Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Probiotics and Their Benefit to Your Health: A Dozen Facts You Need to Know About Probiotics

A Dozen Facts You Need to Know About Probiotics and Their Benefit to Your Health

1. Probiotics are live microorganisms that have been shown to have a beneficial health effect on the body.

2. Probiotics not only consist of various strains of bacteria such as lactobacillus, acidopilus, bifidobacter etc., but also may include probiotic yeast such as saccharomyces boulardii.

3. Not all live microorganisms or live culture bacteria like those in fermented foods or yogurt have been shown to have a health benefit to qualify as probiotics.

4. Probiotics are ingested and colonize the gut but their health benefits include not only the gut but throughout the body, likely through circulating immune factors. An example includes a recent study that showed that probiotics decreased duration of the common cold.

5. All of us have more than a trillion microbes and over a 1000 different types of bacteria in our body. Each of our collection of microbes or flora is as unique as our fingerprint. Our unique gut flora "fingerprint" is extremely stable over our lifetime, becoming established early in childhood and generally remaining unchanged until old age unless disrupted by antibiotics. Keeping a stable healthy gut flora is becoming more difficult because of overuse of antibiotics inappropriately for viral infections, in foods or more powerful antibiotics being given for infections due to increasingly resistant bacteria.

6. The function of the appendix is believed to be to store microbes to reestablish our normal gut flora. Though there are some contradictory studies, most studies seem to show a higher incidence of Crohn’s disease and colitis in people who have had an appendectomy. Though the exact cause or causes of inflammatory bowel diseases are not known it now believed that altered gut flora and genetics are critical to their development.

7. Probiotics decrease inflammation in the gut, can help provide nutrition needed for healthy gut lining cells, synthesize vitamins such as the B vitamins biotin and folate, and can break down certain cancer causing chemicals (carcinogens) in our diet.

8. Probiotics decrease responses to allergens, both food allergens and pollen allergens.

9. Probiotics produce natural antibiotics (acidophilus produces antibiotic acidophilin) and can reduce or prevent infections in the gut. Probiotics are commonly prescribed now to prevent or treat Clostridium difficile bacterial infection, a common complication of antibiotic therapy.

10. Probiotics reduce, prevent and/or heal leaky gut. They enhance the gut barrier function.

11. Probiotics have been shown to reduce the toxicity of gluten. Studies have shown a benefit of probiotic bacteria that are added to gluten containing breads. They may be especially beneficial in those with Celiac disease, potentially protecting against cross-contamination exposure. Probiotics may help heal leaky gut caused by gluten even in those without Celiac disease.

12. Daily there is new evidence of the health benefits of probiotics and/or new diseases being linked to altered gut flora (dysbiosis). Just a few diseases or conditions linked to altered gut flora or benefited by taking probiotics include dental cavities, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, Celiac disease, diabetes, heart disease, allergies, intestinal infections, yeast infections (especially vaginal), colds and respiratory infections, rheumatologic conditions, multiple sclerosis, autism and cancer.

Stay tuned into the Food Doc Journal to learn more about probiotics, leaky gut, food intolerance, food allergies, Celiac disease, Crohn's disease, IBS and various types of colitis including the new entity mastocytic enterocolitis.

Copyright © 2008, The Food Doc, LLC, All Rights Reserved.

Scot M. Lewey, D.O., FACP, FAAP, FACOP
Gastroenterology Associates of Colorado Springs
1699 Medical Center Point
Colorado Springs CO 80907
719 387 2110 Fax: 719 302 6000

Author Bio

Dr. Scot Lewey is a digestive disease specialist doctor (board certified gastroenterologist) whose medical practice focuses on digestive and food related illness. Also, known as Dr. Celiac, the Food Doc, Dr. Lewey shares his experiential knowledge for a healthy gut, healthy life on-line. Start learning today from his extensive personal and professional experience. Dr. Lewey is uniquely qualified as an expert and one of the few GI doctors who is also gluten sensitive and dairy sensitive. He has nearly a quarter of century of experience in the diagnosis and treatment of food allergy & intolerance, colitis, Crohn's disease and IBS. He is married to someone who has Celiac disease. He and his family live gluten free in Colorado.

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Alexis said...

What a great summary of all of the wonderful things that probiotics do for our health. I have learned that a multi-strain probiotic supplements are more effective than thoes that contain only one strain. I take iFlora from which contains 16 probiotic strains! Thanks for this great blog!

mle_ii said...

Hi Dr Lewey,

It's very interesting to read your comments and various studies on probiotics. But one unanswered question on my mind is related to one of your points, specifically "4. Probiotics are ingested and colonize the gut ". I have yet to find any studies that show any probiotics taken actually colonize the gut, as they seem to be transitory and don't adhere to the gut wall or grow offspring that would help populize the gut. All the studies that talk about this seem to indicate that the don't remain in the gut. Seems that once you need to take probiotics that you always need to take them to get benefit. Can you comment on this? Are there any strains that actually adhere and populate the gut rather than just pass through?


Shreela said...

I'm interested in which probiotics you take.

Anonymous said...

A recent study has demonstrated increased inflammatory reaction to wheat with L.casei. I have stopped using probiotics with L.casei as a result of this study.
Adjuvant effect of Lactobacillus casei in a mouse model of gluten sensitivity.
Immunol Lett . 2008 May 22

Dr.Rutledge said...

I think your blog is terrific, and I would like to feature you on Wellsphere ( Would you drop me an email?
Good health!
Geoffrey W. Rutledge, MD, PhD

Visit the Virtual Practice of Dr. Scot Lewey on HealthTap