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Probiotics for Intestinal Health

Probiotics and Digestion

Inside each of us is a vast ecosystem, as complex as the soil or the oceans, that helps us digest food and contributes to our health and well-being.  These acids, enzymes and bacteria actually digest your food, while the intestines manage the flow, an orderly sequence of contractions like a wave motion, called peristalsis, and allow absorption of the nutrients which result from digestion by the bacteria.  Gene experts, after studying the DNA of hundreds of different kinds of bacteria in the human intestines, have reached the conclusion that the human race survives, even thrives, with the help of millions of bacteria within our bodies.

Reporting in Science, researchers say that the thriving microbiologic community in adults consists of up to 100 trillion bacteria, representing more than 1,000 different species, and include more than 60,000 distinct genes - twice as many as in the human genome. The team believe their findings suggest that studying bacteria native to our bodies may provide important clues to disease, nutrition, obesity and how well drugs will work in individuals.

Scientists from the Institute for Genomic Research in Maryland say that because bacteria are so important to key functions such as digestion and the immune system that we may be in fact be symbiotic organisms - relying on one another for life itself.  This microbial population is what dictates our well-being and any change or shift within this population which may lead to the absence or presence of beneficial microbes, can trigger defects in metabolism and the development of diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease.

Daily supplementation of probiotics will result in reduced production of putrefactive substances and toxic metabolites (such as ammonia, indole, skatol, cresol and phenols and amines).  Thus a healthy intestine with adequate and balanced bacteria (probiotics) will provide healthy digestion, minimizing gas, bloating, diarrhea, and optimizing absorption of the nutrients in your food.

Probiotic Benefits

Most of these bacteria in the gut are anaerobic, i.e., thriving in non- or low-oxygen environments. These flora increase in number and complexity along the length of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract; the further down the stomach, the greater the number of bacteria. The composition of the intestinal microflora also varies from one individual to another depending on diet, age, medication, stress levels and physiological conditions. Some species or strains (subspecies) of friendly flora "implant," that is, adhere to the intestinal and vaginal mucosa, while others are transient. Transient flora may reproduce while moving through the large intestines, but do not colonize and soon pass out in the stool.

The natural balance maintained within the intestines can become disrupted by a number of factors.  Stress affects the gastrointestinal tract. Contaminants such as traces of insecticide, pesticide, and herbicide on foods is disruptive.  Many prescription drugs disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the intestine.  Antibiotics are notorious, as they were designed to kill bacteria - one just doesn't want to decimate all the beneficial bacteria in the GI tract in order to treat the flu.

In such cases, consuming sufficient probiotic bacteria via fermented foods or dietary supplements is essential to encouraging intestinal health. Indeed, the term probiotics is defined as a live microbial supplement that beneficially affects the host by improving its microbial balance. In other words, probiotics provide benefits by improving the health of the host by positively affecting the intestinal tract.

Probiotic Strains

A superior probiotic formulation will providing billions of the two most important groups of probiotic bacteria, Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. The intestines range from a relatively alkaline environment (pH) of the small intestine to an increasingly acidic environment in the large intestine. No one strain of bacteria can provide benefits throughout the entire length of the alimentary canal.

Probiotic manufacturers utilize synergistic groups of species that benefit each other. Mixed strain formulas are
more economical and more convenient than single-species products. Research, however, has found that supplying multiple groups of lactic acid bacteria together facilitates their replication.

The important issues are 1) that the probiotic bacteria are available to the entire GI tract, and 2) that the strains be selected from the dominant Lactobacilli (abbr. as "L") and Bifidobacteria (abbr. as "B").

L. rhamnosus R0011 - (sometimes mistakenly called L. bifidus). This species has greater survivability than L. acidophilus. This strain was discovered and developed by the Institute of Immunobiology and Virology in Belgrade. It produces prodigious amounts of polysaccharides, which aid adherence and stimulate immunity.

L. plantarum - L, plantarum is a remarkable species. It survives aerobic (with oxygen) and anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions. It ferments 25 carbohydrates, survives high salt (10% solution), low stomach pH or bile acids better than any other lactobacillus species, and is capable of producing antioxidant activity! L. plantarum ferments grains, grasses and vegetables and is a normal part of the diet.

L. casei - L, casei is often used to make fermented milk products and cheeses. It is popular in Japan and has been the subject of research including minor immunological effects in the GI tract involving the inhibition of pathogens.

L. acidophilus R0052 - This proprietary culture of Institut Rosell is of human origin and was selected because of its ability to ferment 15 carbohydrates into lactic acid rather than the 11 carbohydrates typical of this species. It is recommended to balance intestinal microflora thanks to its ability to exert antimicrobial actions against pathogens. Several clinical trials have demonstrated the beneficial effects of R0052 together with R0011 in supporting the digestive handling of milk sugar and in promoting normal regularity as well as activating healthy immune responses.

B. breve - B. breve is probably the most common species of bifidobacteria in infants, but it remains a lifelong resident throughout our lives. B. breve produces L+ lactic acid, ferments over 20 carbohydrates and shares other characteristics in common with B. adolescentis.

B. longum BB536 (morinaga strain) - Highly documented, with more than 30 years of research behind it, this strain from Japan implants, promotes bowel regularity, and antagonizes pathogens.

Probiotics Need a Food Source to Remain Healthy

Inulin-FOS (FructoOligoSaccharides) is used by the beneficial bacteria residing in the colon as a food source, promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria, which suppress harmful organisms.

Inulin-FOS is a pure natural extract of chicory. It provides many health benefits similar to soluble dietary fiber. Being a non-digestible carbohydrate, it is not broken down by the digestive tract and therefore does not raise blood glucose levels in the body. No fermentation of sugar is used during the extraction of Inulin-FOS, as it is a plant extract.

Inulin-FOS is formulated with Institut Rosell's own taxonomically defined strains from its culture collection developed over the past sixty years. The Institute is one of the most experienced producers of lactic acid-producing bacteria for food fermentation and probiotic supplementation in the world. They analyze and certify the type and potency of each organism before release. Look for a combination of Probiotics + Inulin-FOS in the finest symbiotic (combining probiotics and prebiotics) products available.

Jarro-Dophilus + Inulin-FOS

Jarro-Dophilus + Inulin-FOS is the perfect combination for increasing your intestinal probiotic population and enhancing your health and well-being. Daily supplementation of probiotics will result in reduced production of putrefactive substances and toxic metabolites (such as ammonia, indole, skatol, cresol and phenols and amines). Inulin-FOS has been shown to enhance the growth of bifidobacteria and production of SCFAs (short chain fatty acids), while lowering intestinal pH, reducing transit time and slightly increasing fecal bulk.

One capsule of Jarro-Dophilus contains approximately 3.4 billion organisms (12 billion per gram), supplying six different species: L. rhamnosus 1110011, L. plantarum, L. casei, L. acidophilus R0052, B. breve and B. longum Morinaga strain 113113536. Each capsule of Jarro-Dophilus contains over 4 billion organisms at the time of manufacture, but Jarrow Formulas states 3.4 billion to ensure full potency, taking into account shipping, shelf time and temperature.

Regular probiotics not produced with special technology to be stable die off rapidly at room temperature. At 70° F, the loss is at least 10 -15% per month. At over 80° F, loss is more rapid. Non-refrigeration for as much as a week will not produce significant loss contained at time of manufacture, but the product should be kept refrigerated.

Different Probiotic Needs Throughout the Intestines

In the small intestine (duodenum, jejunum and ileum), the primary lactic flora which can be supplemented are the lactobacilli, although enterococci are also present. The large intestine exhibits a large proportion of bifidobacteria in addition to its components of lactobacilli and enterococci. The typical intestinal and vaginal flora include several species of lactic acid bacteria which perform different activities according to the nature of their enzyme systems. In the case of carbohydrate processing, for example, Lactobacillus rhamnosus ferments at least 24 different carbohydrates; L. acidophilus, up to 16; and L. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, 7 different carbohydrates. This means that the lactic bacteria are important for completing the processing of carbohydrates in the gut. Bifidobacteria, which are located mainly in the large intestine, can ferment a variety of undigested carbohydrates, such as lactulose and oligosaccharides, and produce lactic and acetic acids which are effective against pathogens and putrefactive bacteria (such as clostridia). The body's own "friendly" bacteria are its best protection against pathogenic bacterial species and yeasts.

Probiotic bacteria are important aids to normal digestion and assimilation beyond the simple processing of carbohydrates. Some species of lactic acid bacteria contribute to the digestion of proteins, some deconjugate bile salts and lower cholesterol levels, some produce specific antibiotics, while others stimulate the immune system.

Requirements for Multi-Species Probiotic Success

There are several properties that are required from strains of lactic acid bacteria if these are to result in an efficient probiotic. No single strain can easily fulfill all these requirements. A mixture of species, therefore, is usually most suitable for supplementation. The most desirable properties of a good probiotic are:

  • Compatibility among the strains

  • Ability to survive passage through the digestive tract

  • Stable under normal gastric conditions

  • Resistant to bile salts

  • Adherence to intestinal mucosa

  • Colonization of the human intestinal tract

  • Safety with regard to human use

  • Production of antimicrobial substances

  • Antagonism against pathogenic and putrefactive bacteria

  • Stability during storage under normal conditions

Enteric Coated to Protect Against Stomach Acid

The ability to enteric coat live bacteria is yet another significant advance in the supplementation of probiotic strains for health. The acidity of the stomach forms an important natural barrier against the entry of bacteria and yeasts into the rest of the digestive tract. However, this same barrier can impede probiotic supplementation. .

Usage And Safety

Suggested consumption ranges from 1 to 3 capsules per day, taken 20-60 minutes after eating. Some studies have used the equivalent of 4-5 capsules daily.  Usage may be modified as directed by your qualified health consultant.

Selected References

Adawi D, Ahrne S, Molin G. Effects of different probiotic strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium on bacterial translocation and liver injury in an acute liver injury model. Int J Food Microbiol. 2001 Nov 8;70(3):213-20.

Easo JG, Measham JD, Munroe J, Green-Johnson JIM. Immunostimulatory actions of lactobacilli: Mitogenic induction of antibody production and spleen cell proliferation by lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Lactobacillus acidophilus. Food and Agricultural Immunology 2002;14:73-83.

Gopal PK, et al. In vitro adherence properties of Lactobacillus rhamnosus DR20 and Bifidobacterium lactis DR10 strains and their antagonistic activity against an enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli. Int J Food Microbiol. 2001 Aug 5;67(3):207-16

Grill JP, Cayuela C, Antoine JIM, Schneider F Effects of Lactobacillus amylovorus and Bifidobacterium breve on cholesterol. Lett Appl Microbiol. 2000;31:154-156.

Kostrzynska M, Hawke A, Dixon J, and Lepp D. The effect of probiotic microorganisms on the adhesion of E. coli 0157:H7 to intestinal epithelial cells. Presented at the 4th Food Network Meeting, Lacombe, AB Canada on May 30 - 31, 2002.

Kruisselbrink A, et al. Recombinant Lactobacillus plantarum inhibits house dust mite- specific T -cell responses. Clin Exp Immunol. 2001 Oct;126(1):2-8.

Isolauri E, Sutas Y Kankaanpaa P, Arvilommi H, Salminen S. Probiotics: effects on immunity. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Feb;73(2 Suppl):444S-450S.

Lievin-Le Moal V, et al. Lactobacillus acidophilus (strain LB) from the resident adult human gastrointestinal microflora exerts activity against brush border damage promoted by a diarrhoeagenic Escherichia coli in human enterocyte-like cells. Gut. 2002 Jun;50(6):803-11.

Matsumoto S, Watanabe N, Imaoka A, Okabe Y Preventive effects of Bifidobacterium- and Lactobacillus-fermented milk on the development of inflammatory bowel disease in senescence- accelerated mouse P1 Nit strain mice. Digestion. 2001;64(2):92-9.

Naruszewicz M, Johansson ML, Zapolska-Downar D, Bukowska H. Effect of Lactobacillus plantarum 299v on cardiovascular disease risk factors in smokers. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Dec;76(6):1249-55.

Schiffrin EJ, Blum S. Interactions between the microbiota and the intestinal mucosa. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002 Aug;56 Suppl 3:S60-4.

Adapted with exclusive permission from Jarrow Formulas.

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