Monday, July 25, 2016

Probiotics and Your Microbiome

Microbiome describes the environment within your intestines where 100 trillion microorganisms live. These gut dwelling bacteria contribute to immune function and are necessary for proper digestion, nutrient absorption, and removing harmful pathogens from the body.

Digestive disorders can result from the microbiome being disturbed by infection, antibiotics, or damage to the lining of the intestines. Studies show probiotics (living bacteria or yeast) can improve intestinal function and maintain integrity of the intestinal lining.

Evidence suggests hygienic societies have seen a sharp increase in autoimmune diseases and allergies due to poor challenging of the immune system with pathogenic organisms. Introducing friendly bacteria in the form of probiotics can challenge the immune system in positive ways.

A wide range of studies support regular consumption of probiotics as treatment for a variety of conditions. One study found subjects eating 5 oz yogurt for 14 days were alleviated from chronic      constipation. Another study found antibiotic associated diarrhea was shorted by 60% after probiotic usage compared to placebo. Numerous studies also support probiotics alleviating IBS and IBD symptoms, treating UTI’s, reducing inflammation of the GI tract, reducing eczema by 20%, and modestly reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Probiotics come in many forms such as yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, kimchi, kombucha, miso, powders, tablets, and capsules. All forms are suitable as long as they contain 50 million or more living cells per dose. Specific probiotic strains have been singled out for targeted treatment in some studies, although many scientists believe several strains working in synergy together could provide the best outcomes.

The FDA does not regulate probiotics, food, or supplements the same way prescription drugs are regulated. Purchasing from reputable brands and researching ingredients is importance to   ensure safety. Probiotics should not be used in people with critically illness, weakened immune systems, or severe pancreatitis.

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