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The Power of Taking Probiotics

Discover how a simple little pill can transform your gut, digestive and overall health


This Blog At A Glance…

  • The word ‘probiotic’ comes from the Greek words pro, meaning ‘promoting’ and biotic, meaning ‘life’. If you haven't discovered them yet, I urge you to read on and see what a difference they could take to your overall health and life.

  • Anyone who suffers from any regular ill health or ailments such as acne, eczema, rashes, hives, diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome or other bowel disorders, or your daily routine is riddled with depression, irritability, anxiety and stress, it is most likely they have poor digestion and nutrient absorption linked to an imbalance or lack of good bacteria.

  • Improving digestion and nutrient absorption probiotics ensure your body functions properly by receiving vital vitamins, minerals, fats and amino acids from the foods you are eating. They are also required for generating certain B and K vitamins, folates and short chain fatty acids.

  • By increasing your healthy gut bacteria it will train your immune system to determine the good microbes from the ones that cause you damage and are making you unwell, making probiotics the best front line defence against infection.


What are probiotics?  

Years ago I began to study, research and listen to comments from clients, customers, friends and family about how probiotic supplements have helped them relieve, and in some cases eradicate altogether, (insert your chosen health problem or ailment here) and realised how beneficial they are for everyone to take regularly.

The more I found out, the more I realised how important these tiny micro-organisms are to our health and well-being and how much they can benefit weight loss, digestive health, immune function and more.[1]

If you have ever taken a good quality probiotic supplements you will already know how powerful they are and the difference to how they make you feel just so much…better!

The word probiotic comes from the Greek words pro, meaning ‘promoting’ and biotic, meaning ‘life’.

If you haven't discovered them yet, I urge you to read on and see what a difference they could take to your overall health and life.

Probiotics are basically micro-organisms that reside in our intestines and are a completely natural part of our body’s defence system. These are the ‘good’ bacteria that help fight and keep in check the number of pathogenic microorganisms and harmful bacteria that can cause numerous health problems.[2]

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What do probiotics do?

The main role of probiotics, as they inhabit the intestines, is to aid digestion and assist in vital nutrient absorption, contributing to proper biological function throughout the stomach and intestines.

If you suffer from any regular ill health or ailments such as acne, eczema, rashes, hives, diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome or other bowel disorders, or your daily routine is riddled with depression, irritability, anxiety and stress, it is most likely due to poor digestion and nutrient absorption linked to an imbalance or lack of good bacteria.[3]

To improve any health, mood, performance or physical problems your nutrition should be the number factor you should be looking at, But, not just what you are eating, what you are actually absorbing and what you body is actually able to use. In order to achieve better absorption you could do a lot worse than experimenting with ways to increase the friendly bacteria in your system, through either eating fermented foods, or more conveniently, supplementing with probiotic supplements to increase your probiotic levels.

Research into the positive effects of probiotic supplementation has been extensive and has shown great benefits for an array of health conditions ranging from asthma, allergies, digestive and bowel disorders, skin problems and urinary infections.

Adding in more healthy bacteria you can literally crowd out the bad bacteria’s ability to thrive, inhibiting its ability to cause infection, inflammation, and disease.

Improving digestion and nutrient absorption probiotics ensure your body functions properly by receiving vital vitamins, minerals, fats and amino acids from the foods you are eating. They are also required for generating certain B and K vitamins, folates and short chain fatty acids.

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Probiotics for fat and weight loss.

Studies have shown that probiotics may actually help with fat and weight loss through the number of different ways that they affect processes in the body. For instance, some dietary fat in the intestine is actually prevented from being absorbed from some strains of probiotics. This fat is then excreted through waste, as opposed to being stored as fat in the body.[4]

Some probiotics also cause an increase in certain hormones in the body responsible for making you feel fuller for longer and can actually burn more calories.

More than this, fat and weight loss can also be directly effected by probiotic supplementation. In one study, dieting women who took a strain of Lactobacillus for a 3 month period and lost 50% more weight than women who didn't take this probiotic.[5]

Probiotics for digestion and bowel health.

This is the main reason a lot of people start taking probiotics, as a result of suffering from inflammatory bowel conditions which effect their digestive system, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Leaky gut, Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis, which it is estimated currently effect over a quarter of a million people in the UK.[6]

This is, unsurprisingly, one of the main areas of study for probiotics and it has been found that certain types of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains have improved symptoms in people with mild ulcerative colitis.[6]

Whatever you may (or may not) be suffering from a great deal of research suggest that probiotics may have great benefits for a range of bowel disorders, including IBS and those listed above.[7]

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Probiotics after taking Antibiotics.

The body literally thrives when in a balanced and is constantly fighting to adapt and bring about that balance.

If you have ever been prescribed and taken antibiotics you will have more than likely  (almost certainly) depleted your good bacteria to very low, ineffective levels. If we look back once again to Greek meanings, Antibiotics literally translates as ‘anti-life’ which is obviously the exact opposite of probiotics. They are designed to kill all bacteria indiscriminately, not just the bad stuff.

Taking antibiotics is like dropping an ‘A’ bomb on your immune system, which in most cases never properly recovers….unlike the bad bacteria, which unfortunately seem to thrive and multiply quite quickly after, causing an obvious imbalance.

Just one side effect of having all of your gut bacteria being unbalanced by antibiotics is diarrhoea. However to counteract this, several studies suggest probiotic use is associated with a reduced risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea.

In one study, researchers found that taking probiotics reduced antibiotic-associated diarrhoea by 42%.[8]

Probiotics to boost your immune system.

If you get colds or flu symptoms regularly, each year, or catch everything that is going no matter what you do, you may want to try supplementing your diet with a good quality probiotic supplement.

By increasing your healthy gut bacteria it will train your immune system to determine the good microbes from the ones that cause you damage and are making you unwell, making probiotics the best front line defence against infection.

Some probiotics have been shown to promote the production of the bodies natural antibodies, boosting immune cells that actually hunt down and kill harmful bacteria that make us unwell.

Studies have determined that taking probiotics can reduce the likelihood of catching , as well as the duration of, respiratory infections. One particular study found that taking a particular Lactobacillus strain reduced the frequency and severity of respiratory infections by 17% in the 570 children tested.[9]

What else can probiotics and a healthy gut do for us?

The latest research into how probiotics can help us has also suggested that there is a link between the bacteria in our digestive system and our brains. Called the ‘gut-brain’ connection, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles have proven that by optimising the levels of healthy bacteria in the gut we will improve neurotransmitter function.

This has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, and stress and may even improve the ability to learn, memorise and focus our minds during stressful situations.

The conclusion of reviewing 15 human studies determined that supplementing with Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains for 1–2 months can improve anxiety, depression, autism, and even obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).[10]

Further research papers have also linked pretty much every health condition in some way to either a failing immune system or the lack of healthy bacteria in our gut.

It has been suggested that our gut bacteria literally 'talk' to our DNA, telling our cells when to replicate, how to replicate and when to die. This process is of course important in protecting ourselves against rogue cells which could then go on to become cancerous (if the immune system doesn't catch them first).

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How should you get started increasing your healthy bacteria levels?

If you decide that you should try supplementing with probiotics to improve your health, which let’s face it, why wouldn’t you in the face of all of the overwhelming research? Then there are a number of things you will want to look for to ensure you get the best results.

Firstly, any foods that claim to contain probiotic cultures (such as commercial yoghurts) are pretty ineffective as they are normally in very low bacteria which never survive the digestion process, so never get where they need to go to make a difference.

It is pretty pointless eating a 'probiotic' which will be digested by our stomach acid and killed off before reaching the gut. Remember - Probiotics need to be alive to do their job!

Probiotics need to be taken in capsule form and have a thicker than normal coating to resist the stomach acid and deliver them exactly where you need them..... ALIVE !

The next thing to check is how many strains and number of live cultures each capsule provides. The general rule of thumb is the more the better and the stronger the better. You can’t really overdose on probiotics (unless you have a serious gut disorder) as they are a natural part of the bodies make-up and we have on average ten times the amount of bacteria than we have cells in our bodies at any one time, so overdosing on too many is extremely difficult!

Excess amounts are simply excreted in a normal functioning digestive system, but as with anything, it is always best to start slowly and build up if necessary. A lot of the people I have advised to take probiotics have experienced great results by using a capsule with 20 Billion live micro-organisms split into 8 strains. These strains are simply the different groups, families and cultures of bacteria that aid the digestive and protective processes within the body, so again, the more the better.

You really do get what you pay for in the supplement industry so you should try to ensure you are taking the best form of probiotic supplements to get the best results.

Finally, as with any supplements you take, ensure it is from a trusted, high-quality source, cheap supplements may seem like you are getting a good deal, but you very much get what you pay for and spending just a few pounds on a cheap supplement will be a complete waste of those few pounds.

References;

    1. Chapman CM, Gibson GR, Rowland I. Health benefits of probiotics: are mixtures more effective than single strains? Eur J Nutr. 2011 Feb;50(1):1-17. doi: 10.1007/s00394-010-0166-z. Epub 2011 Jan 13.

    2. Hill C, Guarner F, Reid G, Gibson GR, Merenstein DJ, Pot B, Morelli L, Canani RB, Flint HJ, Salminen S, Calder PC, Sanders ME. Expert consensus document. The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics consensus statement on the scope and appropriate use of the term probiotic. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014 Aug;11(8):506-14.

    3. Clemente JC, Ursell LK, Parfrey LW, Knight R. The impact of the gut microbiota on human health: an integrative view. Cell. 2012 Mar 16;148(6):1258-70. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2012.01.035.

    4. Angelakis E, Merhej V, Raoult D. Related actions of probiotics and antibiotics on gut microbiota and weight modification. Lancet Infect Dis. 2013 Oct;13(10):889-99. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(13)70179-8.

    5. Sanchez M, Darimont C, Drapeau V, Emady-Azar S, Lepage M, Rezzonico E, Ngom-Bru C, Berger B, Philippe L, Ammon-Zuffrey C, Leone P, Chevrier G, St-Amand  E, Marette A, Doré J, Tremblay A. Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus supplementation on weight loss and maintenance in obese men and women. Br J Nutr. 2014 Apr 28;111(8):1507-19.

    6. Saez-Lara MJ, Gomez-Llorente C, Plaza-Diaz J, Gil A. The role of probiotic lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria in the prevention and treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and other related diseases: a systematic review of randomized human clinical trials. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:505878. doi: 10.1155/2015/505878. Epub 2015 Feb 22.

    7. Moayyedi P, Ford AC, Talley NJ, Cremonini F, Foxx-Orenstein AE, Brandt LJ, Quigley EM. The efficacy of probiotics in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review. Gut. 2010 Mar;59(3):325-32.

    8. Hempel S, Newberry SJ, Maher AR, Wang Z, Miles JN, Shanman R, Johnsen B, Shekelle PG. Probiotics for the prevention and treatment of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. 2012 May.

    9. Hatakka K, Savilahti E, Pönkä A, Meurman JH, Poussa T, Näse L, Saxelin M, Korpela R. Effect of long term consumption of probiotic milk on infections in children attending day care centres: double blind, randomised trial. BMJ. 2001.

    10. Wang H, Lee IS, Braun C, Enck P. Effect of Probiotics on Central Nervous System Functions in Animals and Humans: A Systematic Review. J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2016.

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