What language does your probiotic speak? Is it one your condition can comprehend and apply to your symptoms, for best communication and efficacy?
If you’re feeling guilty on the scales lately you might like to know that the average adult carries around 2kg of microbiome – serving to fight pathogens, process vitamins, create neurotransmitters, educate your immune system and basically keep you alive. That’s 2kg you don’t want to lose! Part of this live culture within us includes our own indigenous microbes, containing genetic material and influencing our physiology throughout a lifetime. Without these we simply could not exist.
Probiotics are the “good guys” within this microbiome that have become increasingly compromised over generations due to environmental and lifestyles factors. With lesser flourishing probiotics within our bodies we may be more vulnerable to outside influences, resulting in illness and disease.
The good news is that a great deal of research has been conducted on specific probiotics worldwide, especially since the 1980s. As a result of our understanding about ‘functional foods (those that achieve a certain physiological purpose) we can at least now arm our bodies with greater defence to the onslaught of modern life, by improving our microbiota with supplemental cultures.
Most probiotic organisms belong to the lactobacillus and bifidobacterium genera. However, there are many genera, species, and strains of bacteria in the human gastrointestinal tract at any one time.
Not all probiotics were created equally. If you wanted to buy a book, and you went into a book store, by simply asking for a novel, you may end up with any range of novels – thriller, romance, mystery, children’s novel etc. But what if you really had your heart set on a drama set in a certain time in history? You would have to be more specific in your novel criteria, otherwise you have a book that doesn’t suit your fancy.
When we look to probiotics, it is somewhat a similar exercise. That is, in order to help them help us we must identify the following
GENUS, SPECIES, STRAIN (or FAMILY TREE, SURNAME, GIVEN NAME)
For eg. re. the probiotic bacterium, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, the genus/family tree is Lactobacillus, the species/surname is rhamnosus and the strain/given name is GG. Often this can be further identified by a number for eg. LGG ATCC 53103.
While most of us have relied on multi-strain probiotic formulas when taking antiobiotics, or if trying to avert sickness when travelling overseas, there is also great value in identifying a particular probiotic for a health outcome.
- Atopic eczema/dermatitis atopic syndrome (AEDS) – Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG has been shown in studies to alleviate AEDS in EgE sensitised infants.
- Seasonal allergies B longum BB536. In a randomised double-blind placebo controlled trial was shown to significantly alleviate symptoms of rhinorrheoa, itching and nasal blockage, plus throat symptoms modulating T helper cell balance (for optimised immune response).
- Upper respiratory tract illness (URTI) . B lactis Bi-04 – reduced reduction of risk up to 27% in any URTI episode seen in the treated group.
- Constipation – B. lactis HN019 – clinically significant decrease in whole gut transit time, reducing frequency of common upper and lower gastrointestinal symptoms.
- Antibiotic associated microbiota disturbance – L. paracasei Lpc-37 – treatment group showed a more rapid return to pre-antibiotic baseline faecal bacterial microbiota.
- Gastrointestinal infections in children –LGG (AT53103) reduced total number of GIT infections and episodes of both diarrhoea and vomiting, decreasing duration of all symptoms.
It is clear from this information that although investing in a multi-flora mix of probiotics could meet certain diverse needs, the bulk of biochemical studies are undertaken on specific strains. When combined with other strains the question is raised whether these compete with or work in synergy with each other. Further studies on combined formulas to explore this would help. If you are unsure what the best probiotic formula is for your current health goals, ask me or go to the Ask a Natural Health Practitioner service – a free on-line chance for you to gain expert, science backed information for no cost.