The Benefits of Probiotics Backed By Over a Decade of Science

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For over a decade, the scientific and medical communities have been researching the potential of probiotics to support digestive health. The microbiome contains billions of bacteria; in fact, the human body contains as many bacteria cells as human cells.

Restoring “good” gut bacteria is essential to not only support the digestive system but health throughout the body. Scientific research concludes that a multi-strain probiotic is an effective means of balancing good gut flora, integral to the body, from metabolic and immunological function to cardiovascular and reproductive health.

Below is a sampling of the wide body of research supporting a multi-strain probiotic supplement.

1. Studies suggest that using a high potency probiotic blend might be more effective at reducing gastrointestinal infections, and creating a mixture using species with different effects against different pathogens may have a broader spectrum of action that a single provided by a single strain.

Despite evidence that probiotic species will inhibit each other when incubated together in vitro, in many cases a probiotic mixture was more effective at inhibiting pathogens than its component species when tested at approximately equal concentrations of biomass.

2. Accumulating evidence indicates that intestinal microflora has protective, metabolic, trophic and immunological functions and is able to establish a "cross-talk" with the immune component of mucosal immunity, comprising cellular and soluble elements.

When one or more steps in this fine interaction fail, autoimmune or auto-inflammatory diseases may occur. Furthermore, it results from the data that probiotics, used for the treatment of the diseases caused by the dysregulation of the immune system, can have a beneficial effect by different mechanisms.

| Related: Probiotics Give Your Immune System A Big Boost |

Gut microbiota interacts with both innate and adaptive immune systems, playing a pivotal role in the maintenance and disruption of gut immune quiescence. A cross-talk between the mucosal immune system and endogenous microflora favors a mutual growth, survival and inflammatory control of the intestinal ecosystem. Based on this evidence, pre and probiotic strains in supplements can be used as an ecological therapy in the treatment of immune diseases.  

3. Several lines of evidence link symptomatic expression of IBS with the intestinal microbiota: IBS patients exhibit subtle differences in their luminal and mucosal-associated intestinal flora when compared with controls.

Probiotics are the focus of considerable interest in relation to the treatment of IBS, though it is important to emphasize that different strains may not necessarily share the same activity. The definition of “probiotic” is: “Live microorganisms that confer a health benefit on the host when administered in adequate amounts”.

Probiotics are microbially-derived factors that stimulate the growth of other microorganisms, and are intended to assist the body's naturally occurring gut microbiota.

| Related: Probiotics,  Ideal Complement To Your Digestive Enzyme Regimen |

The expected actions of probiotics in the treatment of IBS include: (i) the counteraction of factors that alter balance of the normal intestinal microflora, and the production of bacteriocins to inhibit pathogens; to stop development of IBS following bacterial gastroenteritis; the correction of lactose intolerance; the relief of bloating, flatulence and distension; the local modulation of the functions of the gut-associated lymphoid tissue and cytokine profiles; to maintain the capacity of deconjugate bile salts; and the suppression of the local inflammatory response by reducing tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) secretion, which rectifies the imbalance in intramucosal serotonin production, and the anomalous activation of intestinal motility and visceral hypersensitivity.

4. Consumption of fermented milk (FM) containing a probiotic, Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 (LG2055), previously showed a reduction in abdominal adiposity in a randomized controlled trial (RCT) using FM with 10(8) colony-forming units (cfu) of LG2055/g. 

A multi-center, double-blind, parallel-group RCT was conducted using 210 healthy Japanese adults with large visceral fat areas (80·2 - 187·8 cm(2)). They were balanced for their baseline characteristics and randomly assigned to three groups receiving FM containing 10(7), 10(6) or 0 (control) cfu LG2055/g of FM, and were asked to consume 200 g FM/d for 12 weeks.

Abdominal visceral fat areas, which were determined by computed tomography, at week 12, changed from baseline by an average of -8·5 % (95 % CI -11·9, -5·1; P< 0·01) in the 10(7) dose group, and by -8·2 % (95 % CI -10·8, -5·7; P< 0·01) in the 10(6) dose group.

Other measures including BMI, waist and hip circumferences and body fat mass were also significantly decreased from baseline at week 12 in both groups; interestingly, the cessation of taking FM for 4 weeks attenuated these effects. In the control group, none of these parameters significantly decreased from baseline. These findings demonstrate that consumption of LG2055 at doses as low as the order of 10(8) cfu/d exhibited a significant lowering effect on abdominal adiposity, and suggest that constant consumption might be needed to maintain the effect

5.  A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, and parallel-designed study was conducted to investigate the effect of a synbiotic product containing Lactobacillus gasseri [corrected] CHO-220 and inulin on lipid profiles of hypercholesterolemic men and women.

Thirty-two hypercholesterolemic men and women with initial mean plasma cholesterol levels of 5.7±0.32 mmol/L were recruited for the 12-wk study. The subjects were randomly allocated to 2 groups; namely the treatment group (synbiotic product) and the control group (placebo), and each received 4 capsules of synbiotic or placebo daily.

Results showed that the mean body weight, energy, and nutrient intake of the subjects did not differ between the 2 groups over the study period. The supplementation of synbiotic reduced plasma total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol by 7.84 and 9.27%, respectively, compared with the control over 12 wk.

Present study showed that the synbiotic product improved plasma total- and LDL-cholesterol levels by modifying the interconnected pathways of lipid transporters.

6. Probiotic supplementation may have clinical benefits for school children suffering from allergic airway diseases such as asthma and AR. Previous studies have suggested that the administration of a probiotic digestive health supplement may have therapeutic and/or preventive effects on atopic dermatitis in infants; however, its role in allergic airway diseases remains controversial.

A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study on school-aged children (6-12 years) with asthma and AR was conducted. The eligible study subjects received either L. gasseri A5 (n = 49) or a placebo (n = 56) daily for 2 months.

Pulmonary function tests were performed, and the clinical severity of asthma and AR was evaluated by the attending physicians in the study period. Diary cards with records of the day- and nighttime peak expiratory flow rates (PEFR), symptoms of asthma, and AR scores of the patients were used for measuring the outcome of the treatment. Immunological parameters such as the total IgE and cytokine production by the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were determined before and after the probiotic treatments.

Results showed the pulmonary function and PEFR increased significantly, and the clinical symptom scores for asthma and AR decreased in the probiotic-treated patients as compared to the controls. Further, there was a significant reduction in the TNF-α, IFN-γ, IL-12, and IL-13 production by the PBMCs following the probiotic treatment. (Randomized placebo-controlled trial of lactobacillus on asthmatic children with allergic rhinitis.)

7. A randomized double-blind, and placebo-controlled clinical study evaluated the efficacy of Lactobacillus gasseri OLL2809 on endometriosis, especially against pain, which is one of the causative factors to decrease the quality of life.

Sixty-six patients clinically diagnosed with endometriosis were enrolled in this study, 62 of which have successfully completed the trial. The tablets containing 100 mg of L. gasseri OLL2809 (active tablet, n = 29) or placebo tablets (n = 33) were ingested once a day for 12 weeks. Visual analog scale (VAS) of pain intensity at the menstrual period and verbal rating scale (VRS) of dysmenorrhea were significantly improved by the ingestion of the active tablets as compared with placebo tablets.

There was no significant change in blood examination and biochemical examination of blood in the enrolled patients. The results show that the tablet containing L. gasseri OLL2809 is effective on endometriosis, especially against menstrual pain and dysmenorrhea.

Moreover, it was found that the tablet has no adverse effects. Therefore, it was suggested that the tablet containing L. gaserri OLL2809 contributes to improving the quality of life in patients with endometriosis. (Lactobacillus gasseri OLL2809 is effective especially on the menstrual pain and dysmenorrhea in endometriosis patients: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.)

8. A 4-week treatment with L. gasseri-containing yogurt improves the efficacy of triple therapy in patients with H. pylori infection.

Helicobacter pylori eradication clearly decreases peptic ulcer recurrence rates. H. pylori eradication is achieved in 70–90% of cases, but treatment failures due to poor patient compliance and resistant organisms do occur. Lactobacillus gasseri can suppress both clarithromycin-susceptible and -resistant strains of H. pylori in vitro.

The aim of this study was to determine the effect of pretreatment with L. gasseri- containing yogurt on H. pylori eradication. We conducted a randomized, controlled clinical trial in patients with H. pylori infection

The status of H. pylori susceptibility to clarithromycin was successively determined in 188 out of 229 samples. The rate of infection with clarithromycin-resistant strains of H. pylori was 27.1%. Overall eradication (intention to treat/per protocol) was 69.3/74.5% for the triple-only group, and 82.6/85.6% for the yogurt-plus-triple group (P = 0.018/P = 0.041). Eradication of primary clarithromycin-resistant strains tended to be higher for yogurt-plus-triple therapy than triple-only therapy (38.5 vs 28.0%, respectively, P = 0.458).

9. Probiotic supplements tended to protect the muscle from damage and may have helped the recovery of physical performance. Further studies should investigate the relationship between direct and indirect (through improved protein utilization) effects of probiotic supplementation and will provide further insights into strategies to influence the gut microbiota to optimize muscle health, specifically in an aging population with impaired nutrient utilization (sarcopenia).

Probiotics have been reported to support healthy digestive and immune function, aid in protein absorption, and decrease inflammation. Further, a trend to increase vertical jump power has been observed following co-administration of protein and probiotics in resistance-trained subjects. Therefore, this study examined the effect of co-administration of protein and probiotics on muscle damage, recovery and performance following a damaging exercise bout. 

10. The results of this study indicate that Lactobacillus rhamnosus enhances macrophage viability for HSV-1 elimination and activation against HSV-1 more effectively, when compared with non-probiotic Escherichia coli. it also seems that receptor occupation of macrophage sites decreases HSV-1 infectivity by both of the studied bacteria.

This study aimed at verifying the direct effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus, a probiotic bacterium, in comparison with Escherichia coli, a non-probiotic one, on HSV-1 infection, and determining its effect on macrophage activation for in vitro elimination of HSV-1 infection.

The above bacteria were introduced into HSV-1 infected Vero cells, and their effects were examined using both MTT and plaque assay. To determine macrophage activation against in vitro HSV-1 infection, J774 cells were exposed to these bacteria; then, macrophage viability was examined with the MTT method, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), and nitric oxide (NO) assessments were performed using the ELISA method.

Significant increased viability of macrophages was observed (p < 0.05) in the presence of Lactobacillus rhamnosus before and after HSV-1 infection when compared with Escherichia coli as a non-probiotic bacterium. 

The Bottom Line

Decades of research back the usage of a
multi-strain complete probiotic blend containing the Lactobacilli strain to support digestive and immune health, as well as for numerous benefits, including improved cholesterol profiles and recovery from exercise.

The gut microbiome is the epicenter of the immune system, and restoring good bacteria is crucial to maintaining health. 

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