Probiotics 101 by Dr. Deanine

Good day Snappers! Today we get to read an excellent article from our own Dr. Deanine from DrDeanine.com about the remarkable health mania that is probiotics. When I started to have breastfeeding issues with my second baby, I decided that I needed to make probiotics part of her daily regimen and to this day she gets probiotics everyday. She hardly ever gets sick, and has never had issues with digestion.

Krystle K and I are excited to bring you this informative article today! Enjoy! 

 Probiotics 101

by Dr. Deanine

If you have been into natural medicine for a while or are just getting your feet wet, you have undoubtedly heard about probiotics.  Touted as a “cure all” for digestive issues, regularity, immune support, quelling yeast, diarrhea and regulating brain chemistry, even the most mainstream of doctors are recommending them for their patients.  The truth is they are a foundational aspect of health and many changed lives – and research supports the many beneficial claims.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the large intestine is considered the “seat of immunity”.  In Western thinking our “gut” is our second brain and is actually the site of synthesis for neurotransmitters, immune cells and chemicals that protect us from bad microbes that can potentially take root in our bodies.   Although many things can affect digestive health, we could all use a bit of help increasing our good bacteria in order to outweigh the bad.  So here’s the skinny and what you should know so you can see the whole picture and make the best choice for your family.

A Brief Look at History

Probiotics were not recently invented.  The idea of a probiotics has been around since lactic acid bacterium was discovered by Pasteur in 1857.  Lactic acid is used as a base for producing lactobacillus acidophilus today.  In 1907, Elie Metchnikoff, a Russian scientist working in the Pasteur Institute in Paris, developed an interest in the differences in the lifespan of villagers in Bulgaria who drank a fermented drink of yogurt.  This drink made from sour milk was fermented with a single strain of bacteria, which he named Bacillus bulgaricus.  This was later renamed to Lactobacillus bulgaricus.   In 1989 he described probiotics as “live microbial feed supplement, which beneficially affects the host animal by improving its intestinal microbial balance”. He stressed two important facts of probiotics: the living nature of probiotics and the capacity to assist in inhibiting pathogenic bacteria.  Hmm sounds like a natural “antibiotic” doesn’t it?

Where We Are Today

As you may know, your digestive tract is teaming with trillions of good bacteria, comprising your normal flora. How we come into the world gives us our first exposure to bacteria: vaginal births expose us to our mother’s flora.  Our first feedings (breast or formula) add the next layer of probiotic strains that introduce or encourage good flora. Our gut flora is responsible for helping us to properly digest food, protecting us from pathogens (as shown by Mr. Pasteur), helping to detoxify harmful compounds, keeping our guts healthy, and enhancing our immune function. Probiotics are a culture of this good flora!

Where do things go wrong? While antibiotics can do good when used appropriately, they are overused in our society today. Studies have shown that antibiotics can demolish your good flora. Antibiotics and stress are the two biggest sources for getting our good flora off-kilter. As a result, most of us have an imbalance of our intestinal flora. We can ALL benefit from the addition of probiotics in our daily regimen.

 

The 4 Families of Probiotics

Meet the 4 main families of the probiotic supplements.

1.  Lactobacillis

2.  Bifidum

3.  Yeasts, and strains derived from intestinal cultures (yup they are from cadavers or animals sometimes)

4.  Fibers which act as “food” for the probiotics themselves.

 

What should I look for in a probiotic?

  • Choose a supplement that has a bit of each 4 groups, with a few in each family and not just one strain.
  • Buy a powder, not a tablet or chewable if you want the best results.  If you find something in a capsule that suits you, you can always open it up and mix it in a fruit puree or yogurt for little ones.
  • Encapsulated or enteric-coated are good also to ensure that they make it past hard stomach acids and get into the intestines.
  • Colony Forming Units (C.F.U.) is the number of bacteria that’s expected to colonize in your intestine and start reproducing.  If you find one with all 4 families you like,  skip this and just double up.
  • Consistency is key.  Try them for 7-14 days and see if you notice better stools and digestion and take first thing in the AM on an empty stomach OR in between meals.
  •  The proof is in the pudding–if you don’t feel your digestion is improving or your yeast issue/infection has resolved, you may need to try a different brand of probiotic and new strains.
  • Probiotics are found in some live culture yogurts and kefirs.  The idea that a live culture helps digestion is intuitively known by many other cultures around the world that also have an element of fermented or cultured side dishes or drinks.  Kimchee in Korea, Sauerkraut in Germany, yogurt or kefir, fermented wheat berry “Rejuvalac” and Kombucha tea all provide some probiotics.   Try to integrate them into your daily diet.
  • Supplements can be made with or without dairy for those people who are lactose-intolerant. If you feel this is important for you, you may have to special order one.

Good to know about probiotics:

  • Even if you buy supplements that are sold at room temp they MUST be refrigerated after they are opened-much like mayonnaise.  You buy it at room temp but HAVE to refrigerate it if opened or it goes bad.
  • The biggest misconception is to believe all yogurts have probiotics.  Unfortunately, most yogurts are only made from sugar, milk, flavors, gelatin and guar gum – yuck – with no real live cultures.
  • Dr. D’Adamo, author of the Blood Type Diet (which I explained in my prior post “How Knowing Your Blood Type Simplifies Your Life”), summarizes the strains that are best suited for each blood type. Reading more on this will further enlighten you to your needs.  Gotta know that blood type!
  • Men need probiotics also.  They often eat yeasty foods like beer, pizza and bread.  If you are getting recurrent yeast infections after sex – treat your hubby.
  • After mild antibiotics, take probiotics for twice the number of days they were given.  Strong antibiotics = 3 times as long on probiotics! You should ALWAYS take probiotics when on antibiotics, but don’t take them at the same time of day as each other.
  • Trusted over the counter brands are Jarrow, Klaire Labs, PB 8, & Ultimate Flora. (<—click on the hyperlinks to purchase)

 

Which strain may be most important for you?

1. Lactobacillis

The lactobacillis family are strains of bacteria that are grown or grow forth from the sugar in milk, thus the term Lacto (milk sugar) Bacillis (bacteria).  They are naturally found in the digestive, urinary, and genital systems.  There are probably close to 50 known strains and still more possible.  Some of the lactobacilli found in foods and supplements are Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. acidophilus, Lactobacillus blugaricus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus plantarium, Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus salivarius, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus johnsonii, and Lactobacillus gasseri.

Studies have shown some benefits linked to Lactobacillus and treating and/or preventing yeast infections, antibiotic-related diarrhea, bacterial vaginitis, Group B strep infections, diarrhea, colitis, treating lactose intolerance, eczema, skin disorders, and mimimizing recurrent respiratory infections. More specifically, results from some of the studies are as follows:

  • Lactobacillus was given to children 5 to 14 years of age with irritable bowel syndrome over eight weeks’ time. They were given 3 billion cells twice per day. This reduced the frequency and severity of abdominal pain.
  • Lactobacillus was given to children taking antibiotics and there was a decrease in reported diarrhea.
  • Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus bulgarius, and Streptococcus thermophilus given twice daily during antibiotic treatment and for a week later decreased the risk of diarrhea in hospitalized adults.
  • Lactobacillus-containing milk was given to children 1 to 6 years of age who attended day care. They got fewer or less severe lung infections than those who did not drink it.
  • Lactobacillus gasseri and Lactobacillus rhamnosus vaginal capsules lengthened the time in between bacterial vaginosis infections. Lactobacillus reduced the risk of traveler’s diarrhea by 47% in a study with 245 people who traveled to 14 worldwide geographic regions.
  • Lactobacillis reuteri given to women decreases vaginal yeast infections and is also found in breast milk.

2.  Bifidobacteria

There are approximately 30 species of bifidobacteria. They make up approximately 90% of the healthy bacteria in the colon. They appear in the intestinal tract within days of birth, especially infants that are breast-fed.

Some of the bifidobacteria used as probiotics are Bifodbacterium bifidum, Bifodbacterium lactis, Bifodbacterium longum, Bifodbacterium breve, Bifodbacterium infantis, Bifodbacterium thermophilum, and Bifodbacterium pseudolongum.

As with all probiotics, more research is needed to prove a definitive benefit, but studies have shown that bifidobacteria can help with IBS, improve blood lipids, and glucose tolerance.

  • Bifidobacterium infantis was given to 362 patients with irritable bowel syndrome in a four-week study. They showed improvement in the symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating, bowel dysfunction, incomplete evacuation, straining, and the passage of gas.
  • Salivary levels of bifidobacteria are associated with dental cavities in adults and children.
  • Bifidobacterium lactis is reported to have beneficial effects on metabolism, including lowered serum LDL-cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes, increased HDL in adult women, and improved glucose tolerance during pregnancy.

3. Yeasts and intestinally derived strains of probiotics:

  • Saccharomyces boulardii-
This is also known as S. boulardii and is the only yeast probiotic. Some studies have shown that it is effective in preventing and treating diarrhea associated with the use of antibiotics and traveler’s diarrhea. It has also been reported to prevent the reoccurrence of Clostridium difficile, to treat acne, and to reduce side effects of treatment for Helicobacter pylori.
  • Streptococcus thermophiles
This produces large quantities of the enzyme lactase, making it effective, according to some reports, in the prevention of lactose intolerance.
  • Enterococcus faecium
-Found in the intestinal tracts of humans and animals and may be derived from living or post mortem subjects.  Yes, I said that.

4.  Prebiotic Fibers, Enzymes and Supporters

These are the additional ingredients such as Glucommannan, Pectins, FOS (Fructooligiosaccharides) and enzymes that act as “food” for the strains of beneficial bacteria as they are introduced into the digestive tract.

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Dr. DeanineDr. Deanine Picciano AP, LMT is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, homeopath and massage therapist with over 18 years of experience as a practitioner and educator. Dr. Deanine is in private practice in Sarasota, Florida with an emphasis on women & children’s health and healing the whole person.  Dr. Deanine’s goal is to help the body come into balance in the most natural way possible and to educate and empower her patients and families on the benefits and uses of natural remedies.  Deanine believes that when a person is treated as a whole they are more likely to get well and stay well.

Dr. Deanine began her study at the University of South Florida with a focus on marine biology.  Inspired by the science of living things, she expanded her study to physical therapy and exercise science.  She was introduced to massage therapy, bodywork and acupuncture through personal experience and went on to study massage and Oriental medicine.  She became a licensed acupuncture physician in 1997.  Since then, Dr. Deanine has been dedicated to the study of healing traditions from all over the world including herbology, classical homeopathy, and CranioSacral Therapy through the Upledger Institute.

Dr. Deanine has contributed to the field of health education since 1997 and was formerly an instructor of Anatomy and Physiology, massage, herbs and acupuncture at the Sarasota School of Massage, Florida College of Natural Health and the East West College of Natural medicine in Sarasota. She has trained practitioners from all over the world and from diverse health care disciplines such as midwives, physical therapists and psychologists in integrative healing and bodywork. For more info visit her site http://www.drdeanine.com

 

Sources

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