PROBIOTICS: HARNESSING THE POWER OF SUPER BUGS FOR DIGESTION
AND OVERALL HEALTH
Do you need to take probiotics?
Ask your FUT2 gene…
Variations in the FUT2 gene is associated with:
- A change in the gut microbiome with lower amounts of bifidobacteria
- A predisposition to having decreased levels of vitamin B12
- A predisposition to having Crohn’s disease
If you have a variation in the FUT2 gene make sure there are bifidobacterial in your probiotic!
Ilya Metchnikov (Noble Prize winner) introduced the concept of bacteria in yogurt that could support the neutralization of gut pathogens, which may support longevity. Since the turn of the 20thcentury, the role of beneficial bacteria in human health has become well established and continues to evolve.
In 2002, the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) and WHO (World Health Organization) established a definition for probiotics, “live strains of strictly selected microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”.
Probiotics are “good” or “helpful” living bacteria or yeast that are essential for a healthy digestive system. They replace “good” bacteria in your body that have been destroyed and help to keep a healthy balance between “good” and “bad” bacteria for optimal body functioning.
The diversity of microflora is characteristic of a healthy gut microbiome and contributes to overall health and vitality by promoting optimal digestion, assimilation, gut integrity, motility and removal of toxins and waste.
Stress, poor diet, food sensitivities, medication, environmental factors and certain diseases impact of the microbial balance within this finely tuned community of microorganisms.
Probiotics can be obtained through supplementation or food, e.g. buttermilk, yoghurt, kefir, some types of cheeses, dark chocolate, some juices, soy beverages and plants (e.g. miso and sauerkraut).
Supplementation with probiotics has many mechanisms of action that benefit health, including:
1.Supporting metabolic activity, such as the production of short-chain fatty acids and vitamins, nutrient absorption and digestion of lactos
2.Adhering to intestinal cells to help maintain a healthy balance of organisms in the intestinal tract
3.Helping to establish a population of good bacteria
4.Supporting the immune function
5.Promoting intestinal cell survival
6.Supporting healthy bowel function
7.Degrading oxalates – chemicals that must bind to excess calcium
There are various types of bacteria that have been classified as probiotics, all having different benefits.
Good probiotic supplements contain one or more of the species of:
Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces.
• Lactobacillus genus, include reuteri, acidophilus, bulgaricus, fermentum and rhamnosus
• Species of Bifidobacteriuminclude bifidum, longum, breve, infantis and lactis.
• Saccharomyces boulardii, which is yeast, is the only one of the Saccharomycesspecies used in dietary supplements.
This may be the most common probiotic and is the one found in yoghurt and other fermented foods. Different strains can help with diarrhoea and may help people who can’t digest lactose, (the sugar in milk).
Lactobacillusis beneficial for:
• Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
• Infectious diarrhoea (caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites)
• Diarrhoea caused by antibiotics
• Skin conditions, such as eczema
• Urinary and vaginal health
• Preventing allergies and colds
• Oral health
Confer a host of benefits to the health of the gut, brain as well as metabolic and immune systems.
Benefits of Bifidobacterium include:
• Boosts the immune system
• Decreasing and treating gastrointestinal infections
• Reduces the risk of colorectal cancer
• Improving diarrhoea and constipation
• Eczema prevention
• Increases the bioavailability of certain minerals
Is used for culturing cheese as well as yoghurt. This probiotic strain also produces lactase, which helps people digest milk more efficiently. Probiotic Streptococcus Thermophilusalso produces antibiotic chemicals to prevent infection from infections like pneumonia; Clostridium difficileand can help prevent ulcers.
Benefits of Streptococcus Thermophilus include:
Reduce antibiotic-associated and acute diarrhoea
Decrease ulcerative colitis symptoms
Decrease leaky gut symptoms
Improve lactose digestion
Decrease IBS symptoms
Prevents and fights upper respiratory infections (e.g. pneumonia)
Prevents ulcers caused by H. pylori
Decrease AIDS symptoms
Fight Clostridium difficile – a bacteria causing inflammation of the colon
Additional health benefits:
Improve non-breast-fed infant probiotic flora
Reduce symptoms of atopic dermatitis
Decrease chance of kidney stones
Increase HDL (good cholesterol)
Increase anti-tumor activity
Decrease baby colic
Is a type of yeast sourced from the skin of such plants as lychee and mangosteen. It has been found to stimulate the immune systemand protect digestive health.
In alternative medicine, Saccharomyces boulardii is said to help with the following conditions:
• Crohn’s disease
• Irritable bowel syndrome
• Ulcerative colitis