Food Sources of Probiotics

Foods high in probiotics are fermented foods.  These foods naturally contain both prebiotics and probiotics, making them synbiotic.  Some of the most common fermented foods are dairy products.  DBM uses some of these dairy products from time to time (patient specific), and ALWAYS ONLY from goat or sheep milk.

The term SYNBIOTIC is used when a product contains both probiotics and prebiotics. Because the word alludes to synergism, this term should be reserve for products in which the prebiotic compound selectively favours the probiotic compound.  In this strict sense, a product containing oligofructose and probiotic bifidobacteria would fulfill the definition, whereas a product containing oligofructose and a probiotic Lactobacillus casei strain would NOT.  However, one might argue that synergism is attained in vivo by ingestion of lactobacilli on the one hand and promotion of indigenous bifidobacteria on the other hand. 

Vegan sources of probiotics used by DBM include:

  • Sauerkraut - this is DBM's FIRST choice
  • RAW Apple Cider Vinegar - with the mother plant
  • Kimchi
  • Sourdough bread
  • Sour pickles - in brine and NOT vinegar
  • Olives - in brine and NOT vinegar
  • Kombucha - MUST be well fermented for at least 10 days

Body’s Flora (Indigenous Bacteria in the Human Body)

About one hundred trillion bacteria live inside you - Up to a 1000 species and more than TEN TIMES the number of cells you have in your body! These indigenous bacteria are referred to as the body’s flora and live in many areas of your body, including the skin, intestines, mouth, nose, pharynx, urethra  and vagina.  Organisms are considered either “friendly” or “unfriendly” - when “Friendlies” and “Unfriendlies” have an appropriately balanced presence, the body can better maintain health

Friendly Bacteria - “Friendly” bacterial flora provide many health benefits to the body.  They thrive on dietary fibre and other so called prebiotic foods.

Unfriendly Organisms - These include pathogenic bacteria, friendly bacteria multiplying out of control, and fungi, such as  yeast  E.g. Candida albicans;   When uncontrolled by “Friendly bacteria”, the “unfriendlies” can cause disease or illness to their host.   The “Unfriendly” organisms in your body thrive on sugar, imagine the “party” those pathogenic bacteria and fungi (incl. yeast) are having when you feed them.

How do beneficial flora /probiotics work against pathogens?

Beneficial flora are antagonistic/competitive towards pathogenic bacteria. 

Probiotics help normalize acid/alkali balance in the intestine - “Friendly” bacteria decrease colonization of pathogenic organisms in the gut by secreting acids that are toxic to local pathogenic bacteria – by liberating hydrogen peroxide and organic acids (E.g. Lactic, butyric and acetic acids) in the intestines, the local luminal pH is shifted downward to create an unfavourable environment for growth of pathogenic flora.  Williams NT. Probiotics. Am J Health-Syst Pharm. 2010;67:449-458.  Alvarez-Olmos MI, Oberhelman RA. Probiotic agents and infectious diseases: a modern perspective on a traditional therapy. Clin Infect Dis. 2001;32:1567-1576.

The health benefits of probiotics are numerous, to see some of these benefits, see Health Benefits Table 1 alongside, and Table 2 to get an idea of how to increase the healthy bacteria in the gut.

Beneficial Flora stimulate immune mechanisms of intestinal mucosa

  • They increase cytokine activity
  • Increase lymphocyte activity / intestinal macrophage phagocytosis - by causing local macrophages to increase antigen presentation to B-lymphocytes and increase secretory anti-body immunoglobulin A (IgA) production both locally and systemically
  • Reduce imune system reaction to food antigens
  • Helpt to stimulate the production of the protective mucous layer lining the GI Trace - they can also line the mucous layer to add an extra level of defence keeping out pathogenic bacteria

Beneficial flora produce beneficial metabolic enzymes

  • Digest undigested polysaccarides / mucin / fibre e.g. starch, glycogen, cellulose and chitin
  • Produce the enzyme lactase whichbreaks down lactose, thereby benefiting those who are lactose-intolerant
  • Beneficial flora induces synthesis of B-group of vitamins - B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12, as well as folic acid and biotin
  • Improve uptake and absorption of calcium
  • Regulates levels of an enzyme that is involved in the production of cholesterol within the body
  • Acts directly on cholesterol in the GI Tract

Appropriately balanced gut flora are instrumental in maintaining health

Studies are demonstrating the ability of the gut flora and oral probiotics to influence systemic inflammation, oxidative stress, glycaemic control, tissue lipid content and even moods – at least 60% of our immune system is located in our digestive system.                                         

You have a good "Gut Feeling" can be taken literally - since most SEROTONIN, the "feel-good" chemical, is produced in the gut.            

Benefits of Beneficial Flora in the GI Tract

 A healthy balance of gut flora is generally considered to be 15% “unfriendly” bacteria vs. 85% “friendly” bacteria – which prevent the over colonization of disease causing micro-organisms (E.g. E. coli and Salmonella) and compete with and prevent the overgrowth of yeast and fungi .   Many lifestyle and environmental factors can upset this balance by harming the “friendlies”  - such as:

  • Poor diet - excess sugar / fructose, processed foods / refined grains, herbicides / insecticides / pesticieds
  • Chlorinated / fluoridated drinking and showering water
  • Too much alcohol
  • Pollution - industrial / household chemicals
  • Climate
  • Aging
  • Medication - especially antibiotics / anti-bacterial soaps (which destroy all bacteria - both good and bad), contraceptive pill and antacids
  • Illness
  • Stress
  • pH
  • Infection
  • Geographic location
  • Race
  • Socio-economic circumstances

Symptoms that your “friendly bacteria” are “Losing the Battle”- include:

  • Cravings for sugar and refined carb foods.  The "unfriendlies" are insisting you feed them
  • fgas and bloating
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Constipation or diarrhoea

A large part of the influence of the "bad" bacteria is on the intestinal lining (mucosal barrier) - which is over 300 square meters (about the size of a tennis court.)

For optimum intestinal flora balance, the beneficial LACTIC ACID bacteria, such as the gram-positive LACTOBACILLI and BIFIDOBACTERIA, should predominate – (BIFIDOBACTERIA account for ~ 90% of the total colonic beneficial microflora) – Presenting a barrier to invading organisms, they break down food carbohydrates to produce acids, such as lactic acid (break-down product of lactose).

The most common of these lactic acid bacteria are: 

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus - inhabits both the small and the large intestines
  • Bifodabacteria bifidum - more prevalent in the large intestine; also the dominant species of the intestinal tract of breast-fed infants.

Reference: Kenneth Todar, PhD. Online Textbook of BacteriologyIn the GI Tract:

Health Benefits Table 1
Health Benefits Table 1
Health Benefits Table 2
Health Benefits Table 2