June 14, 2024
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Probiotics and Health Benefits

(Courtesy of Parkview Pharmacy) Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. They are often referred to as “good” or “friendly” bacteria and are typically found in fermented foods, dietary supplements and some dairy products. Different strains of probiotics have specific effects on health. Here are some of the most common types and their uses:

 

Lactobacillus

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus improves gut health, aids in digestion and helps with the absorption of nutrients. It is also known to help with lactose intolerance and may reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Lactobacillus Rhamnosus: Supports gut health, may help prevent diarrhea, particularly traveler’s diarrhea, and may reduce the severity of eczema and allergic reactions.
  • Lactobacillus Reuteri: Can improve oral health by reducing cavities and gum disease, and may help reduce colic symptoms in infants.
  • Lantibacillus Plantarum: Known for its antimicrobial properties and ability to improve gut health; it also aids in the treatment of IBS and promotes a healthy digestive system.

 

Bifidobacterium

  • Bifidobacterium Longum: Helps maintain a healthy gut barrier, reduces inflammation and supports overall digestive health. It also plays a role in reducing the symptoms of IBS.
  • Bifidobacterium Bifidum: Supports the immune system, enhances digestive health, and is effective in the prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
  • Bifidobacterium Breve: Helps with digestion, particularly in breaking down plant fibers, and may reduce the symptoms of IBS. It’s also beneficial for skin health.

 

Saccharomyces

Saccharomyces Boulardii: Yeast probiotic that helps treat and prevent diarrhea, including antibiotic associated diarrhea and traveler’s diarrhea. It also aids in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases.

Streptococcus

Streptococcus Thermophilus: Produces lactase, helping with lactose digestion, and supports gut health. It’s often used in the fermentation of dairy products.

Enterococcus: Supports digestive health, particularly in elderly individuals, and helps in the prevention of antibiotic associated diarrhea.

Bacillus

Bacillus Coagulans: Known for its ability to form spores, making it more resilient. It helps improve gut health, reduces symptoms of IBS and supports immune function.

 

Health Benefits of Probiotics

Digestive Health: Probiotics help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria, improving digestion and reducing symptoms of digestive disorders such as IBS, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and diarrhea.

Immune System Support: Certain probiotic strains enhance immune function, helping the body to fend off infections and illnesses.

Mental Health: Emerging research suggests a connection between gut health and mental well-being, indicating that probiotics may help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Skin Health: Probiotics can benefit skin conditions such as eczema, acne and rosacea.

Allergy Reduction: Some strains may help reduce the severity of allergies and asthma.

Oral Health: Probiotics like Lactobacillus reuteri can improve oral health by reducing harmful bacteria in the mouth, preventing cavities and promoting healthy gums.

 

Sources of Probiotics

Sources of probiotics include fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh and pickles. Supplements are available in capsules, tablets, powders and liquids.

 

Conclusion

The use of probiotics varies widely depending on the strain and the desired health outcome. While generally considered safe, it is important to choose the right type of probiotic and consult with a healthcare professional, especially for individuals with underlying health conditions or those taking other medications.

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