescribed!

Lifestyle Factors
Both diet and environmental exposure can have a large effect on the balance of bacteria in the gut. The typical Canadian diet is high in sugar, starches, processed foods and animal proteins and low in fresh vegetables and fermented foods. Pathogenic bacteria, including yeast and parasites, feed off of sugar. So a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sweets feeds the “bad guys” allowing them to grow and crowd out the probiotics in the gut. Also eating too few vegetables can leave your probiotic bacteria starved for nutrients. Vegetables are rich in soluble fibre which act as food for the good bacteria (it is called prebiotic fibre).

Chances are that you or someone you know uses antacids, we have become a nation of antacid poppers.  People use these, often incorrectly, to combat heartburn and indigestion. The problem is that we need stomach acid for a healthy “GPS”.  Antacids alter the pH of the GI tract which creates an environment that is favorable to the growth of harmful bacteria and yeasts and in turn hostile toward probiotic bacteria. Every time you pop an antacid, you’re setting yourself up for a state of dysbiosis.

As inevitable as aging is, so is the change in the composition in your intestinal microflora. After the age of 50, the levels of probiotics (specifically bifidobacterium) begin to decline in number. Reductions in these organisms in the large bowel may be related to increased disease risk in elderly people.

Just like a GPS in a car, when it is not working you can go off course. The same thing happens in your body. When there is an imbalance in your good bacteria, your GPS becomes compromised and your health veers off course. Fortunately there are many things you can do to make sure your GPS is working well and probiotics are the key.

The Solution
Ultimate Flora Ultra Potent Probiotic by Renew Life delivers 100 Billion beneficial bacteria in every capsule. It has 10 different strains with 50% being bifidobacteria for the large intestine and 50% being lactobacilli strains for the small intestine. This is the ideal combination for digestive health.  This maximum strength probiotic is also enteric coated ensuring that it is delivered to the intestinal tract and not destroyed by the stomach acid.

When people begin taking probiotics they may notice that they suffer from less gas and bloating, their bowel habits become regular, their skin clears and they get fewer colds and flus.  Taken daily, probiotics strengthen your “GPS” and keep your most precious vehicle, YOUR BODY, on the road to health.