July 18, 2011

By request I am going to discuss probiotics and prebiotics. This topic is vast and complex.

Simply stated from the NCCAM website:
Probiotics are "live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host."
(Microorganisms are tiny living organisms-such as bacteria, viruses, and yeasts-that can be seen only under a microscope.)

Probiotics are not the same thing as prebiotics-nondigestible food ingredients that selectively stimulate the growth and/or activity of beneficial microorganisms already in people's colons. When probiotics and prebiotics are mixed together, they form a synbiotic.
There has been an explosion of research around the dysfuction of the microbiome (our gut bacteria). The vast majority of it is positive toward human health when you add pro and prebiotics to the diet. Humans were meant to eat a diet that promotes healthy bacteria that survive in our intestines. The American diet of processed and fast food promotes the wrong bacteria in our guts and thus disease promotion.

Studies have shown dramatic effects on reducing antibiotic associated diarrhea and yeast overgrowth, reducing allergy in one's offspring, reducing all infectious illness during the winter time, increasing bowel regularity, reducing colic and irritable bowel syndrome and so on.

As always the use of these products should be a part of the solution. Exercise, healthy eating, relaxation, etc. are the keys to health.

I recommend refrigerating all probiotics to maximize there benefit. Products like Culturelle GG state that they don't have to be refrigerated because of special packaging techniques. I think that refrigeration is a good habit to get in to for all probiotics.

People who should not use probiotics include those with indwelling catheters in their body and those with known immune system defects or severe illness. There are rare but real cases of sepsis(blood infection) from probiotics in these types of individuals.

For an excellent handout: click the link: probiotics handout then click #22 on the webpage.

Dosages should be tailored to the illness and the age of the person. Consult your physician for details.

My take home point today: Probiotics and prebiotics are very useful for human health.

Live well with good bacteria,

Dr. Magryta