Do probiotics and prebiotics assist in battling parasites?

By Admin Wednesday May 21 2014 in Opinion
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Imagine that your intestines, large and small, or your gastrointestinal or GI tract is a garden. First of all, outside the garden fence are killer enemies constantly on the alert to attack and kill you.


Inside the fenced-in garden are the following: two sections; the first section, smaller, crushes (digests) and collects (absorbs) most of your food supplies; the second section, much larger and longer, squeezes out any liquids that escaped the smaller section. This larger section, also grows special plants (bioflora) that provide vitamins. Most of all, this larger section houses your armed guards and guard-dogs.


Thus, this role of immunizing you against parasites like tapeworms and threadworms, is assisted by these trillions of live bacteria that inhabit your gut. These probiotics, are also referred to as live cultures in some of the food sources – the prebiotics – you eat, e.g., unpasteurised yogurt and sauerkraut. The etymology of the word probiotic is broken into, “pro/encouraging” and “biotic/life”: probiotic=encouraging life.


Exactly. These bacteria, the probiotics, consuming the prebiotics we wisely eat, play a role most crucial to your health, or do not, if you compromise their role and your body’s ability to combat disease.


A good summation of the above, and as well an introduction to what probiotics do to restore the natural balance of bacteria in your digestive system is cited from an article, “Do Probiotics Kill Parasites” in the online magazine, “Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that may be instrumental in treating your parasitic infection by destroying it and eliminating it from your body.”


And how do these helpful bacteria work? “By restoring the natural balance of bacteria in your digestive system. (This) helps rid your body of harmful bacteria and germs.” Therefore, “taking probiotic supplements or eating foods rich in probiotics may help your body work more efficiently at killing parasites”.


Another publication from The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports that while each person reacts differently to probiotics, they may have the capacity to suppress the growth of parasites. Current Issues in Molecular Biology adds that probiotics might have immune-boosting powers, which may help prevent parasites in the first place.


Lifestyle factors also play a significant role in determining how friendly our large intestines are to hosting these important bacteria. For example, eating a diet high in sugar, fat and processed foods prevents them from growing and thriving. These foods make your body more acidic and prone to inflammation and infestations. By comparison, consumption of fiber from fruits, vegetables and whole grains along with lean proteins like fish, chicken and turkey helps to create an environment that promotes the growth of probiotics in your alkaline-prone body.


In addition, the article continues, “frequent use of antibiotics in our society can greatly disturb the probiotic flora in the gut. Although these antibiotics are intended to kill only the bad bacteria, they also affect the good ones. This is why many people experience diarrhea and yeast infections when they take antibiotics. As the good probiotic bacteria are killed, bad (pathogenic) organisms like yeast are able to get a foot hold in the system. Frequent or long term antibiotic use can dramatically alter the gut flora and can be a significant contributing factor to other long term health problems related to immune dysfunction and intestinal conditions”.


Not surprisingly, then, the large intestine or is also home to the organisms which form your first line of defence and attack against infestations. These organisms, your probiotics, when their numbers are greater and more reinforced than those of the parasites ensure your good health. And the food they use to keep them numerous and healthy are the prebiotics we provide them.


Again, given their significance, and the complexity of the benefits, function and form of these floral bacteria, defining probiotics is challenging. These, according to the US Journal of Parasitology Research are defined as “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host, including the gastrointestinal tract”. In addition, “while this beneficial effect was originally thought to stem from improvements in the intestinal microbial balance, there is now substantial evidence that probiotics can also provide benefits by modulating immune functions”.


Finally, in assisting your probiotics eating their prebiotics to do what they do best, here is advice from the Harvard Medical School’s weekly publication. On issues of how to maintain your health and effective immunity:


  • Don’t smoke.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Control your blood pressure.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.


Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and low in saturated fat.


Get regular medical screening tests for people in your age group and risk category.


Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.


So, how does your garden grow?

TO BE CONTINUED. Visit to leave comments and questions.

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