Probiotics are a hot topic these days in the world of nutrition and health. There is a lot of confusion around what these things are and what they do. Probiotics are live organisms that confer health benefits not just associated with gut health. They provide a huge support for nutrition metabolism and absorption inside the gut as well as help the body detox from toxins that may become mobilized by a change in dietary habits. If you have worked with me privately, you know that is one of the first questions that I ask. Probiotics are highly effective in keeping your gut healthy. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to using probiotics. There are so many options on the market today that it’s hard to know which one to choose and, damn, if they aren’t all expensive. If there is only 1 thing you take away from this blog today, it is to take your probiotics. They are WORTH EVERY PENNY, especially if you get a clean one with no crap added. How do you know if it’s clean? Check the inactive ingredient list. It should not be more than 3 ingredients. I am not going to bore you by going into all the strands and what they do. I am a nerd like that and I love it, but I am going to give you the quick and dirty on diarrhea, inflammation in the gut, healthy aging and why you need to take these bad boys every, single, day!
Probiotics are useful for managing IBS, support oral health by keeping your gums healthy, help to decrease food sensitivities and food allergy reactions as they work closely with the immune system to modulate the inflammatory process in the gut keeping it happy and healthy. Probiotics have been shown to be effective in a variety of gastrointestinal conditions. There are numerous studies on different strands of probiotics that help the body with certain conditions. If you look up numerous studies you will find that there are many different conclusions, however, there is one common theme in all of the literature and that is the evidence supports a benefit of using daily probiotics of support over all health and aging.
Let’s talk about diarrhea, everyone’s favorite topic, right? Commonly the topic of conversation when speaking about probiotics, it’s often the only time that people think they need them. This really isn’t the case, but I do want to touch on this topic. I want to share this information with you so you know what strands to look for IF, in fact, you end up with one of these lovely experiences of pathogenic diarrhea. There are four different types of diarrhea, Antibiotic-associated, C. Diff associated, rotavirus associated and infectious diarrhea. All of four of these types are pathogenic bacteria induced. Antibiotics wipe your GI tract clean of good and bad bacteria, leaving you with nothing to protect yourself and allowing a quick increase of pathogenic bacteria to take over your GI tract in just a few short weeks. Most of these studies show that lactobacillus strands alone or in combination with other lacto or bifidum bacteria helps with C. Diff diarrhea, usually hospital acquired, however that’s not always the case. L. Rhamnous, L.casei, S.thermophilus and B. Bifidum, S. Boulardii have been found to effectively prevent or treat community acquired infections of diarrhea.
Food Sensitivities, Allergies and Probiotics:
Food allergies and sensitivities can induce symptoms ranging from mild GI discomfort to serious respiratory distress or anaphylaxis (allergy). The ability of probiotics to reduce the symptoms of food allergy and sensitivity was noted over 30 years ago. Since then, several studies have indicated that specific probiotic strands effectively mitigate food allergies and sensitivities, among some of the strands: L. Rhamnous, S.thermophilus and B. Bifidum, S. Boulardii. Probitoitcs alleviate symptoms by inducing immunotolerance and limiting the exposure to pathogens.
Digestive and Nutrient Support:
Most probiotics are capable of metabolizing carbohydrates, including lactose. Probiotics break down and metabolize non-digestible carbohydrates such as fiber. The major by-products of this process are short chain fatty acids (SCFA). SCFA lower colonic pH and create an environment that pathogenic bacteria are unable to live in. Studies show that SCFA directly stimulate colonic calcium, magnesium and zinc absorption and increase colonic blood flow, enhancing the transportation of nutrients and may be of therapeutic value for various GI disorders such as IBS, Celiac, etc. Those who produce low levels of stomach acid (symptoms mimic heart burn) cannot activate other enzymes to be released that are essential for digestion and absorption also benefit from probiotics. Those individuals that do not make enough stomach acid also have issues breaking down protein. Probiotics enhance protein absorption in the gut, reducing the likelihood of those large proteins crossing the intestinal barrier, entering the bloodstream and causing an unwanted immune response. L. Rhamnous, L. casei, L. bulgarcus and L. plantarum have been shown to secrete enzymes that degrade casein and gluten, two allergic proteins found in milk and wheat. Does this mean if you are allergic to dairy and gluten that you can take these and it will all be better? No, but if you are just sensitive to them and accidently ingest them, you can supplement with these bacterium to help reduce the reaction of the immune system. Note that every body is different. Probiotics have also been show to help reduce cholesterol with dietary tweaks.
Probiotics limit intestinal and systemic exposure to ingested toxins by enhancing intestinal barrier function, binding and sequestering toxins in the gut and reducing toxin production by pathogenic bacteria.
The gastrointestinal tract is home to trillions of microorganisms, including any of 15,000 to 36,000 microbial species. , Each individual hosts around 160 different species that essentially constitute an organ within the whole body that has a profound effect on the gastrointestinal function, immune modulation and metabolic imbalances.  This gut microbial is acquired during birthing, matures during infancy and changes during childhood and ages just as does every other organ system. 
As we age, so do certain processes that happen in our bodies. One example is gastric acid production, which is the acid that breaks down the majority of your food in the stomach to get it ready to go into the small intestine for continued digestion and absorption. There is an increase in pH in that gastric acid, so not only does it slow down in production, it also becomes more concentrated. Decreased digestion speed, also referred to as delayed gastric motility, can affect the microbial in the gut. These physiological changes on top of a lifetime of poor dietary habits, repeated use of antibiotics, chronic NSAID use (such as Advil, Aleve, Motrin, etc) all contribute to the decrease and shift in microbial imbalance in the gut. This creates a decrease in good bacteria and an increase in pathogenic bacteria.
The most important characteristic of microbial imbalance is the decrease in the abundant, diversity and adhesive properties of the Bifiobacterium species. Bifido bacterium have anti-infective and immunomodulary functions, meaning treatment of disease by inducing, enhancing or suppressing an immune response happening in the gut. Decreased numbers in this specific type of bacteria is associated with many inflammatory processes in the body. The loss of robust and diverse Bifido bacterium population in the gut, as well as reduced populations of other beneficial strands of bacterium coupled with the increase in pathogenic bacterium, often leads to the decline in immune system function and an increase in systemic inflammation in the body. A gradual decrease in both innate and adaptive parts of the immune system function while aging is associated with what is referred to as “ Immunosenescence”. Immunosenescence is associated with an increase in susceptibility to infections, autoimmune diseases and cancer. Over a long period of time increased pathogenic bacteria and a decrease in beneficial bacteria has been linked to cardiovascular disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Osteoporosis and Cancer. ,
I know that was a lot of scientific jargon, but I wanted to include it so I could show the research backing up my love of probiotics and the constant use of them in my body.
5 reasons to include probiotics in your daily routine:
- They boost the immune system
- They combat antibiotic induced diarrhea
- They help alleviate food sensitivities and support the integrity of the intestinal lining.
- They help fight colds and flu and decrease your risk of contracting these.
- They offer many health benefits for women…. If you know what I mean!
If you want to learn more about how probiotics can help you and which specific strands you want to include in your dietary regime, reach out to me. Let’s chat and figure out what strands are good for your body. There are many over the counter probiotics, but normally they have a variety of strands that may or may not be beneficial for you and they are too expensive to chance that. I will be happy to share the company that I highly recommend for purchasing probiotics with you if you want to reach out to me.
Long story short, take your probiotics people! If it’s the only supplement that you take, it will be beneficial to you in so many aspects of your overall health.
  Frank DN, St Amand Al, Feldman RA, et. Al. Molecular-phylogentic characterization of microbial community imbalances in human inflammatory bowel disease. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2007; 104:13780-5
 Frank DN, St Amand Al, Feldman RA, et. Al. Molecular-phylogentic characterization of microbial community imbalances in human inflammatory bowel disease. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2007; 104:13780-5
 Frank DN, Paec NR, Gastrointestinal microbiology enters the metagenics era. Curr Optin Gastroenterol 2008; 24:4-10
 Qinj, Li R, Raes J, Arumugam M, et al. A human gut microbial gene catalogue established by metegenomic sequencing. Nature 2010;464: 59-65
 Fanaro S, Chierici R, Guerrini P, Vigi V. Intestinal microflora in early infancy; composition and development. Acta Paediatr Suppl 2003; 91: 48-55
 Claesson M, Jeffery I, Conde S et al. Gut Microbia composition correlates with diet and health in the elderly. Nature 2012;488: 178-84
 DeMartins M, Franceschi C, Monti D, Ginaldi L. Inflammation markers predicting fraility and morbidity in elderly Exp Mol Path 2006;80: 219-27
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Colleen- I take ‘Ultimate Flora’ brand, women’s care probiotic. I feel these have helped me a lot but, I don’t think they have the strand that is beneficial for allergies. I constantly have sinus issues. Would you suggest a different blend for my probiotic use? Thank you for this post!