Probiotics: for Life!
by Kaori Shimazaki, Ph.D, Jarrow Formulas
Extensive research suggests that probiotics are fundamental to maintaining a vigorous digestive tract—the foundation of good health. Probiotics have demonstrated immediate and ongoing positive health effects for numerous chronic gastrointestinal conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In addition, they have been shown to help prevent food and environmental allergies and the growth of harmful organisms (i.e., yeast), enhance the immune and digestive systems, and promote the degradation of toxins. Some strains of probiotics have also been shown to bind mercury and other heavy metals, preventing their absorption into the body.
Probiotics, literally translated as "for life" (leaving us concerned over the definition of antibiotics) are found in a variety of foods, including cheese, yogurt, butter, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods. However, most of us cannot or do not eat these foods in sufficient quantities to counteract the challenges of modern life, thus supplementation is necessary. The proper balance of micro-flora can be thrown off by a diet high in meat, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and other processed foods. Constipation, diarrhea, stress, birth control pills, or other forms of estrogen replacement therapy, chlorinated water, and antibiotics in our food supply easily off-set the balance of these beneficial organisms. In 1994, the World Health Organization stated that probiotics will be the next generation of therapeutic tools when antibiotics fail due to global antibiotic resistance.
Favorable Bacteria in the gut
Our gastrointestinal tract is sterile at birth, but colonization of micro-flora is soon established through feeding. Interestingly, about 90% of the colon's microbial population in breast-fed infants consists of Bifidobacteria whereas bottle-fed infants lack stable gut micro-flora. Ingestion of solid foods induces further colonization of Bifidobacteria, Clostridia, Lactobacilli, Bacteroides, Streptococci, and enterics. Health-promoting characteristics have been discovered in Lactobacillus plantarum, L. rhamnosus, L. reuteri, and L. agilis in the human gut. However, it has been shown that a Western diet considerably discourages the colonization of Lactobacilli, suggesting possible cause of the increasing occurrence of diseases discussed below in industrialized nations.
Pathogen Colonization Resistance
Healthy colonization of beneficial micro-flora can prevent adhesion and colonization of harmful bacteria on gut mucosa by competing for nutrients, secreting antitoxins such as hydrogen peroxide and benzoic acid, which are toxic to many pathogenic bacteria, up-regulating the immune system and activating intestinal genes which hinder the growth of disease-promoting bacteria. Probiotics can also foster growth of beneficial bacteria and compete against harmful bacteria indirectly through production of shortchain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs make the colon more acidic, creating an unfavorable environment for the growth of pathogens including molds, yeasts, and bacteria. The general inhibition of pathogen growth leads to a reduction in circulating toxins which would otherwise cause overstimulation of the immune system, and associated infections and inflammation.
Probiotics not only benefit the general health of the gastrointestinal tract, but also the entire immune system. Healthy micro-flora can stimulate immune cells, (such as macrophages, natural killer cells, monocytes, and neutrophils). A large percentage of the immune system is located in various parts of the intestinal tract. The presence of probiotics may serve to stimulate GI immunity, decrease inflammation in the intestines, and balance immune response to temper allergies. Adequate "good" bacteria also can limit the ability of pathogenic bacteria to proliferate.
Gastrointestinal Health and Regularity
Byproducts of beneficial bacteria, such as SCFAs, vitamins, antioxidants, and amino acids, significantly contribute to general gastrointestinal health. For example, butyric acid, an SCFA derived from carbohydrate fermentation, is the primary nutrient for the cells of the large intestine. In addition, these microbes prevent food decay, and promote the removal of toxins and pathogens found in fermented food, as well as the preservation of antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients .
Inflammation/Arthritis and AllergiesDirect and indirect effects of probiotic supplementation have a significant impact on inflammatory responses in the gastrointestinal tract and other systemic locations. For example, studies have shown that probiotics can decrease the incidences of rheumatoid arthritis, atopic eczema, and food allergy by reducing the ability of pathogens to cross through the intestinal wall and also by balancing immune responses and preventing excessive immune response such as that seen in an allergic reaction.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Clinical studies have previously shown that probiotics can reduce diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, and constipation in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other common functional bowel disorders. In patients with established Crohn's disease, probiotics supplements have also been shown to prolong remission time and slow down relapse rates.
Probiotics have been shown to have therapeutic effects on acute diarrhea and associated symptoms caused by rotavirus and/or bacterial infections, and traveler's diarrhea. One possible reason probiotics are effective is that they compete with the virus or bacteria for space to grow and proliferate in the intestinal tract.
Jarrow Formulas now offers three new probiotics formulas, each with different benefits. Jarro-Dophilus® CDS is composed of seven well-known, clinically-documented strains. These strains have been shown to provide a broad spectrum of health benefits. Each capsule contains a minimum of 20 billion total probiotics bacteria. Ultra Jarro-Dophilus® contains 40 billion total probiotic organisms and is designed to help maintain, protect and restore intestinal flora. Both the CDS and Ultra formulas have probiotic bacteria that are combined with a polysaccharide gel-forming matrix that helps protect them during transit through the stomach.
Allergen-Free Jarro-Dophilus® is composed of six well-characterized, allergen-free probiotic strains with clinical documentation. Allergen-Free Jarro-Dophilus® is manufactured (fermented and processed) without the use of the known major food allergens and is especially appropriate for individuals with hypersensitivities to common food allergens.