Probiotics and the huge role they play in our health by Kamila Wojtylko
We usually think of bacteria as something that causes diseases. But our bodies are full of bacteria, both good and bad. In fact there are 10 times more bacterial cells in our bodies than human cells.
First time we get exposed to bacterias is at birth, that’s when we ingest vast amounts of probiotics from mothers birth canal and pick up plenty more from mother’s skin and milk during breast feeding. That’s just for starters throughout our lives, we consume bacteria in our food and water.
First three years of our life decide the quality and number of our microbiom (bacterias living in our gut) that’s why type of birth, breast feeding, taking antibiotics etc. play really important role in our future well- being, strength of our immune system and also as recent research shows our mental health.
So how do the little guys benefit us?
For long time, scientists assumed that these bacteria, neither did us much harm nor much good. But in the past decade or so, researchers have changed their tune. (1)
What we know about probiotics in connection to our health up to date is:
– They are supporting digestive health by producing specific enzymes needed in the digestion of food. Probiotics also improve absorption of vitamins & minerals into the blood stream, and even produce B complex vitamins & vitamin K
– Probiotics support immunity by stimulating the body’s natural defences, and by lining the intestines with a protective layer stoping pathogenic substances in the gut from harming the body
Disruption to the balance of good bacterias in the gut can compromise our health quite significantly.
People with dysbiosis (imbalanced bacterias in the gut) can experience poor digestion, lowered immunity and variety of conditions such as:
– lower energy levels
– poor immunity
– food intolerances/ allergies
– acne/ eczema
– constipation or diarrhoea
– candida overgrowth
– IBS (irritable bowl syndrome)
– IBD (inflammatory bowl disorder)
Another very interesting role that friendly bacterias play in our bodies is regulating mental health, 2015 certainly seems to have been the year of the Gut/Brain. This may be due to the fact that U.S. National Institute of Mental Health invested over US$ 1 million on a new research programme focused on unlocking the secrets of the microbiom- brain connection. (2) Evidence from this publication, alongside work of Dr Robert Perlmutter in ‘Grain Brain’ and Guila Enders in ‘Gut’ shows that there is strong connection between gut and brain. Scientists firmly believe that stabile mental health and overall well being begins in gut.
Scientists calling gut ‘ the second brain’ (3) some even call it the first brain as they believe it supersedes the importants of the actual brain in overall health
Lot of recent studies looking at the effects of probiotics on patients suffering from major depressive disorder, it was determined that patients that was given probiotics supplements saw significant and measurable improvements (4)
Another very interesting fact about probiotics is that they help to regulate weight
Although this needs to be studied a lot more, some probiotic strains have been shown to help with fat loss. (5)
The most impressive study on this was published in 2013. It was study of 210 individuals with abdominal obesity ( lots of belly fat)
In this study, taking probiotic Lactobacillus gasseri caused patients to lose 8,5% of their belly fat mass over period 12 week. (6) There is also evidence that Lactobacillus rhamonosus and Bifidobacterium lactic can help with weight loss and obesity prevention (7) *****
What has been brought to attention is the fact that disturbance in gut biome plays a significant role in creating the recent rise in histamine intolerance, which alongside insuline resistance plays huge role in weight gain, obesity and many major health conditions.
Histamine overload leads to increased inflammation and other symptoms including: skin irritation, hives, increased heart rate, nasal congestion, migraines, fatigue, heartburn, reflux, weight gain. Some of the following foods are histamine rich or help to release stored histamine:
– Fermented foods: pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, soy etc.
– Most yougurts, mature cheese
– Processed meats
– White wine, champagne, beer
– Bread made with yeast
This fascinating research is a real food for thought and a lot for us to consider when we thinking about how to positively affect our mood and general well- being. It appears that the key is ensuring that there is a health relationship between our gut and our brain.
Dysregulated gut flora has been linked to disease ranging from autism and depression to autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s, inflammatory bowel disease and type 1 diabetes.
Unfortunately, modern lifestyle directly contribute to unhealthy gut flora:
– Diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed food, artificial sweeteners
– Diet low in fermentable fibers
– toxins and heavy metals in everyday products
– chlorinated water
– antibiotics, birth control, other medications
– alcohol (apart from red wino)
– deficiency of vitamin D
– dietary toxins like wheat and industrial seed oils
– chronic stress (8,9)
Researchers also found that altered levels of acidity and alkalinity in the gastrointestinal track will change the ecology of the bowel environment.
A diet high in red meats or processed food will dramatically alter acid/ alkaline balance of the intestine, leading to overgrowth of disease causing, putrefactive bacteria which eventually lead to serious health problems.
Approximately 80 to 90%of diseases originate in the digestive system.
Fully functioning digestive system is key to the overall physical and mental health. It is our digestive system that helps to assimilate nutrients, taking care of our immune cells, supporting nervousness system and helps to rid of toxic waste from the body. If digestive system is compromised it can make us feel bad, uncomfortable and even sick.
It’s time to make friends with our hard working bacterias and appreciate all they do for us.
Realising all that the only reasonable action is to make some positive changes, so let’s start with the food at the end of the day ‘we are what we eat’. Here is a list of few fundamental changes that will be a good start in repairing our gut:
– Choosing foods from trusted, organic sources
– eating plenty of alkaline food like: vegetables, fruit, nuts/ seeds
– Increasing intake of fermentable fibre: onions, garlic, artichoke, chicory
– Consuming few glasses of high altitude red wine a week (Malbec) is a really good
– Using herbs, spices that work in favour of good bacterias: Ginger, cumin,
– detoxifying body with: lime water, bentonite clay etc.
– Drinking non chlorinated water
– avoiding excessive: drinking of alcohol, taking antibiotics, processed foods
– L-glutamine, quercetin
– regular sun exposure
In our modern life we are constantly exposed to substances and situations that will compromise health of our gut. Therefore it’s advisable to supplement daily with probiotics,
It’s important to find good source/ brand that is using resistant strains which don’t contribute to histamine relies. One of the brands responding to those criteria is Bravo Probiotic which is made in Switzerland, it contains 42 different strains of bacteria and colostrum. Opti Bac is another good, UK based brand.
1. Scientific American
2. Reardon. S., (2015) Idea that intestinal bacteria affect mental health gains ground. Nature,
12 November 2014
3. Perlmutter R. (2015) ‘Brain Maker’: Hodder& Stoughton: London
4. Akkasheh et Al. (2015) ‘ clinical and metabolic response to probiotic administration in patients with major depressive disorder’. Nutrition, September 25, 2015
5. The Lancet, ‘ Infectiouse Diseases’. Oct. 2013, vol 13
6. Effect of Lactobacillus gasseri SBT 2055 in fermented milk on abdominal adiposity in adult in randomised controlled trial. British Journal of Nutrition, Vol. 110, Nov 2013
7. ‘The Development of probiotic treatment in obesity’ Benf. Microbes 2014, Mar 5 in PublMed
8. Null: Vit. D triggers immunity, 2010
9. Research of Dr. Scott Gabbard& Dartmouth- Hitchcock, Medical School.