Probiotics Research Today

Professor Glenn Gibson of the University of Reading, UK is in Trinidad this month to do a series of lectures for Health Promotion Month on the benefits of Probiotics in Primary Health Care. The series includes live interviews with the public on national television as well as seminars hosted by the Pharmaceutical Society of Trinidad and Tobago (PSTT), and a medical meeting for members of the Medical Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MPATT) and the General Practitioners Association (GPATT).

“ There are trillions and trillions of bacteria that inhibit the human gut, which can impact on various health states such as colorectal cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and gastroenteritis. There is new evidence that probiotics can help in all of these situations and many others.” says Professor Gibson:

Probiotics are a hot topic in health news right now. They are the natural helpful bacteria that colonise the intestines and help fight off the bad bacteria which cause the body to become prone to illnesses and infections. There are many population groups that can benefit from probiotics including:

- Irritable Bowel Syndrome sufferers
- Gastroenteritis patients
- Stress and Exhaustion sufferers
- Patients using antibiotics frequently
- People prone to yeast and bladder infections
- Frequent travellers
- People who lead hectic, busy lifestyles and tend to miss meals.

Professor Gibson will share information on new research from the University of Reading that shows clinical evidence to support the everyday use of Probiotics to protect the digestive system from harmful bacteria as well boost the body’s defences against colds and flus.

Probiotic is a general term used to describe the millions of different “friendly” bacteria that exist in our digestive system. These bacteria are essential to our health and well being and play an important role in our digestive and immune systems. Probiotics work with the body and should not to be confused with antibiotics, which work against the body.

Here are some frequently asked questions about probiotics:

Is it safe for pregnant or nursing women to take Probiotics?

Yes it is safe. However it is recommended that they consult a doctor before making the decision to take any supplements.

Should children use Probiotics?

Yes. Probiotics are very beneficial to children. They help with maintaining a healthy digestive system which is important for a strong immune system.

Can the elderly take probiotics?

Yes. As we age our intestinal micro-flora gradually change and our immune system tends to go into decline. Probiotics may be able to counteract or slow down this process. It is also beneficial in the possible prevention of constipation while taking antibiotics.

Do Probiotics need to be refrigerated?

It depends on the particular probiotic. Some do but there are also Probiotic products produced to be shelf stable at room temperature.

Can Probiotics cause yeast infections?

No. Yeast infections are caused by the destruction of good bacteria within the digestive tract. There is no link between Probiotics and yeast apart from the fact that they are both microorganisms. The presence of Probiotics in the digestive system limits the development of microorganisms such as yeasts.

Can Probiotics relieve the feelings of bloated, swollen stomachs?

Yes. Gas and bloating is a sign that food is not being ingested correctly in the body. Some common causes of abdominal bloating are IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), lactose intolerance, overeating and constipation, etc.

Probiotics help relieve these symptoms by improving the digestion of food, enhancing the absorption of vitamins, increasing resistance to infection, and inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria, etc.

Can you take Probiotics and antibiotics at the same time?

Yes. Antibiotics are meant to destroy harmful bacteria however during this process they also destroy the good bacteria in the body resulting in a weakened immune system and in many cases cause constipation.

Taking Probiotics in conjunction with antibiotics ensures the maintenance and restoration of good bacteria in the body.

How often should we use Probiotics?

Probiotics do not spend a very long time in the body and when they disappear the health benefits do also. Daily intake of these good bacteria is the best way to maintain these benefits.

Can Probiotics help the lactose intolerant?

Yes; they do help those who are lactose intolerant by helping to increase the tolerance levels. However consider consulting with your physician.

Is a Probiotics deficiency common?

Yes. Many lifestyle factors contribute to this deficiency such as stress, alcohol consumption, frequent travel, poor diet, prescription drugs, etc.

What are the symptoms of a Probiotic deficiency?

Symptoms of a Probiotic deficiency are as follows; frequent indigestion, stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, gas, and urinary tract infections just to name a few.

Are there any side effects to be aware of?

There are no major adverse effects as a result of taking Probiotic products as directed; as with all supplements, some users may report minor gastrointestinal upsets such as bloating or a bout of nausea; such effects are usually transient; Probiotic bacteria settle and exert their benefits in the gut — mainly in the colon — so untoward gastrointestinal effects could, perhaps, be expected.

Are there any particular dosing instructions to follow?

It is recommended that all Probiotic supplements be taken with a cold drink to prevent the destruction of the bacteria before it gets to the intestines where they are most effective.

Is it best to use Probiotics before or after meals?

It is advisable to take a supplement with, or around the time of a meal.

The power of probiotics
Tuesday, April 13 2010