^ Jump up to: a b c "Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of a health claim related to a combination of Bifidobacterium longum LA 101, Lactobacillus helveticus LA 102, Lactococcus lactis LA 103 and Streptococcus thermophillus LA 104 and reducing intestinal discomfort pursuant to Article 13(5) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 (example, search EFSA for other opinion reports on probiotics". EFSA Journal. 11 (2): 3085. 2013. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2013.3085.
A long-term reduced intake of fermentable carbohydrates for the treatment of IBS (as in a low FODMAP diet) can also negatively affect the bacteria in the gut. It is therefore important that these foods are only omitted for a specified time under the guidance of a specialist dietitian as the implications of long-term avoidance needs further research.
Probiotics have been used therapeutically for many centuries in different parts of the world for their contribution to longevity and digestive health. The World Health Organization has defined probiotics as ‘live organisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host’. Categories of probiotics in use today include: bacteria such as lactic-acid bacteria (LAB) and Escherichia coli strains (such as E. coli Nissle 1917), as well as yeast species including most prominently Saccharomyces boulardii among others (Table 1). Prebiotics such as lactulose, inulin, psyllium, and other oligosaccharides (found in onions, garlic, asparagus, leeks, artichoke, bananas, tomatoes, wheat, oats, soy beans, and other plants) are nondigestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth or activity of bacteria in the GI tract which are beneficial to the health of the body [Grajek et al. 2005]. Synbiotics are a combination of a prebiotic and a probiotic, such as inulin and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG or Bifidobacter longum. Antibiotics, in contrast, are compounds that kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria.
"The name itself is derived from the Latin 'pro-' meaning 'for' and the Greek '-biotic' meaning 'life,'" explains Jeannel Astarita, skincare expert and founder of Just Ageless NYC Wellness and Medspa. "Probiotics are the helpful bacteria that live primarily in your gut and play a crucial role in your overall health by fighting pathogens and yeast that lead to a weakened immune system."
How is it that probiotics are such a ubiquitous trend in the wellness scene but subject to tons of misinformation all the same? Consider the myth, for example, that the only appeal of replenishing your good bacteria is smoother digestion. On the contrary, the benefits of probiotics abound: from a boosted mood and better skin to a healthier immune system.
"Although all of our probiotic-consuming volunteers showed probiotics in their stool, only some of them showed them in their gut, which is where they need to be," co-senior author Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute, said in the statement. "If some people resist and only some people permit them, the benefits of the standard probiotics we all take can't be as universal as we once thought."
Immunity and colds/flu.There’s a close connection between the bacteria in your colon and the immune system. Several studies, including one in 2012 in the British Journal of Nutrition, have found that certain probiotic strains boost measures of immune response—but whether this translates into any clinical benefits is uncertain. Studies have been inconsistent, for example, as to whether probiotics will actually curb colds and other upper respiratory infections. In 2014 a review in the British Journal of Nutrition, which looked at 20 clinical trials, linked probiotics to shorter duration of colds, but not necessarily reduced incidence or severity. Similarly, a 2015 Cochrane review of 12 clinical trials concluded that certain probiotics may help prevent or shorten such infections, though the quality of the studies was poor.
All probiotic strains are manufactured through fermentation, and are then freeze-dried before blending with fructooligosaccharides (FOS). The result is a shelf-stable (two years at room temperature), nitrogen-filled probiotic of human origin: a probiotic that easily adapts to your body, and is both acid- and bile-resistant to survive the acidic environment of the human stomach. In other words, a probiotic that fulfills its promises.
This probiotic doesn’t contain any bacteria that produce histamine, a substance linked to inflammation, according to Nour Zibdeh, MS, RDN, CLT, an integrative and functional dietitian in Washington, DC. “Histamine intolerance is more common in women because of estrogen. The higher your estrogen level, the more histamine your body will produce. Symptoms of histamine intolerance include headaches, itchy and red skin, anxiety, congestion, post-nasal drip, stomach pain, diarrhea, and period cramps. If these symptoms are worse at ovulation or right before your period, I suspect histamine intolerance and recommend a probiotic that will help break histamine down.” Dr. Zibdeh recommends this brand. “It’s a mix of strains that are either neutral or may help metabolize excess histamine,” she explains.
On my recent trip to Japan, one thing I noticed was the inclusion of pickled vegetables in almost every traditional Japanese meal. Unfortunately, many Americans don’t consume enough of these probiotic-rich foods and drinks. Even when they do, restoring equilibrium oftentimes requires therapeutic doses of these microorganisms, because most everyone has been on several rounds of antimicrobials. That’s where a probiotic supplement comes in.
Rachel Allen is a writer at Hyperbiotics who's absolutely obsessed with learning about how our bodies work. She's fascinated by the latest research on bacteria and the role they play in health, and loves to help others learn about how probiotics can help the body get back in balance. For more ideas on how you can benefit from the power of probiotics and live healthier days, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter. To learn more about how a healthy microbiome can enrich your life, subscribe to our newsletter.
Probiotics have been shown to help reduce duration of pediatric acute diarrhea, decrease symptoms associated with taking antibiotics, manage symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, reduce crying time in infants with colic and reduce relapses of ulcerative colitis. Certain probiotics may also inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori, bacteria that colonize the stomach and can cause ulcers and stomach cancer.
B. longum is one of the first types of bacteria to colonize our bodies at birth. These important microorganisms ferment sugars into lactic acid, helping to stabilize the acidity of the GI tract and inhibit growth of harmful bacteria. For a group of adults prone to constipation, taking a mix of B. longum BB536 with milk or yogurt for two weeks increased bowel movements .
Unfortunately, the U.S. has no federal standards for probiotic supplements. Therefore, you run the risk of purchasing a product without any guarantee that it contains its advertised probiotic strains, that the strains are alive, or that the product is free from unhealthy ingredients. Therefore, it may be best to choose a brand-name probiotic that has research backing their effectiveness. Here are some examples:
Probiotics have been consumed by humans in one form or another for over 100 years, with a good safety record generally. A Finnish epidemiological study has shown no increase in Lactobacillus infections in healthy individuals in areas with documented large rises of use of Lactobacillus-containing products [Saxelin et al. 1996]. Probiotic supplementation has been studied in healthy volunteers, and the data suggest that several probiotic strains may enhance nonspecific immune responses, but the effects on adaptive cellular and humoral immune responses appear to be negligible [Borchers et al. 2009].
Swanson Probiotic for Digestive Health helps support digestion with 16 carefully selected strains so you can feel your best.* Your digestive tract is a diverse ecosystem, home to billions of microorganisms. The “good ones,” known as probiotics, provide valuable support for healthy digestion, immune function and many other vital processes throughout the body.* Probiotics help establish and maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the GI tract by increasing the population of beneficial strains. Prebiotics, such as fructooligosaccharides (FOS), enhance this activity by nourishing probiotic organisms to ensure that they thrive.
But not all of the bacteria in your body are good for you. Some research suggests that having too many of the "bad" and not enough of the "good" bacteria — caused in part by an unhealthy diet — can wreak all sorts of havoc on your body's systems. This imbalance can lead to weight gain, skin conditions, constipation or diarrhea, and various chronic health conditions.
What are the benefits of taking probiotics? Bacteria have a reputation for causing disease, so the idea of tossing down a few billion a day for your health might seem — literally and figuratively — hard to swallow. But a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that you can treat and even prevent some illnesses with foods and supplements containing certain kinds of live bacteria. Northern Europeans consume a lot of these beneficial microorganisms, called probiotics (from pro and biota, meaning "for life"), because of their tradition of eating foods fermented with bacteria, such as yogurt. Probiotic-laced beverages are also big business in Japan.
The takeaway: Certain strains were found useful in preventing diarrhea among children being prescribed antibiotics. A 2013 review showed that after antibiotic use, probiotics help prevent Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea. A review focused on acute infectious diarrhea found a benefit, again for certain strains of bacteria at controlled doses. There’s also evidence that they may help prevent necrotizing enterocolitis (a serious gastrointestinal condition) and death in preterm infants.
Like adults, children also require the proper balance of flora in the stomach to remain in good health. A major health care study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that probiotic supplements could be beneficial for children under certain circumstances. More research is needed. However, the study indicates that children who take probiotics at the first signs of viral diarrhea exhibit symptoms for shorter periods of time than those who do not. The study also found positive evidence that probiotics reduce the chances of diarrhea caused by antibiotic use in kids. More research is required to confirm these results. However, many pediatricians already recommend probiotics to parents based on the data.
Some people prefer probiotic supplements over foods, but Dr. Cresci notes that probiotic foods are a better choice. In particular, fermented foods — like yogurt, kefir (a yogurt-like beverage), kombucha (fermented black tea), sauerkraut (refrigerated, not shelf-stable), kimchi (made from fermented cabbage) and tempeh and miso (made from fermented soybeans) — provide a nourishing environment in which healthful bacteria thrive and release an important byproduct: short-chain fatty acids.
Probiotics stick around for a while, though for how long isn’t precisely clear. You have to keep taking them to continue to reap the benefits. Further, getting a wide variety of strains into your system is beneficial. “Periodically mixing up your probiotic supplement is also a good way to ensure that you get different health-building strains in your health regime,” says Dr. Cook.
Probiotics are safe in the amounts you normally find in food. In general, most healthy adults can safely add foods or dietary supplements that contain probiotics to their diets. Some individuals might experience gas (flatulence), but that generally passes after a few days. But which strains of bacteria are most helpful or which doses are best isn't always known. And if you are lactose intolerant, you can experience stomach discomfort if you try to get your probiotics from dairy products. In that case, consider using a dairy-free probiotic.
Research suggests probiotics work better as a team. Even pairs are more effective than individuals. Take the strains Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Bifidobacterium Bifidum BB-12, for example. When combined, this duo-force has been shown to help treat GI-specific ailments. In fact, one survey found 75 percent of studies that compared the effect of a strain mixture with a single-strain supplement showed a mixture was more effective at improving irritable bowel symptoms, immune function, and digestive health.