Thursday, March 12, 2009


Probiotics, also known as "friendly bacteria," have increasingly been in the news. Due to frequent antibiotic use, stress, poor diet, aging and other factors, many people have become depleted of these friendly bacteria in their gastrointestinal tract. This is unfortunate because they are so critically important to good health. A lack of friendly bacteria may impair the absorption of some nutrients and can be associated with overall poor digestion. Believe it or not, 70% of the immune system in our bodies resides in the intestinal system.

Probiotics are found naturally in yogurt. Unfortunately, the yogurt we eat is PASTURIZED, which kills off both bad AND friendly bacteria.

A few weeks ago, a small study1 was published in Nutrition Journal regarding the use of probiotics in individuals suffering from fatigue. In this study out of Sweden, researchers recruited ten females and five males who experienced this issue. Over the first two weeks of the study, researchers observed each of the fifteen participants. For the next four weeks, the individuals were given yogurt twice daily with large amounts (billions) of probiotics. The participants were then followed for an additional four weeks. Four of the women reported improvement in their physical well being and two said they experienced improvement in their mental well being by the end of the ten-week study. One man similarly reported improvement in physical health while another reported improvement in mental health. Dr. Birgitta Evengard, co-author of the study, indicated that "for some patients there was a dramatic difference."

In the February 2009 edition of the journal BMC Gastroenterology, a systemic and meta-analysis2 was published regarding the use of probiotics on people suffering with poor GI tract health. The authors identified fourteen randomized, placebo-controlled trials that had taken place over the last fifty years. The combined data suggested that there was a modest improvement in overall health after several weeks of probiotic supplementation. They concluded, that overall, probiotics may have a role in promoting healthy GI tract function.

There is a study3 on a serious health concern involving the large intestine, ulceration and bleeding that was published in the February 2009 edition of the journal Nutrition. In this study, 120 individuals suffering from this difficulty were randomized into three groups. Forty individuals received a probiotic, forty received a prebiotic and a third group received symbiotic therapy with a combination of a pro- and prebiotic. Out of the 120 individuals who started the study, 94 finished. It was found that those who received the combination probiotic and prebiotic experienced greater quality of life than those on either the probiotic or prebiotic alone. The authors indicate that the data suggested symbiotic therapy may have a synergistic effect on this condition. Prebiotics such as Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) feed the probiotics, allowing them to colonize and survive within the GI tract.

The topic of children and probiotics has been the subject of both a recent study and a recent article. In the February 2009 edition of the American Journal of Gastroenterology, researchers conducted a prospective one-year placebo-controlled, double-blinded study4 to assess the benefits of probiotic supplementation for children with poor GI tract health. A total of 29 children with poor GI tract health participated in this study. The results indicated that all 29 children responded to the probiotic supplementation. Improved GI tract health was achieved in almost 93% of children supplemented with probiotics as compared with only 36% who were given placebo. The authors indicated that this was the first randomized, placebo-controlled trial demonstrating the efficacy and safety of a highly concentrated mixture of probiotic bacterial strains demonstrating its role in promoting good GI tract health.

The article5, entitled "Clinical Evidence of Immunomodulatory Effects of Probiotic Bacteria" was published in the February 2009 edition of the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. The authors explained that there is a close interaction between the intestinal lining and the immune system. They also noted that there is a beneficial and symbiotic relationship between the individual and the micro-bacteria in the gut. They further explained that there was clinical evidence of the beneficial effects of probiotics for promoting good GI tract health, immune system health and antibiotic associated diarrhea.

1Sullivan A, Nord CE and Evengård B, Effect of supplement with lactic-acid producing bacteria on fatigue and physical activity in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, Nutrition Journal, online January 26, 2009.

2Hoveyda N, Heneghan C, Mahtani KR, et al., A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis: Probiotics in the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, BMC Gastroenterology, online February 16, 2009.

3Fujimori S, Gudis K, Mitsui K, et al., A randomized controlled trial on the efficacy of synbiotic versus probiotic or prebiotic treatment to improve the quality of life in patients with ulcerative colitis, Nutrition, online February 8, 2009.

4Miele E, Pascarella F, Giannetti E, et al., Effect of a Probiotic Preparation (VSL#3) on Induction and Maintenance of Remission in Children with Ulcerative Colitis, American Journal of Gastroenterology, online January 20, 2009.

5Ruemmele, FM, Bier D , Marteau P, et al., Clinical Evidence for Immunomodulatory Effects of Probiotic Bacteria, Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, online February 2009.

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