Possible Side Effects Of Probiotics
Probiotics are living bacteria and yeasts that provide health benefits when consumed in large amounts.
They can be taken as supplements or consumed naturally through fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha .
The health benefits of probiotic supplements and foods have been well documented, including a lower risk of infections, improved digestion and even a reduced risk for some chronic diseases .
While there are many health benefits linked to taking probiotics, there can also be side effects. Most of these are minor and only affect a small percentage of the population.
However, some people with serious illnesses or compromised immune systems may experience more severe complications.
This article reviews the most common side effects of probiotics and how to reduce them.
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.
/6is This Combination Safe
Probiotic bacteria essentially requires prebiotics as a source of nourishment to survive. Hence you would have noticed that some probiotic pills or products include prebiotics, though usually in mild amounts. The moment when probiotics enter the intestines, they come into contact with prebiotic food sources. This provides food for the bacteria and allows them to multiply, allowing them to combat dangerous bacteria present in the gut system.
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Should I Take Probiotics With Other Medication
Generally, itâs safe to take your probiotic with other supplements in the morning or at another hour of your choosing. Antibiotics, however, should be taken alone, and a doctor may instruct you to discontinue other supplements due to temporary illness. Dr. Asike maintains that probiotics are generally safe for most individuals, and the likeliest side effect may be some temporary bloating or extra gas, which usually sorts itself out over time.
There Is No Right Dose Of Probiotics
The average dose of probiotic supplements is 1 to 10 billion colony forming units according to the National Institutes of Health.
Most probiotics on the market have this amount, though you may see products that claim to have up to 50 billion CFU. However, there’s no concrete research that says what the most effective dosage is, says Farhadi.
“This is kind of uncharted territory. Most of our knowledge about probiotics is not pharmaceutically scientific or chemically scientific, and it’s a little bit different from other medications,” he says. For these reasons, researchers don’t know exactly which probiotics and what the effective dose is for health benefits.
However, if you are taking probiotics to deal with the uncomfortable effects of antibiotics, there is some evidence that a higher dose of certain probiotics might help abate the side-effect of diarrhea. In a small 2010 study, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, patients who were given two capsules of probiotic, each containing 50 billion CFU, had fewer instances of antibiotic-induced diarrhea than patients who were given one capsule or no probiotic at all.
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Could Probiotics Evolve In The Gut And Cause Harm
New research in the journal Cell Host & Microbiome suggests that under certain conditions, probiotics can be harmful due to their ability to evolve once in the gut.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that play a key role in intestinal function.
They achieve this by helping create a healthful bacterial balance within the hosts gut.
Our bodies already contain around 1.5 kilograms of probiotic bacteria.
However, these microorganisms also occur in fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, miso, and some types of cheese.
Recently, much hype has surrounded the presumed health benefits of probiotics. Some of these benefits include aiding digestion, lowering blood pressure, improving cognitive function, and alleviating irritable bowel syndrome.
However, are probiotics an unmitigated good? As more and more people begin to consume them, emerging research cautions that probiotics may not work in the same way for everyone, and that some strains of probiotics may not even be safe.
Now, a new study offers a critical look at the therapeutic benefits of probiotics. Scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, have investigated the behavior of a strain of Escherichia coli in the intestines of mice.
Gautam Dantas, Ph.D. a professor of pathology and immunology, molecular microbiology, and biomedical engineering at the university led the new research.
How Effective Are Probiotics
Researchers are currently unsure how effective probiotic supplements are for treating conditions. Theres constant research on the topic. While many research studies have had positive results on the impact of probiotic supplements, more research is still needed.
Its also important to keep in mind that unlike medications, dietary supplements do not need to be approved by the FDA. This means that manufacturers can sell supplements simply with claims of safety and effectiveness.
Always talk with your healthcare provider before taking a supplement or giving one to your child. Supplements might interfere with medicines you may be taking. If you are pregnant or breast feeding, check with your provider before taking any supplement.
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Probiotic Mechanisms Of Action
One of the difficulties in assessing the place of probiotics in clinical practice is our limited understanding of their mechanisms of action. However, some of the biological effects of probiotics have now been characterized, and it is important for clinicians using probiotics to have some knowledge of these microbiological and immunologic effects.
You Need A Probiotic With Multiple Strains
Not all probiotic bacteria are up for the job of making it past harsh stomach acid and bile to post up in your intestines.
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are known to successfully make the journey time and again, so look for a probiotic that contains these bacteria strains.
Multi-strain probiotics provide strength in numbers as well as bacterial variation, since every strain provides a different function and benefit to the body.
There are sub-strains within these two categories, and multiple strains of each will give the bacteria a better shot at gut survival.
Multi-strain probiotics provide strength in numbers as well as bacterial variation since every strain provides a different function and benefit to the body.
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Diarrhea Gas Bloating And Other Digestive Symptoms
Some people experience mild upset stomach, excess gas, diarrhea, or bloating during the first few days of taking probiotics as the gut microbiome rebalances. These side effects typically subside within a few days and dont necessarily mean youre taking too large of a dose. But experiencing continued side effects may be a sign to decrease the amount of probiotics youre taking.
Neurological And Psychiatric Diseases
During the last years, there is increasing interest in the use of probiotics for prevention and treatment of neurologic diseases . Recent studies stated the potential role for microbiota in the pathogenesis of neurological and brain disorders .
Table 4. Use of probiotics in neurological and psychiatric diseases.
It is believed that there is reciprocal communication between the central nervous system and the intestine, the so-called microbiota-gut-brain axis . which is a model of interaction between the intestinal microflora and the brain.
Physical and psychological stress may interfere in the control of the intestinal and the vaginal microflora. Higher numbers of the putrefactive bacteria Clostridium sp are found under stress .
Early-life events such as stress, environmental factors or other may impact the intestinal microbiota .
Studies report that the ingestion of Lactobacillus rhamnosus regulated the transcription of -aminobutyric acid receptors and therefore emotional behavior . The intestinal microbiota affect GABA which transmit signals to the brain trough enteric nerve s .
Normal microbiota preserves the intestinal balance by improving epithelial tight junctions reducing gut permeability . Otherwise, in case of cellular damage, multiple immune and inflammatory responses are produced as well as activation of the spinal neurons and the vagus nerve . As a result, inflammatory cytokines are produced affecting the central nervous system .
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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 .
Where Do You Find Probiotics
Fermented or cultured dairy products are a major source of probiotics. Other sources of probiotics include
- fermented milk.
The bacteria either occur naturally in these foods or have been added during preparation. Probiotics are also available as dietary supplements in capsule, tablet or powder-form.
Here are the most common strains of probiotics:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Enterococcus faecium
- Saccharomyces boulardii.
Bifidus regularis, a name created for marketing purposes by Dannon, is also known as Bifidobacterium animalis DN-173 010. This strain of probiotics is used exclusively in Dannon’s popular Activia products, which Dannon claims promote regularity.
Keep in mind that in order for a yogurt to be considered probiotic, it must contain one of the strains listed above. All yogurts are required to be treated with the strains Lactobacillus bulgaricusand Streptococcus thermophilus.
Food marketers have found a new niche with probiotic-containing foods, which include
- Probiotic cereal
- infant formula.
However, their claims may be based only on preliminary scientific findings.
More research is needed to see whether probiotic bacterias’ beneficial effects are the same when they’re treated or added to food products. Dried probiotics may survive a trip through the intestines if prepared and stored properly. Heat often kills live active cultures.
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They Can Increase Infection Risk For Some
Probiotics are safe for the vast majority of the population, but may not be the best fit for everyone.
In rare cases, the bacteria or yeasts found in probiotics can enter the bloodstream and cause infections in susceptible individuals (
Research also suggests that people with severe acute pancreatitis should not take probiotics, as this may increase the risk of death .
People with compromised immune systems, venous catheters, recent surgery, acute pancreatitis or prolonged hospitalizations should avoid taking probiotics.
Probiotics: What You Need To Know
What types of bacteria are in probiotics?
Probiotics may contain a variety of microorganisms. The most common are bacteria that belong to groups called Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Other bacteria may also be used as probiotics, and so may yeasts such as Saccharomyces boulardii.
Different types of probiotics may have different effects. For example, if a specific kind of Lactobacillus helps prevent an illness, that doesnt necessarily mean that another kind of Lactobacillus or any of the Bifidobacterium probiotics would do the same thing.
Are prebiotics the same as probiotics?
No, prebiotics arent the same as probiotics. Prebiotics are nondigestible food components that selectively stimulate the growth or activity of desirable microorganisms.
What are synbiotics?
Synbiotics are products that combine probiotics and prebiotics.
How popular are probiotics?
The 2012 National Health Interview Survey showed that about 4 million U.S. adults had used probiotics or prebiotics in the past 30 days. Among adults, probiotics or prebiotics were the third most used dietary supplement other than vitamins and minerals. The use of probiotics by adults quadrupled between 2007 and 2012. The 2012 NHIS also showed that 300,000 children aged 4 to 17 had used probiotics or prebiotics in the 30 days before the survey.
How might probiotics work?
Probiotics may have a variety of effects in the body, and different probiotics may act in different ways.
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Signs You May Be Taking Too Many Probiotics
When you take probiotics, youre providing your gut with beneficial bacteria that can help keep you healthy by displacing pathogenic bacteria. Many of the bacterial strains within probiotics already exist in your gut microbiome.
Even though the bacteria may be familiar to your body, it is possible to experience side effects from taking large amounts of probiotics. You may experience bloating, gas, nausea, or diarrhea when taking high amounts of probiotics. That being said, a few days of mild digestive upset when starting to take a new probiotic can be quite normal and mean that your gut flora is rebalancing. These symptoms should subside within a few days once the gut flora has adjusted.
Probiotics are often used to help relieve constipation and may lead to more trips to the bathroom. Research shows that probiotics can help move things through your digestive tract and may increase the number of bowel movements.
How Popular Are Probiotics
The 2012 National Health Interview Survey showed that about 4 million U.S. adults had used probiotics or prebiotics in the past 30 days. Among adults, probiotics or prebiotics were the third most commonly used dietary supplement other than vitamins and minerals. The use of probiotics by adults quadrupled between 2007 and 2012. The 2012 NHIS also showed that 300,000 children age 4 to 17 had used probiotics or prebiotics in the 30 days before the survey.
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Why Probiotics May Not Always Help And Could Actually Do Harm
Plenty of people take probiotics in food or supplements in the hope of boosting their digestive health. But a new, small study suggests that some people may not benefit as much as others from these so-called good bacteria.
The study found that, when people consumed standard probiotic bacterial strains, some people’s guts appeared resistant to the bacteria, meaning the bacteria failed to successfully live in or colonize their guts. But for others, the bacteria readily grew and flourished in the gut.
The study suggests that not everyone may benefit equally from standard probiotic treatments, the researchers said.
“This suggests that probiotics should not be universally given as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ supplement,” study co-senior author Eran Elinav, an immunologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, said in a statement. However, it may be possible to tailor probiotic treatments to the individual, based on the types of microbes already in his or her gut, as well as other factors, so that he or she gets the most benefit from probiotics, the researchers said.
In addition, a second study by the same group of researchers suggests that probiotics could have a potentially harmful effect if taken after antibiotics. Because both studies were small, however, more research is needed to confirm the findings.
The study was published today in the journal Cell.
Treatment Of Lactose Intolerance
Lactose intolerance is due to the inability to digest lactose in dairy products. It is believed to affect 60% of the world’s population . However, lactose malabsorption varies considerably in the different countries from 5 to 15% in Northern Europe and America to 50100% in South America, Asia and Africa. Lactobacillus delbrueckii subspecies bulgaricus and S. thermophilus in yogurts improve the intolerance to lactose as they possess the enzyme beta- galactosidase . Recently, randomized double-blind studies showed the efficiency of probiotic bacteria in fermented and unfermented milk preparations given to alleviate the clinical symptoms of lactose malabsorption .
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Take Probiotics At A Convenient Time
Some would recommend taking probiotics at least two hours before or after antibiotics to reduce the potential for the antibiotic to kill the probiotic you just took. You can do this if you want, but if that makes your medication schedule too complicated, just take them together. Youre better off taking them together than not at all.
Are Probiotics And Antibiotics Counterproductive
In fact, taking antibiotics may reduce the beneficial bacteria within the body itself, leaving you more vulnerable to other ailments. The longer you go untreated, the more serious the health problem can become.
When you take antibiotics, it is possible to take too many probiotics. Overdosing on probiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance, leaving your body unable to fight off future infections.
Antibiotics may not be the best choice for everyone. For instance, people who suffer from a weakened immune system, diabetes, respiratory problems, or an overall weakened immune system are better served by an alternate form of treatment.
While it can work very well on its own, it will not be as effective against these illnesses. Additionally, the long-term use of antibiotics may affect your colon.
It is important to note that while antibiotics may be extremely useful for certain medical conditions, they should not be taken for prolonged periods of time.
This is because when you take antibiotics, the beneficial bacteria within the body are virtually wiped out, leaving the bad bacteria to take over, which can lead to a number of different health issues, including food intolerance, nausea, and diarrhea.
Therefore, taking probiotics when you are also taking antibiotics is advisable.
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