AUTHOR: CAROLINE ZANELLI, NUTRITIONAL MEDICINE (NUTRITIONIST) AT BOUNCEREHAB
CO-AUTHOR: MATTHEW CRAIG, PHYSIOTHERAPIST AT BOUNCEREHAB
WHAT ARE PROBIOTICS AND WHY DO WE NEED THEM?
The term probiotic literally means ‘for life’ which is probably why it’s so important that they are included in our daily diet. Probiotics are live microorganisms, which are thought to have a beneficial effect on health, which include balancing our good to bad bacteria ratio. They are often referred to as our “friendly bacteria or our good gut flora”.
So why do we need probiotics?
Well let’s first take a step back and look at our internal make-up. Interestingly our bodies are already made up of a combination of different bacteria and yeasts, both pathogenic (bad arse) and beneficial (awesome) types, and this is referred to as our body’s microbiota or microbiome.
Amazingly, the total microorganisms that are present in the gut are in excess of 100 trillion microbial cells and are estimated to weigh more than 1kg in an average adult (1). That’s a lot of bacteria!
Our bodies work best when our good bacterium outweighs or at least balance the bad, however sometimes our microbiota can become unbalanced and there can be an excess of harmful bacteria. Worryingly, this has been associated with an increase in metabolic and immune disorders (2) and there has been an abundance of research to suggest that an imbalanced microbiota has a role in autoimmune conditions such as crohns disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis fibromyalgia, and multiple sclerosis. In addition, the latest research also suggests it affects some cancers and can play a role in obesity, depression and stress.
Other factors that affect the balance of our microbiota are gestational age, mode of delivery (natural birth or caesarean section) diet, hygiene and antibiotic exposure (2).
Some of these factors we can’t change or control but others such as diet and hygiene are key to a balanced microbiota and therefore the prevention of disease.
Antibiotic exposure can cause problems as while they wipe out the pathogenic bacteria, they also take out the ‘good guys’ too. This can result in antibiotic associated diarrhoea and/or secondary infections such as thrush.
Thrush occurs in approximately 1 in 4 women following antibiotic use (3)!
Taking probiotics during and after antibiotic therapy is an absolute must but we’ll talk about this more in the supplement section.
A healthy microbiome is so important that researchers are now starting to refer to the microbiome as its own organ of the body.
To demonstrate this further, this next fact might make you feel a little squeamish but it’s pretty amazing! Let’s take the example of kidney failure; if all other treatment fail you may have to have a transplant to replace this organ. Well the ‘microbiome organ’ is no different and currently the only way to transfer one person’s healthy microorganism to another is through a faecal microbiota transplant!
Faecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT)…
AMAZING PROBIOTIC SHIT COMING UP NEXT I PROMISE!
You may think this sounds a little far-fetched but it’s cutting edge and happening today with a great success rate in digestive disorders.
To find out more about faecal microbiota transplants visit these two sites and continue to read on:
Oh and please, don’t try this at home!
What is an FMT?
FMT (Faecal Microbiota Transplantation) uses normal ‘healthy’ human flora introduced into the patients bowel to ‘kill’ the bad bacteria. Wow, now that’s an innovation !
The use of healthy human flora appears to be the most effective probiotic treatment available today. Healthy human flora acts as a ‘broad spectrum antibiotic’ against pathogens with the added benefit of being able to implant missing bacteria.
FMT therapy involves the infusion of healthy human donor flora bacteria into the bowel of the patient. The infusion is repeated for at least 5 days or longer. The therapy includes a special low fibre diet prior to infusion and a course of antibiotics to kill off as many bad bacteria as possible before infusion.
Killing off ‘bad’ bacteria before infusion gives the newly introduced ‘good’ bacteria a better chance of re-establishing dominance. Preparation also includes a bowel washout prior to infusion.
Infusions can be done via:
- Colonoscopy – Here the routine preparation for colonoscopy is taken and with the instrument deep in the bowel or even in the lower small bowel – the human flora bacteria are infused to cover as much bowel wall as possible
- Enema – this is a simpler method of infusing as a liquid flora mixture in saline through the rectum
- Nasojejunal tube – In this method a fine tube is placed under sedation through the nose, guided by the endoscope into the small bowel, and then allowed to advance well into the small bowel for the infusion to cover any infective pathogens even in the mid-small bowel
THE BENEFITS OF PROBIOTICS
Probiotics have an endless amount of health benefits and here is what the research says:
Reduces diarrhoea, constipation and flatulence
- Stimulates the gastrointestinal tract for digestion
- Stabilizes intestinal barrier function
- Reduce abdominal pain in IBS and IBD
- Reduces food poisoning symptoms
- Reduces stomach ulcers
- Prevents travelers diarrhoea
- Modulates/Improves the immune response
- Produces virus antibodies
- Fights candida overgrowth
- Reduces hypersensitivity
- Increases detox rate and enhances liver function
- Improves spleen function
- Balances hormones
- Fights cancer cells and reduces tumour growth
- Helps control body pH
- Reduces frequency and length of the common cold
- Decreases inflammation
Probiotics suppress the local inflammatory response by producing anti-inflammatory cytokines (2).
- Improves mood, memory and mental state
- Reduces eczema
- Increases wound healing
- Inhibits vaginal candida
- Reduces urinary tract infections (UTI’s)
- Reduces the risk of cervix cancer
- Reduces mastitis when breastfeeding
- Increases the absorption of nutrients, particularly iron and calcium
- Produces B vitamins
- Improves glucose metabolism
- Reduces allergies and other food intolerance
- Decreases lactose intolerance symptoms
Probiotic’s produce some lactase, which is the enzyme that breaks down lactose and therefore decreases the symptoms of lactose intolerance (4)
HOW TO UP YOUR PROBIOTIC INTAKE
There is a lot of buzz about probiotic supplements at the moment and there are plenty of varieties in the market, but how do you choose the right one? Well first off, you need to assess whether the probiotic is compatible to treat your specific conditions. You should choose a high quality probiotic supplement, which involves looking at the characteristics of the strains contained in the supplement and also there being sufficient numbers of viable bacteria.
Also, if you are taking a probiotic while under antibiotic therapy you need to make sure the strains can withstand the antibiotics otherwise the probiotics will be wiped out.
We recommend the BioCeutical range of probiotics, as they are very high dose and clinically trialed, strain specific and are tough enough to withstand co-antibiotic use!
Speak to our nutritionist, Caroline Zanelli, to find out which product is best for you.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
Probiotics do not only come in a supplement form, you can also get them through food, which means you’ll also get all the added benefits of the food’s other nutrients!
Kombucha has been around for a very long time, over 2,000 years to be exact! It originated in ancient China and is a fermented tea drink. It’s made by combining black or green tea with sugar and what’s known as a SCOBY, which stands for “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”.
Once the drink ferments almost all of the sugar is lost. Kombucha can be enjoyed as a refreshing beverage at any time of the day but the latest trend is to drink kombucha both pre and post workout due to its energising properties. Athletes have also reported that it helps with joint recovery and a reduction in arthritic pain. In addition to kombucha having all the health benefits of probiotics it also produces glucuronic acid, a powerful detoxifier, which aids the liver to eliminate toxins from the body. In addition, glucuronic acid is a potential modulator in cancer prevention and recovery (5).
Kombucha also contains vitamin C, vitamin E and poliphenols, which make it a potent antioxidant (6)
Glucuronic acid is the most powerful natural detoxifier (7).
Although kombucha has been around for a long time, it’s relatively new to the western world, so the science behind it’s magic has not yet been that well explored.
To find out more about Remedy Kombucha and to learn their story visit their site.
Kefir is a fermented yoghurt drink made from kefir grains (cultures of bacteria and yeast) and milk. It’s typically made using cow’s milk but other milk can be used in its place. On average kefir contains about 30 different strains of bacteria and yeast. The bacteria in kefir converts the lactose within the milk to lactic acid which makes the milk low in lactose and therefore those who struggle with lactose digestion may still be able to tolerate kefir. The lactic acid produced also kills any pathogenic bacteria that may be present in the milk. The yeast in kefir has been found to have immune-modulator activities and enhances the probiotic properties of the bacterial species (8). The other nutrients present in kefir are those from the milk, such as calcium, vitamin K2, magnesium, and B vitamins. However, these nutrients are now more bioavailable due to the beneficial bacteria in the kefir. This makes it not only a great drink for gut health but also bone health too.
Kefir increases the absorption of bone building minerals, such as calcium and magnesium and may reduce the risk of osteoporosis (9)!
Kimchi is a Korean dish that consists of a selection of fermented vegetables, usually containing Korean cabbage, radishes and cucumber. It’s then seasoned with a combination of garlic, ginger, green onion, chill and a fermented fish or shrimp sauce. As well as producing beneficial bacteria, the fermented vegetables also contain fibre, vitamins and minerals, (10) making them the full package for an optimum health side or snack.
Other probiotics foods that deserve a mention are miso, tempeh, sauerkraut and good old yoghurt. Miso is a fermented soybean paste, it originated in Japan and can be used as a marinade or to make the popular miso soup. It is also high in B vitamins. Tempeh is another fermented soybean product but is similar in texture to tofu. It is also a complete protein which makes it a good meat alternative for vegetarians. Sauerkraut originates in Germany and is very simply made by combining shredded cabbage and salt. During this process, the natural sugars in the cabbage ferment and produce bacteria. Sauerkraut is high in vitamins A, B, C and K.
Sauerkraut was one of the major foods in seafaring as its shelf life stability and high vitamin content were used to counteract scurvy (11).
To help probiotics become well established in the gut you also need prebiotics in the diet.
Prebiotics are soluble fibres that feed the gut flora, promote their growth and help them to survive. Prebiotics foods are: chicory root, artichoke, garlic, flaxseed, chia seeds, psyllium and whole oats, so make sure you are consuming these food too for ultimate probiotic absorption and health.
SO WHO NEEDS PROBIOTICS?
Everyone could do with extra probiotics in their life, especially through food. However, for the following conditions it’s a must as research has shown there is either an imbalance in gut microbiota associated with the disease and/or the patient has benefited from probiotic supplements.
- Autoimmune Disease
- Metabolic conditions such as diabetes
- Crohn’s/Ulcerative Colitis
- Thyroid conditions
- Skin conditions such as eczema
- Pyrrole disorder
- Psychological Health
- Digestive discomfort
- Traveller’s diarrhoea
- Cancers, such as colon cancer
If you suffer from any of the above conditions talk to our nutritionist before selecting a probiotic to make sure you’re purchasing the best strains for the condition.
Additional links on this topic…
If you have questions about probiotics and/or nutritional health, book an appointment with Caroline our Nutritionist and wholefood expert at bounceREHAB today!
For more details on Caroline click here.
- 1, 2 or 3 month detox programs
- Weight loss and detox program including BioImpedance Analysis
- Gut health and healing
- Bone and joint health
- Food intolerance testing of 48 different foods
- Chronic disease management and disease prevention
- Pain and inflammation management
- Food and mood
- One on one nutritional consultations to tailor diet and lifestyle to address current health status
1. Dinan TG, Cryan JF (2016) Micrcobes Immunity, and Behaviour: Psychoneuroimmunolgy Meets the Microbiome, Neuropsychophamacolgy, 10 1038
2. Boulange, C, L, Neves, A, L, Chilloux, J, Nicholson, Dumas, M, E. 2016 Impact of the gut microbiota on inflammation, obesity, and metabolic disease. Genome Medicine, Vol 8, 42.
3. Pirotta, M V, Gunn, J M, Chondros 2003, “Not thrush again!’ Women’s experience of post-antibiotic vulvovaginitis, The Medical Journal of Australia 179 (1) 43-46
4 . Kopp-Hoolihan, L. (2001) ‘Prophylactic and therapeutic uses of Probiotics’, Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 101(2), pp. 229–241
5. Nguyen, N.K., Dong, N.T.N., Nguyen, H.T. and Le, P.H. (2015) ‘Lactic acid bacteria: Promising supplements for enhancing the biological activities of kombucha’, Springerplus 4.
6. Vīna, I., Semjonovs, P., Linde, R. and Deniņa, I. (2013) ‘Current evidence on physiological activity and expected health effects of kombucha fermented beverage’, Journal of medicinal food., 17(2), pp. 179–88.
7. Vina, I, Linde, R, Patrtko, Semjonovs, P, (2013) Glucuronic Acid From Fermented Beverages: Biochemical Functions In Humans and its role in health protection, International Journey of Recent Research and Applied Studies 14 (2)
8. Bourrie, B.C.T., Willing, B.P. and Cotter, P.D. (2016) ‘The Microbiota and health promoting characteristics of the fermented beverage Kefir’, Front Microbiol, 4, 7:647
9. Chen, HL, Tung, YT, Chuang, CH, Tu, MY, Tsai, TC, Chang SY, Chen, CM, 2015, Kefir improves bone mass and microarchitecture is an ovariectomized rat model of postmenopausal osteoporosis, 26 (2) 589-99
10. Hong, S, W, Choi Y-J, Lee H-W, Yang J-H, Lee, M-A, Microbial Community Structure of Korean Cabbage Kimchi and Ingredients with Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis, Journal of Microbial Biotechnol (2016) 26 (6) 1057-1062
11. Raak, C., Ostermann, T., Boehm, K. and Molsberger, F. (2014) ‘Regular consumption of sauerkraut and its effect on human health: A Bibliometric analysis’, Glob Adv Health Med, 3(6).