Many people believe that “Disease begins in the colon.” While this is certainly true up to a point, it’s not the complete truth. The complete truth is that good health results from producing a balance in the body. The converse of that is when the body is out of balance, disease sets in. So, it’s the lack of balance in the body that causes disease and ultimately death.
Thus, there are as many causes of disease as there are causes of body imbalance. For instance, if there’s too much of a cancer-causing agent (or carcinogen) in the body, then the imbalance results in cancer. If there’s toc much cholesterol in the body, then a disease such as coronary heart disease (CHD) results. If there are too many toxins in the body, then a condition such as diarrhea results. The list goes on and on, and for each disease state, if we look at it closely enough, we’ll find an imbalance. It’s a law of nature.
Reports from the medical community show that the major reason people visit the doctor is for some sort of gastrointestinal problem. Again, let’s look closely at what’s going on here. In our modern-day society, people are consuming tremendous amounts of processed foods. In fact, well over 90% of the average American’s diet comes from processed foods! These foods are high in bad things, like bleached flour and artificial colors and flavors, and low in good things, like whole grains and vitamins and minerals. The result, of course, is an imbalance—and sooner or later, the disease that comes along with it. Clearly, we need to bring our bodies back in balance if we are going to protect our own lives along with those of our family members. We need to restore the balance that was there when our mothers first nursed us.
At birth, the human system is as perfect as it will ever be. Sure, things aren’t completely formed yet, but as far as a life is considered, a newborn baby is the healthiest person on the planet! Slowly, as the environment we live in pollutes us, we begin to fall out of balance. Sometimes, this happens very quickly, and we get a condition such as diarrhea, but usually, the process is gradual and a more insidious disease strikes. It isn’t until much later in life that we begin to notice the effects that really began in childhood.
And so, as we age, the effects of eating a poor diet and absorbing environmental toxins catch up with us. We start experiencing diseases such as arthritis, cancer, heart disease, and many more. Some diseases have even become alarmingly widespread among children. For example, there has been a dramatic increase in the level of type II diabetes in children as young as the early teens. Similarly, there has been an astronomical rise in the rate of autism over the past 10 years. This used to be a relatively rare disease, thought to affect 1 in 10,000 children. Now, it’s believed that as many as 1 in 200 children may be autistic. This is amazing, and it’s all due to the body being out of balance.
Make no mistake: This is a war! The potential causalities are not just you but also your family. Your children, husband or wife, parents and grandparents are all with you on the front line. A battle of epic proportions is raging inside each of them. What they are fighting is an unseen and unrelenting enemy that is viciously struggling to take control of their bodies—an enemy capable of unleashing the biological equivalent of an atomic bomb at any second and wiping out their lives! That enemy consists of deadly microbes, the so-called bad bacteria and viruses known as germs.
Without intervention, that enemy will ultimately win the battle and perhaps even the war. Your life, along with the lives of everyone you love, is in danger, but you don’t have to surrender yet. There is a shimmer of white light on the battleground, so fear not! You can be the commander of the good forces. You can assay your troops and plan a counterattack that will rescue your family and lead to final victory. You have the ultimate weapon at your disposal! This book, The Probiotic Solution, will show you how to fight back.
Just as firefighters use fire to fight fire, you can use good bacteria to fight bad. Those good bacteria are known as probiotics and exist naturally in the human body. Probiotics are your friend and your weapon, your key to good health and your counter-balance against the bad forces in nature. Probiotics are the soldiers you have brought forth to fight the evil, disease-causing forces.
Probiotics consist of a number of different types of friendly microorganisms. They have assisted in maintaining the lives of humans (and other animals) since the beginning of time. However, they have been recognized as the true weapons in human health care only since the early 1900s. The pioneering work of Russian scientist Elie Metchnikoff (1845-1916) is largely responsible for this recognition. He noted that the Bulgarians in the Caspian Mountains lived extraordinarily long lives. In studying their culture, he found nothing out of the ordinary except for one thing: They drank a fermented milk product known as kefir. This observation gave rise to what is known as Metchnikoff’s longevity without aging theory. The basic idea is that by ingesting a lot of good bacteria, or probiotics, the harmful effects of the bad bacteria can be negated or at least diminished.
We now know that kefir contains several types or strains of probiotics. Kefir is traditionally prepared by pouring fresh goat’s milk into a large leather flask and then hanging it in the doorway. As people go in and out throughout the day, they give the flask a little push, which serves to stir up the mixture and aid in the fermentation process. Each day, they also take a little out, drink it, and then add more milk to fill the flask back up. This way, production is ongoing.
So, why doesn’t everyone drink kefir? The problem is that it’s proven difficult to make with any consistency. When scientists have tried to isolate the exact probiotics in the mixture, the results have varied from batch to batch. So, how would you know which batch to drink? Well, you wouldn’t. Selecting the right one would result purely by chance. And while it’s known that kefir contains various lactic acid bacteria and yeast, exactly which ones are responsible for any health benefits has remained elusive. (We will talk about the health benefits of various probiotics in more detail later.)
Most people don’t realize that they are, in a sense, actually partaking in this ancient ritual when they consume products such as yogurt. Yogurt is very similar to kefir but usually contains other organisms. The main difference between kefir and yogurt has to do with the length of the fermentation process; specifically, that process is allowed to progress until the yogurt has formed.
Are yogurt and kefir the only sources of probiotics? Certainly not. Are they sufficient, in and of themselves, for promoting optimal health for you and your family? Absolutely not! Please remember that this is a war, and in all wars, numbers count. In the products commonly found in grocery stores, such as probiotic-supplemented milk and yogurt, the numbers of organisms are very low in comparison with the huge numbers of bad bacteria waging war in the bodies of you and your family members. While the products on the store shelves may start off with some live probiotics, chances are, by the time you eat those products, most of the live probiotics will be dead. This renders these products useless, because science has shown that equally large numbers of good bacteria are needed to fight off the bad.
Certainly, supplements are available that contain live probiotics. However, in recent tests of these supplements, they did not all pass. Many contained dead bacteria and even mislabeled products. Some even contained potentially deadly bacteria! How do you know which products to buy and which to pass over?
I devote an entire chapter (Chapter 10, Probiotic Delivery Systems) to explaining exactly what you need to know to arm yourself and your family when you go to select probiotic products at the store. Frankly, it’s hard for us, as Westerners, to accept the idea of deliberately putting bacteria into our bodies when so much in our culture tells us of the need to kill bacteria and disinfect our lives. We must get over this and understand that there are such things as good and friendly bacteria and that consuming even billions of them at a time can be beneficial.
To be sure, other products in the market are capable of supplying the high numbers of live and functional probiotics you and your family need to win the war on disease. I discuss the ideas behind these products, including probiotic type (because which strains or types you can choose could mean the difference between wining and losing the war) and viability (or how alive the products are when you buy them). I also discuss the various diseases mentioned earlier and the influence that probiotics have in their prevention and treatment. Finally, throughout the text, I provide sources you can turn to for more information.
Given the threat of global terrorism, and especially the potential for biological attacks, it is a relief to find out that there are good bacteria that can be used to fight bad bacteria. It has been demonstrated that even such horrendous bacteria as Bacillus anthracis, or anthrax, can be fought using probiotics. We can outnumber the invaders and force them out of the bodies of our children.