You Cannot Live Without Bacteria!

By Guest Blogger   |  12Comments|

As you might already know, digestion (and good healthy poops!) is one of my favorite topics. “Probiotics” are all the rage these days but with so many to choose from what’s a crazy sexy gal or dude to do? I’ve found that Dr. Ohirra’s blend gives me perky and productive bowels. I’ve ask Martie (an expert at Ohirra headquarters) to share the nuts and bolts of bacteria in our bellies and explain why bacteria help keep our digestive track healthy. Whether you choose to explore Ohirra’s or another good brand, this is a must-read blog. Peace and happy poo- Kris

By Martie Whittekin

Really? Yes, bacteria are critical to our health. Of course, I’m not talking about the kind that develop when you leave potato salad out too long, or those on your kitchen sponge. Those can be nasty. However, we routinely have as many as 1,000 times more personal bacterial cells than even our own body cells. There are so many bacteria in our intestinal tracts that they weigh three to four pounds! Good bacteria are so important that if our gut was sterile for long, we would die. Experts believe that an imbalance of bugs precedes most degenerative health conditions..†

What do probiotics do? Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria. They create vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, K, and Biotin); feed the gut lining; help digest food (e.g. reduce lactose intolerance); detoxify dangerous substances; help remove hormone excess; crowd out harmful bacteria and fungi and produce substances to fight them; help maintain healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels; increase the number of immune cells; help cells reproduce normally; and reduce inflammatory response and stimulate cell repair mechanisms. You don’t have to be a doctor to realize how many aspects of health are helped by probiotics. You can imagine that all heck breaks loose if the probiotics become weakened and/or taken over by bad organisms (pathogens).

How do the good guys get weakened? Perhaps the biggest threat to probiotics (which incidentally means “for life”) is antibiotics (which means “against life”). Antibiotics are drugs intended to kill disease-causing bacteria but can kill the good guys as well. Millions of pounds of antibiotics are used in agriculture, leaving residue in meat and dairy products.

Modern life is full of threats to our good bacteria: chlorinated and fluoridated water; diets high in sugar and other simple carbohydrates; and drugs such as hormones, stomach acid blockers, and steroids. Stress and environmental toxins are problems as well.

What can happen then? When the good bacteria no longer have the upper hand and illness-producing bacteria and yeasts thrive instead, the condition is called “dysbiosis.” Symptoms include: allergies, heartburn, skin problems (like acne, eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea), bad breath and gum disease, chronic unexplained fatigue, yeast infections, difficulty losing weight, gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhea, bone thinning, frequent colds and other infections, joint pain/inflammation, insomnia, and extreme menstrual or menopausal symptoms. In fact, virtually any risk factor (e.g. cholesterol), system (e.g. problems of the nervous system, like headaches or depression), organ (e.g. the liver), or disease (e.g. asthma) is worsened by a digestive system that isn’t working correctly due to insufficient friendly bugs.

How can we strengthen them? First, avoid the threats to probiotics listed above. Reduce sugar intake and increase fiber (food for the bugs) in your diet. Take a probiotic supplement to replenish the supply of good guys.

Does brand make a difference? Absolutely. It simply isn’t possible to supplement our hundreds of probiotic strains, especially when you consider that each person’s strains are unique. Therefore, select a product that improves the gut environment and supports all beneficial bacteria. If you have heartburn or signs of dysbiosis, look for a brand that contains the potent TH10 strain, which is an enemy of H. pylori and several strains of bacteria that cause disease.

The actual quantity of bacteria (CFU count) is not nearly as important as using a complete product. A complete system contains:
· Many bacterial strains—delivered live, not as a white powder
· The food supply the bacteria were grown upon
· The substances the bacteria make that help control bad organisms. (This includes various bacteriocins and organic acids that may actually be the most important part of the product.)
· In an IDEAL product:
· The several strains are fermented together, avoiding the territorial competition that is a major downside of combining freeze-dried strains.
· Will contain the proprietary TH10 strain.
· The culture medium will contain NO dairy, soy, or gluten, but rather fruits, vegetables, herbs, and seaweeds.
· If the bacteria are fermented at natural temperatures and packaged properly, the product will not require refrigeration.
· The product is backed by extensive scientific research.

I suggest Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics 12+, which meet the above criteria. This product also has the advantages of being vegan and packed in convenient-to-carry blister packs.

Martie Whittekin is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and author of Natural Alternatives to Nexium, Maalox, Tagamet, Prilosec and other Acid Blockers. She hosts the nationally-syndicated talk radio show, Healthy by Nature, now in its 13th year and writes a weekly electronic newsletter, Health e-Notes. Martie is a leader in the nutrition industry trade associations, a long time health freedom activist, lecturer and a popular guest on a variety of health-focused TV and radio shows.

† Gazella, Karolyn, Fred Pescatore, et al. Boost Your Health with Bacteria. El Segundo: Active Interest Media Inc, 2009. 7-25. Print.

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12 responses to You Cannot Live Without Bacteria!
  1. Luke said on May 27, 2010

    I’ve wanted to try Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics but are confused as to whether they really are vegan? Several websites list beeswax as an ingredient. Could someone clarify? Thanks!

  2. I totally agree with this. After becoming vegan my skin cleared up almost immediatly, I got more energy that my family even noticed, and even though I am on birth control my menstal cramps lessened.
    I dont like taking supplements so I get probiotics by eatting vegan yogurt. I love coconut flavored yogurt that isnt avaliable in my grocery store so I can only get it at Whole Foods when I go. I get the large size and its gone in a few days.
    As a nursing student I know that many patients think anti-biotics are the answer to everything when they can really cause more damage.

  3. I got my hands on a small amount of Kefir. I ferment it in Raw Cows Milk. It does work a treat. It has to be alive. The capsule products will make you fart.

  4. There are also many vegan food sources of probiotics. Cultured foods such as the coconut yogurt & kefir mentioned above, tempeh, pickled foods (ones preferable w/out added chemicals, like raw sauerkraut) & nut cheeses to name a few. I prefer to obtain my nutrients, even probiotics, naturally from foods when possible. If your diet is lacking in these foods, or you have a special medical condition, supplements may be necessary. And since kids will be kids, I am sure to give my children a probiotic supplement every other day.

  5. @Luke – The beeswax is a component (albeit small) of only the outer casing of the capsule. Sometimes people squeeze the contents out.

  6. @Erika – There are many sources of probiotics that are useful even though they may contain only one transient strain. Our systems have many hundreds of strains, each of which has a different job. Each person has a unique blend. One reason I’m so fond of Dr. Ohhira’s is that it improves the intestinal environment for all the strains.

  7. @Scottie Australia – My friend the famous author Sherry Rogers, MD said that if a probiotic supplement in higher doses than the label calls for doesn’t give her gas, she knows it is ineffective.

  8. @OrganiKooK – Just think about all the things in our lives that are hard on our friendly bacteria, beyond the antibiotics Errika mentioned. Many other medications such as acid blockers, hormones and steroids for example. Chlorine in the drinking water, second hand antibiotics in dairy products, too much sugar in the diet, artificial sweeteners, radiation, stress…the list goes on. That’s why I think we need to work hard at restoring balance.

  9. Drew said on June 1, 2010

    Martie, Thank you for the information. I knew that I should getting more good bacteria in my system but just couldn’t bear all the sugar in regular store bought yogurt or those new yogurt drinks. I’ve also not been a big fan of the freeze dried bacteria. How do we know that they’ll come back to full strength after they get in the gut? My Question for you, why doesn’t our body think we are getting attacked, and start an immune system reaction when we take a probiotic with 10.9 quadagabazillion CFUs? (probably a made up number, but it’s big!)

  10. I must not read enough. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone refer to GOOD bacteria. It makes sense though.
    @Drew Have you ever tried making your own yogurt? I have a friend that does it, and once you get it going, it’s fairly easy to keep up with your daily needs. It’s odd to have cultures growing in your kitchen, but probably worth it if you eat enough!


  11. Wow! How fun to see Martie Whittekin on your page, Kris! She’s an old friend of mine. I came to your page to get a recommendation for a good probiotic and I got a special treat, reading what Martie has to say! Now I know where to get my probiotic! Thanks!

  12. Hi! You suggested “Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics 12+”. Can you point me to the product you are referring to on The name doesn’t seem to match up with the products offered.