Probiotic supplements give you an opportunity to build Gut Health

Probiotics flood into your gut and support your existing gut bacteria.

A healthy family of bacteria in the gut is linked to a healthy weight.

Probiotics are live bacteria or yeast that produce a health benefit in humans. They originate from plants or humans, are grown or ‘cultured’ in a laboratory, then put into capsules/powders or  foods such as dairy foods. Pharmacies and health shops sell them as supplements.

Most probiotics contain lactic acid-producing bacteriam (LABs, e.g., Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Bifidobacterium, and Enterococcus sp.) or nonpathogenic yeasts such as Saccharomyces boulardii.

Food sources of probiotics    

Look for the word live’ or ‘active cultures’ on probiotic yogurts or drinks or cheese or kefir. Sauerkraut-another name for fermented cabbage-is an example of a cultured vegetable. Miso, a thick paste made from soybeans, is another example of a cultured food.

What do they do for human health  

70% of our immunity is in our gut. Probiotics help to build-up our immunity against viruses [e.g. common cold] and bacteria. They help our own friendly bacteria in the gut to grow in population size and do their jobs better [see my earlier blog what gut bacteria do]. They crowd out the more dangerous bacteria. I think of probiotics as a support army.

How do they work                                              

In the early 20th century, Russian Nobel Prize winner Ilya Metchnikoff, spotted that people in Eastern Europe who lived largely on milk fermented by Lactic Acid Bacteria, lived a long life. Metchnikoff and his followers ingested milk fermented with this ‘Bulgarian Bacillus’ and reported health benefits [1965].

Precisely how the bacteria work is not known but the scientific community think this is how they work

  1. the bacteria alter the chemicals that are produced in the gut by our immune cells [cytokines] and as a result they dampen down inflammation
  2. they displace the gas-producing, bile salt-deconjugating bacterial species that could potentially stick to the gut wall and cause disease
  3. they add to the acid-producing bacteria in the colon that ferment foods producing good nutrients for use elsewhere in the body
  4. they help build a strong gut wall
  5. induce µ-opioid and cannabinoid receptors in intestinal surface cells
  6. they reduce hypersensitivity

Do they work?

Research shows they do work and if you chat to people with severe or mild IBS they will report almost immediate improvements. However they only work while, you are taking them which gives you a window of opportunity to rebuild your gut health while you are on them.

Taking the right strain of bacteria remains a challenge and trials are ongoing to develop the right probiotic for each condition.

To be effective, a probiotic must be strong in numbers and survive getting through the acid in the stomach and bile in the intestine. There is a wash-through effect in the upper intestine where there is a higher level of digestive activity.

How to use the Probiotic Opportunity

When taking a probiotic, it is vital to start making dietary changes that have long-lasting effects on your health

  1. Add in prebiotic foods – live yogurts, sauerkraut, onions, garlic, beans, oats, leeks, asparagus, artichoke, chicory, green bananas and all plant foods – that is of course ONLY if your gut can digest them Start with small amounts and build the foods up.
  2. Cut out sugars, especially white flour and sugar, crackers, sugary breakfast cereals, alcohol, sweets, fizzy sweet drinks, cakes and all flour-based treats
  3. Cut down on red meat [beef, lamb, pork] to just once or twice a week and cut out their subsidiary products- sausages, burgers, lunch meats, pies. Replace with free-range lean meats – poultry, fish, legumes.
  4. Learn how to better cope with stressors in your life as long-term stress destroys your gut health. ‘Butterflies’ in you belly when you are nervous is one sign of how the gut is affected.
  5. Get rest – the body repairs and rebuilds during sleep
  6. Eat the right amount of calorie for you, eat small meals regularly, fresh whole food and hydrate well

Joan Moloney,  BSc is a Nutritional Therapist based in South Dublin, Ireland. She specialises in weight-loss for people who work hard, are stressed and their crutch/comfort is food.

One Comment

  1. Joan-Reply
    March 19, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    Update Nov 2015: VSL#3, problems with delivery/production in USA. No longer available.
    Blackglen pharmacy in Sandyford. Morgan is the head Pharmacist.

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