What are Probiotics
Probiotics are living microorganisms that boost health when consumed in adequate amounts. There are many different types and you can obtain them from foods or supplements.
In greek, “pro” means “for” and “biotic” means “life”.
The term probiotic refers to dietary supplements (tablets, capsules, powders, lozenges and gums) and foods (such as yogurt and other fermented products) that contain “beneficial” or “friendly” bacteria. The organisms themselves are also called probiotics.
What is the purpose of probiotics?
Everyone has there own unique microbiome. A microbiome is the community of micro-organisms living together in a particular habitat. Humans, animals and plants have their own unique microbiomes, but so do soils, oceans and even buildings. In humans, our microbiome can have both helpful microorganisms (priobiotics), microorganisms that do not cause disease but don’t help us and harmful microorganisms that cause symptoms and diseases.
With 80% of our immune system cells living in our gastrointestinal tract, a strong immune system begins with a healthy gut. Probiotic supplements are a quick and easy way to keep your immune system on track because they deliver a large dose of live, good bacteria directly to your gastrointestinal tract, supporting the balance of your immune response at its core. This beneficial bacteria colonizes and quickly gets to work helping you stay well.
Probiotics have numerous advantageous functions in human organisms. Their main advantage is the effect on the development of the microbiota inhabiting the organism in the way ensuring proper balance between pathogens and the bacteria that are necessary for a normal function of the organism. Live microorganisms meeting the applicable criteria are used in the production of functional food and in the preservation of food products. Their positive effect is used for the restoration of natural microbiota after antibiotic therapy. Another function is counteracting the activity of pathogenic intestinal microbiota, introduced from contaminated food and environment. Therefore, probiotics may effectively inhibit the development of pathogenic bacteria, such as Clostridium perfringens, Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella Enteritidis, Escherichia coli, various species of Shigella, Staphylococcus and Yersinia, thus preventing food poisoning. A positive effect of probiotics on digestion processes, treatment of food allergies, candidoses, and dental caries has been confirmed. Probiotic microorganisms such as Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus reuteri, Bifidobacterium adolescentis, and Bifidobacterium pseudocatenulatum are natural producers of B group vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6, B8, B9, B12). They also increase the efficiency of the immunological system, enhance the absorption of vitamins and mineral compounds, and stimulate the generation of organic acids and amino acids, Probiotic microorganisms may also be able to produce enzymes, such as esterase, lipase, and co-enzymes A, Q, NAD, and NADP. Some products of probiotics’ metabolism may also show antibiotic (acidophiline, bacitracin, lactacin), anti-cancerogenic, and immunosuppressive properties.
What happens when probiotics are low?
When things go wrong in the balance of intestinal organisms, the consequences can be tremendous. Negative changes in the intestinal microbiome are firmly associated with chronic diseases that include inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and the metabolic syndrome. We now recognize that allergic disorders, asthma, and even obesity are also related to an unhealthy population of intestinal bacteria.
Due to modern diets and lifestyle, as well as environmental factors such as pollution and the irresponsible overuse of antibiotics, the beneficial bacteria in your microbiome is at risk which can lead to an increased incidence in metabolic and inflammatory chronic diseases. Even simple aging gradually shifts your intestinal bacterial population towards a disease-promoting, rather than a disease-preventing, state.
What are prebiotics and synbiotics?
The prebiotic comes before and helps the probiotic, and then the two can combine to have a synergistic effect, known as synbiotics. A prebiotic is actually a nondigestible carbohydrate that acts as food for the probiotics and bacteria in your gut. The definition of the effect of prebiotics is the selective stimulation of growth and/or activities of one or a limited number of microbial species in the gut microbiota that confer health benefits to the host. The health benefits have been suggested to include acting as a remedy for gastrointestinal complications such as enteritis, constipation, and irritable bowel disease; prevention and treatment of various cancers; decreasing allergic inflammation; treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and fighting immune deficiency diseases. There has also been research showing that the dietary intake of particular food products with a prebiotic effect has been shown, especially in adolescents, but also tentatively in postmenopausal women, to increase calcium absorption as well as bone calcium accretion and bone mineral density. The benefits for obesity and type 2 diabetes are growing as recent data, both from experimental models and from human studies, have shown particular food products with prebiotics have influences on energy homeostasis, satiety regulation, and body weight gain.
Most of the prebiotics identified are oligosaccharides. They are resistant to the human digestive enzymes that work on all other carbohydrates. This means that they pass through the upper GI system without being digested. They then get fermented in the lower colon and produce short-chain fatty acids that will then nourish the beneficial microbiota that live there. Oligosaccharides can be synthesized or obtained from natural sources. These sources include asparagus, artichoke, bamboo shoots, banana, barley, chicory, leeks, garlic, honey, lentils, milk, mustards, onion, rye, soybean, sugar beet, sugarcane juice, tomato, wheat, and yacón. The health benefits from these oligosaccharides is a topic of ongoing research.
What are the therapeutic roles of probiotics?
What are the benefits of taking probiotics? Bacteria have a reputation for causing disease, so the idea of tossing down a few billion a day for your health might seem — literally and figuratively — hard to swallow.
Studies have shown probiotic supplementation to be effective for the following gastrointestinal conditions:
Antibiotic associated diarrhea
Clostidium dificile diarrhea
Helicobacter pylori infection
Irritable bowel syndrome
Are probiotics dangerous?
Probiotics already reside in the human body, so conventional wisdom should tell us that taking a probiotic supplements should be safe. However, there are instances where that may not be true.
Probiotic supplements can initiate an allergic reaction when you begin taking them. This is usually characterized by gas bloating and diarrhea. This usually goes away after the first week. This is fairly common.
People with immune deficiency, who are critically ill or have had recent surgery should probably not take probiotic supplements.
Children and pregnant women should always consult with there doctor prior to starting any new medicine or supplement and that includes probiotic supplements.
Foods that have natural probiotics
Kimchi: A fermented Korean vegetable dish with strains of lactic acid bacteria, such as Lactobacillus brevi, which helps heal your gut and might even promote weight loss.
Sauerkraut: “Rich in bacteria that boosts your immune system and healthy gut flora. The bacteria on the cabbage leaves ferment the natural sugars into lactic acid. Sauerkraut is also high in vitamin C.”
Kombucha: Fermented with bacteria and yeast known as SCOBY. Kombucha can prevent too much candida yeast in the gut, promotes digestion, and the influx of good bacteria
Whole fat, organic, or grass-fed yogurt: Full of bacteria that help the gut. The microbes in yogurt alter the lactose, the natural sugar found in dairy, allowing the milk to thicken and the lactic acid to build up. It’s best to avoid sugary yogurts and buy the plain flavor with live active cultures.
Kefir: Can reduce bloating and gas that is brought on by consuming dairy. The bacteria in this fermented milk drink have been found to colonize in the intestinal tract, which gives healing benefits to the gut.
Miso: The fungus in miso, like the soup you get at a Japanese restaurant or the paste you find in supermarkets, stimulates the digestive system and supports the immune system
There are many probiotics available, but not all have the ingredients that you need. Probiotic supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so the ingredients may be inaccurate. Also, since probiotics are frequently viewed as a natural or healthy alternative to prescription medicines, certain companies prey on desperate patients by making an expensive product that is not very effective. I recommend sticking to ones that I have found to be legitimate and effective. They are listed below.
On a final note, do not get caught up in the number of billions of colony forming units. More is not necessarily better. Stick with the probiotics above or make sure you know you’re getting what you’re paying for.
FODMAP foods for IBS, definition, and facts
- FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols, which are short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols that are poorly absorbed by the body, resulting in abdominal pain and bloating.
- FODMAPs occur in some foods naturally or as additives.
- If you eat a lot of these foods you may have symptoms and signs like:
- Abdominal distention
- Abdominal pain
- A list of examples of certain foods and drinks that should be avoided on a low-FODMAP diet are some vegetables and fruits, beans, lentils, wheat, dairy products with lactose, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners.
- A list of examples of foods and drinks to eat on a this diet are certain vegetables and fruits, lactose free dairy, hard cheeses, meat, fish, chicken, eggs, soy, rice, oats, quinoa, non-dairy milks, and small servings of nuts and seeds.
- This diet cuts out many common foods that may contain high FODMAP foods. They are eliminated or severely limited for 3-8 weeks, then gradually reintroduced into a low-FODMAP diet to see if they cause symptoms (elimination diet). It is not meant to be a permanent solution because it is very restrictive, but it may work well enough to be a treatment for people with gastrointestinal (GI) problems.
- This type of dietary meal plan often is used to help with digestive symptoms from many different conditions, including, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and other functional GI disorders.
What are FODMAPs?
FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols that are poorly digested by the body. They ferment in the large intestine (bowel) during digestion, drawing in water and producing carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane gas that causes the intestine to expand. This causes GI symptoms such as bloating and pain that are common in disorders like IBS.
FODMAPs are in some foods naturally or as additives. They include fructose (in fruits and vegetables), fructans (like fructose, found in some vegetables and grains), lactose (dairy), galactans, (legumes), and polyols (artificial sweeteners).
These foods are not necessarily unhealthy products. Some of them contain fructans, inulin, and galactooligosaccharides (GOS), which are healthy prebiotics that help stimulate the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Many of them are otherwise good for you, but in certain people, eating or drinking them causes gastrointestinal symptoms.
What is a low FODMAP diet?
A low FODMAP diet cuts out many common products that contain certain foods. The principle behind the diet is to give the gut a chance to heal, especially if you have GI problems like IBS. People with GI disorders may use this diet as part of their treatment.
This diet may be difficult to follow, and it is advisable to contact your health care professional or a dietician to make sure that you are on the right track and getting enough dietary nutrients that you can consume.
Will a low FODMAP diet help IBS or other diseases?
- Low-FODMAP diets are often used to help with digestive problems from many different conditions, including IBS.
- These foods cause irritable bowel syndrome, but they also may aggravate IBS symptoms. A low FODMAP diet often is recommended for IBS treatment.
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
- Functional GI disorders other than IBS
It isbelieved that a meal plan that includes low FODMAPs also may help ease symptoms from other health conditions, such as:
- Autoimmune diseases:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Migraines triggered by eating certain products
After your doctor makes the diagnosis of your bowel disease or syndrome, (for example, IBS, IBD, or microscopic colitis), he or she may suggest a low FODMAP diet.
Symptoms and signs that you may be eating too many high FODMAP foods
FODMAPs are not absorbed well in the small intestine. They increase the amount of fluid in the large intestine (bowel) and they produce more gas.
Symptoms and signs that suggest you may be eating products high in these short chain carbohydrates are:
- Abdominal distention
- Abdominal pain
- Diarrhea (similar to IBS symptoms)
- A feeling of fullness after eating or drinking only a small amount of food or liquid.
A diet low in FODMAPs may help relieve these problems, particularly in people with IBS.
What’s Triggers Your IBS Symptoms?
IBS or irritable bowel syndrome is a recurrent disorder of the colon. IBS triggers include:
- Menstrual pain
- High FODMAP foods
List of low FODMAP foods to eat
A list of common low FODMAP foods that are good to eat on a low FODMAP diet include:
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Bean sprouts
- Bell pepper
- Green beans
- Bok choy
- Bamboo shoots
- Fresh fruits
- Honeydew melon
- Dairy that is lactose-free, and hard cheeses, or ripened/matured cheeses including (If you are not lactose intolerant, you may not need to avoid dairy with lactose.)
- Feta cheese
- Beef, pork, chicken, fish, eggs
- Avoid breadcrumbs, marinades, and sauces/gravies that may be high in FODMAPs
- Soy products including tofu, tempeh
- Rice bran
- Oat bran
- Corn flour
- Sourdough spelt bread
- Gluten-free bread and pasta
- Gluten is not a FODMAP, but many gluten-free products tend to be low in FODMAPs.
- Non-dairy milks
- Almond milk
- Rice milk
- Coconut milk
- Tea and coffee (use non-dairy milk or creamers)
- Fruit juice not from concentrate
- Nuts and seeds
- Pine nuts
- Walnuts (fewer than 10-15/serving for nuts)
- Pumpkin seeds
In some cases, portion sizes make a difference as to whether a product has enough high FODMAPs to cause symptoms. For example, a serving of almonds is a good choice that is in these short chained carbohydrates, but eat more, and you could have too many.
List of high FODMAP foods to avoid
Many foods considered high in FODMAPs are healthy foods otherwise, but they can cause symptoms in some people with a sensitive gut; particularly people with IBS or other bowel diseases and disorders like SIBO.
Print both of these lists of foods and drinks for easy reference.
A list of common foods that you should avoid (especially if you have IBS) include:
- Some vegetables
- Snow peas
- Sweet corn
- Brussels sprouts
- Fruits, particularly “stone” fruits like:
- Dried fruits and fruit juice concentrate
- Beans and lentils
- Wheat and rye
- Dairy products that contain lactose
- Soft cheese
- Ice cream
- Cottage cheese
- Nuts, including cashews and pistachios
- Sweeteners and artificial sweeteners
- High fructose corn syrup
- Agave nectar
- Isomalt (commonly found in sugar-free gum and mints, and even cough syrups)
- Sports drinks
- Coconut water
What is a FODMAP elimination diet?
- This diet consists of severely restricting or eliminating those particular foods and drinks, but only for a short period of time because it may not meet all the nutritional dietary requirements you need. It can be very restrictive and it is not recommended as a permanent diet.
- This meal plan may not provide any benefits for healthy people, and because it restricts many healthy foods it should only be tried if medically necessary, and prescribed by your doctor or other health care professional.
- For 3-8 weeks, foods and drinks that contain FODMAPs are limited or avoided. After that, individual foods can be introduced back into the diet, one at a time, to see whether that particular food or drink causes symptoms. If it does, you know you need to avoid that type of product. If no symptoms occur after consuming a particular food or drink for a week, it may be considered safe to continue to eat.