Our gut and its microbiome can have a major impact on the athletic performance. It plays a vital role in producing, storing, and supplying the calories needed by an athlete or any individual practicing endurance exercises, such as running, cycling, aerobic exercise or swimming. A Healthy Gut can adapt itself to sudden bodily changes during […]
We 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.
Absorption 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:
- Augment Iron Absorption
When used on a regular basis, these fortified microbial strains prevent iron deficiency by boosting iron absorption.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most frequent gastrointestinal disorders estimated to affect millions of people universally. The mechanisms responsible for the generation of IBS include variation in gut motility, inflammation, small-bowel bacterial overgrowth, the leaky gut phenomenon and a meddling with the gut-brain axis, hypervigilance to pain, and last but not the least when the gut ecology goes haywire.
Live, healthy bacteria (probiotics) have a wide array of potential health benefits in various GI diseases, predominantly IBS. Why are probiotics an effective addition in IBS?
Here are the 5 benefits of ingesting healthy bacteria in IBS!
1. Induce the Expression of Pain-Alleviating Receptors in the Gut
What are the most potent painkillers? They are opioids and to our surprise, probiotics exert morphine-like effects once ingested. Experts have been capable of figuring out that probiotics, particularly the Lactobacillus strains induce the expression of pain-relieving receptors in the gut.  This reduces the pain hypersensitivity in IBS.
Around 100 trillion microorganisms reside in our bodies, including over 400 bacterial species. The bacteria that live in our intestine are known as our gut flora, and it is well known that taking probiotics to restore the beneficial bacteria helps with digestive issues such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and even more serious conditions including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Chron’s disease. Many people don’t know that there are many additional benefits of probiotics including the following.
- Probiotics prevent type 2 diabetes and help to maintain a healthy weight.
Many studies show the danger of the buildup of unhealthy bacteria in our gut. There is a protein called toll-like receptor 5 (TLR5), and mouse models show that without this protein, the beneficial bacteria in the gut are overrun with the bad kind. Any mice lacking the TLR5 protein had inflammation and insulin-resistance which is a hallmark of type 2 diabetes. The study also transferred the TLR5 knockout mice gut flora to skinny mice with functioning TLR5. Due to the alterations in their intestinal bacteria, the skinny mice changed their eating habits. Many even became obese and showed resistance to insulin over time. An unhealthy microbiome seemingly caused weight gain and type 2 diabetes in some of the mice, suggesting that it does so in humans as well. Other studies show that a healthy gut flora lowers fat absorption, decreases fat storage, and raises levels of a hormone that reduces appetite which are all important for weight loss and maintenance.
Our bodies are full of bacteria. Normally bacteria are thought of as disease causing agents. However, there are “good” bacteria that help keep us healthy. Our bodies continually attempt to maintain a balance of good and bad bacteria. Age, genetics, and diet may influence the balance of bacteria in our bodies. Stress, lack of sleep, antibiotic overuse, drug use, and environmental factors may also influence the balance of bacteria in our bodies. Unfortunately, an imbalance may predispose you to diseases including Crohn’s, irritable bowl, ulcerative colitis, obesity, and diabetes.
Probiotics are microorganisms, or live bacteria and yeasts, that assist primarily with digestion. The word probiotic means “promoting life”. These microorganisms promote life by maintaining a healthy digestive tract and immune system. Research indicates probiotic use may also have several other health benefits. Ongoing research indicates probiotics may promote the health of the reproductive tract, oral cavity, lungs, skin, and gut-brain axis. Probiotics may even prevent obesity and diabetes.
Probiotics should not be considered a replacement for medications treating certain conditions. However, daily consumption of probiotics may confer several benefits to those who utilize them. That being said, probiotics should be considered a compliment to rather than a replacement of prescribed medications. Specific health benefits related to probiotic use include:
Urinary health- Often, urinary and vaginal tact infections occurring in women are caused by bacteria common to the intestinal tract. These infections are easily treated with antimicrobial therapy, however, not without occasional side-effects. Studies suggest utilizing probiotics, specifically lactobacilli, may have a preventative role in urinary and vaginal tract infections.
Immunity and allergies- Believe it or not our gut plays a large role in our ability to fight off infections. Cells that help fight off infections and coordinate allergic reactions develop and mature in our gut. Data indicates probiotics may positively affect this development and maturation process and increase our ability to fight off and respond to infective processes. Probiotics may also improve our bodies ability to respond to common allergens such as pollen, hair, and mold.