Probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, are often touted as helpful for a variety of gastrointestinal problems, including leaky gut syndrome.
Leaky gut, or in medical terms intestinal permeability, is a condition in which the walls of the small intestine start to let too many things from the stomach into your blood stream.
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In a normal small intestine, vitamins and minerals from foods are absorbed through the semi-permeable walls into the blood stream, transferring nutrients to help you be and stay healthy. But with leaky gut syndrome, the pores in the small intestine walls widen, and particles that shouldn't be introduced to the blood slip through.
When those particles enter the bloodstream, the body recognizes them as "dangerous invaders," U.S. News & World Report said
, and attacks. Leaky gut syndrome can lead to serious conditions like Crohn's disease, colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome. Leaky gut has also been tied to multiple sclerosis and even autism, as research has found that people with autism have significantly different gut flora than people without it.
But probiotics may hold at least one of the answers in treating leaky gut syndrome and other GI problems. Although much research is in its infancy and still being done on animals, some of the results have been striking. For instance, one study found that when mice with higher levels of a molecule from gut bacteria, thought to be caused by leaky gut, were treated with a probiotic, Bifidobacterium fragilis, the results were "jaw dropping," U.S. News said.
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Within five weeks, the leaky gut appeared to have "sealed up," the molecule levels in the blood dropped, and behaviors that had been associated with the condition cleared up, the magazine said.
Another study in 2012 looked at the effect of probiotics on leaky gut symptoms in athletes. After taking probiotics for 14 weeks, the men had decreased zonulin in their feces; zonulin levels increase with leaky gut, according to a study posted on the National Institute of Health website
Before adding any alternative treatment to your health regimen, consult a doctor.
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