The Probiotic Challenge?
By Gina Shaw DSc MA AIYS Dip Irid Dip NH

Every day in the media, millions of people are continually told of the so-called health benefits of probiotics.  These products are supposed to re-balance our intestinal flora and be a remedy for people suffering with intestinal discomfort; so people in their millions who suffer bloating and intestinal discomfort from a standard Western diet are advised to eat a certain yoghurt or product every day to combat this type of discomfort.  Never, are they told that their eating habits are poor in terms of combinations, food choices, etc. – they are just given the magic wand of ‘take a probiotic every day and all your troubles will go away’.  So they can just carry on and eat what they like as long as they take their probiotic supplements or products every day!  Well, studies have shown that these probiotics do not work and that eating more raw food is a better way to healthy intestinal flora.  It’s no wonder really, when you look at what yoghurts themselves really are and how the whole idea just can’t possibly work, so let’s take a look…

Well, to start with these products are often composed of dairy products, which have been known to cause a wide variety of serious human ailments including various cancers, cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and an array of allergy-related diseases.  Indeed, ironically, as you will see from my article on dairy products on my website, it has also been linked to gastric distress in people who are allergic to dairy products (which amount to millions of people worldwide).  So these may be some of the very causes of bloating and discomfort in the first place!

Milk and other dairy products have also been linked to iron-deficiency in children and the casein in cow's milk can clog and irritate the body's entire respiratory system and is implicated in almost all respiratory problems - hay fever, asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, colds, runny noses and ear infections can all be caused by the consumption of dairy products.  Dairy products are also the leading cause of allergies.  Milk allergies are very common in children and cause sinus problems, diarrhoea, constipation and fatigue. Dairy products are a leading cause of the chronic ear infections that plague up to 40% of all children under the age of six. Milk allergies are also linked to behavioural problems in children and to the disturbing rise of childhood asthma. (Milk allergies are equally common in adults and produce similar symptoms.) Even so august an authority on children as the late Dr. Benjamin Spock changed his recommendations in his later years and discouraged giving children milk.

From their extensive research, Harvey and Marilyn Diamond argue that dairy products aggravate ulcers, contribute to colitis, colon and prostate cancer, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), etc.  They state that the list of ailments that can be linked to dairy products is so extensive there is hardly a problem it doesn't at least contribute to.  Further, the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine argue that dairy products are not required in the human diet.  The main caloric constituents of dairy products are animal fat, animal protein and lactose, none of which are required in the human diet.  They further argue that lactose maldigestion is biologically normal for adults of all mammalian species and is common in most human populations.  The potential health risks of the products of lactose digestion, particularly the role of lactose in the aetiology of cataracts and ovarian problems, are an area of ongoing research.

What about Low-Fat Dairy Products?
William B. Grant, PhD, summarizes the mounting evidence that non-fat milk is also a major player in bringing on heart disease.  In his study, Dr Grant, writing in 'Alternative Medicine Review', points out that non-fat milk, which contains substantial amounts of dairy protein, is also very low in B vitamins. The metabolism of all the protein in milk and the absence of B vitamins contributes to the build-up of homocysteine, a marker for heart disease. 

Indeed, Dr Whitaker argues that it has been shown that milk consumption in childhood contributes to the development of Type-I diabetes. Certain proteins in milk resemble molecules on the beta cells of the pancreas that secrete insulin. In some cases, the immune system makes antibodies to the milk protein that mistakenly attack and destroy the beta cells.

Professor E. V. McCollum also stresses the fact that cow's milk is not an essential in the diet of man and pointed out that the inhabitants of Southern Asia never drink milk and that they have exceptionally well-developed physiques and exceptional endurance and work capacity. They escape skeletal defects in childhood and have the finest teeth of any people in the world. Their diet is made up of rice, soya beans, sweet potatoes, bamboo sprouts and other vegetables. This is a sharp and favourable contrast with milk-drinking peoples.

The use of cow's milk also causes obesity, excess mucus, excess urination, constipation, diarrhoea, bowel impaction, nausea, gas and discomfort, increased blood pressure, oedema and numerous digestive problems.

What about Calcium?
Calcium is abundant in plant foods and provides many times the required amount of calcium, in a better form, which is more readily utilized by the human organism.  There are many non-animal foods which are rich in calcium such as green leafy vegetables, sunflower seeds, dried figs, pistachio nuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, almonds, kale and other greens and the calcium in these plant foods are readily available to the human organism, without the stress and threat which dairy products pose.

Yoghurt - Probiotics and Prebiotics
Yoghurt is obviously subject to the same objections given for other dairy products (unfermented and fermented).  Lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria, lactobacillus bifidus bacteria and coli bacteria are normally present in the digestive tract of humans.  They are sometimes called "friendly" or "beneficial" intestinal flora and are necessary for human symbiosis and the proper absorption and utilization of foods.  There have been studies showing that using yoghurt cultures for prolonged periods can adversely affect the natural intestinal flora or impair the body's own ability to foster the development of such natural friendly bacteria.  One research team at Johns Hopkins Hospital even discovered a relationship between yoghurt cultures and cataracts.

Indeed, here's an excerpt from a probiotic supplier which admits the drawbacks:  "Even before they get into the stomach, the friendly bacteria in most acidophilus and soil based organism formulations have a hard time surviving stomach acidity. Many die passing through the stomach. In addition, a great deal are dead and useless when you take them. They die in their capsules. Refrigeration is recommended to reduce the number that die, but many, many studies have found that a large number of the supposedly active live bacteria in probiotics are dead by the time you take them. And researchers have found that most of your ordinary probiotics are contaminated by mould." Not exactly what you are looking for in a probiotic supplement presumably?

Nutrition researcher Gordon F. Fraser, B.Sc. ("The Yoghurt Scare Is For Real," Let's Live Magazine.August 1970) says.  "Most commercial yoghurts contain harmful bacteria, of other than human origin, called bulgaricus bacillus; these die out in the human intestinal tract and do a great deal of harm to the system before dying."  He says that this culture dominates and destroys the beneficial, necessary intestinal flora which help to utilize food particles, keep down pathogenic germs, stimulate peristalsis, detoxify and create a soft, smooth stool.  Their main function is to aid in the nourishment of the cells and speed up the utilization of food.

This certainly should make one uneasy about the use of any yoghurt.  Why risk inhibiting or impairing your natural intestinal flora?  Why not, instead, stick to a natural diet devoid of animal products and abundant in raw fruits, salads, nuts and seeds  - a diet of mostly raw plant foods - and have faith in your body's own ability to develop and foster its own beneficial intestinal flora?

'The Undigestible Truth about Meat' by Dr Gina Shaw
The Life Science Course  T C Fry
'Get a Prebiotic with your Probiotic'

Teaching You About Health
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