Local Insights

Published on September 7th, 2013 | by Bob Lukasik

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A Healthy Body Begins with The Gut

Many people that have “seen the light” and decided to start eating healthier have adopted a program of dietary supplements. But how do we know that the nutrients from our diets and supplements are getting into the bloodstream to be utilized by the cells?
 
Nutrients must pass through the stomach into the small intestine where, in a perfectly functioning system, the vitamins or minerals would pass into the bloodstream through the millions of villi that line the intestinal wall. These villi are kept in optimal condition by beneficial, good bacteria called probiotics, which means life promoting. A healthy human body contains approximately 30 trillion of these symbiotic bacteria—that’s three to four pounds worth!
 
Among their many functions, these probiotics have been shown to produce B vitamins in the intestine, where they are readily absorbed; help reduce cholesterol levels; aid in the digestion of dairy products via production of lactase; and act as a “natural antibiotic” in the GI tract, the urinary tract and the vaginal tract.
 
But our 21st-century lifestyle gets in the way of proper GI health. The list of substances that are hostile to the beneficial bacteria is lengthy: stress, antacids, laxatives, antibiotics, birth control pills, diet (high-fat, high animal protein, refined foods, simple carbohydrates), excess alcohol consumption, lack of adequate complex carbohydrates, pollution, pesticides, herbicides and chlorine. If the pH of the stomach has been altered, then the pH of the small and large intestines will be changed and the environment for the good bacteria becomes inhospitable.
 
It is best to focus on replenishing the bacteria using a good strain of probiotics. Some probiotics are a combination of products featuring multiple strains, each with its own host of benefits. Choose a probiotic formulation that contains bacteria which natively reside in and colonize the large intestine, like bifidobacterium bifidum. Be sure to use a product that lists the number of viable, colonizing bacteria on the label. Multiple-strain formulas are a good choice and it’s wise to look for between 5 billion and 10 billion bacteria per dose.
 
Remember that all the nutrients in the world are useless if the body has lost its ability to process and absorb the essential fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and related compounds. A healthy gut is the first key to a healthy body.

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About the Author

is a clinical nutritionist with Millers Pharmacy, located at 678 Wyckoff Ave., in Wyckoff. For more information, call 201-891-3333 or visit MillersPharmacy.com.


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