Let's find out what a probiotic is
Probiotics are microorganisms that live mainly in your gut. They also live in other parts of your body including:
- Your mouth
- Your skin
- Your urinary tract
- Your lungs
- Your vagina
These microorganisms are a combination of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa. Collectively known as your microbiome, this mass of organisms is crucial for your digestive wellness. There are two types of bacteria living in your gut: the so-called ‘good bacteria’ and so-called ‘bad bacteria’. When the bad stuff takes over, due to infection, poor diet, or antibiotic use, you suffer an imbalance. Symptoms of such an imbalance can include:
- Skin conditions such as eczema
- Vaginal and urinary infections
- Frequent colds
- Oral problems
- Irritable bowel
- Inflammatory bowel disease
What exactly is the microbiome?
If you thought the human body was complicated, that’s only the beginning. Inside and outside your body lives a community of trillions of different species, collectively known as your microbiome. If you are healthy, these microorganisms work together to keep your immune system strong, break down any toxins you have consumed, synthesize minerals and vitamins, and protect you from pathogens. In fact, the microbiome is so complex it’s even been labeled another of your body’s organs. Your microbiome isn’t just important for your digestive health. It can also influence your emotions and behavior. In short, your microbiome is one of your most essential organs, without which you wouldn’t be you.
What do probiotics do and where are they found?
Probiotics contain a range of good bacteria, but the most common ones are from the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus families. Medical experts believe they may strengthen your immune system and help to recolonize your body’s microorganism community. Probiotics are found in natural yogurt and plant-based foods, such as kefir, fermented sauerkraut, and fermented soy products such as tempeh. They are also available as dietary supplements.
What is the role of probiotics?
Supporting your gut health
Probiotics are essential for your colon health. They are used to treat, cure, or prevent digestive problems by feeding your microbiome and thereby cleansing your colon and keeping your body in balance. As such, they are an important part of the detoxification process. A lot of the food we consume is contaminated with heavy metals, which can cause numerous diseases , including neurological conditions, liver disease, and headaches. Lactobacilli have been shown to bind to some heavy metals, preventing their absorption in the colon and aiding in the detoxification process.
Our food isn’t only contaminated with heavy metals. For several decades we’ve all been consuming BPA – small plastic articles that leech out of food packaging. While experts are unsure about the exact dangers this poses, BPA is linked to potential brain issues and health problems in children. Certain strains of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli may reduce how much of this toxin is absorbed by the body, thereby curbing their negative effects and acting as a cleanse for the colon.
Sadly, there are still more toxins to be found in our food sources. Just like BPA, perchlorate leeches into our food from plastic packaging and has even been found in some drinking water. It can hinder the uptake of iodine in the thyroid gland, leading to reduced thyroid production. Thankfully, probiotics have been shown to reduce this toxic molecule.
Organophosphate pesticides – some of the most widely used chemicals in food production – are linked to allergic diseases, heart disease, and type II diabetes, among other health complaints. Strains of Lactobacilli can break down these environmental toxins, sequestering and degrading them.
Probiotics don’t only help you to cleanse toxins from your system; they also have a beneficial impact on the nutrients you take in. We tend to think of malnourished people as being underweight, but it can also occur in obesity since a chronically unhealthy diet will lead to inadequate gut flora. Probiotics improve nutrient absorption in your gut, helping you maximize the nutritional benefit you take from your food.
Improving your bowel health
As an essential component of good gut health, probiotics also work to regulate your bowel movements. They have been shown to probably prevent antibiotic-related diarrhea. They may also work to combat constipation, having been linked to enhanced stool consistency and frequency as well as improved gut transit time. Results look promising for those suffering from IBS-related constipation too.
If you have recently taken antibiotics, it could be a good idea to cleanse your colon with probiotics. This is because antibiotic-resistant bacteria may increase in the gut, influencing your bowel movements, and overall health. Probiotics can counter these effects, reducing the gut imbalance and improving your feeling of wellbeing.
Supporting your immune system
Probiotics also play an essential role in your immune system. The microbes in your digestive tract act as a barrier against harmful microorganisms. Probiotics alter your microbiome, alleviating the inflammatory response in your gut. This has a balancing effect since the probiotics fight alongside your existing microflora to prevent destructive bacteria from infiltrating.
And the rest
On top of everything else, probiotics may also be associated with reduced depression, improved liver health and cholesterol, improved blood pressure, and possibly even weight loss. Women who suffer from recurrent vaginal infections may benefit from taking probiotics, as may colon cancer patients, though the jury’s still out on those. While some of the evidence about the benefits of probiotics is, as yet, inconclusive, it is likely that more evidence will emerge in the near future since they are currently a massive area of research.
How exactly do probiotics affect the colon?
With all of their positive effects, it’s no surprise that probiotics are often used in the cleansing of the colon. Scientists are still learning exactly how probiotics work in the colon, and since there are so many different strains, the science is complex. We do know that certain probiotics produce digestion-promoting enzymes in the gut. Some probiotics adhere to the mucus lining in the gut, thereby curbing pathogen growth. Furthermore, probiotics are able to synthesize vitamins that are necessary for optimum health and have the ability to change the composition of your microbiome.
How to take probiotics for colon cleanse
Always make sure you speak to your medical practitioner before embarking on a new supplement regime, especially if you have an underlying health condition. If you have decided to go ahead with your probiotics colon cleanse, you may be confused by the vast array of dietary supplements on the market. There are some simple things to look out for. Your product should contain at least one billion colony-forming live and active cultures and should include the strains Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, or Saccharomyces, which are the most well-researched families
Understand that probiotics may cause gas and bloating. This is a perfectly normal side effect, which shows that your product is doing its job. Get in the habit of feeding your microbiome just as you feed yourself. The best way to do this is to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables which contain prebiotics – undigestible fibers that provide food for probiotics. This will allow your good bacteria to flourish and keep your gut balanced. Some of your best options can be:
What else can you do for colon cleansing?
Probiotics are one of the optimal ways to cleanse the colon, but the holistic approach is always best, so make sure you follow these simple recommendations too:
- Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water helps balance the microbiome and is an easy way to keep your colon cleansed.
- Limit alcohol consumption. Excess alcohol consumption can feed the bad bacteria in your colon while reducing the good stuff.
- Limit your intake of sugar, salt, and processed foods. In high quantities, such food can reduce the diversity of bacteria in your gut.
- Move your body. Exercise keeps your microbiome healthy.
- Add fermented foods to your diet. There are plenty of plant-based fermented foods that serve as natural probiotics. Look out for sauerkraut, kimchi, and fermented soy products such as natto and tempeh.
- Get plenty of sleep. Evidence suggests a link between colon health and sleep.
Colon cleanses may be a good way of improving your digestive health, but it’s always a good idea to speak to your healthcare provider before starting one on your own. Probiotic supplements are generally considered safe. The most important thing to consider when choosing a dietary supplement is its ingredients, since some cheap versions may contain ingredients that are not probiotics. The best thing you can do for the health of your colon is to take a holistic approach. Follow a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep and exercise, and limit your intake of processed food on top of taking probiotic supplements. With a little bit of effort, it’s perfectly possible to change your digestive health for the better.