Not All Probiotics are the Same

Posted on May 28, 2014 in Health and Wellness

What is a Probiotic?
A probiotic can be either a fermented food such as yogurt, kefir or sauerkraut or a specific supplement that contains micro organisims ( bacteria ) that are beneficial to the human gastrointestinal tract.

Not all probiotics are the same.
The human gut contains at least 1,000 different species of micro flora, weighing up to 1.5 kg. Research tells is us that different strains of probiotics exhibit different characteristics and different strains work in different parts of the gut. Not all probiotic supplements contain identical strains or the same amount of micro organisims.

Manufacturers should supply information about the clinical efficacy of each strain of bacteria they have used. They should also be able to ensure adequate numbers of bacteria are viable at the point of consumption.

Therefore, you need to ensure you select a probiotic supplement from a trusted manufacturer that includes the right strain of microflora, at the right dose, for the specific mode of action you require. Ie the right strain of probiotic for the right job.

What do probiotics do?
shutterstock_157391270Depending on the strain, probiotics can –
• Compete with potentially pathogenic bacteria or fungi for space in the gastrointestinal tract.
• Bind to viruses such as rota virus and reduce their virulence
• Decrease the effects of bacterial toxins such as Clostridium difficile A and B.
• Dampen immune hypersensitivity in conditions such as eczema and allergic rhinitis.
• Heal colon tissue and strengthen the intestinal barrier.
• Regulate gut transit time in constipation and diarrhea.

When can probiotics help?
Good gut function is integral for health in general. Probiotic supplementation can support a myriad of conditions not just those limited to the gastrointestinal tract such as food poisoning and gastroenteritis, infantile colic, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), reflux, diarrhea, constipation and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Research has shown that appropriate probiotic supplementation can also support non gut related conditions such as anxiety and depression, altered immunity, urinary tract infections and bladder cancer, endometriosis, eczema and vaginal candidiasis.

If you would like more about how appropriate probiotic supplementation could improve you health, or if you would like to schedule a consultation with our Sydney Naturopath Kathleen McFarlane, please contact us today.