Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that can help with a variety of problems from constipation, diarrhea, indigestion to migraines and fatigue, lowering cholesterol and inflammation, preventing cancer and many more conditions.
Alterations in the intestinal tract can directly affect the body’s immune system. Gut bacteria play a role in the production of neurotransmitters, enzymes and vitamins and other essential nutrients.
We have been coexisting with microbes since the beginning of the human history and they have evolved with us. This symbiosis is an element of health and well-being for a strong ecosystem and healthy immune system.
Dysbiosis happens when harmful bacteria dominate the gut’s flora causing intestinal and systemic conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), metabolic syndrome, celiac disease, allergy, and many more.
Since the discover of antibiotics many diseases have been eradicated, but the overuse and non-proper use have led to the antibiotic resistance phenomenon and to the colonization of unfriendly bacteria, (biofilms), cause of a number of problems.
The research shows that there is a network of neurons along the intestinal gut so extensive to be named the “second brain”, or “other brain” and which manages every aspect of digestion, and allows the bacteria to communicate each other and with the brain. The microbiome of the microbiota has been mapped and is considered the “second genome”.
Most of the microbes of a baby’s gut community are acquired during a vaginal birth where they are exposed to either vaginal than intestinal bacteria, babies born by Cesarean section (sterile procedure) lack this exposure having high rate of allergy, asthma and autoimmune problems.
The gut microbiota of people living in separate area of the world are very different and because of the diet. For example, individuals with a diet of whole grains show increased levels of Prevotella, diets rich in carbohydrates in Bacteroidetes, while Firmicutes predominate in diets with high levels of protein.
The number of microorganisms in the human body reaches the astronomic number of 100 trillion! They are everywhere! An estimated 1000 different species or types and together they weigh ~3 pounds. The term probiotics comes from Greek origins, pro means promoting and biotic means life.
Probiotics are microbes, both bacteria and yeast, not live vaccines or viruses. They are alive and must be alive when administered. Viability is important to their effectiveness.
They must be identified by genus, species and strain levels, as an example, Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG, genus: Lactobacillus, species: Rhamnosus, strain: GG.
Some of the probiotics activity and benefits are: prevention of colonization of bad bacteria, cellular adhesion and invasion of pathogenic organism, antimicrobial activity, modulation of immune response.
Prebiotics are non-digestible, fermented food ingredients, often fibers that stimulate the growth of beneficial microorganisms, fruit, vegetables, legumes, honey and whole grains.
Their health effects are: prevention of diarrhea or constipation, modulation of the metabolism of the intestinal flora, cancer prevention, positive effects on lipid metabolism, mineral absorption, immunomodulatory properties.
Probiotics and prebiotics together are called symbiotic. Fermented dairy products as yogurt and kefir are considered symbiotic because they contain live bacteria and the fuel necessary. Probiotics can be found in supplement, of course, and fermented foods and cultured milk products.
Yogurt may contain Lactobacillus bulgaricus and/or Streptococcus thermophilus.
Kefir usually contains Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and others. Juice and soy beverages often contain Lactobacillus and others. Sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi and miso usually Lactobacillus strains and others.
The bacteria found in most probiotics usually are made from two main groups Lactobacillus, and Bifidobacterium, each of these contains different species such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifido, each with different strains.
Antibiotics kills friendly bacteria too along with the bad ones, we are not simply exposed to any antibiotic therapy we might need during a course of a life, but to all added to foods, especially from meat treated with antibiotics for variety of reasons.
Probiotics are very effective to treat unpleasant side effects of antibiotic therapy, they can also decrease the symptoms associate with lactose intolerance due to the lack of the enzyme that metabolize this sugar.
Unfriendly microorganisms as bacteria, yeasts, fungi or parasites can upset a healthy balance and contribute to many disease and conditions, probiotics support healthy bacteria and reduce the incidence of unfriendly microorganisms.
Probiotics as other supplements should be used carefully and after consulting a health care provider especially in case of immunocompromised individuals, newborns and pregnant women.
Potential sides effects of probiotics are: intestinal gas and bloating, infections in people with underlying conditions, metabolic activities due to stimulation of the immune system for the possibility to be a source of genes that can be transferred to dangerous microorganisms colonizing the environment.
As always there is to look at the benefits and risks of what we introduce in our body.
Many researchers are involved into the study of microbiome and function of bacteria. One of these doctors, Dr. Raphael Kellman, has a classifications of species and strains that can be very helpful to understand which probiotic to choose based on a condition; in addition in his book intitled “The Microbiome Diet”, the doctor includes data on microbiome studies and experiments done with his patients of appropriate diet for microbiome.
Diets for balancing the microbiota and healing a leaky gut, or permeable intestine, are sort of ketogenic diets, and mainly based on these choices.
They mainly eliminate a variety of “inflammatory foods” as, sugars, grains, dairy and eggs and rely on fresh and organic fruit and vegetables, mainly steamed vegetables, yogurt, kefir and fermented foods, wild caught fish, omega3 fatty acids, coconut oil, and more than everything, bone broth, this one very important and heavily discussed lately.
As everyone should know at this time the elements and amino acids in bone broth are very important for the healing process of the intestinal wall, to mention some of these, glutamine, glycine, and proline, so as collagen, so important as well.
General role of microbiome for GI disorders is to improve the ecology, and the gut wall fortification necessary for repairing and maintaining the junctions tight to seal out unwanted molecules.
The best strains to improve and repair gut are: Bifidobacteria, which play a role in the health of large intestine and colon, specifically: B. lactis BI-04, B. bifidum BB-06, B. lactis Bi-07, B. lactis HN019, B. breve BB-03.
They help to reduce bloating and decrease transit time and constipation, lower inflammation and regulate the immune system.
This is what Dr. Kellmann suggests, for:
Constipation: Bifidobacterium lactis DN-173010; it looks like to be in Activia yogurt
Saccharomyces boulardii, L. acidophilus LA5, L. paracasei (L. casei 431), Bifido BB12, all found in a product that combine also the prebiotic inulin and GSO.
Diarrhea: L. acidophilus LA-1, L. paracasei LPC-37, L. rhamnosus LR-32, generally in master supplement like Theralac, or Culturelle.
Leaky Gut: Bacillus longum, Lactobacillus planatarum, L. reuteri, L. rhamnosus GG; they all increase tight junctions between intestinal cells, fortify the wall and support healthy immune function.
IBS: Bacillus coagulans, B. infantis, B. longum BB536, L. acidophilus, L. bulgaricus, L. haelveticus, L. paracasei, L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus GG, S. boulardii, S. thermophilus.
Anxiety and Allergies: L. casei, L. rhamnousus, L. paracasei
Anxiety, Depression and Stress: Bifidus and Lactobacillus, L. helveticus R0052 and B. longum RO175, L. rhamnosus JB, L. casei and acidophilus for depression specifically, B. breve and L. plantarum PS128, this last one not only reduce anxiety and depression but also improves neurotransmitters related disorders and neurodegeneration.
Immune system and Adrenal Health: B. infantis, B. breve 1205, B. longum 1714. S. boulardii is the most powerful and useful organism to reduce inflammation and remove unwanted yeast and regulate the immune system and quieting the dysfunction of an autoimmune disorder; in these cases, it is suggested to be part of daily routine.
Cognitive Decline: Unhealthy microbiome creates high levels of ammonia, NH3, cause of brain fog and poor concentration and inability to think, poisoning the brain and causing inflammation, here are the strains: B. infantis, B. breve, L. acidophilus, L. rhamnosus, L. plantarum, L. casei, S. thermophilus, S. boulardii
Inflammation: Best strain to lower inflammation: Bifido infantis 35624, as in Align, decrease the level of cytokines and reduces the levels of LPS (cell wall of GRAM negative), lipopolysaccharide from the bacteria’s wall., L. reuteri, L. rhamnosus, L. plantarum, B. bifidum, B. longum, all reduces level of LPS, B. infantis lowers levels of TNFa, tumor factor.
Women Health: B. coagulans, L. fermentum, L. rhamnosus GG
Cholesterol Lowering: B. lactis, B. faecum, L. acidophilus, L. curvatus, L. fermentum, L. plantarum, L. reuteri.
The dosage is very important and must be between 10 and 50 billion of CFU of bacteria, even 450 billion for ulcerative colitis.
For Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are suggested high doses of multi-strains for a synergic effect, while S. boulardii is a yeast used to get rid of Helicobacter Pylori, and very common with Hashimoto’s.
In regard of this bacteria responsible of causing stomach ulcer and from here eventually cancer there are some new emerging hypothesis right from Dr. Kellman as well as from Dr. Steven Gundry.
They both believe that H. Pylori is a beneficial intestinal commensal and that its presence is of many benefits: regulates the acid production in body, and helps to regulate the production of ghrelin, the hormone of appetite, and leptin that instead signals the sensation of fullness.
Studies done in regard have showed that people treated for H. Pylori have gained more weight.
One of the key concepts of the Microbiome diet are the prebiotics. Prebiotics and fibers are the foundation of a healthy microbiome. In the process of digesting these fibers the bacteria produce metabolites known as short chain fatty acids, as butyric acid, for example, found in ghee, with a number of protective and nourishing role in human body.
To mention some of these: larch arabinogalactan, inulin, pectin, oligofructose, fructo-oligosaccharides, FOS, galacto-oligosaccharides, GOS.
Acacia fibers exhibits a variety of health benefits, as lowering cholesterol, balancing sugar and normalizing bowel function.
Tests recommended from Dr. Kellman for Microbiome are:
Inflammatory markers like: CRP, ESED, TNF-alfa, il1, IL6, IL8 and IL10
Thyroid function tests: TSH, FT3 and T3, FT4 and T4, antibodies levels: TPO, TG-Ab, TSI, TRH,
Homocysteine and cholesterol. Pathogens and toxins.
Stool test. Hydrogen/Methane Breath Test.
Food Nutrition and Health, Probiotics. Education to Go, Everett Community College, WA
“Microbiome Medicine, How Bacteria Can Cure Us”, The Microbiome Diet, Dr. Raphael Kellman, M.D.