Learning About The Microbiome
The community of microorganisms that lives on us and in us is called the âmicrobiome,â and itâs a hot topic for research. The Human Microbiome Project, supported by the National Institutes of Health from 2007 to 2016, played a key role in this research by mapping the normal bacteria that live in and on the healthy human body. With this understanding of a normal microbiome as the basis, researchers around the world, including many supported by NIH, are now exploring the links between changes in the microbiome and various diseases. Theyâre also developing new therapeutic approaches designed to modify the microbiome to treat disease and support health.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is among the many agencies funding research on the microbiome. Researchers supported by NCCIH are studying the interactions between components of food and microorganisms in the digestive tract. The focus is on the ways in which diet-microbiome interactions may lead to the production of substances with beneficial health effects.
How To Determine Your Lowest Effective Dose Of Probiotics
Heres a step-by-step guide to determining whether you should continue probiotics once your health has improved.
As you work to determine your minimal effective dose, keep an eye out for whats known as the nocebo effect, or the expectation that you will need to continue probiotics .
Finding your minimal effective dose will allow you to continue to reap the benefits of probiotics at a lower cost, with more convenience, and ideally with less of a feeling of dependency.
Keep in mind that probiotic use doesnt have to be all or nothing, and maintaining a more relaxed attitude towards your supplementation can help to reduce dependency and anxiety. For example, taking probiotics some or most days rather than every day once youve reached your maintenance phase is completely fine.
How Do Probiotic Strains Work Together
Probiotics require fructooligosaccharides , a type of soluble fiber that is found in a variety of grains, fruits, and vegetables, to thrive. This type of fiber is commonly known as prebiotics. In simplest terms, prebiotics are food for probiotics, helping nourish them to keep them alive and active in the gut.
The combination of probiotics and prebiotic strains creates a synergistic effect that allows the body to thrive. By encouraging the growth of the good bacterial strains and crowding out the bad ones, you enjoy the benefits of good digestion, including more energy, better weight control, and making feeling good the new normal.
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When Not To Take Probiotics Reduce Risks
Live cultures of microbes that are healthy for your guts microbiome known as probiotics are typically healthy and helpful to take at all times for all ages in all circumstances. Whether youre a man, woman, adult, child, dog, cat, anything! Probiotics are almost always good. However, there are some very specific circumstances when you should NOT take probiotics without first speaking to your doctor or another medical professional.
Typically, probiotics are advised against when they may be contraindicated with either a medical condition or another drug.
What Do Probiotics Do Exactly
Theres still a lot that scientists dont understand about probiotics, but studies so far have identified a few functional uses of probiotics, including:
- Promoting the health and maintenance of our digestive tracts cell lining
- Supporting immunity
- Managing inflammation
With these findings, researchers are beginning to conduct more expansive studies on the microbiome. They suspect that if probiotics play definitive roles in these body functions, they may also play a role in diseases and conditions that affect digestive health, immunity, and systemic inflammation.
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Probiotics May Only Colonize The Gut Temporarily
Research does suggest that probiotics only colonize the gut temporarily .
So, if you stop taking probiotics, the levels of different kinds of bacteria in your gut microbiome are likely to return to what they were before. For example, in one trial, participants were given supplements of the probiotic strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus DR20. In 6 out of 10 patients, this became the dominant strain in the population of lactobacilli during the six-month test period.
But two months after stopping treatment, this strain was present in only 1 out of 20 patients in the fecal microflora .
Sibo Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
A SIBO diagnosis means that there are bacteria growing in your small intestine, where theyre not supposed to be! If you take probiotics with this condition, you will feel worse. You will be more bloated, have more discomfort and pain, and possibly even feel quite sick. Here is an article posted on the NIH website about it: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3099351/
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Can I Use Probiotics To Help With Medical Conditions
There is currently a large amount of research happening around the idea of what probiotics can do for your body. Even though there are a lot of possibly positive outcomes, researchers are still working to find definitive answers about how probiotics can help with various conditions.
However, there are some medical conditions where probiotics may help. This can vary between people meaning that what works for one person may not work for another. These can also vary based on the certain probiotic that is taken.
Some of the conditions that might be helped by increasing the amount of probiotics in your body include:
- Upper respiratory infections .
Probiotic Possible Risks And Adverse Reactions
According to a January 2019 article from Medical News Today, some of the more typical side effects from probiotic consumption include digestive symptoms and skin problems . There have also been reported cases of allergic reactions, which are thought to be due to the fact that some probiotic supplements can produce histamine in your digestive tract.
Another potential adverse reaction are headaches caused by the amines in certain probiotics. Biogenic amines are substances that form when protein-containing food age or ferment. For those that are sensitive to amines, these substances can increase or decrease blood flow to your brain, and so possibly trigger headaches.
And, in some rare instances, the bacteria and yeasts in probiotics can enter the bloodstream causing infections. There have even been cases of where fungi and bacteria have been later found in the blood. However, once again, these instances are found with people that already have compromised immune systems.
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Compromised Gut Flora: Causes And Consequences
It is also possible for a persons gut flora to be severely compromised, which can have dramatic consequences on health. It is thought that this could result in an increased risk of disease and a lower immune system function.
The use of antibiotics is common for treating many conditions. As a result, the medication damages both healthy and unhealthy bacteria.
Antibiotic treatment often compromises gut bacteria, which will not recover on its own for people who have taken antibiotics.
NSAIDs and other medications may also have an impact on gut bacteria.
Many medications dont study this effect thoroughly, so we dont know which will impact the gut bacteria. Taking steps to improve your gut flora may be worth considering if youre taking any medication for a prolonged period of time.
Choices of food
We may also be affected by certain health conditions if we eat certain foods that harm our gut bacteria. A high-sugar diet and a reliance on processed foods, for instance, can damage bacteria in the gut.
In addition, some research suggests that fatty and sugary diets can alter gut bacteria. Cognitive flexibility is the ability to adapt to changes in a persons environment. This type of change can result in reduced cognitive flexibility.
Sweeteners with artificial ingredients
Several studies have found that artificial sweeteners may harm gut bacteria, and that overeating may also cause damage if it leads to unhealthy habits.
The following causes may also contribute
Answers To Frequently Asked Questions About Probiotics
I dont like fermented foods. Whats another way to get probiotics?
A diet high in fiber, which is a prebiotic, may promote probiotic growth in the gut. You can also take a probiotic supplement with clearance from your healthcare team.
Is it just as good to take probiotic supplements as it is to eat foods with probiotics?
In general, the body benefits most from consuming probiotics via food, which often also contains beneficial nutrients. But if youre using probiotics to treat a disease or illness, a supplement that contains a higher number of strains may be more effective, noted a paper published in September 2017 the journal Biochemistry & Pharmacology.
If I take a probiotic supplement, is it best to take it before, during, or after a meal?
Youll reap the most benefits from probiotics if you take them 30 minutes before a meal or while eating. Also important: taking them with a food or drink that contains some amount of fat, because probiotics are fat soluble, meaning fat helps the body properly absorb them.
Can a person take in too many probiotics?
What is the best probiotic for your health?
Simply put, researchers havent identified one yet. Most of the studies surround bacterial strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium and the yeast strain Saccharomyces boulardii. Its also likely that various strains are best for different conditions.
Is it better to choose probiotic supplements that are refrigerated?
Should I always take probiotics when on an antibiotic?
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What Are The Benefits Of Probiotics
Studies suggest that certain probiotics can help in certain contexts. But you will need to do your research. We can help.
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Walk into a health food store, or even a drugstore, and youre likely to find an entire aisle, maybe two, dedicated to probiotics. Probiotics are live micro-organisms, usually bacteria, that provide health benefits when consumed at appropriate doses.
According to some surveys, approximately four million Americans take probiotics, which are available as pills, powders, foods and drinks. Probiotics are a huge industry at least a $40 billion dollar one, according to Zion Market Research and popular brands sell for 35 cents to $1 a dose, with a shelf life of several months.
Framed this way, probiotics may seem like a no-brainer. But before you reach for your wallet, keep in mind that while many scientists and doctors believe that probiotics have promise, they also say that a lot of products on the market dont live up to the hype.
The current evidence does not convince me to recommend probiotics for any of my healthy patients, said Dr. Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and an internist at Cambridge Health Alliance.
You Might Go To The Bathroom More Regularly
The good bacteria in probiotics improve digestion, which may translate to more consistent bathroom visits.* While this may be a side effect that can be inconvenient at times, especially when you’re at work or out to lunch with your friends, your body and your belly will thank you once you start eliminating regularly.*
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Is It Ok To Take Probiotics Every Day
A common question about probiotics is whether it is ok to take probiotic supplements every day. Whilst there may be a few exceptions to this rule, the general answer is yes, it’s safe, and usually recommended, to take them daily.
It’s important to understand that probiotics are a natural supplement and not a medicine. They are best used at breakfast time as part of a daily health regime, rather than as a ‘quick fix’ option. There are also some situations where certain strains can be taken for a short time, such as alongside antibiotics. Fermented foods containing live cultures have been part of traditional diets in many different ethnic groups for centuries. Learn more by reading about our 5 favourite fermented foods. People have been consuming probiotics for generations in foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and kombucha , but it has only been more recently that we have been able to consume specific strains for specific purposes, in easy-to-take capsules, powders, or kids’ gummies.
Whats Too Much Too Little Or Maybe Its The Wrong Strain How Do You Get It Right
You know the saying, If a little does a little bit of good then a lot must do a whole lot of good But when it comes to probiotics, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.
Weve talked before about the microbiome, the ginormous collection of microbes that live in your gut.
Some of those bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microbes maintain a thriving ecosystem of sorts that assists your body in many of its functions. And they also provide a powerful immune system to protect you from infections, cancer, and viruses from the common cold to HIV.
There are at any given moment -10 microbes to every single cell in the human body. So were vastly outnumbered from the start.
But thankfully, the majority of those microbes help us function and protect us from invaders. The rest of them are always on the attack and being destroyed or eaten by the good bacteria.
Until something happens that jars that system out of balance. For example:
An infection treated by antibiotics, where the good bacteria are wiped out along with the bad.
Stomach upset that results in vomiting or diarrhea, where massive evacuation of the intestine leaves behind a weakened balance of beneficial and destructive microbes.
An injury that drives you to take a heavy load of ibuprofen, and your stomach lining becomes irritated, causing pain and bleeding.
In each of these examples, ingesting probiotics can help to restore balance in your gut, and relieve symptoms.
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Probiotics May Play A Role In Immunity And Cancer Prevention
Much of the research on the potential effects of probiotics on cancer and immunity has involved lab studies on lactic acid bacteria . In these studies, this probiotic seems to decrease the enzyme activity of other bacteria that produce cancer cells, potentially reducing the risk of liver, colon, and bladder cancer.
Probiotics and prebiotics seem to influence an entire immunological network in the body, and tend to have the biggest potential early in life. Taking probiotics while pregnant, for example, may reduce your childs risk of allergy symptoms, such as skin rashes, nasal congestion, and watery eyes. It may also decrease incidence of chronic digestive disorders like celiac disease, Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis, according to a review published in January 2015 in the journal Pediatric Research.
Then He Said In My 25 Years In Nutrition Ive Never Heard Of Side Effects With Probiotics
Ronda told him, Well, it sure happened to me!
Rondas been doing great ever since the whole incident and is elated to be herself again. But she learned a hard lesson. Harmless probiotics deserve respect for their power and impact on the human system.
From now on, shell ALWAYS follow directions when it comes to over-the-counter remedies. And especially probiotics!
The good news is that if probiotics can cause this much change in someone whos healthy, they can also make a significant difference in anyone whos not.
Along with improving health in your stomach and intestines, as well as reducing inflammation and infection throughout your body, they can also relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
But be aware, theyre not to be taken lightly. Experts say that since each individual is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all for probiotic supplementation.
Remember: In general terms, up to 10 billion CFUs daily. Start gently. Watch for out-of-the-ordinary symptoms. A specific strain may not be right for you, or a specific combination. Take several days or a couple weeks to test the effects of partial doses, raising the dose a little each day as long as you have no negative symptoms. Include your doctor in the process.
This story isnt to scare you away from using a preparation that can help you become stronger and more resilient. But rather to alert you to possible risks if you use probiotics without supervision or awareness of potential side effects.
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So What Can I Do When I Cant Take Live Cultures
This can be a frustrating situation to be in. You want to be your most healthy self possible, but the medication you are taking or treatment you are undergoing is making that impossible. Luckily, there are still great ways to try and maintain your health despite what kind of medication your are currently taking. Of course, it is important to consider your doctor before making any major changes.
Increased Risk Of Infection
review from 2017 suggest that children and adults with severe illnesses or compromised immune systems should avoid using probiotics. Some people with these conditions have experienced bacterial or fungal infections as a result of probiotic use.
If a person has a condition that affects their immune system, they should speak with their doctor before taking probiotics.
Also, anyone using antifungal medication should wait until the infection has cleared up before taking probiotics.
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