ISIS Press Release 19/04/05
Cultivate Health from Within: Dr. Shahani's Essential
Guide to Probiotics
Dr. Khem M. Shahani,
Dr Betsy F. Meshkesher and
Dr. Venkat Mangalampalli, Vital Books Publishing, P.O. Box
152, Ridgefield CT. 2004
Here's a book to change your view on germs forever.
'Probiotics' are beneficial bacteria that live in our gut,
helping us to digest our food and maintain a healthy immune
system. If we've overlooked our relationship with our own
bacteria up until now, then this new book will open up a whole
new exotic world of friendly bacteria that keep us in good
health. Cooperating with this inner life could add years to our
"At birth and throughout life, the large intestine is a
bacterium's idea of paradise. The human gut provides food,
shelter, and warmth for these microbes to proliferate.
Most of us are aware of the changes that have occurred in the
outer world of Earth today - the macroecology. Just as toxic
chemicals have harmed the macroecology, for many of us, our
inner world - the microecology of the gastrointestinal system -
has also been harmed and changed."
Apparently there are three and a half pounds of bacteria in
the human intestines; more bacteria than there are people in the
world, at several thousand billion, and more than the total
number of cells in the human body! In the healthy body, less
than one percent of these bacteria are pathogenic, but in the
wrong environment, they can spiral upwards in numbers and cause
anything from mild distress to virulent disease and death.
More than 400 species of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) have been
identified, which promote the production of lactic acid that
removes detrimental pathogenic bacteria from the system. They
belong to six major groups and more minor groups; but very few
have yet been researched. By providing our probiotic bacteria
with a healthy food supply - 'prebiotics' - a flourishing
community is maintained throughout our gut that protects us
against numerous disease conditions. The prebiotics,
fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and galacto-oligosaccharides
(GOS), available in common healthy foods, encourage the
proliferation of beneficial gut bacteria.
The book gives a comprehensive review of the disadvantages of
the overuse and abuse of antibiotics in human and animal health
and especially as growth promoters in animals. It describes how
the action of beneficial bacteria can eliminate resistant
pathogenic bacteria from the gut after antibiotic use, and how
they heal a leaky gut so that disease cannot take hold. The
authors recommend a lifestyle that enables probiotics to prevent
disease, rather than using antibiotics to suppress symptoms or
to give a (often temporary) cure.
"When an oral antibiotic is swallowed, beneficial bacteria
are killed, allowing yeast to grow unchecked in the intestines.
Their tendrils poke holes in the lining of the intestinal walls
creating a "leaky gut." Yeast can then escape and infiltrate
other bodily tissues, causing suppression of the entire immune
"When prescribed for cold or flu, antibiotics are worthless;
yet this is a common practice. According to several studies,
children who were given antibiotics for acute ear infections
suffered double the rate of adverse effects as compared to
children who were given placebos."
Khem M. Shahani is widely regarded as one of the world's
leading researchers on the role of lactobacilli and
gastrointestinal bacteria in human nutrition and health. He has
worked for many years at the University of Nebraska where he and
his team isolated, developed and optimised exceptional strains
of lactic acid bacteria, which have become internationally
acclaimed for their probiotic qualities and distributed
This work is the continuation of an age-old tradition that
has been largely forgotton in developed countries. Eating the
LAB-fermented milk (yoghurt) of cows, sheep, goats, camels and
horses was said to be the cause of longevity in Eastern Europe.
The probiotic Lactobacillus bulgaricus was named after
observing very old but fit people living in Bulgarian villages.
The authors describe 24 major beneficial effects of probiotics, with compelling accounts of the research that backs
up these claims. Live yoghurt, other high calcium foods, and
assorted green vegetables, suddenly feature strongly on the
shopping list. Some examples of benefits described after taking
probiotics are given in the Box.
Some benefit of probiotics
augments the immune system
prevents arterial disease, lowering cholesterol
prevents and controls diarrhoea
inhibits food pathogens and enhances food
inhibits tumours and carcinogenesis
fights fungal/yeast/candida infections
promotes/aids liver function and detoxification
produces natural antibiotic-like agents that fight
and prevent bacterial infections
On the subject of tumour suppression, the authors write:
"Over the last 30 years, several studies have revealed that
lactic cultures possess anticarcinogenic properties and are
capable of suppressing tumor growth through various mechanisms.
The most effective organism for this purpose is L. bulgaricus,
but a review of findings from Bulgaria, Denmark, Russia, Japan, and the
United States show that antitumor properties have also been
credited to special strains of Bifidobacterium infantis,
S. thermophilus, L. acidophilus, L. helveticus,
L. casei, and L. lactis.
Hints that lactobacillus can be helpful in treating cancer
originated from Bulgaria. In a book published in 1982, Bulgarian
physician Ivan Bogdanov discussed his experiences in treating
100 cancer patients with a hydrolyzed extract of
Bogdanov administered the extract orally or intravenously to
his patients, who suffered from dozens of types of cancer. In
some cases, the extract was given to counter the effects of
radiation and chemotherapy; where other therapies had failed,
the extract was given alone. Bogdanov stated that the results
differed among the patients, ranging from partial remissions to
A snippet of the advice given to candida patients:
"To improve their inner ecology and restore a proper pH
balance, it is recommended that candida patients make the proper
dietary changes and avoid unnecessary burdening of the body with
antibiotics and other harmful substances. Incorporating a good
exercise program into the lifestyle is also suggested to give
the lymphatic system adequate circulation so the body may heal."
The advantages of the natural probiotic route to good health
for the newborn, young and old alike are explained, beginning
from the newborn child receiving its first microbes through
mother's milk. However, the mothers' gut microecology is now
thought to be imbalanced, so that the health of a breast-fed
baby's gut today is comparable to that of a formula fed baby of
a generation ago.
A description of the connection between gut bacteria, sleep
and the immune system is really fascinating, while practical
advice on how good health can be achieved and maintained makes
this book more than just a very good read.
The lead author has received numerous scientific awards for
his original research and has convinced clinicians around the
world of the outstanding health benefits available from
probiotics. Now he and his coworkers have made this complex
subject accessible for mass readership.
The book is attractively laid out with diagrams and a strong
structure that treats the material from a variety of
perspectives. The style is lucid, fresh and descriptive. It ends
with a chapter on frequently asked questions that addresses many
practical areas of interest for the reader, plus a full list of
references to the text.