Friday, April 30, 2010

Benefits of Probiotics

by Eric Vonheim & Terrible Tummys

Recent research shows that our adult human bodies contain an enormous biomass of trillions of good bacteria, or probiotics, which generate metabolic activity and plays an important physiological role in humans.

Probiotics are well known to contribute to overall general health. Since over 70-80% of your immune system resides in your intestines, probiotics play a key role in supporting the every day battle between good and bad bacteria that try to take over health. They work by crowding out potentially harmful bacteria, as well as creating an environment inhospitable to these pathogens.

Probiotics are even better known to promote a healthy digestive tract. They help maintain healthy intestinal cells and support bowel regularity. They can assist the manufacture of digestive enzymes that help break down food, as well as help your body absorb nutrients better.

Out of the myriad of benefits surrounding probiotic research, the best-documented health benefits associated with probiotic use are:

· decreased incidence or duration of diarrhea caused by antibiotics or viruses;2,3,4

· resolved occasional constipation;5,6

· improved immune function;7,8

· improved the ability of lactose-intolerant people to digest lactose, thereby improving tolerance to dairy products;9 and

· reduction of common infections 10

The two most predominant probiotic species are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria- the most prevalent bacteria in our intestines. These are also the two genera of greatest research and use regarding human health. Lactobacillus organisms reside mainly in the small intestine, bifidobacteria in the large.

The lactobacillus genus contains dozens of species, including important organisms such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus salivarius. One of the most important members of the bifidobacteria genus include Bifodobacterium lactis. Scientists are now formulating products that contain select species from both genera to improve the colonization of probiotics in both the small and large intestines.

Many researchers have suggested that a mixture of probiotics may have a greater effect on the intestine than the individual strains. Not only have research studies found that multiple strains of probiotics can enhance adhesion of other probiotics to the intestinal wall and increase the richness and diversity of the bacterial microbiota in the gut, but these combinations offer functional benefits as well.

A premium, strain-identified formula consisting of Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, and Lactobacillus salivarius in a clinically effective dose of 20 billion live organisms per serving can be beneficial to any person wishing to introduce probiotics into their diet.

For more information, please visit:

1. Bourlioux P, et al. The intestine and its microflora are partners for the protection of the host: report on the Danone Symposium "The Intelligent Intestine," held in Paris, June 14, 2002. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;78(4):675-83.
2. Hickson M, et al. Use of probiotic Lactobacillus preparation to prevent diarrhoea associated with antibiotics: randomised double blind placebo controlled trial. BMJ 2007;335(7610):80.
3. Johnston BC. Probiotics for pediatric antibiotic-associated diarrhea: a meta-analysis of randomized placebocontrolled trials. CMAJ 2006;175(4):377-83.
4. Katz JA. Probiotics for the prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea and Clostridium difficile diarrhea. J Clin Gastroenterol 2006;40(3):249-255.
5. Koebnick C, et al. Probiotic beverage containing Lactobacillus casei Shirota improves gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with chronic constipation. Can J Gastroenterol 2003;17(11):655-9.
6. Marteau P, et al. Bifidobacterium animalis strain DN-173 010 shortens the colonic transit time in healthy women: a double-blind, randomized, controlled study. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2002;16(3):587-93.
7. Schiffrin EJ, et al. Immune modulation of blood leukocytes in humans by lactic acid bacteria: criteria for strain selection. Am J Clin Nutr 1997;66(2):515S-520S.
8. Sheih YH, et al. Systemic immunity-enhancing effects in healthy subjects following dietary consumption of the lactic acid bacterium Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001. J Am Coll Nutr 2001;20(2):149-56.
9. de Vrese M, et al. Probiotics--compensation for lactase insufficiency. Am J Clin Nutr 2001;73(2 Suppl):421S-429S.
10. de Vrese M, et al. Effect of Lactobacillus gasseri PA 16/8, Bifidobacterium longum SP 07/3, B bifidum MF 20/5 on common cold episodes: A double blind, randomized, controlled triaL J Clin Nutr 2005;24:481-91.