Probiotics And Gut Health
The best case for probiotic therapy has been in the treatment of diarrhea. Controlled trials have shown that Lactobacillus GG can shorten the course of infectious diarrhea in infants and children . Although studies are limited and data are inconsistent, two large reviews, taken together, suggest that probiotics reduce antibiotic-associated diarrhea by 60%, when compared with a placebo.
More common than diarrhea is the opposite problem constipation. In a search for studies on the benefits of probiotics in treating constipation, researchers found that probiotics slowed “gut transit time” by 12.4 hours, increases the number of weekly bowel movements by 1.3, and helped to soften stools, making them easier to pass. But the jury is still out on specific recommendations when it comes to the benefits of
Probiotic therapy may also help people with Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Clinical trial results are mixed, but several small studies suggest that certain probiotics may help maintain remission of ulcerative colitis and prevent relapse of Crohn’s disease and the recurrence of pouchitis . Because these disorders are so frustrating to treat, many people are giving probiotics a try before all the evidence is in for the particular strains they’re using. More research is needed to find out which strains work best for what conditions.
How Popular Are Probiotics
The 2012 National Health Interview Survey showed that about 4 million U.S. adults had used probiotics or prebiotics in the past 30 days. Among adults, probiotics or prebiotics were the third most commonly used dietary supplement other than vitamins and minerals. The use of probiotics by adults quadrupled between 2007 and 2012. The 2012 NHIS also showed that 300,000 children age 4 to 17 had used probiotics or prebiotics in the 30 days before the survey.
How To Use Them Safely
The FDA regulates probiotics like foods, not like medications. Unlike drug companies, makers of probiotic supplements don’t have to show their products are safe or that they work.
Ask your doctor if taking probiotics is a good idea for you. In general, probiotic foods and supplements are thought to be safe for most people, though some people with immune system problems or other serious health conditions shouldn’t take them.
In some cases, mild side effects might include an upset stomach, diarrhea, gas, and bloating for the first couple of days after you start taking them. They may also trigger allergic reactions. Stop taking them and talk to your doctor if you have problems.
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Probiotics And Lactose Intolerance
People with lactose intolerance can often consume yogurt with few symptoms because of the probiotics it contains. These probiotics help digest the lactose in the small intestine before it reaches the colon. In addition, the yogurt starter cultures Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus help break down the lactose. Yogurt is a good way for people with lactose intolerance to consume the recommended servings of dairy without experiencing uncomfortable symptoms.
Protect Against Colds And Flu
The natural immune-boosting action of probiotics can help to ward off colds and flu, particularly when used alongside micronutrients such as vitamin E, iron and selenium. Together, these nutrients help to boost the production of antibodies and other infection-fighting compounds.
One study found that taking probiotic supplements as well as multivitamins and minerals significantly reduced the duration of common cold and flu – by almost two days. This was a much better recovery time that those who took only multivitamins and minerals.
Researchers suggested that this effect was likely due to the way which probiotics improved the activity of T-lymphocytes, the cells that regulate immune responses.
Another study showed that taking supplements containing a blend of probiotics, vitamins and minerals for at least three months during the winter helped to reduce the severity of the common cold, as well as the frequency of catching it. Those taking the supplement blend were 13.6 per cent less likely to develop cold and flu symptoms than those taking a placebo.
This evidence suggests that although multivitamins are helpful in filling the gaps in the average diet, probiotics boost the immune system even further by optimizing nutritional uptake and absorption.
The strains best known for improving immune system function include Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus paracasei, L. casei and Lactobacillus acidophilus.
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What Are The Different Types Of Probiotics
There are numerous types of probiotics and each has different characteristics. They may be combined with others or appear on their own in powder, tablet or liquid dietary supplements. At the moment, foods that naturally contain probiotics are not eaten regularly in the UK and supplements are becoming more popular. The most common probiotics include lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium. These differ as they are made up of different types or strains of bacteria, and are recommended for different clinical conditions. Lactobacillus acidophilus have been clinically shown to lower the incidence of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea and can also result in a shorter length of stay in hospital for some. In order to experience this benefit, a vast quantity of food containing probiotics would need to be consumed. It is therefore easier and more effective to take a recommended probiotic supplement.
For those with a diagnosis of IBS, supplements containing bifidobacterium have been shown to reduce symptoms, including bloating, cramping and stool frequency, and can be taken for up to eight weeks.
Help To Restore Gut Function
Probiotics not only help to restore the integrity of the gut lining but also the composition of the gut microbiome. Supplements can help to introduce new beneficial strains to the natural microbial populations of the intestine and boost the diversity of the healthy bacteria.
This is like adding extra armies of disease-fighting immune cells to your gut, helping to ameliorate any inflammation caused by infections and reduce the risk of further disease-related conditions.
Taking probiotics as part of your daily diet even helps to protect the gut against inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis. Theres also evidence that probiotics can improve ulcerative colitis and help in returning the gut to its normal healthy function.
The probiotic species Lactobacillus is especially helpful in this way, with studies showing that can support the integrity of the intestinal barrier. Lactobacillus also helps to maintain the immune tolerance of the digestive tract and reduce the translocation of bacteria across the intestinal mucosa.
As an added bonus, Lactobacillus has been found to reduce proliferation of pathogens that cause gastrointestinal infections, IBS and IBD.
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How Probiotics Might Be Bad For You
Because these good bacteria already exist in the body, theyâre considered safe for most people. But there are some things to consider.
They can trigger an allergic reaction. They might cause mild stomach problems, especially the first few days you start taking them. You might have stomach upset, gas, diarrhea, or bloating. Those symptoms usually go away after your body gets used to them.
If you have an immune system problem or another serious health condition, you may have a greater chance of issues. Some reports have linked probiotics to serious infections and other side effects. The people most likely to have trouble are those with immune system problems, people who’ve had surgery, and others who are critically ill. Don’t take probiotics if you have any of those issues.
Always talk to your pediatrician before giving probiotic supplements to your child. If you’re pregnant or nursing, you should also talk to your doctor before you try one.
Most probiotics in the U.S. are sold as dietary supplements. That means the companies that make them don’t have to test their products and show that they work or that they are safe. More research is needed to confirm that probiotics are safe and effective.
Ask your doctor which probiotics are the right ones for you. Be sure to stop taking them if you have any problems.
What Should We Look For When Choosing A Probiotic Supplement
There are two key issues when choosing a probiotic: the first is to ensure that the product contains enough bacteria to have an effect the second is to ensure that it survives the acidic environment of the stomach in order to reach the large intestine. Examples of probiotics that meet this criteria include Alforex, Yakult, Symprove and VSL #3. Each of these is designed to treat different symptoms, so if you are thinking about taking a probiotic, seek advice from a specialist dietitian or GP to ensure you take the correct one.
Unless stated differently by manufactures, probiotics should be taken for a minimum of four weeks before effects may be seen. If no improvement is noted, it is recommended that you try another brand or stop completely.
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Certain Probiotic Strains Can Help Keep Your Heart Healthy
Probiotics may help keep your heart healthy by lowering LDL cholesterol and blood pressure.
Certain lactic acid-producing bacteria may reduce cholesterol by breaking down bile in the gut .
Bile, a naturally occurring fluid mostly made of cholesterol, helps digestion.
A review of 5 studies found that eating a probiotic yogurt for 28 weeks reduced total cholesterol by 4% and LDL cholesterol by 5% .
Another study conducted over 6 months found no changes in total or LDL cholesterol. However, the researchers did find a small increase in HDL cholesterol .
Consuming probiotics may also lower blood pressure. A review of 9 studies found that probiotic supplements reduce blood pressure, but only modestly .
In order to experience any benefits related to blood pressure, supplementation had to exceed 8 weeks and 10 million colony-forming units daily .
Probiotics may help protect the heart by reducing bad LDL cholesterol levels and modestly lowering blood pressure.
Do Probiotics Make You Poop
Plus, a list of probiotic-rich foods to incorporate into your diet.
You know what really stinks? A crappy digestive systempooping problems can really make you feel down in the dumps. .
If youve struggled with IBS or constipation, you may have wondered if probiotics are the key to a healthy gut. Heres what you need to know about probiotics and their relationship to poop:
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Probiotics May Increase The Risk Of Infection For Some People
While they are safe for most people, probiotics can enter the bloodstream of susceptible people and lead to infections. The people who are most at risk for this are those with suppressed immune systems, people who have been hospitalized for a long period of time, people who have venous catheters, and people who have recently had surgery.
But the risk of developing an infection is very low, and studies have never reported a serious infection. An estimated one out of every one million people taking probiotics will develop an infection, which can typically be treated by an antibiotic or antifungal.
Keeping a food diary with notes of symptoms you experience can help you understand if any fermented foods lead to side effects for you. If you find that foods rich in probiotics trigger a symptom for you, taking a supplement may be a better option.
To reduce your chances of experiencing side effects, begin with a low dose of probiotics and increase to a full dosage at a slow pace over a few weeks, which will help your body adjust to them.
What Happens When You First Start Taking Probiotics
Digestive symptoms When first using probiotics, some people experience gas, bloating, or diarrhea. Changes in the gut microbiota can result in bacteria producing more gas than usual, which can lead to bloating. However, these side effects usually clear up within a few days or weeks of taking the probiotics.
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Improves Digestion And Absorption Of Food And Nutrients
The most frequently talked about benefit of probiotics is their ability to promote proper digestive health. Probiotics are often used in the treatment and prevention of gastrointestinal diseases, including inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease.
For IBS, probiotics can help reduce the pain and severity of symptoms. Evidence has also shown that probiotics are effective in treating several forms of diarrhea, such as diarrhea associated with taking antibiotics, acute diarrhea, and travelers diarrhea.
Probiotics also help your body absorb nutrients from food. After being swallowed, food is combined with digestive juices and enzymes in your stomach before being broken down into tiny molecules of nutrition.
These molecules are then distributed to the body’s cells once they are absorbed through the walls of the small intestine. Probiotics help break down your food into the nutrients that you need to maintain health, and they create several vitamins directly, such as vitamin K2, folic acid, and biotin.
Probiotics May Help Boost Your Immune System
Probiotics may help give your immune system a boost and inhibit the growth of harmful gut bacteria .
Also, some probiotics have been shown to promote the production of natural antibodies in the body. They may also boost immune cells like the IgA-producing cells, T lymphocytes and natural killer cells (
Certain probiotics may help you lose weight and belly fat. However, other strains have been linked to weight gain.
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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.
Scientific Studies That Provide The Efficacy Of Probiotics
According to the study published in Journal of Clinical Nutrition, in a clinical trial, people with constipation were asked to take probiotics or placebo for certain period of time. After pooling out the results, it was found that people who took probiotics slowed down the gut transit time and increased the number of bowel movements.
As per Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, a study was published which investigated the characteristics of gut microbiota in patients with constipation. After the trial, the results have shown a consistent relief in stool consistency, abdominal bloating and bowel frequency.
Another clinical trial conducted by Dr. Mark Benninga from Univerity of Amsterdam included a group of 20 pregnant people with constipation symptoms. They were given probiotic supplement for 4 weeks. As per the results after 4 weeks, number of bowel movements per week was increased to 6 from 3.
As per the study published in Nutritional Journal, a group of 20 children aging 4 16 were experiencing constipation. They were supplemented with probiotics on a daily basis for 4 weeks. In the results, it was observed that, the bowel frequency has increased after taking probiotics.
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What Are The Best Food Sources Of Probiotics
Certain foods naturally contain healthy bacteria by a process called lactic acid fermentation. This occurs when bacteria converts sugar or other carbohydrates to lactic acid, which then increases the bacterial count. Beer and sourdough bread are also fermented, but these foods do not contain live, beneficial bacteria that we call probiotics. Foods that contain probiotics include:
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Since you can get probiotics from food, you might be curious about why you would even want to take a supplement. Besides the convenience factor, one benefit from probiotic supplements is that you can choose products with targeted strains for certain issues with a supplement. On the other hand, if you eat fermented foods you can still get probiotics, but you may not know exactly which strains or how much.
So if you’re looking into probiotics for a specific reason then you may benefit from looking into specific strains of bacteria that can help with that. For example, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG is a probiotic strain that researchers found particularly helpful for diarrhea. Another thing to note is that probiotic supplements do not have to be approved before they are sold. Otherwise, for the general benefits, eating probiotic rich foods like yogurt each day can do the trick.
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Additional Benefits Of Taking Probiotics
In summary, probiotics are powerful dietary supplements to help improve your digestion. Whether you have constipation or diarrhea, adding a high-quality probiotic to your dietary supplements could lead to big improvements and health benefits.
At the same time, it is important to remember that probiotics are not the magic pill. In addition, we recommend you eat plenty of dietary fiber , drink plenty of water each day and follow a balanced diet. If your digestive issues persist or worsen, consult a healthcare practitioner to dig deeper into potential causes!
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Protects Against Food Allergies
The prevalence of food allergies has continued to multiply over the past decade, and research suggests that changes in intestinal flora might contribute to this. But modifying gut microbiota with probiotics may alleviate food allergies and intolerances, and help restore one’s ability to eat a triggering food.
Infants born without diverse gut bacteria have a higher chance of developing allergies during their first two years of life. Because probiotics help reduce chronic gut inflammation and regulate immune responses, they can help alleviate food allergies as well.