What are probiotics?

What are probiotics?

When you see a reference to ‘good’ gut flora or ‘good’ bugs in your gut, most of those remarks are referring to different types of ‘good’ bacteria – meaning they are good for your body’s health. Probiotics is the general term that includes most of those good bacteria.

As noted on the Mayo Clinic’s site:  “Probiotics are good bacteria that are either the same as or very similar to the bacteria that are already in your body. Your lower digestive tract alone teems with a complex and diverse community of these bacteria. In fact, there are a greater number of bacteria in your intestines than there are cells in your body.”

Your intestines are also teeming with ‘bad’ bacteria (can cause harm and negative health related issues).   Having too many of the “bad” and not enough of the “good” bacteria — often caused in part by an unhealthy diet — can wreak all sorts of havoc on your body’s health. As further noted on the Mayo Clinic’s website: “This imbalance can lead to weight gain, skin conditions, constipation or diarrhea, and various chronic health conditions.” The key is too have more of the ‘good’ guys than the ‘bad’.

Consuming foods rich in probiotics (some yogurts, some cheeses, kefir, sauerkraut and kimshi) and taking a probiotic supplement can help you increase your ‘good’ gut bugs and help keep the ‘bad’ ones at bay.

It’s important to keep in mind that there are many different types (strains) of probiotics, each with specific purposes.  You need a good variety of different strains to help achieve a balanced and healthy gut flora.  A variety of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria species are the most common beneficial bacteria used in dietary supplements.


Raw Oysters Contaminated –

A few days ago this warning was attached to crab meat… today it’s to raw oysters. A man in FL died after eating raw oysters apparently contaminated with the bacteria Vibrio vulnificus – or more commonly referred to as the ‘flesh eating bacteria’. During summer months when the coastal waters are warmer, this bacteria is more prevalent. Might want to skip the raw the oysters – regardless of the state. Better safe than sorry. [Full story – Click Here]

Tapeworms – Yikes!!!

Having a parasite grow inside of you is an unpleasant enough thought… the only thing that ups that, is if it’s a tapeworm. 

Scary: Tapeworms get the award for the freakiest… hence the recent media flurry over NHL prospect Carson Meyer. For months, the 21-year-old was losing weight and feeling exhausted. Even after many blood tests, doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. Eventually, a tapeworm (in excess of 2 feet long) came out of his body. “I was freaking out. Absolutely freaking out,” he said. Doctors said the tapeworm had probably been inside of him for over a year. Luckily, he’s now better– But how did that worm get inside of him to begin with?

The basics: Tapeworms are flatworm parasite that resides in the intestines of people and animals. There’s more than one kind (different species), but according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common in the United States is Taenia solium, or commonly called the pork tapeworm. This type is most often picked up by eating undercooked meat. The type of tapeworm Meyer had (Diphyllobothrium latum) comes from eating undercooked fish.

The details: Once granted access to its host, the “head” of the worm attaches to the wall of the host’s intestine. Here it begins to feed (absorbing nutrients).  With plenty of food, it grows lots of little segments, which contain its eggs (are often passed out in the host’s stool). Some tapeworm eggs can survive for days or months in feces from infected hosts (animals included).  When cows or pigs eat infected excrement (it gets into their feed), the eggs hatch and the larvae form into cysts that get into the animals’ muscles.  That’s how the tapeworm cysts end up in the meat aisle in the grocery store. When the meat is cooked properly, the larvae die, and the meat is safe to eat. But if the meat is raw or undercooked,  the live larva can enter your GI tract, where it grows into an adult (and we are talking – depending on the species – up to 82 feet long!!! – Yes, the super freaky part!)

Even worse:  A couple of years ago,  Luis Ortiz, a 26-year-old man in California, had a “still wiggling” tapeworm pulled from his brain! He needed emergency brain surgery, and he ended up spending almost three months in the hospital. How did the tapeworm get from his intestines to his brain???  When someone ingests tapeworm eggs, the larvae can invade the intestinal wall and travel to their organs; surviving in their brain, liver, and lung tissue. If they reach the brain,  they can cause seizures and other neurological problems and develop into a potentially fatal condition called neurocysticercosis. Usually pork tapeworm eggs are ingested directly from infected fecal matter.  It’s also  possible to auto-infect yourself:  Best-ever reason to wash your hands after you use the bathroom!

Scarier: The perhaps even scarier (yes, it can get scarier) thought is that if you by chance chow down on a rare piece of meat or raw seafood and don’t get food poisoning symptoms within a day or so, chances are you’re think everything is A.OK.  By the time tapeworm symptoms develop – you’ll have long forgotten about the undercooked or raw treat you had!

Most Common Parasite (Worm) In the US?

What is the most common parasite (worm) infection in the US?

The pinworm (“threadworm”). This worm is a small, thin, white roundworm (nematode) called Enterobius vermicularis that lives in the colon and rectum of humans. Pinworms are about the length of a staple. While an infected person sleeps, female pinworms leave the intestine through the anus and deposit their eggs (up to 15,000) on the surrounding skin. Humans are the only known host, and about 209 million persons worldwide are infected. More than 30 percent of children worldwide are infected. Pinworm infection is spread by the fecal-oral route, that is by the transfer of infective pinworm eggs from the anus to someone’s mouth, either directly by hand or indirectly through contaminated clothing, bedding, food, or other articles. Pinworm eggs become infective within a few hours after being deposited on the skin around the anus and can survive for 2 to 3 weeks on clothing, bedding, or other objects. People become infected, usually unknowingly, by swallowing (ingesting) infective pinworm eggs that are on fingers, under fingernails, or on clothing, bedding, and other contaminated objects and surfaces. Because of their small size, pinworm eggs sometimes can become airborne and ingested while breathing.

Bad Bacteria – Illnesses Caused After Eating Tainted Crab Meat

Bacteria – and a bad one – is being linked to illnesses in three states and Washington DC after people consumed crab meat imported from Venezuela. The cause, vibrio bacteria… naturally live in coastal waters and can be found in higher concentrations May-Oct. when the waters are warmer. The resulting disease, vibriosis, can go from mild to deadly, as this bacteria can develop into a flesh eating bacteria!  Best not to eat raw or undercooked seafood and for now, better ask where that crab meat originated. [read full story CBSNEWS.COM]