Benefits of Probiotics

Probiotics are helpful for total wellness since gut health is connected to brain health, immune functionality, weight management, and much more. The two most popular strains are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria.

How do you decide on which strain to take? Here’s some information on the most popular probiotic strains.

Lactobacillus is a gram-positive, non-spore-forming bacteria and the most well-known probiotic, perhaps since it’s added to many yogurts. Lactobacillus accounts for about 0.01% of the total bacterial count in the gut. Lactobacillus can support gut barrier function by removing the potentially harmful bacteria.

There are approximately 170 different species of Lactobacillus, and the health benefits are:
Supporting the digestion of lactose or milk sugar
Healthy digestion and bowel regularity
Working on healthy total cholesterol levels
Boosting immune function
Promoting sleep

Bifidobacteria, gram-positive anaerobic bacteria, help you digest carbohydrates. Bifidobacteria make up approximately 3 to 6% of the total gut microbiome, making it one of the most abundant. There are 48 different Bifidobacterium species, and each affects your health in different ways.

In general, the health benefits associated with Bifidobacteria include:
A healthy immune function
A better physiological response to stressors
Healthy digestion and alleviation of digestive symptoms like bloating and constipation
Mood regulation

Bifidobacterium lactis promotes regularity and provides relief from constipation.
Bifidobacterium longum stimulates the immune response and promotes microbial balance by crowding out harmful bacteria that cause discomfort and neutralizing everyday toxins in the gut. Aids production and absorption of B vitamins blocks harmful invaders, boosts the immune system, and helps maintain regularity. It helps break down carbs without producing excess gas. May help prevent or minimize various allergies or allergic reactions, inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease, or colitis. It may have a positive impact on cholesterol levels. Lowers the pH of the intestine/vagina to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. Recent studies have also shown this strain to be beneficial in supporting a balanced mood and healthy management of stress and anxiety. Bifidobacterium longum promotes bacterial balance in the gut, supports the immune system, and alleviates digestive issues.
Bifidobacterium bifidum live in the large intestine and vagina and adhere themselves to the walls of each, thus preventing harmful bacteria from colonizing. B. Bifidum also produces substances that lower the pH of their environment so harmful bacteria cannot thrive and enhance the assimilation of minerals.
Bifidobacterium animalis or Bifidus regularis may shorten colon transit time, promoting regularity and alleviating constipation.
Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactobacillus acidophilus reduce the severity of symptoms, like bloating, in adults with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Bifidobacterium lactis might increase stool frequency and improve stool consistency, which can help improve constipation and promote bowel regularity.
Bifidobacterium infantis is excellent for both children and adults; B. infantis is one of the first colonized in the newborn’s digestive tract. It helps impede the growth of harmful bacteria and strengthens the producer of B vitamins. Reports state that it’s good with IBS (bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, urgency, and abdominal discomfort), IBD, ulcerative colitis, and traveler’s diarrhea.
Bifidobacterium breve competes against harmful bacteria due to the large variety of molecules it can digest (including plant fibers otherwise thought non-digestible). It is shown to inhibit E. coli. Present in the intestines and the vagina (inhibits the growth of Candida Albicans, the primary cause of yeast infections). Decreases occurrence of gas, diarrhea, and bowel irritations.

Lactobacillus acidophilus is the most commonly used probiotic. It lives in the mouth, intestines (maintains the integrity of the small intestine wall, aiding nutrient absorption and supporting immunity), and vagina (adheres to the vagina and urinary system walls where it can fight infection). It helps synthesize vitamin K and many antimicrobial substances, giving it antibiotic properties.

Lactobacillus casei helps control diarrhea, has potent anti-inflammatory effects on the GI, and aids in relieving antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Produces lactic acid to lower the pH of the gut, impeding the growth of harmful bacteria. It lives in the mouth and intestines of both infants and adults.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus fermentum can help restore normal vaginal flora and reduce the risk of bacterial and yeast vaginal infections. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG combating antibiotic-associated diarrhea and traveler’s diarrhea. It lives in the intestines and fights gut and urinary tract infections. Assists in dairy digestion and lactose intolerance.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus positively affects GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain, and may reduce stress-related symptoms.
Lactobacillus casei inhibits the growth of Helicobacter pylori and Staphylococcus aureus, two pathogenic bacteria well known for causing human infection and resulting health problems.*
Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus reuteri, and Lactobacillus acidophilus can promote healthy cholesterol levels and support heart health. Lactobacillus reuteri provides strong protection against infection and helps maintain a healthy immune system. Treats and prevents diarrhea and helps relieve colic. Releases a substance capable of killing bacteria, yeast, and fungi, making it popular for vaginal infection support against candida UTIs.
Lactobacillus plantarum can improve gas and flatulence in people with irritable bowel syndrome.
Lactobacillus helveticus exerts antimicrobial activities against pathogens, helps reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance by breaking down lactose, helps to prevent and reduce diarrhea, may have implications on lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, and help with calcium absorption. Recent studies have also shown this strain to be beneficial in supporting a balanced mood and healthy management of stress and anxiety. It lives in the intestines.

Saccharomyces boulardii is a probiotic yeast resistant to stomach acids and antibiotics. Effective against reducing acute diarrhea in children and adults. It protects against both antibiotic and travelers’ induced diarrhea. It promotes immune and digestive health. After a while, you should stop taking this one.

I do not recommend Streptococcus thermophilus, the most valuable strain in the commercial food industry and the starter strain for making yogurt (used in making cheeses). Ferments milk sugar (lactose) that turns into lactic acid, which effectively prevents lactose intolerance and lowers the pH of the yogurt, avoiding the growth of harmful bacteria causing food poisoning. Keeps microflora of intestines balanced.

When a probiotic contains Inulin, it also has a prebiotic since Inulin is prebiotic. It’s not digested or absorbed in the stomach. It stays in the bowel and helps certain beneficial bacteria to grow. Prebiotics are a source of food for your gut’s healthy bacteria. They’re carbs your body can’t digest. So they go to your lower digestive tract, where they act as food to help the healthy bacteria grow. If you take a prebiotic supplement, start slowly (once a day) until you see how your body reacts to the supplement. If gas or bloating occurs, then cut your dose in half.
You can also get prebiotics from the following foods:
Dandelion greens
Green vegetables
Legumes (peas and beans)
Yacon root

Research on benefits of probiotics:
Here are just a few reasons and research why we should explore daily probiotic supplementation. The research concluded that probiotics help with seizures. I see the same pattern on functional medicine testing. The researchers determined that brain levels of GABA were increased relative to glutamate by the bacteria, and thus the probiotic helped.

Another research shows probiotics help with mental illness in traumatized kids. Found that the connection between the brain and gut and the bacteria in the gut might be vital to consider when understanding emotional functioning following adverse experiences.

Additional research shows that probiotics significantly reduce mild to moderate depression symptoms, offering hope of safe and highly tolerable treatment.

More research shows that therapies based on modulation of the gut microbiome with drugs or probiotics could emerge as new approaches to treating Alzheimer’s.

Another research states that some probiotics are linked to weight gain and weight loss depending on which beneficial strains were abundant or deficient.

Another research shows chronic opioid use can lead to adrenal insufficiency through central suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Once again, GI is compromised, and Yes, I see this pattern.

Probiotics are my favorite supplements to take, and I never leave home without them. I always recommend a high-quality probiotic not sourced with milk, soy, maize, or maltodextrin. Remember to start slowly when you first introduce a probiotic, as your body may need time to shift the ratio of good and bad bacteria.

Do your research and get your medical practitioner’s approval before implementing any new supplement regime.

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