Probiotics for Immunity
By Shmuel Shields, Ph.D., N.Y.S. Certified Nutritionist
Probiotic microorganisms refer to the beneficial bacteria found in your digestive tract (the term “bio” is associated with life – in this case of bacterial organisms). They assist in the metabolism, digestion, and breakdown of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes needed by the body’s organs. These healthy flora help the overall immune system by identifying harmful toxins and pathogens in order to engulf and destroy them, thus detoxifying common allergens and carcinogens.
In their role of strengthening the immune system, probiotics protect against fungal infections – both internally and on the skin – and also against gastrointestinal imbalances. I personally know someone who told me about his experience with an exceptional probiotic formula. After only a few weeks of using this supplement, the severe epidermal foot fungus from which he had suffered for years was dramatically relieved.
Probiotics are grown, fermented, and cultivated from various media, such as dairy, vegetables, beans, or beets. Antibiotic therapies, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and chlorinated drinking water all tend to destroy these beneficial bacteria. Therefore, replenishing them in supplemental form is important for maintaining optimal health.
What is advisable to look for in a probiotic supplement? Its potency should be guaranteed through the expiration date, and it should require refrigeration to maintain potency. A good formula contains both lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacteria. Many formulas also contain prebiotics, which help sustain and even increase the amounts of live active organisms.
Since cultured and fermented foods are more limited or even missing from our diets today, it can be beneficial to use a probiotic supplement daily. Research indicates that probiotics are even more essential when on antibiotic therapy. However, anyone taking drugs to suppress the immune system should not use probiotics. If you have been diagnosed with any autoimmune condition, speak to your physician about possible probiotic use.
Whenever supplementing, start slowly, since using large dosages too quickly can cause temporary intestinal discomfort. Please feel free to contact me directly for more information about high quality probiotic supplements that are now available at my office.
Dr. Shmuel Shields is a N.Y.S. Certified Nutritionist who works with children and adults. His Torah-based book on health, L’Chaim: 18 Chapters to Live By, is available directly through the author, online, and at Jewish bookstores near you. For more information about his book and unique line of multivitamin-mineral supplements, visit www.drshieldsnutrition.com. To order directly through the author or for a consultation with Dr. Shields, contact him at Rmshields62@verizon.net or call (718) 544-4036. Most insurance plans are accepted. House calls, phone and e-mail consultations, and guest speaking can be arranged.