Probiotic

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms thought to be healthy for the host organism. According to the currently adopted definition by FAO/WHO, probiotics are: "Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host". Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and bifidobacteria are the most common types of microbes used as probiotics; but certain yeasts and bacilli may also be helpful. Probiotics are commonly consumed as part of fermented foods with specially added active live cultures; such as in yogurt, soy yogurt, or as dietary supplements.

Etymologically, the term appears to be a composite of the Latin preposition ''pro'' ("for") and the Greek adjective ''βιωτικός'' (biotic), the latter deriving from the noun ''βίος'' (bios, "life").

At the start of the 20th century, probiotics were thought to beneficially affect the host by improving its intestinal microbial balance, thus inhibiting pathogens and toxin producing bacteria . Today, specific health effects are being investigated and documented including alleviation of chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases, prevention and treatment of pathogen-induced diarrhea, urogenital infections, and atopic diseases.

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Probiotic Strains

Live probiotic cultures are available in fermented dairy products and probiotic fortified foods. However, tablets, capsules, powders and sachets containing the bacteria in freeze dried form are also available.

Probiotic Research and Producer Information
StrainBrandnameProducerPotential effect in humans
''Bacillus coagulans'' GBI-30, 6086GanedenBC30Ganeden Biotech Improves abdominal pain and bloating in IBS patients. Increases immune response to viral challenge.
''Bifidobacterium LAFTI® B94'' Bifidobacterium spLAFTI B94DSMProtects against Salmonella typhimurium in mice. Utilises prebiotics for improved colonisation

Facilitates apoptotic response when used in combination

with resitant starch in a colon cancer

Reduces inflammation and incidence of diarrhoea

IBD

Reduces allergic responses in an allergy

Reduces the severity of H.pylori infection of the stomach

mucosa

Inhibits pathogenic bacteria (H. pylori7; List

monocytogenes; E. coli8,13,16; Salmonella

typhimurium

Survives in the conditions of the gastro-intestinal tract

Adheres to human intestinal cells

Utilises prebiotics

Synthesises and utilizes folate in yoghur

''Lactobacillus acidophilus LAFTI® L10'' Lactobacillus acidophilusLAFTI L10DSMEnhances clearance of Candida albicans by induction ofan immune response

Reduces allergic responses in an allergy

Protects against Listeria monocytogenes in the gastro- intestinal tract of mice

Reduces the incidence of tumour formation and the size of intestinal tumors in rats

Utilises prebiotics for improved colonisation

Reduces inflammation in an IBD model22

Inhibits pathogenic bacteria (H. pylori ; List. monocytogenes; E. coli ; Salmonella typhimurium)

Superior survival in the conditions of the gastro-intestinal tract compared to other probiotics

Adheres to human intestinal cells

Produces anti-microbial substances like H202

Utilises prebiotics-

''Lactobacillus casei LAFTI® L26'' Lactobacillus caseiLAFTI L26DSMProtects against Salmonella typhimurium in mice. Utilises prebiotics for improved colonisation

Reduces inflammation in an IBD

Reduces allergic responses in an allergy

Reduces the severity of H.pylori infection of the stomach

mucosa

Inhibits pathogenic bacteria (H. pylori; List. monocytogenes; E. coli; Salmonella

typhimurium

Survives in the conditions of the gastro-intestinal tract

Adheres to human intestinal cells

Utilises prebiotics

''Bifidobacterium animalis'' subsp. ''lactis'' BB-12 Chr. Hansen 
''Bifidobacterium breve'' YakultBifieneYakult 
''Bifidobacterium infantis'' 35624AlignProcter & GambleShowed significant improvement for abdominal pain/discomfort, bloating/distention, and/or bowel movement difficulty.
''Bifidobacterium animalis'' subsp. ''lactis'' HN019 (DR10)Howaru BifidoDanisco 
''Bifidobacterium longum'' BB536 Morinaga Milk Industry 
''Escherichia coli'' M-17ProBactrixBioBalance 
''Escherichia coli'' Nissle 1917MutaflorArdeypharm 
''Lactobacillus acidophilus'' DDS-1 Nebraska Cultures 
''Lactobacillus acidophilus'' LA-5 Chr. Hansen 
''Lactobacillus acidophilus'' NCFM Danisco 
''Lactobacillus casei'' DN114-001 (''Lactobacillus casei'' Immunitas(s)/Defensis)Actimel/DanActiveDanone 
''Lactobacillus casei'' 431 Chr. Hansen 
''Lactobacillus casei'' F19CulturaArla Foods 
''Lactobacillus casei'' ShirotaYakultYakult 
''Lactobacillus paracasei St11 (or NCC2461)''Lactobacillus fortisNestlé 
''Lactobacillus johnsonii'' La1 (= Lactobacillus LC1, Lactobacillus johnsonii NCC533) Nestlé 
''Lactococcus lactis'' L1A NorrmejerierImmune stimulation, improves digestive health, reduces antibiotic-associated diarrhoea
''Lactobacillus plantarum'' 299VGoodBelly / ProViva/ TuZenNextFoods Probi Ferring 
''Lactobacillus reuteri'' ATTC 55730 (''Lactobacillus reuteri'' SD2112) BioGaia BiologicsDiarrhea prevention and mitigation in children, eradication of H. pylori infection, amelioration of gingivitis, general illness prevention in children and adults.
''Lactobacillus rhamnosus'' ATCC 53013 (discovered by Gorbach & Goldin)LGG, Vifit and othersValio 
''Lactobacillus rhamnosus'' LB21VerumNorrmejerierImmune stimulation, improves digestive health, reduces antibiotic-associated diarrhoea..
tested as mixture:
''Lactobacillus rhamnosus'' GR-1 & ''Lactobacillus reuteri'' RC-14
Bion Flore Intime Jarrow Fem-DophilusChr. HansenOral ingestion results in vaginal colonisation and prevention of vaginitis
tested as mixture:
''Lactobacillus acidophilus'' NCFM & ''Bifidobacterium bifidum'' BB-12
Florajen3American Lifeline, IncReduction of ''C. difficile''–associated disease (CDAD)tested as mixture:
''Lactobacillus acidophilus CL1285 & Lactobacillus casei''
''Lactobacillus helveticus'' R0052 & ''Lactobacillus rhamnosus'' R0011A'Biotica and othersInstitut Rosell 

Some other bacteria mentioned in probiotic products:

(yoghurt bacteria):

  • ''Lactobacillus bulgaricus''
  • ''Streptococcus thermophilus''
  • ''Lactobacillus bifidus'' - became new genus ''Bifidobacterium''

Some fermented products containing similar lactic acid bacteria include:

  • Pickled vegetables
  • Fermented bean paste such as tempeh, miso and doenjang
  • Kefir
  • Buttermil or Karnemelk
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha
  • Pao cai
  • Sauerkraut
  • Soy sauce
  • Zha cai

Probiotic Research

Research about probiotics shows benefits. A study in 2004 testing the immune system of students given either milk or Actimel over a 6 week exam period (3 weeks of studying, 3 weeks of exams) tested 19 different biomarkers. Of these 19 biomarkers only 2 were shown to be different between the two groups, increased production of lymphocytes and increased production of CD56 cells. The tests were not blind and show that certain probiotic strains may have no overall effect on the immune system or on its ability.

A 2007 study at University College Cork in Ireland showed that a diet including milk fermented with ''Lactobacillus'' bacteria prevented ''Salmonella'' infection in pigs.

A 2007 clinical study at Imperial College London showed that preventive consumption of a commercially available probiotic drink containing ''L casei DN-114001'', ''L bulgaricus'', and ''S thermophilus'' can reduce the incidence of antibiotic-associated diarrhea and ''C difficile''-associated diarrhea.

The efficacy and safety of a daily dose of ''Lactobacillus acidophilus'' CL1285 in the prevention of AAD was demonstrated by Montreal’s Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, in a clinical study of hospitalized patients.

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Probiotic Benefits

Experiments into the benefits of probiotic therapies suggest a range of potentially beneficial medicinal uses for probiotics. For many of the potential benefits, research is limited and only preliminary results are available. It should be noted that the effects described are ''not'' general effects of probiotics. Recent research on the molecular biology and genomics of ''Lactobacillus'' has focused on the interaction with the immune system, anti-cancer potential, and potential as a biotherapeutic agent in cases of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, travellers' diarrhoea, pediatric diarrhoea, inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome.

All effects can only be attributed to the individual strain(s) tested. Testing of a supplement does not indicate benefit from any other strain of the same species, and testing does not indicate benefit from the whole group of LAB (or other probiotics).

Managing lactose intolerance

As lactic acid bacteria actively convert lactose into lactic acid, ingestion of certain active strains may help lactose intolerant individuals tolerate more lactose than what they would have otherwise.

Prevention of colon cancer

In laboratory investigations, some strains of LAB (''Lactobacillus bulgaricus'') have demonstrated anti-mutagenic effects thought to be due to their ability to bind with heterocyclic amines, which are carcinogenic substances formed in cooked meat. Animal studies have demonstrated that some LAB can protect against colon cancer in rodents, though human data is limited and conflicting. Most human trials have found that the strains tested may exert anti-carcinogenic effects by decreasing the activity of an enzyme called β-glucuronidase Clinical trials have demonstrated that probiotics may decrease the incidence of respiratory tract infections and dental caries in children. LAB foods and supplements have been shown to be aid in the treatment and prevention of acute diarrhea, and in decreasing the severity and duration of rotavirus infections in children and travelers' diarrhea in adults.

Helicobacter pylori

LAB are also thought to aid in the treatment of ''Helicobacter pylori'' infections (which cause peptic ulcers) in adults when used in combination with standard medical treatments. However more studies are required into this area.

Antibiotic-associated diarrhea

Antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) results from an imbalance in the colonic microbiota caused by antibiotic therapy. Microbiota alteration changes carbohydrate metabolism with decreased short-chain fatty acid absorption and an osmotic diarrhea as a result. Another consequence of antibiotic therapy leading to diarrhea is overgrowth of potentially pathogenic organisms such as ''Clostridium difficile''.

Probiotic treatment can reduce the incidence and severity of AAD as indicated in several meta-analyses. However, further documentation of these findings through randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trials are warranted.

Efficacy of probiotic AAD prevention is dependent on the probiotic strain(s) used and on the dosage. Up to a 50% reduction of AAD occurrence has been found. They are not effective for treating eczema, a persistent skin inflammation.. How probiotics counteract immune system overactivity remains unclear, but a potential mechanism is desensitization of T lymphocytes, an important component of the immune system, towards pro-inflammatory stimuli.

Improving mineral absorption

It is hypothesized that probiotic lactobacilli may help correct malabsorption of trace minerals, found particularly in those with diets high in phytate content from whole grains, nuts, and legumes.

Preventing harmful bacterial growth under stress

In a study done to see the effects of stress on intestinal flora, rats that were fed probiotics had little occurrence of harmful bacteria latched onto their intestines compared to rats that were fed sterile water.

Irritable bowel syndrome and colitis

''B. infantis'' 35624, sold as Align, was found to improve some symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in women in a recent study. Another probiotic bacterium, ''Lactobacillus plantarum'' 299v, was also found to be effective in reducing IBS symptoms.

Additionally, a probiotic formulation, VSL#3, was found to be safe in treating ulcerative colitis, though efficacy in the study was uncertain.

''Bifidobacterium animalis'' DN-173 010 may help.

Managing urogenital health

Several in vitro studies have revealed probiotics' potential in relieving urinary tract infections and bacterial vaginosis. Results have been varied on these studies, and in vivo studies are still required in this area to determine efficacy.

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Probiotic Side Effects

While the oral use of probiotics is considered safe and even recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) under specific guidelines, Probiotics have been shown to be beneficial for other types of patients.

In a clinical trial conducted at the University of Western Australia, aimed at showing the effectiveness of probiotics in reducing childhood allergies, Dr Susan Prescott and her colleagues gave 178 children either a probiotic or a placebo for the first six months of their life. Those given the good bacteria were ''more'' likely to develop a sensitivity to allergens.

Some hospitals have reported treating lactobacillus septicaemia which is a potentially fatal disease caused by the consumption of probiotics by people with lowered immune systems or who are already very ill.

This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article on "Probiotic" All material adapted used from Wikipedia is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Wikipedia® itself is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.