Who said bacteria are bad for you?

In Get Serious’ chapter dedicated to nutritional supplements, I strongly advocate the use of daily probiotics. What are probiotics exactly? Simple. They are ingested microorganisms with beneficial effects. Salmonella therefore is not a probiotic. It is a pathogenic (or disease causing) bacterium and often the causative agent of “food poisoning.” Probiotics such as lactobacillus and saccharomyces strains confer just the opposite effects. And there are many.

Probiotics, which are abundant in foods (such as yogurt, kefir and kimchi) and in supplement form, have been demonstrated to improve blood pressure, insulin resistance, lactose intolerance and reduce the incidence of antibiotic-associated colitis (which kills many people every year). Not convinced yet? Listen to this. Probiotics, by virtue of their effects on the gut may reduce the incidence of age-related disease! Let’s take a step backwards first. Immunosenescence or faltering immune system surveillance that develops with age, is thought to be one of the underpinnings of cancer. We develop cancer every single day, yet cancer is relatively uncommon in the young, because one’s immune system is functioning optimally.  But as we age, for a variety of reasons, there is a measurable reduction in NK-cell function, and cancerous cells literally slide by these “immunologic attack dogs.”

Here’s the cool thing. This digression may be to some degree tempered by one’s daily consumption of probiotics. Exposing the lining of your gut to beneficial microflora, according to a recent entry in Rejuvenation Research, may inhibit cancer development by limiting exposure to carcinogens and acting as inhibitors of  tumor initiation acting by different mechanisms, including reactive oxygen species (free radical) scavenging, changes in phase I and II enzymes of carcinogen metabolism and further DNA damage. In English? Probiotics, by maintaining a healthy gut microenvironment, protect one from the damaging effects of food. Yes, damaging. Remember, it is theorized that 85% of cancers are environmental. And carcinogens resident within our food are largely implicated (as are tobacco smoke and UV radiation). That said, do what I do: PROTECT YOURSELF FROM YOUR FOOD even in the context of healthy eating (as your nutritional regimen is likely not as healthy as you may believe). Supplement with probiotics on an empty stomach 15 minutes before one or two meals daily.  Assure intake of at least 2 billion CFU’s per day.  Whether your chosen probiotic comes in the form of kefir, another fermented food product or a supplement, it should not be neglected, particularly in those on antibiotics. So forget the apple a day (fructose is bad for you, remember?). Instead chose a healthy serving of bacteria.


Mohania D, Kansal VK, Kruzliak P, Kumari A.  Probiotic dahi containing lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium bifidum modulates the formation of aberrant crypt foci, mucin-depleted foci, and cell proliferation on 1,2-dimethylhydrazine-induced colorectal carcinogenesis in wistar rats.  Rejuvenation Research. 2014;17(4):325-33.