Ok, so there I was researching some information the other day for a particular blog post, and I came across an article pertaining to probiotics. The fact that I’m not great at multi-tasking, I was immediately side tracked and became submerged in the world of probiotics an all their amazing health benefits. So what are these little gems all about? How do we go about getting them in our diet? What about other alternatives to increasing the amount that we get? Lets take a closer look!
Well, first off, what are probiotics? Probiotics are microorganisms—such as bacteria, viruses and yeasts—that can be seen only under a microscope and that are often referred to as “healthy” or “good” bacteria. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and defined by the World Health Organization, probiotics are “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”. The benefits of incorporating probiotics into one’s diet have been widely speculated, as little evidence exists to support the long-term health benefits. Despite the lack of formal evidence, the probiotic trend has swept the health and diet industries for their potential cleansing benefits, immune boosting powers and nutritional value.
Benefits Of Probiotics:
Probiotics are believed to protect us in two ways. The first is the role is how probiotics play in our digestive tract. We know that our digestive tract needs a healthy balance between the good and bad bacteria, so what gets in the way of this? It looks like our lifestyle is both the problem and the solution. Foods high in probiotics (Kombucha, Kefir, pickles, tempeh, just to name a few) are an amazing way to start getting more into your system, but poor food choices, emotional stress, lack of sleep, antibiotic overuse, other drugs, and environmental influences can all shift the balance in favor of the bad bacteria.
When the digestive tract is healthy, it filters out and eliminates things that can damage it, such as harmful bacteria, toxins, chemicals, and other waste products. On the flip side, it takes in the things that our body needs (nutrients from food and water) and absorbs and helps deliver them to the cells where they are needed.
The idea is not to kill off all of the bad bacteria. Our body does have a need for the bad ones and the good ones. The problem is when the balance is shifted to have more bad than good. An imbalance has been associated with diarrhea, urinary tract infections, muscle pain, and fatigue.
Parabens are chemicals used as preservatives, and that’s why they are found in so many products. They are used to fight bacteria and fungus, are widely available, and cost very little to manufacture and use. Nearly all of the parabens used as preservatives are man-made and not naturally occurring.
Colby College’s Clean Makeup website reports that parabens can mimic estrogen and disrupt the body’s hormone system. Cornell University reports that a high lifelong exposure to estrogen can increase breast cancer risk. Estrogen, and synthetic chemicals that act like estrogen, play a role in stimulating the division of breast cells and affect other hormones that stimulate breast cell division. Your body does not easily break down synthetic estrogen, and it can accumulate in fat cells, including breast tissue. In 2004, a study by the University of Reading in the United Kingdom found concentrations of parabens, particularly methylparaben, in human breast tumors. The study examined only the presence of parabens in the tumors but did not determine that they were the cause of the tumors.
Decreased Sperm Levels:
Parabens can also adversely affect the male reproductive system. In a study by the Tokyo Metropolitan Research Laboratory of Public Health, researchers administered parabens to three-week-old rats. After four weeks, researchers examined the rats and found their sperm production significantly decreased in relation to the amount of parabens they had received. The rats who received the highest dose of parabens, which was consistent with the daily acceptable intake of parabens in Europe and Japan, showed a significant decrease in sperm concentration.