Your health is supported by trillions of beneficial microorganisms that make up your intestinal flora.  This micro flora accounts for three to five pounds of your total body weight.  Their genes are estimated to outnumber your own by about a hundredfold!  Our gastrointestinal tract harbors this highly diverse microbial population termed the microbiome, which plays a major role in nutrition, metabolism, protection against pathogens, and development of the immune system.

      Friendly microbes also help prevent disease in several ways. They deprive invaders of nutrients and secrete acids that less-friendly microbes don’t tolerate well. They also reinforce the mucosal barrier of the intestines. And, as was previously mentioned, healthy mucus blocks dangerous pathogens, toxins and allergens, and helps the immune system “learn” which ones are not safe.

      Ingested bacteria must survive the low pH of the stomach, bile acids, and a myriad of digestive enzymes before finding a place to adhere along the mucosal lining. While this is a legitimate concern, this can usually be overcome easily by increasing the number of viable bacteria ingested.  When your intestinal flora thrives, you can too. Good intestinal flora helps prevent bloating, gas and yeast overgrowth by controlling the pH level, or acidity, of the intestines.

      If 10 billion organisms are ingested and only 10% survive the upper GI, 1 billion organisms are still available to transiently colonize the colon (per day). Certain bacteria have the capability to survive gastric acid, and others do not. But according to U.K. food microbiologist Glenn Gibson, only highly resistant bacteria such as lactobacillus and bifidobacteria can survive stomach acid. Other types of bacteria, including many probiotics, are likely to be destroyed by stomach acid.

     There's also a chance that you may be buying dead bacteria unless you shop very carefully.

     Several in vitro methods are being developed to test strain resistance to gastric juices, enzymes, and bile salts and the ability to colonize the human gut. Probiotic products are best ingested away from meals, when stomach acids, bile and digestive enzymes are not at their peak. While some feel that enteric coated capsules or tablets will overcome such problems, the increased processing time (increased exposure to heat, air and moisture) and cost nullifies most of these advantages. 

     There are now new generation delivery systems that employ polymeric carbohydrates such as alginates, pectins. But these are not enteric coatings, they are complex formulations that actually “turn on” once they contact stomach acid…A big difference. My favorite general probiotic is Orthobiotic by Orthomolecular. In order to re-inoculate the gut flora I would start with a round of the 225 Billion by Orthobiotic, then the next round is 100 Billion and when you finish that round go to the maintenance of Orthobiotic as a daily regimen. For more severe GI conditions such as IBS, see me or the wellness practitioner on staff at Martin’s pharmacy.


To Your Health,
Radhia Gleis, Wellness Director


Martin’s Wellness Pharmacy


Radhia Gleis, CCN, is a Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist/Holistic Practitioner, Wellness Director for Martins Compounding & Wellness Pharmacies with three locations in the Austin area. She is available for private consultation at the LakeHills Pharmacy, M-F, 1:30 to 6:30pm. Contact [email protected]