Tag Archives: gut bacteria

Probiotic Strains And Specific Benefits

People were asking about the kinds & brands of probiotics I like, but I’m no doctor and what works for me specifically might not be your thing.

Below is a super helpful guide that does a bang up job breaking down probiotic strains and specific benefits.

PLEASE NOTE~ www.humnutrition.com, where I found this great info, is a vitamin companies blog site, so if you click through to their page there are some subtle links to products on bottom of  their original post . I am in no way affiliated with them, nor have I tried their products…So, I’m not saying do or don’t buy from them, but do enjoy their free info! – Rachel

PROBIOTIC GUIDE

L. Acidophilus

Best Probiotic For: Vaginal health, Diarrhea, Acne

Consumption of the bacterium L. Acidophilus has been going on since the 20s when doctors would recommend acidophilus milk for treating constipation and diarrhea.

These microbes survive stomach passage and are able to colonize in the intestine. There is good evidence looking at Acidophilus NCFM in treating vaginal infections. Other studies show that it has been demonstrated in humans to reduce problems associated with lactose intolerance and even decrease the risk of colon cancer [1].

However, it is not just digestive woes that probiotics can help address. A clinical case series followed 300 patients who took a probiotic mixture of L. acidophilus and L. Bulgaricus. They documented that 80% of acne patients had some degree of clinical improvement, particularly effective in inflammatory acne. Later, an Italian study involving 40 patients found L. Acidophilus and B. Bifidum supplementation produced better clinical outcomes in acne as well as better tolerance and compliance with antibiotics [2].

L. Rhamnosus

Best Probiotic For: GI support, Eczema

Rhamnosus is thought to be the most extensively studied in adults and children, and strong evidence shows that it colonizes the intestine. Gut flora is disrupted during travel, and healthy bacteria is killed off during a round of antibiotics. Rhamnosus GG has been found beneficial specifically for treating diarrhea associated with these cases [1].

Another exciting study found that this strain was also potentially beneficial in preventing eczema. The children of women who supplemented with it during childbirth were half as likely to develop atopic eczema by the age 4 than the children of women who did not [2].

L. Plantarum

Best Probiotic For: Inflammation

In the gastrointestinal tract L. Plantarum can help regulate immunity and control inflammation. A 2007 study found that the probiotic could suppress an inflammatory response in the gut. Perhaps most significantly, a double blind placebo-controlled study over 4 weeks concluded that L. Plantarum 299v provided effective symptom relief, especially of abdominal pain and bloating, in patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome [1].

L. Casei

Best Probiotic For: GI support, Brain function

Studies show some promising results with L. Casei for digestive support and regulating diarrhea. One study on the effect of milk fermented by L. Casei strain DN-114 found that supplementation significantly reduced the incidence of diarrhea [1].

L. Casei also made headlines when a study found it beneficial in relieving anxiety. The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study found supplementation with 24 billion units of the L. Casei strain Shirota led to a rise in probiotics Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, as well as a significant decrease in symptoms of anxiety and depression [2].

Now let’s take a look at a separate class of probiotics, Bifidobacterium.

B. Lactis

Best Probiotic For: Immunity

To boost the immune system, B. Lactis is a promising choice. One study had participants taking either a probiotic or a placebo for 6 weeks. At the end of the period, researchers measured antibody levels and found greater increases in antibodies of the B. Lactis group than in placebo participants, concluding that this probiotic may help improve immune function [1]. In addition, a 2009 study found that supplementation of the strain B. Lactis DN-173 led to self-reported improvements in digestive comfort [2].

B. Longum

Best Probiotic For: Constipation, Brain Function

B. Longum is one of the first types of bacteria to colonize our bodies at birth. These important microorganisms ferment sugars into lactic acid, helping to stabilize the acidity of the GI tract and inhibit growth of harmful bacteria. For a group of adults prone to constipation, taking a mix of B. Longum BB536 with milk or yogurt for 2 weeks increased bowel movements [1].

B. Longum is also one of the species researched for the role of probiotics in the gut brain axis. A report from University College Cork found in a study of healthy men that supplementing with B. Longum 1714 caused stress levels to decrease and memory to improve [2].

B. Bifidum

Best Probiotic For: Immunity, GI support

Time, stress, diet and antibiotics can all deplete the body’s supply of B. Bifidum. Researchers found that these microbes help regulate the innate immune response, your body’s first line of defense against infection.

B. Bifidum has also been shown to prevent intestinal pathogens or digestive disrupters from flourishing in the gut, essential in restoring the bacterial balance and optimizing digestion. Clinical research found it supports a significant reduction in IBS symptoms, an improvement in quality of life and even helps relieve occurrences of ulcerative colitis – a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. [1].

B. Breve

Best Probiotic for: GI support, Anti-aging

A pilot study found that B. Breve was effective in increasing stool frequency in children with functional constipation. These researchers also found a positive effect in stool consistency and relief in abdominal pain, making B. breve a promising addition for easing digestive woes like constipation [1].

Other studies looking at the benefit of probiotics on skin ailments found a fascinating trend. B. breve B-3 could potentially be used to prevent photo-aging induced by chronic UV irradiation [2]. This ability to mitigate the detrimental effects of UV exposure in sun damage is great news for keeping skin plump, hydrated and younger-looking.

Not to be confused with streptococcal infections or the bacteria that causes strep throat, some species and strains of Streptococcus have promising research on the benefits for health and wellbeing.

Streptococcus

Streptococcus Thermophilus

Best For: GI support, Skin support

This probiotic displays antibacterial activity against harmful intestinal microbes, indicating a possibility to prevent diseases. A study on S. Thermophilus in combination with L. Casei and L. Bulgaricus found reduced incidence of Antibiotic Associated Diarrhea with supplementation.

There is also promising research on this species for supporting skin. Ceramides are natural lipids that make up the surface of the skin structure. Depleted ceramide levels are clinically linked with dry and damaged skin. S. Thermophilus was shown to have a beneficial effect on the level of ceramides in the barrier of the skin, which protects underlying tissue from infection, dehydration and chemicals. These skin-supporting microbes also act as antioxidants in the body, trapping reactive forms of oxygen that dry, damage and age the skin [1].

Source: The Guide to Choosing the Best Probiotic For You | HUM Nutrition Blog

 

The Gut Bacteria, Mood, Weight Connection!

Gut bacteria article are popping up all over so I decided to go down the info rabbit hole to better understand what  it all means…

What if by fixing your gut, you could fix your mind?

I learned so much cool stuff that I wanted to parse together from a layman’s point of view, the more striking info  because it’s game changing,  almost alchemical stuff.

“Super wow, consider my mind blown by the awesomeness that is science!”

Through advancements in Enteric Neuroscience, which is basically the study of the Enteric Nervous System and how gut bacteria affects our biology,  we’re finally learning more about the brain.  A rather clever doctor at the top of his field once told me that the medical world only knows about 10% of what’s happening in the body and even less in the brain so I’ll take my breakthroughs were I can.

“Meet your  2nd brain, The Enteric Nervous System”

If you’re like me you remember zero, zip, nada about the The Enteric Nervous System from school;  It’s  a network of neurons running from your esophagus to your tale bone that meshes out through the gut tissue, it can operate autonomously and oddly, wasn’t discovered until mid 19th century.

“It’s the original nervous system, the one we crawled out of primordial ooze with that might’ve involved into the brain”

The Enteric nerve system connects to the brain by way of the Vagus nerve and research  shows that Vagus nerve stimuli can drive obsessive eating as well as allow women with complete spinal cord injuries to experience orgasms, so don’t under estimate its power.

Theories will certainly change as new discoveries are revealed, but for now the good news is with any luck the personalized medical care revolution we hoped for in the wake of gene therapy innovations in the 90’s might finally come to fruition by way of your gut and new insight into the ENS.

“Someday you might sip down a designed just for you bacterial cocktail, and that’s a great thing!”

Nothing new under the sun

In 1910 Doctor George Porter Phillips reported that live bacteria introduced through whey to patients dealing with ‘Melancholia’ reported a marked improvement in mood. His study was further backed up in 1923 when doctors found bacteria treatment helpful in the aid of psychosis.

 Studies have long shown a connection between patients who suffer from depression and anxiety to gastrointestinal problems,  now the connection becomes less opaque.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that among other things regulates, your ability to feel good. Serotonin producing cells form early in the development of the enteric nervous system. Trauma, say in the form of early gut infection, intense stress could possibly lead to ailments down the road like irritable bowl syndrome. A recent study showed 87 of 100 IBS subjects had antibodies that killed off of neurons in the gut. (Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, vol 18, p 78)

“Most people think Serotonin is produced in the brain, but did you know 90% of it is produced & resides in your gut?”

According to this Caltech study an estimated 90% of serotonin is made in the digestive tract and specific bacteria are critical for its production. It can’t be produced without Tryptophan, and get this, our body doesn’t make any, it must be obtained from food or supplements.  Round up spray, a common pesticide, interrupts the pathway in the plant cell that makes tryptophan and messes with the soils ecosystem.

“You begin to see how in one of the richest countries on the planet it’s so very easy to feel terrible in mind and body”

1 in 10 Americans are on SSRI’s, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors  and that number climbing steadily.  According to a report published by the Journal of the American Medical Association,  from 1999 to 2012 the percentage of Americans on antidepressants increased from 6.8% to 13%,  While another  study highlights that  69% of antidepressant users never met criteria for major depressive disorder.

From Scientific American– more and more doctors are prescribing antidepressants to treat non psychological conditions, this is troubling to me because for some of these issues the meds are a temporary bandage, not a cure. Some off-label uses of SSRIs include:

  • Abuse and dependence
  • ADHD (in children and adolescents)
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Autism (in children)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • Arthritis
  • Deficits caused by stroke
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Hot flashes
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Migraine
  • Neurocardiogenic syncope (fainting)
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Premature ejaculation

That’s a lot of things an SSRI can fix, huh? Pill companies must be thrilled to have such a convenient cure on their hands.

Obviously many people on  ssri meds  benefit from them and see vast improvement to their quality of life.  We’ve probably all seen this to be true of ourselves, or family members who stabilized after finding the right med combo,  but what if a fair sized percentage of current and new users  are dealing with gut troubles manifesting as depression?

“We know antibiotics wipe out gut bacteria, now we’re finding antidepressants also wipe out gut bacteria”

The very medicine taken to feel better could be wiping away healthy gut bacteria and with it,  any chance of getting better. This study also noted weight gain was the norm for the mice, as they also suffered a 16% less efficacy rate in burning calories while on a specific antidepressant.

So now you’re overweight, still depressed, and probably experiencing anxiety as adrenaline produced in response to stress can cause an outgrowth of undesirable bacteria. Your doctor then might up your meds,  switch you over to another ssri, or  maybe add in an anti psychotic to balance you out, never thinking to suggest you take a probiotic,  get a hormone panel or start eating more prebiotic foods.

“The chances of the average Western trained doctor suggesting a diagnostic hormone panel or a course of probiotics to cure the blues is low to none”

When the medical, psychiatric and pharmaceutical industry  treat psychological conditions with meds that target  brain chemistry as well as gut microbes maybe we’ll see  improvements.

“There’s slim chance of producing a balanced body ecosystem living in a nutritional desert. “

Gut Microbial Therapy

I found a most edifying lecture by Dr. Simon Carding  Leader of the Gut Health and Food Safety Research Program at the Institute of Food Research and Norwich Medical School titled, ‘Fix Your Gut, Fix Your Brain’,  which  further backs up that gut microbes influence when, what and how often we eat.

Fix your gut, Fix your brain!

Bacteria changes introduced to ‘normal’ weight mice made them gain weight without a calorie increase, just as different strains introduced into the gut of obese mice gave them the ability to eat high fat and not gain weight.

“Gut bacteria in newborns is affected by delivery method with c-sections getting microbiota from the delivery team”

Gut bacteria in newborns is affected by delivery method  C-section babies bacteria diversity comes more from the delivery team than the mother. This is why vaginal bacteria transplants are a thing.

Let’s say you’re a bottle, not breast fed C section baby who primarily ate a standard American diet in early childhood, you’re not colonizing the kind of bacteria that help stabilize things like your immunity system, weight or mood, and with that, the ability to fend off future chronic illnesses becomes tricky.

If your system is severely compromised with bad bacteria, specifically Clostridium difficile, or C. diff. which can over-populate the colon, you can die. In these severe cases a Fecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT) can be performed. Fecal matter, that’s your poo, is  collected from a donor, mixed with a saline or other solution, strained, then placed in a sick patient, via the colon or sometimes the nasal passage.  Once good bacteria levels are restored,  patients return to health.

“A gob of strangers poop up your nose could save your life”

Highly effective, thoroughly gross, but in the end animals playing with pack mates poo might be natures way of spreading good bacteria around. Maybe your dog sniffs another dogs  butt to determine the health of the newly encountered animal.

Not all donor fecal matter is equal, so who you get your bacteria from matters.  A  mother with no weight issues received a FMT transplant from her overweight daughter. The daughter went on to become obese, the mother eventually also became obese. The daughter passed on all her bacteria, the good and the not so good.

Sterile mice bred to have no gut bacteria craved sweets, mice with healthy gut bacteria did not. Mice with a certain diversity of microbia digested foods efficiently, remained trim but when  gut diversity was reduced,  unchecked stress hormone levels went up and the mice sought out fatty foods, and then burned those calories at a slower pace.

Brain scans  of human subjects with fatty acids injected directly into the gut showed a lower response to pictures and music designed to make them feel sad than those given a placebo. Subjects  also reported feeling only about half as sad as the placebo group. (The Journal of Clinical Investigation, vol 121, p 3094).

Ghrelin, known as the hunger hormone,  is released when we feel stress, most likely this is left over from fight or flight responses. In 2011  Jeffrey Zigman at UT Southwestern Medical Center reported that mice exposed to chronic stress sought out fatty food, but those  genetically engineered to be unable to respond to Ghrelin did not (The Journal of Clinical Investigation, vol 121, p 2684).

Zigman notes that in our modern world, with freely available high-fat food, the result of chronic stress or depression can be chronically elevated ghrelin – and obesity.

“It may turn out some of us crave fatty greasy foods for their sedating properties, rather than a desire to over eat unhealthy foods or lack of will power”

Restoring gut balance could possibly lead to a decrease in food cravings, less fat on the body, less hormonal issues. It’s also becoming clear there’s a connection between gut inflammation and some cancers as intestinal inflammation targets cancer-inducing activity of the microbiota.

One of the thing you can do to address body inflammation is pump up prebiotic foods, and cut out some of the nutrient devoid processed crap that confuse the gut.

Prebiotic foods help populate your gut with healthy bacteria. Cruciferous vegetables are a great source  These include-

  • Collard greens
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Rutabagas
  • Radish
  • Onions

And similar leafy greens. Raw veg contains higher levels of what you’re after, cooked is better than not at all. Folks who have medical conditions that make eating these foods difficult should  consult a doctor and go slow with introducing new foods.

These foods are high in fiber something good bacteria thrives on. The standard American diet is super low in fiber so some people might need to add a probiotic to aid in digestion. A study showed in mice who had fiber removed from their diet for a little as 7 weeks suffered a  60% drop of the local gut flora,  this remained low even after the mice returned to high-fiber meals.

This is where taking a quality probiotic comes in handy. Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria readily be found in certain yogurt and kefir products as well as pill and liquid form. The FDA regulates probiotics as foods, not medications so this makes it harder for you to know if you’re getting a quality product There are tons on the market so it’s important to find one with a diversity of cultures, say 30 or more different strains of microbiota as opposed to 5, and one with the ability to stay alive through the stomachs digestive process so it might survive to populate the colon. This usually means the brands stocked in the fridge section, with no added sugars, do your research before purchasing.

It’s a glorious machine this human body, and I’m glad we’re finally making some breakthroughs as I’d like to live out the rest of my days relatively pain free in mind and body. I’m excited new info is out there and that it’s easier than ever to access and research studies to your heart, or guts content.