Are good probiotics a catalyst to better gut health?
Published: Aug 14, 2014
Author: BioCeuticals - Editor
Did you know that more than 90% of your body’s cells are live bacteria and most of them have set up home in your intestines? 1,2
Growing up, we've all been taught that germs spread diseases, but there are actually a myriad of germ types in the world, and many work with our bodies to enhance our health and support us against nasty health conditions. Fortunately, in our guts, it’s these good guys that normally outnumber the bad.1
If our diet, lifestyle or medications should destabilise this balance, we can supplement with good bugs (probiotics), and consume prebiotics (food for probiotics), to assist in re-establishing 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? Their beneficial functions are incredibly wide and varied. They include:1,2,4,5
- Protection for the gut and rest of the body against unhealthy bacteria, fungi and parasites
- Support the immune system
- Regulate inflammation
- Synthesise B vitamins and vitamin K
- Support carbohydrate, fibre 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 intestines.
Some medications, food intolerances, digestive illnesses, and bad gut bugs can really damage the gut wall. When this happens, any good bugs that you try to introduce into the gut will find it difficult to find a nice patch on which to grow.
The probiotic yeast Saccharomyces boulardii (SB) increases the body’s production of secretory IgA (sIgA), which helps to form a protective shield along the gut lining.
This shield allows the gut to heal, and also provides a surface on which probiotic bacteria may grow.5,6
At the same time, SB discourages the growth of harmful micro-organisms.5
When bad bugs take over the gut and far outnumber the good guys, the best way to re-establish the natural order is to flood them out with a hefty dose of multistrain probiotics.7 These good bugs can then rebuild healthy colonies in what should now be “fertile ground” thanks to a course of SB.
Talk to your healthcare practitioner about taking a dairy-free probiotic supplement with multiple strains, a high CFU count, and clinical trials behind the product to ensure each ingredient has a therapeutic benefit.
Top probiotic species to look for:
- Saccharomyces boulardii (SB) makes an ideal travel partner. SB may aid in the relief of symptoms of diarrhoea associated with travelling. It also discourages the growth of harmful microorganisms and may provide relief of the symptoms of antibiotic associated diarrhoea and candidiasis.5
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) sufferers may benefit from a multistrain probiotic. Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. plantarum and Bifidobacterium breve have been shown in clinical trials to provide temporary symptom relief of medically diagnosed IBS and assist in its management.8
- L. acidophilus and L. rhamnosus have been shown to temporarily relieve diarrhoea.9
- About 25% of women experience recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs). Lactobacillus plantarum may assist in the restoration and maintenance of healthy flora in the urogenital tract, guarding against cystitis and colonisation of pathogenic bacteria.10
- L. acidophilus enhances the immune system of exercise-stressed athletes.11
Speak to your healthcare practitioner for more information about boosting gut health. Make sure to always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare practitioner.
To find a healthcare practitioner in your local area, visit our Find A Practitioner service!
1. Sekirov I, Russell SL, Antunes LC, et al. Gut microbiota in health and disease. Physiol Rev 2010;90(3):859-904.
- Resta SC. Effects of probiotics and commensals on intestinal epithelial physiology: implications for nutrient handling. J Physiol 2009;587(Pt 17):4169-74.
- World Gastroenterology Organisation Practice Guideline: Probiotics and prebiotics. World Gastroenterology Organisation, 2008.
- Gill HS, Guarner F. Probiotics and human heath: a clinical perspective. Postgrad Med J 2004;80(947):516-26.
- McFarland LV. Systematic review and meta-analysis of Saccharomyces boulardii in adult patients. World J Gastroenterol 2010;16(18):2202-22.
- Mathias A, Duc M, Favre L, et al. Potentiation of polarized intestinal Caco-2 cell responsiveness to probiotics complexed with secretory IgA. J Biol Chem 2010;285(44):33906-13.
- Chapman CM, Gibson GR, Rowland I. Health benefits of probiotics: are mixtures more effective than single strains? Eur J Nutr 2011;50(1):1-17.
- Williams EA, Stimpson J, Want D, Plummer S, Garaiova I, Barker ME et al. Multistrain probiotic preparation significantly reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Ailment Pharmacol Ther 2008;29(14):97-103
- Song HJ, Kim JY, Jung SA et al. Effect of Probiotic Lactobacillus (Lacidofil® Cap) for the Prevention of Antibiotic-associated Diarrhea: A Prospective, Randomized, Double-blind, Multicenter Study. J Korean Med Sci 2010; 25:1784-1791.
- Gross G, Snel J, Boekhorst MA, et al. Biodiversity of mannose-specific adhesion in Lactobacillus plantarum revisited: strain-specific domain composition of the mannose-adhesin. Beneficial Microbes 2010;1(1):61-66.
- Clancy RL et al. Reversal in fatigued athletes of a defect in interferon-gamma secretion after administration of lactobacillus acidophilus BJSM 2006.