Credit: Picture used from this fantastic website that has in-depth information on probiotics and gut health, http://probiotics.org/amazing-facts/.
Recently there has been a lot of attention given to the gut and its central role in health. Eating healthy is obviously a factor but using probiotics is like having military backup to support good gut health and to help boost immunity. The term probiotic is derived from the Greek word pro, meaning “promoting” and biotic, meaning “life.”
Body bugs, good and bad, are part of gut flora that help maintain healthy digestion. They are also an important part of the immune system. Seventy percent of the cells that make up the body’s immune system are found in the gut.
When bad gut bacteria become more prevalent than good bacteria, eat foods that contain prebiotics (Prebiotics are nondigestible carbohydrates that act as food for probiotics and contributes to healthy probiotic bacteria growth) such as asparagus, garlic, artichokes and onion and use an arsenal of probiotics as coverage to help regain good gut bacteria and bring intestinal flora back to balance.
Probiotics function to help:
- food digestion
- mineral absorption
- vitamin B and K production
- breakdown toxins
- reduce inflammation
- support the immune system
There are approximately 400 types of body bugs. Research has shown that different strains of probiotic bacteria are involved in specific aspects of the body’s health, http://www.onhealth.com/probiotics/page3.htm and http://www.worldgastroenterology.org/assets/export/userfiles/Probiotics_FINAL_20110116.pdf. For example:
- Lactobacillus (also known as Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. acidophilus DDS-1, Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus blugaricus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, Lactobacillus plantarium, Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus salivarius, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus johnsonii, and Lactobacillus gasseri) is found in the digestive and urinary tract and aid in treating yeast and urinary tract infections, diarrhea and other bowel issues, such as gas, bloating, and acne.
- Acidophilus maintains the integrity of the intestinal walls that aid in the absorption of vitamins and minerals, and supports the immune system.
- Fermentum helps neutralize toxins and promotes a healthy balance of good gut bacteria.
- Rhamnosus has shown to be effective in reducing occurrences of traveler’s diarrhea.
2. Bifidobacteria (Bifodbacterium bifidum, Bifodbacterium lactis, Bifodbacterium longum, Bifodbacterium breve, Bifodbacterium infantis, Bifodbacterium thermophilum, and Bifodbacterium pseudolongum) found in the colon may be involved in metabolic and oral health and have been found to help with IBS ( irritable bowel disease) , blood sugar, cholesterol and cavities.
- Bifidum aids in digestion especially for dairy products.
- Longum, like Lactobacillus fermentum, helps neutralize intestinal toxins and functions to help break down carbohydrates while avoiding the production of excess gas.
- Saccharomyces boulardii is the yeast probiotic. It helps alleviate symptoms associated with yeast overgrowth in the intestine and vagina, protect against Clostridium difficile (c-diff), treat acne, and minimize the side effects of the treatment for Helicobacter pylori (bacteria that can cause ulcers).
- Bacillus Coagulans work by forming spores to help populate the intestine with good bacteria. Results of a recent study show its effectiveness in helping to lower cholesterol including raising the good cholesterol (HDL) and lowering the bad (LDL).
- Streptococcus thermophilus produces lactase and may help to prevent lactose intolerance.
6 & 7. Propionibacterium and Lactobacillus rhamnosus help lower inflammation related to heart disease and CRP (C–reactive protein) levels. CRP is a protein measured in your blood. High levels indicate body and heart inflammation.
If you want to watch two amazing videos on what we now are learning about the gut and how it affects us, watch this two-part video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3iOlRUQkrw and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klnYh7SZRic
Probiotics are not just part of friendly fire that protects health, taking a probiotic may contribute to improved exercise performance.
In a small study (10 male runners) in the European Journal of Applied Physiology (2014 Shing et al., 114: p 93-103) athletes who used a multi-strain probiotic for 4 weeks experienced a significant increase in running stamina, http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00421-013-2748-y.
There are a few noteworthy studies on probiotics and exercise performance. You can read about them here, http://suppversity.blogspot.com.es/2014/08/performance-enhancing-gut-microbes.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Suppversity-NutritionAndExerciseScienceForEveryone+%28SuppVersity+-+Nutrition+and+Exercise+Science+for+Everyone%29&m=1, so stay tuned on this topic.
My suggestion is that most people would benefit from beneficial bug probiotic supplementation. This is especially true if you suffer from gas, bloating, diarrhea or any digestive issues.
Use a multi-strain probiotic that contains a minimum of 1 billion bacteria but you can go to much higher amounts. If you have serious medical symptoms, start off with lower amounts, .i.e. take a quarter or half the amount and build up to a higher dose.
Give your immune system a boost with probiotics, you can’t get better back up.