Beneficial Bacteria Part 1-
THE CRUCIAL HELPERS THAT FIGHT and PREVENT CANCER
Few people understand the role of Beneficial Bacteria in the human body and that includes doctors and medical experts. Beneficial bacteria are crucial to the fight against cancer. They are now proven in research to direct a strong immune system, they digest foreign microbes, yeasts and candida every night while you sleep, and they help release nourishment and essential cancer preventing and cancer fighting compounds from your food. Without them, you are simply not fully equipped to prevent cancer or beat cancer. IT IS THAT SERIOUS. Some even produce sodium butyrate and this has been shown to cause cancer cells to self-destruct. Yes, Beneficial bacteria are that important. But Drugs and antibiotics kill them off reducing your natural ability to beat cancer. Multi-strained probiotics can at least replace some of the lost millions of your crucial little helpers.
It is recommended that readers also read:
1 Can Candida cause cancer?
2 Acid Bodies cause cancer
Immune-boosting, cancer-fighting bacteria
If you say, Im taking probiotics to most people, at best a few might think small milky drinks with more than a hint of added marketing.
Mention Prebiotics and theyll think you misread the label.
There may be an increasing awareness of their health benefits, but beyond this very generalised and brief description most people, including your average doctor, may even deem them more fad than fact.
As usual at icon, we thought you deserved to know the truth. And in the case of probiotics and prebiotics there are some impressive facts proven in clinical trials. Put simply.... Beneficial Bacteria help in cancer prevention, and they help in the fight to beat cancer if you already have it.
As you will see
1 At night while you sleep, they digest microbes, yeasts and candida that can cause cancer
2 They help cut up your foods and release important cancer fighting agents like biotin, folic acid and vitamin K from fibrous foods
3 They even produce sodium butyrate known to kill cancer cells and reduce inflammation
4 They direct up to 85 per cent of your immune system anti-bodies
5 The can bind to (chelate to) hormones and heavy metals - like oestrogens, nitrosamines, mercury and cadmium - helping to eliminate them from your body.
There are over 4000 research studies on them, with 80 or more clinical trials!
In our opinion, everyone now needs to take a multi-strain Probiotic daily. (And avoid the sort of things that disrupt your balance of natural Intestinal Flora). But more than this, we suggest you feed also these little helpers properly, with Prebiotics like whole foods, for example grains and greens. Chlorella is our natural choice. (Click here to read an article on Chlorella). Chlorella is a pure, whole, natural food taken as a daily supplement. It is a preserved algae, often subtitled greens in the USA. Together with the Probiotic it provides excellent levels of vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids and enzymes. For example, weight for weight it provides 300 times the level of beta-carotene in carrots!! If you are thinking of buying chlorella, you might like to look at the Natural Selection Product of Choice. You can do this by clicking this link. Try the synergistic effects of multi-strain Probiotic and Chlorella for three months. Your good health deserves it.
Bacteria the good, the bad and the ugly
There are thought to be somewhere between 500,000 and 5 million different types of bacteria on this planet. We are surrounded by them.
Around 4,000 have so far been identified by scientists. These include the dangerous ones that cause illnesses such as Typhus and Cholera, certain E. coli strains, strains that produce the toxin Botulinum, varieties that infect NHS hospitals, Salmonella, Listeria and other bacteria, amoeba variants and even yeasts like Candida. They cause disease, infections like tonsillitis, thrush, and severe chest ailments whilst others like Helicobacter pylori are linked to stomach ulcers and even cancer. They can invade our cuts and our wounds causing fever, even death.
Right now, you have them on your skin, in your eyes and ears. There are more bacteria on your tongue than there are people living in the world. Theyre scary; theyre horrible; theyre ugly. We are all under attack.
Well, at least that is the common misconception out of the way!
Many bacteria are good!
Bacteria were the first living organisms on this Earth, nearly 4 billion years ago. We evolved from them. Our biochemistry is naturally linked and balanced to theirs. Many of them help us live our lives and, in turn, we help them live theirs. In fact the vast majority of bacteria are pretty innocuous and weve learned not merely to co-exist, but to work together to live better lives. Those that live on grape skins make our wine for us; others make our yoghurts; some even manage our sewage plants and our compost heaps.
Weapons of mass destruction
Professor Mel Greaves, when interviewed in icon a couple of years ago told us that the fear was that children were developing more illnesses today because they didnt eat enough dirt. (Mind you, he didnt use those actual words theyre my grandmothers. But Im sure thats what Professor Greaves meant!). Two hundred years ago we ate raw milk products; we ate fruit and vegetables that had just been picked complete with their superficial bacterial bloom; we drank water from wells. And yes, with all of these came potential aggressors that could even kill us. But the majority of us beat those aggressors and developed even stronger, more improved immune systems. You dont, however, need really nasty bacteria to achieve this. The fact is that infants and children need a variety of bacteria, especially in their intestines, to stimulate and develop their immune systems. More of this later.
In our modern world, pasteurisation of dairy, irradiation of fruit and veg in supermarkets, chlorination of tap water has changed this adaptation programme by removing all the bacteria from certain areas, hindering us from building quality immune systems that might just protect us better when something really nasty comes along.
The problem with the health authorities in the Western World is that they simply do not seem to understand bacteria. They assume the only good Indian is a dead Indian philosophy of the early Americans. Its just not true. Pasteurisation, irradiation, chemicals like chlorine and the widespread over use of antibiotics are indiscriminate, killing all bacteria, bad and good. And this can wreck the balance created in our bodies over hundreds of thousands of years, all in the matter of hours.
The weapons of mass destruction have dramatically, and very rapidly, exposed our whole relationship with bacteria, and threatened the very balance of bacteria in our lives, without much thought to the benefits they bring us.
Increasingly, knowledgeable doctors are turning away from prescribing antibiotics. My friend in France with tonsillitis went down the hill to our local GP, and was given a clear colourless homeopathic liquid. She was fully better in three days. Apparently, he doesnt prescribe antibiotics because he thinks they are dangerous. (The irony that Pasteur was a Frenchman is lost on him).
Beneficial bacteria build your immune system
There is one function where they are increasingly being shown to play a crucial, life enhancing role: the development of the immune system. Over the last few years, scientists have started to realise the importance of environmental microbes as development agents for a full immune system. Early contact with house pets (Nafstad et al 2001) or being brought up in a farmyard environment (Braun-Fahrlander et al 1999) have been linked with reduced levels of atopic disease. Whats that? The fact that our sanitised city children are developing more eczema, allergies and asthma than ever.
Children with such diseases have lowered levels of lactobacilli, but an almost adult-like range of bifidobacteria species. (Ouwehand et al 2002)
In icon in 2003 we covered research, which showed that children who took antibiotics in the first year of their lives had a considerably higher risk of allergy by the age of seven. We now know why. Adaptive immune responses developed and initiated in the mucousal system, especially in the intestine, are essential for healthy immune system maturation (Rautava et al 2004). Local bacterial presence helps develop cytokines (Romagnani 2000) and helps build strong infant immune systems (Holt and Jones 2000).
Biotic is derived from the Greek word meaning life. So literally antibiotics are anti-life. They wipe out nearly all bacteria, the ones that cause the tonsillitis or the infant infections, and nearly all the beneficial ones present in the body at the same time. So thats not simply the short-term end of the infection its now believed to be where your longer-term problems start.
If antibiotic literally means anti-life, you will understand that probiotic means for life or pro-life.
Probiotics are microbial food supplements designed to top-up the residential beneficial bacteria in your body, thus making a positive contribution pro-life your life!
Roughly 400 species of bacteria that live in your stomach and intestines have been identified. Probably there are really more than double that number found there but scientists have yet to isolate them all. Some of these bacteria (e.g. bifidobacteria and lactobacilli) are beneficial to us, others are harmful and some may be positively dangerous. The trick is to try to make sure the activities of the beneficial bacteria are dominant. Easy if you live on a remote island with no pasteurisation, chemical toxins, chlorine, irradiated foods or antibiotics!
Like any bacteria on our remote island, the good guys are all around us and an integral part of our lives. For example:
- During natural childbirth, the baby takes beneficial bacteria from the mothers birth canal, into its gut (caesarean births do not provide this).
- Raw organic foods give us beneficial bacteria on their surfaces (pesticides and irradiation kill them off).
- Raw, naturally fermented milk products provide beneficial bacteria (the EU has killed these off).
Most of these beneficial bacteria live in your intestinal tract where they get on with their daily lives, for example:
Eating their favourite foods;
- Producing acid mixtures that aid our digestion;
- Producing waste products that we actually use and need like vitamins;
- Cutting up our food for us taking large molecules we could not absorb and turning them into smaller ones.
- Acting as our foot soldiers in the first line of defence against unwanted invading micro- organisms.
Lets look at these in more detail.
Beneficial bacteria control invading bacteria
The good guys in the gut prevent infection by the bad guys. This they can achieve in a number of ways. For example:
- By their actions on certain foodstuffs, they can control the pH (acidity/alkalinity) levels in the gut rendering the bad guys unable to grow or metabolise properly and so they die out.
- By direct attack and even digestion of some of these rivals. At night beneficial bacteria digest up to 2.2 kgs of yeasts and microbes for you. They are your first line of defence.
In the stomach Helicobacter pylori is attacked by stomach acid, so it hides in the mucous membrane. It is helped by lowered acid conditions, for example we make less as we age; we make less if we consume carbohydrate at the same time as protein; we make less if we consume too many packaged and prepared foods. Certain bacteria aided by natural herbs like Goldenseal will increase beneficial acid levels, and also attack Helicobacter pylori directly, preventing stomach lining irritation (and, thereafter, even ulcers and cancer).
In the intestine, some harmful bacteria and yeasts have the ability, under helpful conditions, to colonise. This can cause irritation to the gut wall and even result in holes being made in the lining (this may be called Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Under certain circumstances this allows some of the invaders and/or their toxic by-products into the blood stream where they may circulate and even stick to cells.
The finding, reported in icon in 2004, that cinnamon could help some people with diabetes significantly reduce their symptoms, was shown to be due to the action of cinnamon on circulating yeasts which had bound to and blocked insulin receptor sites on cell membranes. The cinnamon acted on the microbes, freeing the insulin receptor site to do its proper job. A number of herbs like nutmeg, cinnamon, garlic, Pau dArco, chillies all have this yeast-killing ability, often working in conjunction with beneficial bacteria that exist throughout the body.
In 2004 US research indicated that women who had taken large amounts of antibiotics had twice the risk of breast cancer. Some experts believe this could also be due to microbes (yeasts) which are anaerobic like cancer cells and also produce toxins. Others believe it is due to a weakened immune system in the absence of beneficial bacteria.
If you have too few of the beneficial bacteria, then the result is more bad guys, more circulating bad guys, more disease. Fact.
A collection of individuals
The biggest problem facing scientists is that each of these bacteria is unique. Of course, there are strains which show similarities but the action (protective or harmful) of one helpful bacteria may be very, very different to anothers.
Bacteria from the genera Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium have very different characteristics and abilities to those of Escherichia, Enterococcus, Bacillus, or Saccharomyces (a yeast) to name but a few.
As a result scientific research is made extremely difficult. A reaction in the gut may be noticed but identifying which bacterium or combination of bacteria - caused it, is often a question of trial and error in the laboratory. Also a large number of beneficial bacteria has yet to be grown, tested and researched, either on their own or in combination with others.
However, scientific research has grown significantly over the last decade, as has our knowledge. Prior to 1990 there had been about 5 published articles and no clinical trials. In 2002 and 2003 alone, there were 774 probiotic citations and 77 clinical trials. Some useful references are included at the end of this piece. It is important to understand that the majority of our scientific understanding has only developed in the last five to ten years, which is why certain quarters of the medical world are not fully informed.
The implication for us all, and the health and balance in our intestinal tract is that we need the presence of the widest range of the various species as possible ideally representing most of the 400 or so helpful bacteria.
And if we are not living on our desert island, but are subject to pasteurisation, irradiation, chemicals, chlorine and antibiotics in our food (most animals are regularly fed antibiotics), then we may even need a daily top-up, to ensure the balance and dominance of the good guys in our stomach.
Which brings us to Prebiotics
Bacteria, divide frequently. Feed them and just a few days later you could have millions! Clearly then, the type of foods you eat will result in a preponderence of certain types over others. Put simply: What you eat determines which ones predominate, or even whether you have the desired levels of any of the good guys.
For example, the bifidobacteria family like complex sugar chains of fructose and galactose. Mothers milk is full of prebiotics and contains large quantities of galactose. Not surprisingly children who are breast-fed have colons with up to 10 times the bifidobacteria levels, compared to children who are fed formula products. Research seems to suggest that breast fed children have higher levels of immunoglobulin in their immune system and are better protected against the severe diarrhoea-causing rotavirus. There are a number of research studies (some noted in the references at the end), including clinical trials, which show that prebiotics can increase and strengthen the immune system, because they stimulate the beneficial bacteria do their jobs.
Prebiotics (pre-life) are non-digestible or fibre components of food. Which leads us to another big concern of the modern world. If we feed our children refined foods and fats, how will they take in the whole fibres, and indigestible chains that are needed to feed the probiotic bacteria and thus keep them thriving and in the best condition to help us?
Whilst these fibres would be useless to us without our friendly little helpers to break them down, they are essential life support systems for our pals.
Examples of these fibres can be found in:
- Whole oats and other whole grains;
- Fresh vegetables especially, chlorella and greens in general (from wheatgrass to chicory, cabbage, onions, leeks, asparagus);
- Pumpkin, sunflower and other seeds;
- Lignans in liquids like olive oil and aloe vera.
- Fresh and dried fruits like bananas and apricots
Inulin (for example from chicory and onions) also promotes the growth of bifidobacteria in the gut. Several studies have shown that bifidobacteria increase short chain fatty acid (SCFA levels) in the gut from digestion-resistant fibre. SCFAs include butyrate, acetate and proprionate have been linked in research to lowered cancer levels and lowered blood cholesterol levels.
The action of beneficial bacteria is also enhanced by a number of herbs. These include garlic, turmeric, echinacea, propolis, slippery elm bark, cats claw bark and liquorice.
Beneficial bacteria actually help make nutrients for you!
Your friends in your intestinal tract aid digestion, in that they help break down molecules in foodstuffs that otherwise would be indigestible. And so, without the helpers, you would derive no benefit from certain foods and they would just pass straight through.
But more than this, depending upon the actual bacterium a number of beneficial by-products are produced. For example:
Short chain fatty acids.
There is also some evidence that they can even breakdown harmful oestrogen products. Science is increasingly showing that maintaining a healthy level of the widest range of good bacteria is essential to our lives.
If you dont have enough good guys in your intestine on any particular day, you could be deficient in any of the above, and vitamins like B-12, folic acid and vitamin K are now known to be crucial in the anti-cancer process.
Beneficial Bacteria kill cancer cells
A finding in 2009 by the American Medical College of Georgia seems to demand a rethink from medical authorities who think the only answer to cancer is drug treatments.
According to the research beneficial bacteria breakdown certain fibres to produce sodium butyrate. This then acts in the body in two ways:
a Firstly it can lower the levels of an enzyme Cox-2 known to cause pre-cancerous inflammation
b Secondly in cancer a gene is silenced so that these rogue cancer cells do n ot self-destruct. Sodium butyrate turns this silenced gene back on. And the cancer cells self-destruct!
The action of sodium butyrate has been shown via a cellular receptor GPR109A.
(Of course you could take sodium butyrate, but it tastes awful. The next best thing apparently is the B vitamin n iacin. But why not have a healthy gut and let the beneficial bacteria cut up fibrous foods and protect you as nature intended?
Enemies of the state
As we have said, antibiotics are a direct threat, but so is anything that can change the acidity or alkalinity of the environment in which the good guys live. That would include anything and everything from highly chlorinated drinking water to pesticides, a poor diet high in fat and low in fibre, alcohol, smoking and even stress and rushed meals. Most medications will alter the balance of bacteria in the intestine, as will any illness or infection. Even travel, which will cause stomach stress, possible temporary blockage, and deliver a whole new set of bacteria when you reach Vietnam or Turkey.
Finally research indicates that the level of beneficial bacteria and their balance may change as you age. This is fascinating as it may also be one factor in a declining immune system.
How much is enough?
On your desert island, in your gut you may well have 50 trillion bacteria, weighing 3-4 lbs in total.
A good supplement should have representation of just one or several probiotic strains and over 10 billion live bacteria in it in total. Any health claims should be backed by scientific evidence.
What is becoming clear from the masses of recent research is that bifidobacteria and lactobacilli are the primary beneficial bacteria species. However, to repeat, many of the bacteria of the intestine still have not been researched and much more is to be learned.
Many supplements talk about how many billions of probiotics they contain but actually it is slightly missing the point. For example, given the right prebiotic foods, those bacteria will multiply many times over in just a few days. Another issue is to provide the width of genera. If you dont have an original, you cant make copies.
But first the most crucial issue is getting these live bacteria past the acid stomach which can kill them off, and into the intestine where they can do their topping-up job. This is not as simple as it sounds. Many potential probiotic bacteria are killed off long before they ever reach the large intestine. Indeed, implicit in the definition of a probiotic is that it should be a bacterium from a strain proven to survive transit through the gut and proven to have a beneficial effect in the large intestine, in clinical trials.
Lactobacillus casei Shirota and Lactobacillus casei Immunitas are examples of strains that meet both criteria, whereas (and this is why you should be careful) Lactobacillus acidophilus is the name of a common species used to make many yoghurts. This species has some strains that may meet the probiotic criteria but others that dont. A yoghurt with acidophilus is not a probiotic yoghurt unless it says it is on the pot. Many acidophilus strains never reach the large intestine. Saying it contains acidophilus is no guarantee that it is a probiotic.
Some supplements come in dried form. Belgian research found that up to a third of 30 supplements tested contained only dead bacteria, or even bacteria not listed on the label. So choose your supplier carefully. They must have research that shows their strain reaches the large intestine, perhaps helped if they are coated or protected in some way.
Some bacteria come live in milk based products. Bacteria have a long history of association with milk products, being associated with fermentation and yoghurt production. If the bacteria are from probiotic strains then they have a reasonable chance of passing through the stomach intact. There may also be further protection afforded by the dairy constituent against the stomach acid. Some strains can also use the sugar/lactose constituent of the dairy as food.
The Belgian research also showed that, of the 30 dried supplements, and 25 dairy based supplements, only 13 per cent contained all the bacteria types listed on the label; some even contained bacteria not listed.
If you take a supplement
- Take it about 40 minutes after a meal, to protect the bacteria from stomach acids. Ideally the meal should be a carbohydrate meal.
- Always take it with a cold liquid, never hot.
- Ensure a naturally fibre-rich diet.
- Always keep the probiotic in a refrigerator.
- Only use a reputable manufacturer, with live strains that are genuinely probiotic.
Which illnesses might probiotics help?
If you are thinking of buying a probiotic, you might like to look at the Natural Selection Product of Choice. You can do this by clicking here.icon is primarily a cancer magazine, but it would be totally wrong of us not to mention the main illnesses beneficial bacteria have been proven, in research, to affect. So this is a more generalised article than usual and next issue we will provide Part II specifically about cancer. Meanwhile here is a summary list, and references can be found at the end of the article.
Recent research shows significant benefits for autistic children, especially when the children had antibiotics at an early age. Lactobacillus plantarum 229v seems to help (Nature, May 5 2004)
There are a number of very recent studies showing the benefits of probiotics with young children and even with pregnant women and their eventual offspring. Less eczema and allergy were reported in their infants after taking probiotics.
Immune System Deficiency
Probiotic cultures have been shown to simulate certain cellular and antibody functions, and to reduce toxicity from unfriendly bacteria. Probiotics are proven in clinical trials to strengthen the immune system. Fact.
Probiotics have been shown to reduce levels of oxalate in the urine a risk factor for kidney stones.
High Cholesterol and Hypertension
Certain lactobacilli have been shown to reduce hypertension in research studies. Other research shows markedly lowered cholesterol levels in humans supplementing with probiotics.
Lactose-Intolerance, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Diarrhoea, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Lupus, Crohns disease
There are clinical studies available in all these areas showing probiotics help. Certain probiotics can actually help heal the lining of the stomach, preventing toxins from entering the bloodstream.
See Helicobacter pylori and cancer above.
Vaginosis and cystitis
The imbalance in these microsystems by invading bacteria may be shown in research to be neutralised by probiotics which both change overall pH and attack invaders.
Signs of deficiency?
The following could be considered a starter list:
- Bad breath, body odour;
- Bad gums, bad teeth, mouth ulcers;
- Bloating, wind, indigestion;
- Diarrhoea and/or constipation;
- Candida yeast infections, cystitis, thrush, yellow toe nails;
- Frequent colds;
- Acne, Eczema, Psoriasis;
- High cholesterol;
We dont live on desert islands. We dont even live on farms any more. We do destroy the natural balance and dominance of our healthy gut flora. The medical world seems almost oblivious antibiotics, chemotherapy, drugs all make matters far, far worse. Consider this quote: Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy did not ultimately succumb to cancer, but to an infestation of Candida albicans. That comes from the 1993 Spring edition of the prestigious US medical journal Contemporary Oncology. Topping up with probiotics and the correct prebiotic diet will help defeat the Candida albicans. But our normal daily lives have changed so much in the last 100 years. Chlorinated water, antibiotic chicken breast, pasteurised Camembert. The fact is that our natural evolved relationship with bacteria is almost certainly out of the balance nature intended and, apart from the constant daily pressures, these pro-life bacteria exist in an incredibly delicate microsystem provided by our bodies where one sudden change can destroy everything.
Fortunately science has decided that Probiotics - and Prebiotics are hot topics and large volumes of quality scientific research and clinical trials are available to those who want to find out more.
It is essential that each of us should keep our natural and wide range of beneficial bacteria happy, topping them up daily if needs be and feeding them the prebiotics that will cause their numbers to thrive, as a positive step against a huge list of modern diseases. Beneficial bacteria, the little helpers we get on day one from our mothers, may even be the missing link as to why we have so many new and rapidly growing twenty-first century diseases. If you are thinking of buying a probiotic, you might like to look at the Natural Selection Product of Choice. You can do this by clicking here
At Last - the definitive, research based book on how to build a diet to help beat cancer. Click here to read about it.
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