Probiotics promote the natural balance of the gut flora. The function of the digestive system is to transform food into small nutrients that can easily be absorbed by the body. The process of transforming food into nutrients is known as digestion. If the digestive process is not operating as it should be and breaking food down into nutrients then this can have an effect on the whole body, its functioning and therefore on overall wellbeing.

In human beings the intestinal microflora contains about 100,000 billion bacteria belonging to 400 different species. Microflora is involved in a number of digestive process and can be stimulated by micro-organisms such as probiotics.

The intestinal microflora is involved in the chemical digestion of various substances. The process of the substances being broken down by the intestinal microflora is important because the nutrients are then used by the body for energy and immune support.

What do Consumers currently think about Probiotics?

New survey conducted in June 2011 highlights some of the misconceptions about Probiotics and Professor Glenn Gibson puts the record straight.

Key Statistics

  • Only 21% of people surveyed currently take probiotics
  • 46% would consider taking a probiotic supplement
  • 54% of people do not think that probiotics should be taken every day
  • 83% of participants were unaware that stomach acid can reduce the number of probiotics

Q&A with Prof Gibson

I get enough probiotics by having them once or twice a week

Prof Gibson says, “When used regularly probiotics help to increase the beneficial bacteria already found within the body and balance the natural gut flora.

It’s best to have probiotics at the start of the day

“Many people take their probiotics in the morning which is absolutely fine,” says Prof Gibson. “However people should make sure to leave at least 30mins after consuming a hot drink such as tea/coffee as hot liquids will destroy the bacteria.”

I should look for the greatest number of probiotic cultures when selecting a probiotic

“This is an important factor,” says Prof Gibson, “however there are a number of other factors to consider such as the number of probiotic strains and how many probiotic cultures will be reduced in the stomach environment. Some probiotic supplements have a protective coating which helps to ensures the beneficial bacteria reaches the right places

It's best to take probiotics regularly

Prof Gibson says, “Probiotics should be taken on a continual basis, ideally for at least three months. They can be taken every day.”

Probiotics help restore the gut flora after a course of antibiotics

Antibiotics kill bacteria, but aren't smart enough to only target the harmful bacteria that are causing the illness. Antibiotics kill all bacteria, disturbing the gut flora, allowing potentially dangerous bacteria to overgrow.

After treatment with antibiotics, you may wish to rebalance the gut flora by taking probiotics.

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