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How Dogs Benefit from Probiotics

probiotics for dogsSimilar to your intestinal tract, your pet’s gut is also home to trillions of bacteria that keep their gut in a healthy state. Once the defenses break down, the dogs can also fall a victim to various GI diseases. Hence, the question arises, “can probiotics help your dog?” Research shows that probiotic therapy is a promising strategy for canines’ GI disorders.

 

Lactobacilli are phenomenal probiotics for dogs!

The primary probiotics studied to benefit dogs are the lactic acid bacteria. ( [1] This is ascribable to the potential of these live bacteria to survive in the intestinal tract of these animals.

 

Lactobacilli help ease inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Dogs also tend to experience GI disorders like IBD and small-intestinal bacterial overgrowth. In fact, IBD is one of the common bowel problems experienced by canines. These illnesses cause chronic diarrhea in dogs, and on top of that, IBD and SIBO are treated with antibiotics (just like in humans) because of which the microbiome gets more out of control. [1] Probiotics restore the balance of the microbiome in dogs that is thrown into turmoil by these inflammatory gut ailments and by their use of antibiotics. This alleviates the associated diarrheal symptoms in canines. Probiotics also enhance the nutrient absorption (that is compromised in these disorders) in puppies required for the maintenance of their health.

 

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Probiotics for Kids

Why are probiotics useful for kids? In children, when the composition of the GI flora is out-of-whack, a myriad of illnesses (similar to that of adults) can ensue. Probiotics exert a major influence on the microbiome. A kid’s microbiome begins to develop inside the womb and matures during infancy and childhood. The newborn leaves the germ-free environment of the mother’s womb and enters a highly contaminated world, which mandates potent defenses to prevent disease.  The pro- and prebiotics confer long-term health benefits on the developing immune system of a child. This post will highlight the significance of adding probiotics to children’s diet.

 

Probiotics can Prevent Necrotizing Enterocolitis in Premature Infants

Some infants who are born prematurely can suffer from an intractable bloody diarrheal illness, called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). It is a condition in which the intestinal tissue undergoes inflammation, injury, and begins to die. Infectious agents seem to colonize the gut in these infants after the introduction of formula milk. Specific strains of bacteria, primarily the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria can preclude the occurrence of NEC when fed to the preterm babies. These probiotics break down carbohydrates to produce lactic acid, creating an acidic milieu in the gut. This promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria, whereas hampers that of the harmful ones. [1]

 

These beneficial bacteria also strengthen the gut barriers, which fends off the harmful agents against navigating from the GI tract to the outside systems – a process called bacterial translocation.

 

Moreover, the preterm infants afflicted with NEC lack the ability to tolerate anything through the mouth. Statistics show that probiotics given to these babies can improve oral (mouth) intake via accelerating maturation of intestine. [2] Probiotic preparations containing either lactobacillus alone or in combination with bifidobacterium are found to be highly effective at keeping NEC at bay. What’s more? Probiotics also appear to minimize the death rates associated with NEC. [2]

 

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How Do Probiotic Supplements Work?

How do probiotics workWe know that probiotics are live active cultures that when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit to the host. But what essentially makes a probiotic a probiotic? To be labeled as a probiotic, the product should be capable of surviving the irritant effects of both the stomach acid and bile to arrive at their destination in the colon where they exert their effects.

 

How do probiotics work?

 

The probiotics work through a number of mechanisms to strengthen our immune defenses and prevent us from sickness.

It is recognized for decades that the restoration of the balance in the microbial gut population is crucial for our health, and its disruption precipitates several GI and non-GI disease states. Depending upon the duration of their effects, probiotics can be classified as transient versus colonizing. Transient probiotics travel to the gut but are incapable of making a permanent home in the microbiome. They work as long as they are taken. In contrast, the colonizing probiotics (as the name implies) tend to colonize in the gut permanently; their effects last even after discontinuing them. Both kinds of probiotics stick to the gut wall to fend off the harmful invaders from adhering and exerting their deleterious effects. They block the growth of the bad pathogens and therefore, serve to boost the immune defenses both locally within and outside the gut.

 

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Probiotics for Hair, Skin and Nails

probiotics for hair, nails and skinVarious daily factors, including the foods we eat and drink and the products that we use on our skin and hair influence their health. Radiant skin and sleek hair is something we all desire. In addition to healthy food and correct products, probiotics can have amazing effects on the health of skin and hair. Wondering how? Let’s see!

 

Probiotics speed up nutrient absorption

“We are what we eat.” Eating a healthy diet help us go a long way and defy aging. Nevertheless, not everyone who eats healthy looks healthy. So, what are we missing? It’s the proper absorption of macro and micronutrients. The friendly gut bacteria help us assimilate more nutrients from our diet. Hence, our skin, hair, and nails get more of the nutrients that they require to be healthy.

 

Probiotics Accelerate Subcuticular Hair Follicle Cycling

Our hair grows in cycles of several phases, called as hair follicle cycling. Stimulating hair follicle beneath the outermost part of the hair shaft (the hair cuticle) during the growth phase results in a robust hair growth. Although mostly limited to animals, some probiotics up-regulate this subcuticular hair follicle cycling, speeding up the hair growth. [1]

 

Probiotics Add Moisture and Shine to Your Skin and Hair

The beneficial bacteria also stimulate the proliferation of cells that secrete sebum. Sebum is an oily substance that keeps your skin and hair moisturized. [1]

 

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Prebiotics Help with Stress and Anxiety

prebiotics and anxietyStress takes a heavy toll on various bodily functions. Cardiac problems, psychological disturbances, GI sensitivity, you name it – virtually all body systems are targeted by stress and anxiety. Prebiotic supplements fuel the growth of the good bacteria while inhibiting the expansion of the bad ones. They can help you calm down when you’re feeling keyed up. This post will address the subject on how prebiotics act as stress relievers.

 

Statistics indicate that the prebiotic fiber, which serves as a food for the beneficial bacteria, can alter the thoughts, emotions, and stress and anxiety levels in a number of ways.

 

Prebiotics Restore the Balance of the Gut Flora

Several experts now refer to the gut as our “second brain.” The brain interacts with our gut and the friendly gut bacteria communicate with our brain, indicating that an imbalance in the gut microbiome (dysbiosis) can lead to psychological imbalances and vice versa. This dysbiosis, in particular, lower levels of bifidobacteria underlie functional bowel disorders like IBS. Also noted in IBS, is the reduced production of short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate. Likewise, decreased levels of both bifidobacteria and butyrate are responsible for the generation of mental disturbances like anxiety. Prebiotics, primarily fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) amplify both the number of bifidobacteria and the butyrate production. [1]

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Probiotics Help You Absorb Nutrients

probiotics help you absorb nutrientsAbsorption is the passage of end products of digestion from the GI tract into the bloodstream and body tissues. These nutrients supply energy and nourishment essential for daily functioning. Lack of absorption of nutrients (both macro and micro) can lead to protein and several vitamin and mineral deficiencies – that is to say, malabsorption leading to malnutrition. Micronutrient deficiencies seem to gobble up about two billion people around the world.

 

While re-populating the gut with beneficial bacteria, high-end probiotics also ensure proper absorption of nutrients ingested as part of our diet. Following are a few evidence-based implications of probiotics in enhancing the delivery of micronutrients to our body tissues:

 

  1. Augment Iron Absorption

When used on a regular basis, these fortified microbial strains prevent iron deficiency by boosting iron absorption.

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Probioitcs Increase Energy Levels

probiotics and energyIt is usual for many of us to experience fatigue and lethargy from time to time. The causes can range from trivial factors like poor diet and sleep to more serious factors like depression, fibromyalgia, or hypothyroidism. The gut microbiome has a lot to do with these fluctuating energy levels. They communicate with our brain (microbiome-gut-brain axis), and hence, can influence our mood and dynamism. How does supplementing probiotics hoist the sinking energy levels? Let’s delve a little deeper to understand this.

 

  1. Boost the Immune System

For reasons acknowledged, we know that the friendly gut bacteria strengthen the defense mechanisms of our body and fend off harmful invaders. A healthy immune system is the initial step towards boosting our energy levels and getting us back on the track.

Probiotics activate a variety of immune cells including but not limited to macrophages, natural killer cell, and white blood cells. These cells shield against contracting diseases by warding off foreign agents. In order to communicate, these immune cells require the help of protein molecules, called cytokines. Probiotics also stimulate the release of these cytokines, thereby enabling the immune cells to interact and function. [1]

 

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Probiotics and Antibiotics

antibiotics and probioticsThe use of antibiotics has been expanding steadily over the past several decades. Presently, they are among the most widely prescribed medications. Though antibiotics can be life-saving for a plethora of infections, these bacteria-eradicating medications can themselves predispose to life-threatening infections. Taking probiotics during a course of antibiotic therapy replenishes the gut with the (lost) healthy bacteria and helps assuage antibiotic-associated side effects.

 

Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea (AAD) and Antibiotic-Associated Clostridium difficile Infection (CDI)

 

Around 10% to 25% of individuals treated with antibiotics develop AAD. The occurrence of AAD leads to a poor compliance with the antibiotic therapy and an incomplete eradication of the infection.

Adding fuel to the fire, antibiotics cause overgrowth of a more harmful bacterium, called Clostridium difficile. Once infected, this pathogen incites a severe inflammation throughout the colon (colitis).

 

How do antibiotics Cause Diarrhea?

The antibiotics upset the composition and function of the intestinal flora (cause dysbiosis), which causes diarrhea. The proportion of the unfriendly gut commensals goes up, whereas that of the friendly ones plunges.

Antibiotics also reduce the breakdown of fermentable carbohydrates in the gut. These nonabsorbable carbohydrates osmotically draw more water into the gut, increasing the fluidity and frequency of stools (osmotic diarrhea).

Moreover, antibiotics can undermine the gut barriers, enabling the intrusion of the offending attackers like Clostridium difficile that lead to devastating colonic infections and intractable diarrhea.

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Top 4 Probiotic Foods

probiotic foodsGiven the present unhealthy Western dietary pattern, our gut microbial community is prone to perturbations. This makes the addition of probiotics, whether taken in the form of supplements or ingested as foods, vastly beneficial.

 

In this post, we’ll highlight the top 4 probiotic-rich foods that you should consider supplementing to your dietary regime.

 

  1. Yogurt

Yogurt is the most enriched source of probiotics. It contains live active cultures of bacteria, preferably Lactobacilli and Streptococcus thermophilus. These bacteria are used to ferment fresh milk and/or cream that results in the production of yogurt. Yogurt cultures are scientifically documented to boost gut health, immune function, and mental abilities. They can hasten your sluggish bowel movements or otherwise, they tend to slow down the intestinal peristalsis in diarrhea. To be brief, they regulate your bowel function.

 

The latest research conducted by the Iranian experts revealed a significant improvement in various mental health parameters, including depression, anxiety, and stress after a 6 week trial of probiotic yogurt consumption. [1] This beneficial effect of yogurt can be attributed to the microbiota-gut-brain connection.

 

In another study published in the Ailment Pharmacology and Therapeutics, the subjects experiencing IBS demonstrated positive health effects after ingesting fermented milk containing Bifidobacterium. [2]

 

  1. Kimchi

 

Kimchi is one of the traditional cornerstones of Korean medicine. It is a vegetable probiotic food manufactured by fermenting vegetables with lactobacilli. Koreans serve kimchi with rice usually at every meal. This probiotic-loaded food possesses infinite advantageous, [3] some of which are as follows:

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Probiotics and Anxiety- The Gut Emotions

probiotics help with anxietySay Hello to The Tiny World Inside!

If you could see what’s inside your gut, you’d see an endless number of tiny bacteria lingering around. The word ‘bacteria’ is enough to startle you as it is usually associated with illness. But these bacteria are the type that benefits you so called the friendly bacteria or probiotics.

 

The Gut-Brain Axis Explained

Researchers believe that the number of probiotic bacteria is ten times the number of your body cells (1). These bacteria have a profound role in disease and health. They even alter how your brain works. Brain? Yes, your brain. The bacteria in your gut actually communicate with your brain. Let’s break it down to understand it better.

The gut-brain axis is quite complex and contains three important components: the Central Nervous System (CNS), the Enteric Nervous System (ENS), and the Hypothalamic Pituitary Axis (HPA). Don’t lose it over these difficult sounding terms. Your CNS consists of your brain and the spinal cord. The ENS consists of a collection of nerve cells within your gut walls. In other words, your gut has a brain of its own. Finally, the HPA is the part of this system that secretes a number of hormones and other chemicals (2).

The gut-brain axis is a high-speed two-way lane. In simple terms, your brain signals your gut what to do and your gut signals back some feedback as well. The HPA receives some of these signals too and secretes hormones accordingly. So if your gut microbiome is happy, your brain will be happy too. If your gut microbiome is not doing well, things will go South for your brain too (3).

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