Part 1: Introduction to Probiotics
- The microbial population in the gastro-intestinal tract is very complex and consists of different groups of microbes and the gastro-intestinal system is the place where complex interactions occur between feed, microbes and host cells. Probiotics, which are live microorganisms provides a positive impact on the host by altering the intestinal microbial balance, thus helping to reduce the harmful effects of pathogenic bacteria in the gut.
- In livestock as well as poultry, probiotics have been shown to improve growth performance, feed conversion efficiency and immune responses. As growth promoters, probiotics have been found to increase feed conversion efficiency, improve growth performance, and improve immune responses in livestock and poultry.
- For a detailed analysis of the benefits and effects of probiotics, including those specific to cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and poultry, click here.
Part 2: Basic Information About Belta Probiotics
Enzymes: Protease, Lipase, and Amylase
Probiotics: Bacillus Subtillus and Lactobacillus Phantatrum
These are referred to below.
2. Enzymes and Probiotic Bacteria are Keys to Healthy Digestion
The gastrointestinal system is a complex network of organs and glands that extract nutrients and water from food we eat so the body can use it. The food we and animals consume is processed by the gastrointestinal system in six phases:
a. Mental Preparation: Prepares the stomach for the meal that will be eaten.
b. Ingestion: Taking food into the body (eating).
c. Peristalsis: The movement of food through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
d. Digestion: The breakdown of food by both mechanical and chemical processes.
e. Absorption: The passage of digested food from the digestive tract into the vascular and lymphatic systems for distribution to the cells.
f. Elimination: The elimination of indigestible substances and waste products from the body.
3. Digestion itself is divided into two categories: mechanical and chemical.
Mechanical digestion is physical movement that aids chemical digestion. After initial breakdown by chewing, food is churned by the smooth muscles of the stomach and the small intestine, mixing it with enzymes that start the chemical reactions.
Chemical digestion is a series of complex chemical reactions that break down large carbohydrate, lipid, and protein molecules into molecules small enough to enter the blood vessels. Chemical digestion occurs through the action of several different enzymes, such as amylases, proteases, and lipases. For optimal digestion to occur, all these processes must work together in a delicate, synchronized balance. If any part of this complex system under-performs or over-performs, physical problems can result.
4. How important are enzymes to stomach digestion?
Without enzymes, digestion could not take place and the food we eat could not be absorbed and utilized by our bodies. Enzymes are complex proteins produced by living cells and they start chemical reactions in the body.
Enzymes are present in the digestive juices. They act upon food, breaking it down into simpler components the body can use for energy.
5. What happens if digestive enzymes do not work adequately?
Inadequate digestion is thought to be a significant cause of food allergies. When not digested completely, food can initiate allergic reactions in the body, causing inflammation and immune sensitivity. This can lead to chronic inflammatory conditions and certain types of arthritis.
6. What enzymes are involved in the digestion process?
Many enzymes are part of the digestion process. The three main enzymes involved in digestion are amylase, protease, and lipase. Other enzymes, such as sucrase, lactase, and maltase, have a significant secondary function in digestion. Amylase breaks down carbohydrates. Saliva contains amylase, which initiates the digestion of dietary starches. Pancreatic secretions also contain amylase. Amylase breaks down starch into several disaccharides (simpler molecules).
Disaccharides, which include lactose, maltose, and sucrose, are further broken down into simple sugars by the enzymes lactase, maltase, and sucrase respectively. These simple sugars can then be absorbed through the small intestine to help energy production.
Proteases break down protein. Protein digestion begins in the stomach with the action of the protease, pepsin. The stomach’s acidic environment activates this enzyme. Pepsin is deactivated in the alkaline environment of the intestine. However, certain plant-based proteases remain active even in more alkaline environments. Proteins are further broken down by pancreatic enzymes in the alkaline environment of the intestine. Most proteins are ultimately broken down into amino acids, the building blocks of life.
Lipases break down fat. Fat digestion accelerates in the second part of the small intestine with the action of the pancreatic lipases. These enzymes break down fat into essential fatty acids. The lipase enzymes, along with bile salts, are responsible for the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K.
7. What are probiotic bacteria?
Probiotics are beneficial nontoxic live bacteria that are necessary for life and do not cause disease (non-pathogenic). The probiotic bacteria most commonly studied include members of the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium group. Because of the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium’s ability to break down lactose, these probiotic bacteria are also known as lactic acid bacteria. Both of these probiotic bacteria are well-studied and are available in foods and dietary supplements.
8. How do probiotic bacteria work?
By attaching themselves to the intestinal wall, friendly bacteria keep pathogenic bacteria from gaining a foothold. In addition, they produce lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide, (which kill most disease-causing bacteria). Some yogurts and other fermented food have these cultures, but these may not be strong enough for today’s environment. This is why probiotic supplementation is so important
9. Benefits of probiotic bacteria
Insufficient numbers, these friendly bacteria keep disease-causing bacteria from overpopulating the intestine. Also, they improve digestion, manufacture B vitamins, and boost immune system activity. Because they boost immunity, they positively influence the overall health of the animal. Animals get sick when their gastrointestinal tract becomes disrupted. Beneficial (friendly) microorganisms can no longer flourish in needed numbers and in the proper balance.
What is the cause of this disruption in the gastrointestinal tract? Past and present use of antibiotics contributes heavily to the problem.
Perhaps you are not giving your animals antibiotics, but unless you are taking almost superhuman precautions with the food and water, they are still eating antibiotics on a regular basis. Every time your animals drink chlorinated water, eat antibiotic-laden foods or take prescription antibiotics to fight infection, you are killing the friendly bacteria as well as the bad. And, if that’s not bad enough, stress and excessive sugar consumption interfere with the good bacteria in the system.
Further Information about Belta Probiotics