Where are Probiotics?
Which Probiotics are Best for Me?
Probiotics are living microorganisms which provide extraordinary health benefits by competing with harmful microbes and by boosting the immune system.
Probiotics live naturally in many fermented foods such as yogurt, aged cheeses, kimchi and pickles. When targeting a specific illness, a probiotic supplement may be more effective.
Different probiotic strains have been sucessfully deployed in allergies, eczema, immune disorders, acute and chronic infections, irritable bowel, hypertension, high cholesterol and in preventing some cancers. Arthritis, autism, cystic fibrosis and obesity are among the exciting new areas of research where probiotics are proving beneficial.
Probiotics under the Microscope
Research on probiotics is streaming in at a fast pace thanks to foundation grants and industry money. Every day, pieces of information add to this exciting wing of microbiology: Some studies will come up short while others will show great promise for a particular strain of bacteria in a very specific disease. All the research, all the time--that's what you'll find in this section.
Autism Links to Microbes
Gut: brain connections are leading researchers to uncover the impact of microbial populations on brain function. The involvement of gut microbes in autism spectrum disorders is evident but specific data is conflicting. This chapter in "Diet-microbe interactions in the gut: effects on human health and disease" from Elsevier gives an overview of the research in this fascinating exploration.
Probiotics for Cats?
Lower urinary tract signs (LUTS) in cats are due to a combination of genetics, stress,environment, and medical conditions.
Healthy bacteria play a role in preventing LUTS. Other impacts are directly on water balance and nutrient metabolism and indirectly on gut health and immunity.Much of the evidence has been extrapolated from the role of microbes in humans. Read more here in the Journal of Animal Science.
Mushroom Wastes as Prebiotics
Researchers in Taiwan showed that polysaccharides from several different varieties of mushrooms could “enhance the survival rate of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, and Bifidobacterium longum ... during cold storage. The polysaccharides had synergistic effects with the peptides and amino acids from a yogurt culture to maintain probiotics above 10(7) CFU/mL during cold storage, and they also had significant protective effects on these probiotics in simulated gastric and bile juice conditions to achieve beneficial effects in the host.”
The research was reported here in in the Journal of Food Science.
Neuroscientist Linked Autism and Infection
CalTech neurobiologist Paul Patterson explored the links between maternal infections and the mental function of offspring, especially as it relates to disorders of autism and schizophrenia. Patterson died in June at the age of 70. Read about his work here at a website offered by International Probiotics Association.
Probiotics in Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a rising concern when obesity—a risk factor-- is more prevalent in the child-bearing population. Previous studies in healthy pregnant women showed probiotic usage to benefit blood sugar control. A new study however found no benefit in obese women who were given a dose of Lactobacillus salivarius daily. There was no difference in fasting glucose levels, birth weight or incidence of gestational diabetes between the probiotic and placebo group.
Bacteriocins to the Rescue
Fermented foods produce fatty acids and hydrogen peroxide which bacteria use to defend their turf. They also produce bacterocins which are peptides that are powerful tools against invaders.
Bacterocins may eventually be used to prevent contamination in foods.
An excellent report is available free of charge from Shih-Chun Yang and colleagues who reviewed the latest knowledge and reports about bacteriocins.
Read the article here.
Hold the Soap
AOBiome in Cambridge, Massachusetts has invented a bacterial spray which they hope will replace deodorant, shampoo and other cleansers. Each bottle contains billions of Nitrosomonas eutropha, an ammonia-oxidizing bacteria most often found in dirt and untreated water.
Read Julia Scott's account of her venture while swearing off all her products for the bacterial spray in the New York Times Magazine in a May 2014 article titled My No-Soap, No-Shampoo, Bacteria-Rich Hygiene Experiment.
Treating Ulcers with Probiotics Helps
Eliminating H. pylori is the answer to treating gastroduodenal ulcers. Unfortunately total eradication is difficult. Researchers in Kazakhstan asked of probiotics could assist. They treated 40 patients with probiotics and found an increase in H.pylori eradication rates as well as early relief of pain and dyspeptic symptoms. Also observed was recovery of intestinal microflora and less antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Read the study here in The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
Probiotics Role in Colic Disputed
In a recent study with 167 infants, a strain of L reuteri showed no benefit over placebo in breastfed infants and formula fed infants with colic. These findings which appear here in the British Medical journal differ from smaller trials gaining traction where recommendations support probiotic use to calm a colicky baby.
Startups for the Probiotic Sector
Strains of lactobacillus were taken from kimchee and used as starters for yogurt. Two of the strains L. plantarum SY11 and L. plantarum SY12 held up well to acidity similar to gastric acid as well as to an artificial bile acid. In addition they were resistant to antibiotics and showed strong attachment to intestinal walls. Read more here in Food Science and Technology.
March 1, 2014
Probiotic Policy Updates
Major advances in probiotics research over the past decade are starting to yield results in the shape of informed recommendations. A group of key researchers in the field led by Mary Ellen Sanders published a paper outlining these truths which include a call for greater awareness from policy makers and fewer regulatory roadblocks. Read more here in Annals of the New York Academy of Science.
February 9, 2014
Breast Still Best
Breast milk is teeming with nutrients,immune compounds and good bacteria. Infant formula companies are rushing to add probiotics to their recipes for the best health of baby.Which bacteria are optimum is still a question and further research may get bottle formula closer to the real thing. Read more here in Current Opinion in Biotechnology.
January 27, 2014
Autism Talks Back
Alessio Fasano, director of the Mucosal Biology and Immunology Research Center and the Center for Celiac Research at the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, wrote an excellent article a while back titled "Guidance on Probiotics." In it, he discusses how recent research on rodent studies on probiotic assist with autism plays out for humans. Read the article here on the AutismSpeaks website.
January 6, 2014
Probiotics Linked to Obesity
Microbes influence energy metabolism. The precise mechanisms are being clarified. One recent study from Korea found that probiotics may interfere with endotoxin levels, thus lessening the dysbiosis associated with obesity. Read the abstract in Clinical Nutrition.
December 28, 2013
Autism Changes Improved with Probiotics
A fascinating new study suggests that core behavioral changes in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be corrected by probiotic bacteria. The repair appears to work via the gastrointestinal (GI) dysfunction which is linked to ASD. Read more here in Cell or from California Institute of Technology.
December 11, 2013
Probiotics Improve Immune Markers
Sajida H Ismail at Baghdad University in Iraq wondered if probiotic supplementation would affect immunological signposts in adult males with type 2 diabetes. The scientist found beneficial changes including elevation of lymphocytes, RBC count and Hb concentration in Type 2 diabetic patients. "These results suggest presence of a higher state of immunologic alertness, and that probiotics could, in the future, be utilized together with the routine anti- diabetic therapy." Read the paper here...
November 29, 2013
Probiotics in Beans
When we think helpful bacteria we usually concentrate in the dairy section of the supermarket: yogurt, kefir, buttermilk and the like.
But Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium Bifidobacterium sp and Lactobacillus sp were found in seeds of lentils, peanuts and mung beans. Colony count was observed by researchers at Amity University in India. The authors concluded that germination may be a way to enhance strains of bacteria in the gut. Read more here..
November 9, 2013
Probiotic Action in Anxiety Depends on Diet
A Western-style diet high in fat and refined sugar increased anxiety-like behavior and decreased memory function in mice with underlying low grade inflammation. Adding a probiotic, L. helveticus changed gut morphology and host behavior but were dependent on on the diet of the mouse and gut inflammatory state. The combination of a western
diet plus L. helveticus in healthy individuals may actually
increase anxiety and stress markers. Read more about this interesting work from Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathology, University of Alberta in Canada.
October 22, 2013
Probiotic products are of great interest to commercial parties as well as to pure scientific research. Regulatory powers and manufacturers have their hands full as new products come to market. Find out how this process takes place and different considerations involved. Read more here in Science.
October 14, 2013
Probiotics in Type 2 Diabetes
Microbiota associated with chronic inflammation can contribute to the onset of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). This review summarizes the current knowledge concerning the altered microbiota in pathogenesis of T2DM and relationship with its related complications, and points to potential intervention strategies. Read more in Food Science and Human Wellness.
October 8, 2013
Italian Cheese Gets Even Better
Fiordilatte cheese was treated with with an edible sodium alginate coating as carrier of probiotic (Lactobacillus rhamnosus) and prebiotic fructo-oligosaccharides substances (FOS). Results showed lactic acid bacteria survived during tested storage and that there was a slight microbial effect against Pseudomonas spp. and Enterobacteriaceae that improved the final taste of the product and prolonged its shelf life.
Read more in Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies.
September 29, 2013
Probiotics in Obesity
Antibiotics and probiotics modify the gut microbiota and this depends on the strain. In human beings, as in animals, specific probiotics are associated with weight gain or loss. Improved understanding of the ability of specific probiotics to harvest energy from the host diet might lead to development of new treatments for obesity and malnutrition. Read more in Lancet Infectious Diseases... .
September 17, 2013
Share the Health
A new study in Science reveals how human microbiota can change the phenotype of germ-free mice. Twins with discordant obesity donated microbiota and mice with the lean microbes prevented the higher body mass in room mates with an obese twin's microbiota.
September 9, 2013
More News on Probiotics in IBS
In irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), nearly 35% contract it after an infection of the gut. It appears then that bacteria are implicated.How probiotics treat those symptoms runs the gamut from restoring balance to correction of lactose intolerance to local changes in the immune system and more. Read this excellent review from Valencia, Spain here.
September 2, 2013
Probiotics in GI Cancers
Some gastrointestinal (GI)cancers may be one day be prevented and eventually treated with the help of gut microbiota. This paper reviews knowledge of the involvement of gut microbiota in GI tumorigenesis, including its underlying mechanisms. Read more about some of the fascinating literature to date in Cancer Letters from Romania.