By Stephanie Berglin, ND

Do things ever feel not quite right in your gut? Symptoms such as bloating, gas, indigestion, discomfort, constipation and/or diarrhea may all be signs that your intestinal health isn’t up to scratch.

The wellbeing of your digestive tract is of incredible importance to your overall health, as it is the main site for nutrient absorption, and also home to billions upon billions of microorganisms with whom we have evolved a mutually beneficial relationship.

The gastrointestinal system and our daily lives are impacted by a number of things including oxidative stress, aging, diet, lifestyle, alcohol, trauma, prolonged stress, surgery, nutrient deficiencies, drug use, excessive exercise, starvation, infection, inflammation, hygiene and socioeconomic conditions.

Researchers have discovered an abundance of nutrients and herbs that can prevent, assist or alleviate the myriad of gastrointestinal conditions afflicting society today.

PROBIOTICS

There are trillions of cells in your body. Did you know that more than 90% of those cells are live bugs and most of them have set up home in your intestines? What’s more, these living organisms are actually vital to your health! 1, 2

Growing up, we’ve all been taught that germs spread diseases, but there are actually two types of germs in the world: the friendly and the not-so-friendly. Fortunately, in our guts, the good guys outnumber the bad.1 And if our diet, lifestyle or medications should destabilize this balance, we can supplement with good bugs (probiotics) to re-establish the natural order. Probiotics are mostly bacteria (e.g. lactobacilli and bifidobacteria strains) but also include the friendly yeast Saccharomyces boulardii.3

So what are all those friendly micro-organisms doing in our guts? They’re all there to carry out the following important functions:1,2,4,5

  • Protect the gut and the rest of the body from disease-causing bacteria, fungi and parasites
  • Support the immune system
  • Regulate inflammation
  • Synthesize B vitamins and vitamin K
  • Support carbohydrate and fat digestion
  • Detoxify waste compounds

Although these friendly bugs reside in the gut, their functions affect other parts of the body, and it’s time we started looking at what they can do for our health beyond the gut.

TAILORED PROBIOTIC SOLUTIONS FOR DIFFERENT NEEDS AND AGES

Probiotics for General Gut Health

The makeup of good bacteria in the gut is unique to each individual, just like our fingerprints. So when it comes to probiotics, it’s fair to say that one size definitely does not fit all.

That’s why it’s important when choosing a probiotic for general gut health that you select one that offers a wide spectrum of different types of good bacteria. There are two dominant strains in our gut; Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. Each strain has a specific species (e.g. Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria breve) that may exist in differing numbers and frequency across our gut population and may offer slightly different health benefits.

For example, studies have shown that L. acidophilus, L. plantarum and B. breve provide temporary symptomatic relief of medically diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). L. acidophilus, B. breve and S. thermophilus may provide temporary relief of diarrhea, and L. fermentum and L. rhamnosus have been clinically demonstrated to assist in the maintenance of healthy urogenital flora.

Ask your healthcare practitioner for a probiotic that contains at least 10 different probiotic strains providing at least 45-60 billion bugs per capsule to assist in restoring and maintaining healthy intestinal flora and healthy digestive function.

Probiotic for neonates and infants

The characteristics of the good bacteria in our gut evolve throughout our entire life. In fact, the gut of a newborn is very different to that of a child or adult. Lactobacillus and bifidobacteria are the two most common probiotic strains found in the gut of breastfed infants. Providing neonates and infants with a multistrain probiotic powder containing lactobacillus and bifidobacteria strains combined with a prebiotic fiber such as inulin (which stimulates bifidobacteria growth) will help support gut health, immunity and digestion.

Children

From the time that children stop depending on breast milk and/or formula for nutrition, their microflora profile begins to resemble that of an adult.6 The composition of a child’s gut bacteria has a big impact on their health and wellbeing.

Clinical trials investigating the use of probiotic supplements in children, including those containing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, have revealed that they may help reduce a number of conditions, including digestive disturbances, symptoms of respiratory infections and colds, and atopic dermatitis, while also reducing antibiotic use and days missed from school.7-13

Prebiotics such as oligofructose can help to increase the number of good bacteria in the gut. Probiotics can also boost immunity, reduce the incidence of dermatitis and improve gut health. 14-16

Convenience and a great tasting product are important considerations when supplementing children because we want to make sure they will take it every day for maximum benefit.  Ask your healthcare practitioner for a chewable, naturally flavored probiotic which is sure to be a hit with even the fussiest of eaters!

Antibiotic Therapy

Antibiotics are a powerful and useful medication designed to kill bacteria. They are so powerful that they can destroy both good and bad bacteria in the gut. Just one course of antibiotics can result in a significant reduction in gut bacteria numbers and diversity. In most cases, our bacteria numbers and diversity will return, however some studies have shown that this can take up to four years!

A probiotic supplement is ideal to be taken following a course of antibiotics to help re-introduce good bacteria to the gut. Look for:

  • A high strength, intensive probiotic
  • Consider a probiotic that has a variety of strains providing at least 500 billion CFU
  • A convenient one-a-day dose probiotic which will be easy to take

Heat Stable Probiotic Solutions

Saccharomyces boulardii is a probiotic yeast that helps friendly bacteria stick to the gut wall. Because it is a yeast probiotic and not a bacteria probiotic like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, it is not affected by antibiotics and is a great choice to take during a course of antibiotics to promote good gut health.

Saccharomyces boulardii is heat stable and does not require refrigeration, making it the ideal choice for use while travelling. It can also be used for the relief of symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea.

Ask your healthcare practitioner to recommend a product that will soothe, heal, seal and cleanse your digestive system for better gut health.

 


References

  1. Sekirov I, Russell SL, Antunes LC, et al. Gut microbiota in health and disease. Physiol Rev 2010;90(3):859-904.
  2. Resta SC. Effects of probiotics and commensals on intestinal epithelial physiology: implications for nutrient
    J Physiol 2009;587(Pt 17):4169-74.
  3. World Gastroenterology Organisation Practice Guideline: Probiotics and prebiotics. World Gastroenterology Organisation, 2008.
  4. Gill HS, Guarner F. Probiotics and human heath: a clinical perspective. Postgrad Med J 2004;80(947):516-26.
  5. McFarland LV. Systematic review and meta-analysis of Saccharomyces boulardii in adult patients. World J Gastroenterol 2010;16(18):2202-22.
  6. Koenig JE, Spor A, Scalfone N, et al. Succession of microbial consortia in the developing infant gut Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2011;108 Suppl 1:4578-85.
  7. Yang G, Liu ZQ, Yang PC. Treatment of allergic rhinitis with probiotics: an alternative approach. N Am J Med Sci 2013;5(8):465-468.
  8. Guarino A, Canani RB, Spagnuolo MI, et al. Oral bacterial therapy reduces the duration of symptoms and of viral excretion in children with mild diarrhea. J Pediatr Gastro Nutr 1997;25(5):516-519.
  9. Vanderhoof JA, Whitney DB, Antonson DL, et al. Lactobacillus GG in the prevention of antibiotic associated diarrhea. J Pediatr 1999;135(5):564-568.
  10. Da Costa Baptista IP, Accioly E, de Carvalho Padilha P. Efect of the use of probiotics in the treatment of children with atopic dermatitis; a literature review. Nutr Hosp 2013;28(1):16-26.
  11. Leyer GJ, Li S, Mubasher ME, et al. Probiotic effects on cold and inluenza-like symptom incidence and duration in children. Pediatrics 2009;124(2):e172-179.
  12. Bekkali NL, Bongers ME, Van den Berg MM, et al. The role of a probiotics mixture in the treatment of childhood constipation: a pilot study. Nutr J 2007;6:17.
  13. Guandalini S. Probiotics for children with diarrhea: an update. J Clin Gastroenterol 2008;42 Suppl 2: S53-57.
  14. Braun L, Cohen M. Herbs and natural supplements: an evidence-based guide, 3rd ed. Sydney: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2010.
  15. Chatchatee P, Lee WS, Carrilho E, et al. Efects of growing-up milk supplemented with prebiotics and LCPUFAs on infections in young children. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2014;58(4):428-437.
  16. Foolad N, Armstrong AW. Prebiotics and probiotics: the prevention and reduction in severity of atopic dermatitis in children. Benef Microbes 2014;5(2):151-160.

 


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.