What Are Probiotics - Probiotics Explained
By Tyler Woodward
It’s said for every human cell in your body there are 10X the amount of bacteria. Scientists currently estimated that there are about 30 trillion cells in the adult human body, meaning there are about 300 trillion bacteria. The question remains, what are these bacteria, what are they doing in our body, and are they helping us or hurting us?
- The Bad Bacteria
- The Good Bacteria
In nature, there are three types of relationships that occur between organisms, known as symbiotic relationships:
- Mutualism - Mutualism exists when both organisms benefit from one another
- Humans & Pets, Clownfish & Sea Anemone, Bees & Flowers - Humans provide pets with food & shelter, while pets provide companionship
- Commensalism - Commensalism occurs when one organism benefits, while the other is unaffected
- Tiger & Golden Jackal - Golden Jackal trails behind a tiger and eats its scraps, at no detriment to the tiger
- Parasitism - Parasitism happens when one organism benefits at the expense of another organism.
- Tapeworm & Humans, Fleas & Dogs - The tapeworm consumes our food and nutrients, depriving our body of food.
Originally it was believed that our gut bacteria had a commensal or neutral role in our body, we provided a host to the bacteria at no detriment to ourselves. Although the more we learn about our gut microbiome, it seems that different types of bacteria each play different roles in our body that can positively or negatively affect us or not affect us at all. To understand probiotics or the so-called “good bacteria”, we must first understand the “bad bacteria.”
The Bad Bacteria:
While there are many types of “bad” bacteria in the body, we’ll focus on one specific type of bacteria, known as Endotoxins. Endotoxins or lipopolysaccharides are a type of gram-negative bacteria, meaning that when broken down or killed they release a toxin into their environment (endotoxin - toxin within). Interestingly, we actually have thousands of these endotoxic bacteria living in our colon and there are even low levels of them circulating constantly in our blood. When these bacteria enter our bloodstream they cause the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, resulting in short-term inflammation. If your body is running properly your liver is capable of breaking down the endotoxins in circulation and “packaging” them up for removal out of the body. The issue occurs when there is an excess of endotoxin in our bloodstream, known as endotoxemia.
Endotoxemia occurs primarily for a few reasons:
- Leaky Gut
- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
Leaky Gut -
While the body can handle some endotoxin without an issue, it can only handle so much. Once food reaches the colon physical and chemical digestion has stopped and whatever is remaining becomes fair game to the trillions of bacteria that reside in the colon. Many people today suffer from slow digestion due to consuming high quantities of difficult to digest food, which can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria. When this happens more endotoxins pass through the mucosal wall of the intestines into the bloodstream. Resulting in higher levels of inflammation and placing a larger burden on the liver. This is also frequently associated with an increase in HDL cholesterol, which the liver produces in order to help detoxify the endotoxin out of the bloodstream.
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth -
In healthy individuals it’s believed that the small intestine should be sterile, meaning no living bacteria should reside within it. In contrast to the large intestine/colon, the small intestine is designed with the purpose of absorbing nutrients into the bloodstream. The “wall” that separates your bloodstream and the small intestine is much thinner than that of the large intestine to allow digested food to easily pass through. If bacterial overgrowth occurs in the large intestine and these bacteria are able to pass through to the small intestine, this can wreak havoc on the body, as the large amounts of endotoxin permeate into the bloodstream.
Read More: What Is Floracil50
The Good Bacteria:
Probiotic is Latin and means “for life” and in this fashion, bacteria in our gut play a variety of roles in our body. Just like the “bad bacteria” there is a variety of “good bacteria”. The majority of the so-called good bacteria are largely made up of exotoxins. Exotoxins are a type of bacteria that naturally emit toxins into their external environment, meaning they don’t have to die to do so and can do so repeatedly (exotoxins - toxin outside). While they may sound dangerous, some exotoxins actually produce a number of compounds that benefit us by staving off the “bad bacteria”. We don’t know exactly how probiotics work and it likely varies by the bacteria, but it’s believed that they function in a few ways:
- Produce Anti-Bacterial Compounds
- Decrease Leaky Gut
- Replace The “Bad Bacteria”
Produce Anti-Bacterial Compounds -
Endotoxins, the so-called “bad bacteria” are extremely resistant to heat and generally have no problem passing through our digestive tract unharmed until they land in our colon. Some of the probiotic bacteria produce bacteria “fighting” compounds like D-lactic acid which can kill the “bad bacteria” helping to balance your gut microbiome.
Decrease Leaky Gut -
When there is an excess of these endotoxins or “bad bacteria” the lining of your intestines, the mucosal membrane, can become inflamed. When this happens more bacteria is capable of passing through the intestines and landing in your bloodstream causing more inflammation. These beneficial exotoxins may also produce anti-inflammatory compounds helping to “calm down” your intestinal tract and preventing these endotoxins from passing through. Thereby reducing the amount of inflammation caused by the “bad bacteria”.
Read More: The Benefits Of Gut Friendly Bacteria
Replace The “Bad Bacteria” -
In the past we used to consume a lot more probiotic naturally in our diet from eating raw foods like raw milk , or fermented foods like sourdough bread, kombucha and cheese. With many modern diet lacking in these foods, the gut microbiomes of many people is “lacking” in the “good bacteria”. By consuming probiotics you can help to balance your gut microbiome by introducing these good bacteria into your colon.
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My goal in writing this article, as always, is to provide you with logically-based principles that you can use to form your own conclusions regarding any information you may come across within this subject. I really hope you found this article interesting and if you have anything to add to this article, or any comments or criticism, feel free to reach out to me on our facebook groups or on Instagram @tylerwoodward_fit. Also, please feel free to share this article with anyone that might be interested.
Thanks for reading!
Until next time… be good