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Should You Be Taking Probiotic Supplements?

Should You Be Taking Probiotic Supplements?

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By    |   Tuesday, 25 October 2016 02:01 PM

You’ve no doubt heard about the benefits of probiotics — those good-for-you bacteria and yeasts that have been shown to aid digestion, boost immunity, combat a host of ailments, and improve your overall mental and physical health.

But there’s only so much yogurt, sauerkraut, aged cheeses, pickles, and other probiotic-laden foods you can pack into your diet, right?

The good news: Taking a probiotics supplement can increase your consumption of these healthy microbes easily, without resorting to a major overhaul of your daily meals.

Dr. Robert Newsman — a certified nutritionist, chiropractor, and wellness expert from East Northport, N.Y. — tells Newsmax Health it’s important to know what to look for when choosing a supplement.

One key factor: The most effective formulations are refrigerated to keep the live cultures active.

“Generally speaking the most active formulas are found in the refrigerated section at your health food store,” says Newman, a leading authority on natural health and nutrition. “Always store the container in the refrigerator for increased viability.”

Newman also recommends choosing products that contain high “therapeutic counts” of certain healthy-bacterial strains and colonies.

“I like to look for a varied five-10 strains of Bifido and Lactobacillus bacterium, and a therapeutic count of 30 to 50 billion,” he explains. “For very severe intestinal dysbiosis I will dose up to 100 to 200 billion, and a probiotic yeast named Saccharomyces Boullardii has proven to be most effective for diarrhea symptoms.”

Nearly 2 percent of Americans take probiotics supplements — and their popularity is growing.

In fact, the use of probiotics quadrupled between 2007 and 2012, according to the most recent National Health Interview Survey — a long-running poll of Americans' health habits by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Scientific studies have linked probiotics to a wide range of health benefits and fueled public interest. Among the benefits:

Digestive health. Probiotics are a front-line treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic constipation, abdominal pain, gas, bloating, and other gastro-intestinal disorders. They’re also helpful for maintaining healthy levels of “good” bacteria in the GI tracts of people taking broad-spectrum antibiotics, which kill bacteria of all kinds.

Cancer. University of California-Los Angeles researchers found mice fed healthy, anti-inflammatory gut bacteria produced microbes known to prevent cancer and reduced gene damage. This suggests probiotic supplements may help prevent cancer from developing.

A second study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found probiotics may help block tumor growth. Mice designed to develop liver cancer that were fed probiotics had a 42 percent reduction in tumor size and 52 percent reduction in the growth of blood vessels tumors use to grow and spread.

Weight loss. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found probiotics may help women lose weight and keep it off. Overweight women who took two pills daily containing probiotics from the Lactobacillus rhamnosus family lost almost twice as much weight as those who did not take the supplements in a three-month period.

Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine have also found certain healthy bacteria are more common in thin people than overweight folks.

Heavy metal poisoning. A study at Lawson Health Research Institute's Canadian Centre for Human Microbiome and Probiotic Research found pregnant women taking probiotics absorbed 78 percent less arsenic and 36 percent less mercury. Both are common environmental toxins found in water and food, and exposure is associated with some cancers and lowered IQs in children.

Allergies. An analysis of 23 studies at Vanderbilt University Medical Center found probiotics improved the symptoms of people with seasonal allergies, such as sneezing and a stuffy nose, in 17 of the studies. Researchers believe probiotics change the composition of bacteria in the intestines in ways that modulate the body's immune response and stop it from reacting to pollen and other allergens.

The study was published in the journal International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology. Probiotics have also been shown to eliminate cow's milk and peanut allergies in some children.

High blood pressure. Research published in the journal Hypertension found that people who took probiotics daily for more than two months experienced an average drop of 3.6 mmHg in systolic blood pressure (the top number), and a 2.4 mmHg drop in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number).

"We believe probiotics might help lower blood pressure by having other positive effects on health, including improving total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol; reducing blood glucose and insulin resistance; and by helping to regulate the hormone system that regulates blood pressure and fluid balance," said researcher Jing Sun.

Depression. A University of Toronto study found that patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) who went on a two-month course of probiotics significantly reduced their depression and anxiety. Experts said the healthy bacteria encouraged by the probiotics boosted the production of L-tryptophan, a "feel good" neurotransmitter.

A second study, from the Netherlands' Leiden University, found healthy people who took probiotics, which included Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, were significantly less prone to sad moods than those who did not.

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Many studies have proven the benefits of probiotics - those good-for-you bacteria and yeasts that have been shown to aid digestion, boost immunity, and combat a host of ailments. But what should you look for when choosing a probiotic supplement?
probiotic, supplements, digestive, health, choosing
Tuesday, 25 October 2016 02:01 PM
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