Probiotics: A Matter of Life and Health

The study of probiotics started at the beginning of the 20th century when Nobel Laureate, Dr Elie Metchnikoff studied peasants who displayed longer lifespans. He noted that their diets included natural probiotics foods including fermented dairy products and further proposed a link between longevity and the natural probiotic bacteria found in yoghurt.

In the body, probiotic bacteria attach to the intestinal wall and produce a mildly acidic environment (primarily with lactic acid) creating optimal conditions for health. Our digestive system is home to trillions of beneficial bacteria.

Top 15 benefits of probiotics are:

  • Curbs growth of harmful, disease-causing bacterial species
  • Promotes better gut health, reducing the rate of intestinal infection
  • Stimulates positive effects on immune function
  • Decreases overall infection rates
  • Increases nutrient-availability for the body
  • Assists in digestion by nourishing the cells of the intestine, increasing bioavailability
  • Helps produce important enzymes for nutrient absorption, breaking down many foods such as proteins, carbohydrates and sugars like lactose
  • Controls growth of fungal infections such as Candida
  • Prevents allergy development [Lactobacillus casei – Kalliomäki et al., 2001]
  • Improves general immunity [Lactobacillus reuteri – Tubelius, Stan & Zacharisson, 2005]
  • Elevates bioavailability of many vitamins and minerals such as vitamins K and B12, folic acid and calcium
  • Diminishes excess gas production
  • Balances the skin to reduce breakouts, rashes and other skin problems
  • Maintain urinary health and live flora balances
  • Facilitates detoxification via the liver

6 Reasons why your beneficial bacteria aren’t working:

  • Though antibiotics may eradicate bad bacteria, they also flush out the good bacteria in the intestine, so it’s important to boost these levels following a course of antibiotics.
  • Mothers who choose not to breastfeed may inhibit the establishment of probiotics in the child, therefore supplementing with a probiotic suitable for infants can be a great alternative.
  • During birth, the child is innoculated with the mother’s natural microbes. However, Cesarean-section (C-section) deliveries prevent this from happening.
  • Research shows chronic stress increases cortisol and intestinal permeability.
  • Chlorine in tap water can kill a wide range of good and bad bacteria.
  • Treatments such as laxatives, oral contraceptives, radiation and chemotherapy can alter the microbiome environment in the gut.

Probiotics are a powerful source of energy and vitality. Through lifestyle, food choices and environmental exposure, our digestive and immune health can be compromised or empowered leading towards a long life full of wellbeing.

Which Probiotics Are Right For You?

There are many probiotics species, which studies demonstrate have different actions and effects. Choose the strains to heal and balance your microbiome.

Lactobacillus acidophilus: The best known of the friendly bacteria, important in maintaining a healthy, balanced flora in the small intestine. Enhances digestion of milk sugar (lactose) and aids in the production of vitamins and enzymes that help digest and absorb many nutrients. Lactobacillus acidophilus stimulates peristalsis produces: DL-lactic acid, which is bacteriostatic to pathogens (including yeast); produces antibiotic substances antagonistic to toxic bacteria; relieves GI distress caused by bloating, colitis, constipation, diarrhoea, enteritis, flatulence, and itching. The DDS-1 strain is among the most potent of the acidophilus sub-species.

Lactobacillus rhamnosus: Produces L-(+) lactic acid and is ten times more prolific than L. acidophilus. It acidifies and protects the small intestines against toxins, creates the anaerobic condition conducive to successful colonization of bifidobacteria, and prevents and inhibits growth of urogenital-pathogens including Candida, E. coli, Haemophilus vaginalis and Trichomonas vaginalis. Laboratory studies have shown that L. rhamnosus boosts white blood cell activity. L. rhamnosus increases the phagocytosis (eating up) of foreign microbes and other foreign matter by white blood cells. L. rhamnosus also helps the body resist microbial infections by significantly increasing levels of immunoglobulins and directly activating macrophages.

Lactobacillus casei: Highly prolific and among the most potent of all Lactobacillus strains: produces the bacteriostatic lactic acid, digests a wide range of carbohydrates, and improves inflammatory bowel disease. This strain has been shown in two studies to reduce the rate of development of atopic allergy by approximately half in supplemented children and breastfeeding mothers. Studies also show that antibiotic courses increase the rate of atopic illness (Kalliomäki et al., 2001).

Lactobacillus reuteri: Scandinavian studies have shown this strain to probably be the premier immune support agent. At recommended per day, it reduces infection rates in school children by half (Weizman, Asli & Alsheikh, 2005). Similar statistically-proven, double-blind cross-over trials in office and factory settings show work absences related to infections to be reduced by approximately half (Tubelius, Stan & Zacharisson, 2005). This probiotic supplement, along with L. rhamnosus and other probiotics may be the simplest way to boost overall immunity. L. reuteri also strongly inhibits H. pylori and assists recovery of the gut following H. pylori antibiotic therapy (Francavilla et al., 2008).

Lactobacillus brevis: Enhances the body’s immune defense by increasing the natural ability to produce alpha interferon, natural killer cell activity and enzyme activity.

Lactobacillus plantarum: Has high digestive capacity, particularly for the breakdown of proteins because of its ability to eliminate protein wastes from the intestine before they enter the bloodstream, it detoxifies. It also produces lactic acid and acts as a natural antibiotic (as acidophilin).

Lactobacillus salivarius: Effective in reducing symptoms of bowel toxemia, completes the breakdown of undigested proteins, renders putrefying pathogens inert, and has beneficial effects on food poisoning. Normalizes intestinal pH and reduces malabsorption and bowel transit time. Produces B vitamins and vitamin K, enzymes and lactic acid, and aids in the production of lactase. It increases pancreatic function and stimulates the formation of circulating antibodies. It strongly inhibits H. pylori growth.

Bifidobacterium bifidum: Predominant organisms in the stool of breast-fed infants, it has a lactic acid protection benefit. Synthesises B1, B2, B6, K, and assists lactose digestion.

Bifidobacterium longum: Produces L-(+) lactic acid and acetic acid and produces formic acid from fermentable carbohydrates. These reduce putrefaction, balance the acidity of the small and large intestines, inhibit toxic bacteria and ammonia production, produce B vitamins and corrects vitamin K deficiency, and reestablish healthy vaginal flora.

Bifidobacterium infantis: These bacteria are proven to reduce IBS. Sufferers experience fewer overall symptoms and less abdominal pain and discomfort after two months’ use. It assists in the digestion of disaccharides such as lactose. It is the predominate probiotic of breast-fed infants.

Streptococcus thermophilus: Produces lactic acid and lactase. It is also used as a yoghurt start-up culture.

Make Sure Your Probiotics Are Alive

Probiotics must be administered alive to be effective. The methods of shipping, storage, and freight are crucial to ensure that you get the most ‘bugs for your buck’.

All IMI probiotics have been airfreighted directly to us in Hong Kong under refrigeration. They are stored in a government-approved temperature and humidity controlled environment, and then kept refrigerated in IMI dispensary before being shipped out to you with cool gel for temperature control, to ensure optimal quality.

If you are unsure of which probiotic is right for you, ask one of our Dispensary Advisors, or contact us at

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