Probiotics Can Aid Digestion And Help Maintain Gut Health
What are the benefits of taking probiotics? Bacteria have a reputation for causing disease, so the idea of tossing down a few billion a day for your health might seem literally and figuratively hard to swallow. But a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that you can treat and even prevent some illnesses with foods and supplements containing certain kinds of live bacteria. Northern Europeans consume a lot of these beneficial microorganisms, called probiotics , because of their tradition of eating foods fermented with bacteria, such as yogurt. Probiotic-laced beverages are also big business in Japan.
Some digestive disease specialists are recommending probiotic supplements for disorders that frustrate conventional medicine, such as irritable bowel syndrome. Since the mid-1990s, clinical studies suggest that probiotic therapy can help treat several gastrointestinal ills, delay the development of allergies in children, and treat and prevent vaginal and urinary infections in women.
Self-dosing with bacteria isn’t as outlandish as it might seem. An estimated 100 trillion microorganisms representing more than 500 different species inhabit every normal, healthy bowel. These microorganisms generally don’t make us sick most are helpful. Gut-dwelling bacteria keep pathogens in check, aid digestion and nutrient absorption, and contribute to immune function.
Balances Friendly Gut Bacteria
Pictured Recipe:Grilled Salmon with Watercress Salad & Buttermilk Dressing
Back in high school biology class, you may have thought of all bacteria as bad-microscopic bugs that make us sick. The truth is, our bodies are teeming with both good and bad bacteria. In a healthy gut, the good bacteria outnumber the bad. Illness, a poor diet or taking certain medicines can throw that balance out of whack. Probiotics help out in the fight, boosting the number of friendly bacteria, improving digestion and helping our bodies absorb more nutrients.
How The Gut And Immune System Are Linked
It may surprise you that the majority of the immune system – around 70-80% – is actually located in the gut.
The gut is the bodies first line of defence against nasty bugs and bacteria entering the body with probiotics acting as guards to protect the immune cells found in our gut walls from causing inflammation and disease in our cells and organs.
This means that when we dont have a healthy microbiome , or we are eating foods that inflame the wall of the gut our immune system can be thrown off, leaving it at risk of allowing an infection we could usually fight off to instead take hold.
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Thousands Of Data Points
Our study shows that we can learn a lot from stool biological samples that literally would be flushed down the toilet, says Dr. Xavier. The result of collecting them is that we have a unique dataset with thousands of data points that we can use to ask questions about the dynamics of this relationship.
The researchers used a machine-learning algorithm to identify patterns in the data, which included information about patients medications and the side effects they experienced.
One of the findings was that the presence of three types of gut bacteria called Faecalibacterium, Ruminococcus 2, and Akkermansia was associated with increased blood concentrations of immune cells called neutrophils.
By contrast, two types called Rothia and Clostridium sensu stricto 1, were associated with reduced numbers of these immune cells.
Computer simulations by the researchers predicted that enriching microbiota with the three friendly genera would speed up the recovery of patients immune systems.
This research could eventually suggest ways to make BMTs safer by more closely regulating the microbiota, says co-author Marcel van den Brink.
The study appears in
Probiotics Can Help Reduce Symptoms Of Certain Digestive Disorders
Over one million people in the US suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, including ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease .
Certain types of probiotics from the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains have improved symptoms in people with mild ulcerative colitis .
Surprisingly, one study found that supplementing with the probiotic E. coli Nissle was just as effective as drugs in maintaining remission in people with ulcerative colitis (
Nevertheless, probiotics may have benefits for other bowel disorders. Early research suggests they may help with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome .
They have also been shown to reduce the risk of severe necrotizing enterocolitis by 50%. This is a fatal bowel condition that occurs in premature infants .
Probiotics may help reduce the symptoms of bowel disorders like ulcerative colitis, IBS and necrotizing enterocolitis.
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What You Can Do
Don’t start taking probiotics without talking to your doctor or pharmacist about whether probiotics might help you. People who have immune deficiency or are being treated for cancer should not use probiotics without a doctor’s okay.
The most common species of bacteria used in probiotics are species of Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium. The bacteria are usually freeze-dried when you take the supplement, they warm up in your digestive system and become fully active. You can find probiotic supplements in most drugstores and supermarkets. They come as capsules or tablets to swallow and as loose powder to sprinkle on food. You’ll want a product that explicitly states a “sell-by” date. Dosages vary by product, so no general dosing recommendation can be made. However, common dosages for adults range from five billion to 10 billion colony-forming units per day. Take just one dose of probiotics per day.
Some people may experience loose stools in the first few days of taking probiotics, but this goes away. Taking probiotics at the end of a meal may help to reduce the symptoms.
Probiotics And Prebiotics: Working Together
Probiotics work better when they dont act alone. To get the full health benefit of probiotics, prebiotics are part of the equation, Dr. Eisendorf says.
Prebiotics are indigestible carbohydrates that feed probiotic bacteria and help them grow. They exist naturally in most whole grains and beans, especially oats, beans, bran, whole barley and whole-wheat products, as well as many fruits and vegetables, including most greens, garlic, bananas, artichokes, asparagus and chicory root. Even red wine offers some prebiotics.
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Should I Also Take A Probiotic
Specific probiotic strains can be beneficial in maintenance of a healthy immune system. These are Lactobacillus paracasei 8700:2 and Lactobacillus plantarum HEAL 9, which have been proven in clinical trials to:
- Reduce the frequency, severity and duration of colds
- Reduce the number of sick days from colds
- Boost immune system function
Taken daily, especially during cold and flu season, these strains can support both your gut health and immune system.
What Happens To Your Gut Bacteria When You Take Antibiotics
If we take antibiotics for an infection, we need to remember that along with destroying the infection, they also act on our good gut bacteria, causing an imbalance, and perhaps having a negative effect on immunity in the long run. Again, using probiotics can help to re-establish and accelerate growth of microflora lost through antibiotic use. Probiotics can also reduce side effects such as antibiotic-associated diarrhoea. Therefore, taking probiotics when you are on antibiotics is an excellent and essential way to support your healthy gut bacteria and prevent you becoming resistant to the antibiotics, ensuring they will work if you need them in the future.
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How Probiotics Can Boost Your Immune System
A strong immune system: its something that we all want. Whether your immune system is fighting off a cold, keeping your digestive system running well, or protecting you from a serious disease, it is one of the most important systems in your body.
You may be wondering what you can do to boost your immune system and hopefully improve your health. Youve likely heard the age-old advice to get enough sleep, stay hydrated, eat well, and avoid smoking. But are there other ways you can help? Yes, and one of these ways is as simple as incorporating the right friendly bacteria into your diet.
Today well discuss how probiotics boost the immune system.
Myth Busting: Probiotics And Immunity
How do probiotics and prebiotics really help support our immune function?
Components of the immune system can be split into the innate or natural system, and the adaptive or acquired system. The innate immune system encompasses what is commonly described as an individuals first line of defence i.e. physical barriers that prevent undesirable foreign substances such as micro-organisms, allergens or toxins from entering the body.
In this respect, probiotics help to strengthen the body against pathogens through improved gut barrier function that stops harmful micro-organisms from entering the blood stream. This also results in improved microbiome diversity which serves as a natural defence against pathogens getting to uncontrollable levels in the gut.
Some white blood cells operate in the innate immune system and are hard-wired to respond to particular molecular warning signals. Some probiotics have the ability to support the function of these white blood cells in the body. These cells play a critical role in many protective processes, such as ingesting foreign bacteria, cell debris as well as dead or damaged cells. Some of these white blood cells also contribute to co-ordinated immune responses to infections and other threats to the body.
And how can fermented food and drink also do this?
During the fermentation process, microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast convert organic compounds such as sugars and starch into alcohol or acids.
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Six Ways To Boost Your Immune System Naturally Before You Get Sick
- Your immune system helps you heal and stay well.
- A healthful diet is important to a healthy immune system.
- Stress can overwork your immune system and drain your ability to stay healthy.
Your immune system is your first line of defense when youre battling a common cold, flu or other cold-weather illness. Your immune system helps you heal and stay well. To work well your immune system needs healthful foods, exercise and low stress. But, be careful because too much of an inflammatory response can lead to chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. So how can you support your immune system and balance its response so you get and stay healthy?
Here are six healthy living strategies you can use to boost your immune system:
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Can I Get Probiotics From Food
You can absolutely increase beneficial microbes in your body from the foods you eat. Certain foods have probiotics in them and can benefit the health of your microbiome.
These foods can be introduced into your diet at any point of the day. You may even be regularly eating them now and not realize that they contain probiotics. You will want to check the food label for live and active cultures. A few suggestions for just some of the probiotic-rich foods you can add to your diet and some times to try them include:
For breakfast, try:
Probiotic supplements may be combined with a prebiotic. Prebiotics are complex carbohydrates that feed the microorganisms in your gut. Basically, prebiotics are the food source for the good bacteria. They help feed the good bacteria and keep it healthy. Prebiotics include inulin, pectin and resistant starches.
When you have a supplement that combines a probiotic and prebiotic, its called a synbiotic.
Side Effects And Risks
Probiotics are considered safe for most people. Studies dont report major risks involved with taking them.
The most commonly reported side effects of probiotics are gas and bloating. If you have severe reactions, including abdominal pain, reduce your daily CFU intake and slowly increase again over time.
Always talk with your doctor before beginning a new health supplement. Before giving probiotic supplements to your child, talk to their pediatrician. Premature infants shouldnt take some probiotics.
Probiotics might not be recommended for people with chronic illness or a weakened immune system. Dont use probiotics to replace prescription medications without first consulting your doctor.
What Do I Need To Look For When Choosing Probiotics For Immunity
Using the right strains of bacteria in the right quantities to have the desired effect on the immune system is essential, but what strain do you choose, at what dose? Let us simplify things for you, based upon the recent research summarised above and our clinical experience:
- For coughs, colds, and other respiratory tract infections use L. rhamnosus GG for prevention for young children from three years. For older children use up to 10 billion of LAB4 combination, and 20-30 billion LAB4 per day for adults.
- During and after antibiotics aim for up to 30 billion LAB4 during the antibiotic course, taken at least 2-4 hours away from the antibiotic to increase the chance of probiotic survival. After the course of antibiotics, it can often be a good idea to take a short course of a more intensive probiotic supplement to help minimise the impact on the microbiome and reduce side effects, with a dose ranging from 75-130 billion depending on the situation.
- For autoimmunity and chronic inflammation aim for a daily supplement of at least 25-30 billion LAB4 which we know can help to improve gut integrity and systemic inflammation. A higher potency course including strains with extra immune-balancing benefits, such as Lactobacillus salivarius, can often be helpful depending on the situation.
If you have a particular immune condition and would like tailored advice to suit your needs, please contact our Clinical Nutrition team.
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Friendly Bacteria And Your Gut
Your digestive system depends on a delicate balance of good and bad bacteria. The good bacteria help to digest food properly, balance pH and keep pathogens at bay. This can help to prevent problems like constipation, wind, IBS and bloating.
However, things like poor diet and stress can reduce the numbers of these friendly bacteria, allowing unfriendly bacteria and yeasts like candida to thrive. This can trigger digestive problems and even further problems like thrush.
To support their friendly gut bacteria, many people choose to take a probiotic to top up the levels of friendly bacteria in their systems. These can come in the form of fermented food, yogurts and supplements. But could these probiotics have more uses than improving digestion?
Take Back Control Of Your Digestive System
BiomeMD®restores the right probiotic bacteria to your guts microbiome while giving them the precise prebiotic nutrients they need to thrive. Sometimes the gut becomes unbalanced with unhealthy levels of bad bacteria. When this happens, food isnt properly digested, causing gas, bloating, and diarrhea. BiomeMD® helps restore and maintain a strong balance of good bacteria in the gut can help to improve immune system function, help with weight management goals, boost nutrient absorption, and a number of other overall health benefits.*
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A healthy immune system is vital for keeping us well, and one proven way to support it is with probiotics.
Many studies have found these good bacteria can help balance gut flora, helping produce protective substances which may turn on the immune system to fight off bugs, and there are other benefits to making sure you get enough probiotics too.
We asked Professor Glenn Gibson, a professor of food microbiology at University of Reading whos studied probiotics and prebiotics extensively, and Dr Carrie Ruxton, a dietitian for the Health and Food Supplements Information Service href=https://www.hsis.org target=_blank rel=noopener noreferrer> to tell us more about the friendly bacteria that live in our intestines, stomach and gastrointestinal tract
What are probiotics?
The World Health Organisation defines probiotics as live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host. Ruxton says: Probiotics are live friendly bacteria in food or supplement form that can alter the balance of our own gut bacteria assuming they reach the gut intact.
Can you get probiotics in food?
Probiotics are found in many fermented foods, including kefir , kombucha , kimchi , tempeh , miso and sauerkraut , as well as yoghurt.
Who should take probiotics?
Do you need to take supplements to get enough probiotics?
What probiotics should you take?