What Makes A Probiotic A Probiotic
Definitions of the terms probiotic, prebiotic and synbiotic are provided in . This review focuses on probiotics, though some probiotics have been tested as part of a synbiotic product. Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium species are the most commonly used probiotics. However, one of the first probiotics, which is still in use, is the non-pathogenic Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 . Most probiotics were initially cultured from humans and resemble known commensal gut bacteria. However, the commensal population they resemble typically represents only a fraction of the total luminal bacteria. Saccharomyces boulardii is a probiotic yeast strain with the potential advantage of having resistance to most antibiotics.
L Acidophilus May Support Vaginal And Urinary Tract Health In Women
Probiotics most prominently live in the gut and intestines, but the vagina is also home to a significant probiotic population. In a crossover trial, researchers examined patients for candida yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis while these patients also received either a pasteurized yogurt or yogurt containing live L. acidophilus cultures. The patients comprised two groups of 23 women randomly assigned to each of the study groups. Each patient ingested 150 mL of yogurt daily.
By the end of the study, results found that the yogurt enriched with live L. acidophilus was linked to increased colonization of the beneficial bacteria in the vagina and rectum, which resulted in fewer episodes of bacterial vaginosis.12
What Do Probiotics Do
Probiotics are thought to support immunity by stimulating the bodys natural defences, and by lining the intestines with a protective layer of friendly bacteria that bars pathogenic substances in the gut from harming the body. As two-thirds of the body’s immune system is managed in the gut, it may be important to keep one’s probiotic levels high.
Research shows that probiotics support digestive health by producing specific enzymes1 needed in the digestion of food and aiding the breakdown of foods substances.Probiotics are also known to improve the absorption of vitamins & minerals into the bloodstream, and even produce B complex vitamins & vitamin K2. B vitamins are vital for maintaining energy levels and brain function3, while vitamin k plays a key role in bone health4.
In addition, bad strains of bacteria, known as pathogens, can be crowded out by probiotics, the good strains of bacteria.
Read more about what are probiotics and how they work in our articles How do probiotics work? and Benefits of probiotics
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Supports Overall Gut Health
Gut bacteria is incredibly diverse, with trillions of different types of bacteria playing a part in your overall health.
Like all lactobacilli, lactobacillus acidophilus is generally very good for gut health for a number of reasons, including the production of lactic acid.
This acid helps to prevent harmful bacteria from growing in the intestines and can also help support intestinal lining.31
Lactobacillus acidophilus has also been seen to help increase numbers of other healthy gut bacteria like lactobacilli and bifidobacteria.23
Safety Of Acidophilus Probiotics
Acidophilus, and probiotics in general, are considered extremely safe for use in healthy people. But probiotics could pose a risk to people with weak immune systems or severe illnesses. Possible side effects may include infections and production of harmful waste products that can exacerbate any existing health issues. It’s also possible that probiotics can transfer genes to your digestive tract that make you resistant to some antibiotics, although this is rare.
Allergic reactions may also be a concern, as acidophilus is found in many milk products and many supplements that contain acidophilus also contain milk and/or lactose. If food allergies are a concern, be diligent about reading food and supplement labels.
However, even though probiotics are safe, it’s important to work with a qualified health professional to figure out the correct acidophilus dosage and probiotic blend for you.
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What Are Probiotic Foods
Foods and drinks that naturally contain probiotics or live cultures are those that have been fermented. Foods that are fermented go through the process called lacto-fermentation in which the natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch creating lactic acid. This process was originally used for food preservation as it stops the food from spoiling, and creates beneficial bacteria, b-vitamins, and enzymes. Foods or drinks that contain these beneficial live cultures are:
- Some cheeses
Although fermented probiotic foods or probiotic drinks make a great addition to any diet, it is hard to know what exact probiotic strains are in these natural foods. If you are looking to support a certain symptoms or health condition with probiotics, then it is best to choose a strain researched for the condition you are looking to support. Read more about this here: Fermented Foods vs. Probiotics
Dont know where to start with fermented foods? Read our Top 5 Fermented Foods
Who Should Not Take Probiotics
Probiotics are suitable for most people, however there are some individuals who we advise to exercise a degree of caution when supplementing with live cultures. In this case it is advisable to consult with a registered healthcare practitioner. You can read more in our article when NOT to take probiotics.
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Acute Onset Infectious Diarrhea
Several randomized controlled trials have evaluated the use of probiotics in acute infectious diarrhea. The data are largely from pediatric studies where both prevention and treatment were examined. Trials were conducted across the world with durations of up to 1 year. In the pediatric population, rotavirus has been the most common cause of infectious diarrhea. Data suggests that the benefit of probiotics in preventing acute infectious diarrhea is modest., Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG , L. reuteri and L. casei all have shown benefit, with an approximate NNT of 7 children to prevent 1 case of rotavirus in the child care center setting. With the currently available rotavirus vaccine in consideration, the American Academy of Pediatrics states that probiotics for preventing acute infectious diarrhea are not universally endorsed, but acknowledges that they may have a role in special circumstances. According to the US Center for Disease Control, data is not sufficient to support the use of probiotics such as LGG to prevent travelers diarrhea of bacterial origin.
The data supporting treatment of acute infectious diarrhea with probiotics are stronger. LGG is the most effective probiotic reported on to date, reducing both severity and duration of diarrhea by ~1 day., The American Academy of Pediatrics supports the recommendation of LGG early in the course of acute infectious diarrhea to reduce symptom duration.
S Boulardii May Help Prevent Travelers Diarrhea
Travelers diarrhea comes from ingesting contaminated food or water when visiting a place with a different climate or sanitary practices than what youre used to at home.7 Studies suggest that S. boulardii may help to reduce the chances of contracting travelers diarrhea.
On one double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers administered placebos or S. boulardii in 250 mg or 1,000 mg doses to 3,000 Austrians traveling to various distance regions. The results of the study found a significant reduction in the incidence of diarrhea among the travelers based directly on regular use of S. boulardii and the dosage. Interestingly, the study found varying effects based on region with the most pointed results in Turkey and areas in North Africa.8
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Could Help Reduce Or Prevent Allergy Symptoms
Common allergies are known for their annoying symptoms like itchy eyes and a runny nose, but thankfully, some research suggests that probiotics could help ease some of them.28
A large study of 47 children found that when they took a combination of lactobacillus acidophilus and other probiotics reduced the nasal blocking, runny nose and some other symptoms of a pollen allergy.29
Another study found that taking lactobacillus acidophilus for 4 months reduced some of the hay fever-like symptoms in children with perennial allergic rhinitis, including nasal swelling.30
Gut Bacteria: The Bffs You Never Knew You Had
In human intestines, there are many strains of two mainspecies of friendly bacteria, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, Dr. Crescisays. Probiotics and prebiotics both help those friendly bacteria, but indifferent ways:
These are live microorganisms isolated from humans and thencultured in a lab to be used as a supplement. When we ingest them , they survive in the gut and provide benefits to uslike the good bacteria that we naturally have.
This is a food source for the friendly bacteria in your intestinal tract. Our digestive system cant break down prebiotics, so they survive the journey through the digestive tract. They eventually reach the part of the colon where the friendly bacteria hang out. The bacteria have the chops to break down the prebiotics into nutrition that helps them grow and thrive.
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Development Of The Gut Microbiome
Babies begin to develop their unique intestinal bacterial profile, known as the gut microbiome, even before birth as they are exposed to bacteria in the womb. During the birth process, the gut becomes further colonized with bacteria from the mother.
A 2019 study found that 63% of infants’ gut bacteria matched their mother’s bacterial profile, demonstrating that maternal health directly affects babies’ health from birth.
Other factors that influence strains of gut bacteria in early life include exposure to antibiotics, premature birth, genetics, and nutrition. Breast milk naturally contains probiotics, and while many infant formulas have probiotics added to them, the research is unclear on whether they provide the same benefits for gut health.
How Long Do Probiotics Last
Most probiotic supplements indicate a shelf life on their label of about one year. According to regulations, this means that the number of probiotics present in the supplement at the time of manufacturing must remain the same until they reach that expiry date.
Unfortunately, probiotics are very sensitive to environmental conditions, and elements like heat and light can kill them in both supplements and food. This means that if the product has been handled improperly during transportation, or if you stored it incorrectly, the probiotics may no longer be living.
Expired probiotics will not harm you, however you will not experience their benefits if they are expired.
The difficulty is that labelling regulations require manufacturers to put the total number of probiotics on their container, but this weight could include both the living and dead microorganisms.
You might purchase a product that claims it contains 10 billion live bacterial cultures, but there is no good way of knowing whether or not those bacteria are alive or dead. For this reason, researchers at Harvard Health Publishing recommend skipping the supplement altogether and getting your daily dose of probiotics from fermented foods like yogurt.
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What Are Microbes And Their Role In Our Health
Microbes are tiny organisms — so tiny that millions can fit into the eye of a needle — that are so powerful that an imbalance in the body is related to numerous diseases. These microorganisms can be found in almost every part of the human body, living on the skin, in the nose, and in the gut. There are trillions of these microorganisms in our bodies. They outnumber human cells by 10 to one, but due to their small size, they only make up 1%-3% of a body’s total mass.
The National Institute of Health is sponsoring the Human Microbiome Project , which is developing research resources to enable the study of the microbial communities that live in and on our bodies and the roles they play in human health and disease. The NIH has funded many more medical studies using HMP data and techniques, including the role of the gut microbiome in Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and esophageal cancer skin microbiome in psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and immunodeficiency urogenital microbiome in reproductive and sexual history and circumcision and a number of childhood disorders, including pediatric abdominal pain, intestinal inflammation, and necrotizing enterocolitis, a severe condition in premature infants in which the intestine tissue dies due to lack of oxygen.
How Should People Take Probiotics
The requirements for a microbe to be considered a probiotic are that the microbe must be alive when administered, it must be documented to have a health benefit, and it must be administered at levels to confer a health benefit. A rule of thumb often cited is to take at least a billion colony forming units daily.
These are live microorganisms that will not provide the promised benefits if they don’t remain alive. The manufacturer and consumer must pay close attention to the conditions of storage at which the particular microorganism will survive and the end of their shelf life. The potency will indicate the number of viable bacteria per dose, and the purity has to do with presence of contaminating or ineffective bacteria.
The other thing to remember is that these microorganisms are not all created equally. In fact, the genus, strain, and species all need to be the same for the results that found in the study to be the results that one hopes to achieve when taking it. For example, with the strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, the genus is Lactobacillus, the species is rhamnosus, and the strain is GG. If any one of those is different in your supplement, you may not attain the same results.
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How To Choose The Right Probiotic
There has been a lot of talk about all of the amazing things probiotics can offer.
There has been a lot of talk about all of the amazing things probiotics can offer, from weight loss, to lower cholesterol, to reduced intestinal discomfort.
Because the mass media refers to them collectively as probiotics, patients are given the impression that a single product can do all of these amazing things. But the fact is that probiotics are actually hundreds of uniquely different bacteria that are not interchangeable.
Just because a clinical study found that one bacterium or combination of bacteria had a specific action doesn’t mean that all bacteria can perform that function. It just means that these specific bacteria performed that specific action in a specific population at a specific dose.
It is significant to note where in the world the study was conducted because healthy bacteria in Mexico or Japan are not the same as those seen in the United States. The bacteria we co-evolved with are unique to us and essential to our health.
The most commonly used probiotic is Lactobacillus acidophilus, but there are thousands of strains of these bacteria and they are not interchangeable.
Some L. acidophilus excrete lactic acid and therefore change the pH of the environment, making it unfavorable for bad bacteria. Other L. acidophlius work by simply competing with bad bacteria for living space and therefore keep them low in numbers.
Common reasons for taking probiotics
What Foods Is L Acidophilus In
Yogurt EasiYo Yogurt contains a powerful strain of probiotic acidophilus and this is how I chose to take my acidophilus.
Lactobacillus is the name of a large family of lactic acid producing bacteria and acidophilus is one of the most important members of that family. See Whats the difference between Acidophilus And Lactobacillus if you get these two muddled up.
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What Lies Ahead For Probiotics In Digestive Diseases
Inspired investigators and technical advances in genomics are facilitating in-depth scientific investigation of the human microbiome and the functional capacities of probiotics. These advances are sure to bring paradigmatic changes to our fundamental understanding of how microbiota influence health and how they can be manipulated to combat disease and improve quality of life. Future indications and therapeutic directions for probiotics may include conditions as diverse as mood disorders, obesity, autism and diabetes. Recent clinical trials and translational studies suggest that lactobacillus probiotics may offer epithelial cytoprotection to limit symptoms of radiation enteritis, a dose limiting side effect for patients receiving abdominal radiotherapy for malignancy., , Promise is held for confirmative testing of helminth-based therapy and turbo-probiotics designed to secrete human cytokines. Gene based bacterial profiling studies from disease affected humans have identified what may be novel probiotics such as Faecalibacterium prausnitizii and Clostridium species IV and XIVa. Finally, the identification, purification and repackaging of probiotic-derived soluble factors possessing proven capacity to modify biologic function may allow us to harness the power of probiotics while averting the potential risks associated with live bacteria. Some suggest that as these advances progress to the clinic we will shift from the term probiotic into the new world of pharmabiotics.
Probiotics And Acidophilus For Kids
By now youve probably heard of probiotics, the “good” bacteria that are available in supplement form and found naturally in certain fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut. A few of the probiotic strains that you might see listed on product labels include Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces.
Before we can understand the role of probiotics in the body and decide whether we should give probiotic supplements to our kids, we need to take a step back and look at how the gastrointestinal system works and the ways gut health is affected by bacteria.
Rayes / DigitalVision
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What If You Put Fiber And Probiotics Together
With a deep background in detoxification and the application of nutrition and botanical medicine for creating digestive health, the question of fiber and probiotics began to pique my curiosity.
What happens if you put them together?
After all, the probiotics can facilitate gut health and the fiber can help move things along in your digestive tract. Seems like a winning combination, right?
The answer is a resounding YES, BUTyou need the RIGHT probiotics and the right combination of ingredients to truly make this winning combination come alive.
Research demonstrates that most strains of probiotics dont make it past your stomach. The reason is that as soon as these good bacteria and yeast strains hit your stomach acid, they essentially die.
Does this mean that probiotics are not good for you?
Not at all! Even dead, probiotics have beneficial affects on your digestive system and immunity. However, they do not seem to re-colonize in a gut that is lacking the necessary probiotics to begin with.
And thats the goalto re-colonize your intestines with plenty of good bacteria and yeast so that your gut ecology balances out and contributes to your overall health, energy and well-being.
So what strain of probiotics can make it past your stomach acid and change the environment of your intestines?