This information provides you with the basics of probiotics and their usage.
The human large intestine houses more than 1,000 different types of
bacteria, known as microflora. Studies in recent years have shown that
supplementation with health-promoting strains of bacteria can exert
beneficial effects in terms of preventing certain ailments and helping
to better manage others.
The health-promoting effects of probiotics are reported to include
improved digestion and absorption, vitamin synthesis (vitamin K, biotin
and other B vitamins), inhibition of the growth of harmful bacteria and
fungi, cholesterol reduction, and lowering of gas distension.
In fact, more than 700 randomized, controlled human studies provide
strong evidence that probiotic supplementation may aid in preventing or
treating various GI tract disorders, promoting GI health, and preventing
I suggest using a probiotic supplement that contains various strains of bacteria, ensuring the presence of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli.
For example, the probiotic combination supplement shown to improve
intestinal barrier function in a study on animals with colitis included Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus delbrueckii (subspecies bulgaricus), Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium infantis and Streptococcus salivarius (subspecies thermophilus).
A specific dosage of probiotic supplementation has yet to be
standardized; thus, we are left at the mercy of the product
manufacturers and the dosage recommendations listed on the label of the
various products. However, probiotic supplementation has been shown to
be superior to deriving probiotics from functional foods (e.g., yogurt).
Supplementation has been shown to be a more consistent method of
ensuring probiotic intake and provides a much higher dose. However,
probiotic-containing foods can add some additional benefit in this
From a safety standpoint, probiotics should be used with caution in
children, elderly persons and individuals with major risk factors or
multiple minor risk factors.
Remember that supplementation with prebiotics such as
fructo-oligosaccharide (FOS) and inulin can also help spur the growth of
friendly gut bacteria. Prebiotics are the food upon which friendly
bacteria thrive. Many health outcomes available from probiotic
supplementation have also been shown to occur with supplementation of
prebiotics. Thus, daily ingestion with soluble fiber, as well as
1,000-5,000 mg of FOS and inulin,
may be helpful in the prevention and management of some of the health
conditions mentioned above. As well, it seems to make sense to take a
prebiotic supplement in conjunction with probiotics to optimize the
potential for probiotic bacteria to thrive in the large bowel.
Talk to your doctor about the health benefits of probiotics and for more information about safe use.
Dr. James Meschino