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Probiotics: 8 Healthy Benefits

Probiotics are live microorganisms that may be consumed through fermented foods or supplements, Studies have shown that the bacteria, fungi, and viruses in your digestive system determine your overall health. When these organisms, which make up the microbiome of the digestive tract, are in balance your immune, brain, and gut are in good health. If there is an imbalance problems can occur that such as autoimmunity, anxiety, or malnourishment. This microbiome is intimately involved in all processes of the intestines. 80% of your immune system is in your digestive tract, 90% of a neurotransmitter precursor called serotonin is made in the gut, and the detoxification of medications and other toxins excreted and processed in the intestines is also altered by the microbiome. Therefore, your digestive system is truly linked to overall health and disease.

Probiotics promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria and are associated with a wide range of health benefits. The benefits include immune health, balance of weight and weight loss, digestive health, and many more. This discussion is an overview of the eight key health benefits linked to probiotics.

Number one, Probiotics help Balance Your Gut Bacteria. Many probiotics contain bacteria that are well tolerated, more “gut friendly bacteria. These bacteria help crowd out more inflammatory predatory bacteria and promote an environment to encourage other beneficial bacteria. The balance in the microbiome swings towards more gut friendly beneficial bacteria. When we get ill, take certain medications like antibiotics, eat poorly such as consuming a lot of artificial sweeteners an imbalance can occur promoting inflammatory or bad bacteria and the demise of the friendly bacteria. Supplementation with  Bifidobacteria, Lactobacilli, and butyrate-producing bacteria help maintain a favorable balance.

Number two,  Probiotics  may help Boost Your Immune System. Certain probiotics interact more with the immune system and promote natural antibody production and increase immune cells function.  IgA producing cells, T lymphocytes, and natural killer cells are all increased and enhanced by these probiotics. For example, Lactobacillus plantarum has been found to  enhance the gut lining immunity and overall immunity. One large study showed that taking probiotics reduced the likilhood and duration of respiratory infections.  A study of over 570 children found that a lactobacillus rhamnosus GG species  reduced the severity and frequency of upper respiratory tract infections by 17%.  Another lactobacillus species, crispatus reduced the ris of urinary tract infections in women by 50%.

Number three, probiotics  may help with weight loss and reduction of belly fat. Ever since it was found that transplanting the stool which represents the source of one’s microbiome from a skinny rat to a fat rat made the fat rat skinny scientists have been looking at the effects of the microbiome on weight. The reverse can also happen as well with skinny rats getting fat from a fecal transplant. Some bacteria prevent the absorption of fat from the intestines and therefore no usage or storage of the fat occurs.  The fat is simply excreted in the stool. Another way probiotics help with maintain proper weight is by making the host feel more full longer, burn more calories, and store less fat. Certain hormones like GLP-1 are increased in the presence of butyrate or short chain fatty acid promoting lactobacillus bacteria. In one study,  Lactobacillus rhamnosus was given to women on a diet for 3 months and these women lost 50% more weight than women who didn’t take the probiotic.  In a study of 210 people, taking Lactobacillus gasseri for 12 weeks resulted in an 8.5% reduction of belly fat.  It should be noted that not all probiotics help in weight loss and ion fact, a few studies showed lactobacillus acidophilus could lead to weight gain.  More studies are ongoing.

Number four, Probiotics can help prevent and treat diarrhea.  Is well known that diarrhea is one of the most common side effects of taking antibiotics. As we discussed above, the balance of good and bad bacteria are drastically altered. Probiotics have been used for some time now by pediatricians to treat diarrhea in children to reduce the length and severity of the diarrhea whether it is from an antibiotic or an infection.  Several studies support their use for antibiotic associated diarrhea. One study showed a 42% reduction of antibiotic associated diarrhea with probiotics. A review of 35 studies found that certain strains of probiotics can reduce the duration of infectious diarrhea by an average of 25 hours.  Probiotics have been found to reduce the risk of travelers’ diarrhea by 8%. They also lowered the risk of diarrhea from other causes by 57% in children and 26% in adults. I have encourage travelers to start taking probiotics with Bifidobactrium Lactis, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Lactobacillus casei 2 weeks before going on the trip, during the trip and at least 2 week on return form the trip.   Saccharomyces boulardii may also be helpful to prevent diarrhea especially against a specific species of Clostridia call Clostridium Difficile.

Number five, Probiotics Improve your mood and can improve some mental health conditions.  More and more studies show that the gut health, emotions, and mental health are linked together.  It has been shown that supplementation with probiotics can improve some mental health disorders.  15 human studies have found that supplementing with Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains for at least 1–2 months can improve anxiety, depression, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and memory. There was one study where 70 chemical workers took 100grams of probiotic yogurt or took a daily probiotic capsule a day for 6 weeks. At the end of 6 weeks it was found compared to the workers not on probiotics, they were generally healthier, without significant depression, anxiety or stress.  In a study of 40 depressed patients probiotics were also shown to be of benefit.  The probiotic supplements were taken for 8 weeks and it was found levels of depression were decreased. Also other markers of inflammation and metabolic disease such as C-reactive protein and hormones such as insulin were also reduced compared to the people that did not take the probiotics.

Number six. Certain Probiotic Strains Can help maintain a healthy heart. Certain strains of probiotics can lower LDL or the bad cholesterol and maintain a normal blood pressure. Both of these obviously would help keep your heart healthy. In addition, lactic acid producing bacteria may reduce cholesterol by breaking down bile in the intestines. Bile, a predominately cholesterol based fluid, is used to help in digestion especially with fats.  Probiotics break down the bile, and prevent it from being reabsorbed in its native form which is mostly cholesterol.  A review of 5 studies showed  that by eating a probiotic yogurt for a minimium of 2 weeks and in one study for period of 8 week, the participants getting the probiotics reduced their total cholesterol by 4% and their LDL cholesterol by 5%.  In another study collecting data over a 6 month period there were no changes found in the total or LDL cholesterol but it was found that their was a small increase in HDL or “good” cholesterol.  A review of 9 studies found that probiotic supplements reduce blood pressure, but only modestly. In the studies that found some benefit for probiotics to lower blood pressure it was seen that the participants needed to consume at least 10 billion colony forming units for more than 8 weeks.

Number seven, probiotics can help  control inflammatory bowel symptoms.* The 2 predominate forms of inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, affect over one million people in the United States.  Studies have shown that certain strains of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus have improved symptoms in people suffering from mild ulcerative colitis. E.coli Nissle was found in one study to be as effective as medications in maintaining  remission in people with ulcerative colitis.  Probiotics do not appear to have as beneficial effects in Crohn’s disease but there are ongoing studies.  Research has shown benefit of probiotics in irritable bowel syndrome.  A severe condition that has a high fatality rate found in premature infants called necrotizing enterocolitis has been studied in the setting of probiotic use. It was found that probiotics reduced the risk of severe necrotizing enterocolits by 50%.

 

Finally number eight. Probiotics may reduce the severity of certain allergies and eczema.  There is a higher occurrence of allergies and eczema especially in children. Certain strains of probiotics seem to reduce the severity in children and infants. One study looked at infants with eczema that were fed a probiotic supplemented milk versus infants fed milk without probiotics. They found an improvement in the probiotic supplemented milk fed infants.  Another study looked at children of women who took probiotics during pregnancy. The children born to these mothers had an 83% risk reduction in the development of eczema during the first two years of life. There are studies suggesting some probiotics may reduce the inflammatory responses in some people with milk or dairy allergies. More research needs to be done.

 

You can benefit from probiotics from eating foods or using supplements. Fermented dairy products like yogurt and milk drinks can have live probiotic cultures. However some people have a food intolerance to casein or whey which are milk proteins and not the same as lactose which is a milk sugar.  Sugar added to yogurts and hormones and antibiotics added to cows may be a concern for some people.  Fermented foods like pickled vegetables, tempeh, miso, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut and soy products may also contain some live cultures of lactic acid bacteria. However, if you hope to get a consistent specific benefit from the probiotic then supplementation with the strains in the potency and familial variety found in a sachet or capsule may be needed. Not all probiotics can survive the acidity of the stomach so formulation is important as well as the potency with the number of colony forming units with at least 30 billion.

It is with the all the considerations above that we formulated Probio 350 and I’d like to tell you about this unique Probiotic.

Let me review its features now that you have an understanding of the 8 ways you can benefit from a probiotic.

There is not a one size fits all probiotic product but Probio 350 comes pretty close. Because of its potency we’ve used it to efficiently optimize gut health. We still recommend rotating probiotics every 3 months so your microbiome can have a wide diversity of beneficial bacteria. In light of this we have formulated 3 other probiotic formulas each designed with slightly different bacteria or potency.

ProBio 45/18 are capsules with the same 18 strains as Probio 350 but only 45 colony forming units and may be used as maintenance probiotic alternating with the others.

Probio 30 are Pharmaceutical Grade  capsules  of  a proprietary blend of 4 different species including saccromyces boulardii for a total of 30 colony forming units

Probio 100 are Pharmaceutical Grade 30 sachets of 4 probiotics including Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifodbacterium Longum, Lactobaccillus plantarum, and a Dupont trademarked bifidobacterium Lactis for a total of 100 colony forming units

 

CLICK HERE  to order Probio 350

If you have comments, questions, or want to learn how functional medicine can help with improving your gut, maintaining brain health, and optimizing immune function call our office at (925) 736-9828 or email info@jeffreymarkmd.com.

 

For more information on supplements to boost your immune system click on this link,   call our office at (925) 736-9828, or email info@jeffreymarkmd.com.

 

Take Care and Stay Healthy.

 

Jeffrey Mark, M.D.

Author
Jeffrey Mark, M.D. Helping clients with compassionate and comprehensive medical care for over 25 years with 4 board certifications in functional medicine, gastroenterology, internal medicine, and anti-aging/ regenerative medicine . IFMCP, ABIM Gastroenterology, NPAS Internal Medicine, ABAARM.

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