TAG | Probiotics
For more than a decade our team at ReNew Life has been formulating the purest, most effective natural supplements with the health and well-being of our customers in mind—which is why I couldn’t be more excited about this recent award!
The ReNew Life Ultimate Flora line of high-potency probiotics was named the top-rated probiotic brand for customer satisfaction, based on responses from more than 10,000 supplement users who took part in the 2014 ConsumerLab.com Survey of Vitamin and Supplement Users. Survey participants reported their satisfaction with more than 1,600 brands from nearly 800 merchants.
Ultimate Flora once-daily probiotics set the benchmark for quality, purity and potency. Each multibillion-count formula features multiple strains of beneficial bacteria; delayed-release capsules for targeted delivery; and potency guaranteed through expiration to provide superior natural support for better digestion and immune health.‡
In case you aren’t familiar with ConsumerLab.com, they are the leading provider of independent test results and information to help consumers and healthcare professionals identify the best-quality health and nutrition products. Each year they ask their newsletter subscribers to take part in a survey about the vitamins and supplements they use, and the information is compiled in a comprehensive report. (More information at www.consumerlab.com/survey2014.)
Join me in congratulating ReNew Life and Ultimate Flora Probiotics!
‡This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Although probiotics reside in the gut, their effects reach far beyond the digestive tract. The connection between heart and gut health is being investigated, particularly in reference to the use of probiotics for the reduction of LDL cholesterol. In a recent article published in the journal Nutrition Reviews, clinical trials evaluating the effects of probiotics on biomarkers of cardiovascular disease were reviewed.1 Twenty-six clinical studies and two meta-analyses were reviewed, identifying four strains of probiotics effective for lowering cholesterol: Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242, Enterococcus faecium, and the combination of Lactobacillus acidophilus La5 and Bifidobacterium lactis Bb12, in addition to two synbiotic (probiotic + prebiotic) combinations: Lactobacillus acidophilus CHO-220 plus inulin and a mix of Lactobacillus acidophilus strains plus fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS).
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide. One in every three deaths in the United States is the result of cardiovascular disease, and it is rapidly increasing in low- and middle-income countries around the world. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits is an under-practiced yet crucial aspect of treating and preventing CVD. In addition to a healthy diet, maintenance of healthy body weight, regular exercise, avoidance of tobacco products, and routine medical checkups, the use of certain supplements has the potential to decrease cardiovascular risk factors. Fish oils, phytosterols, and soluble fibers are currently among those most known for beneficially affecting blood lipids. As it turns out, probiotics could be added to that prestigious list.
The study of beneficial bacteria for heart health actually begin in the 1960s when researchers investigated the link between fermented milk and low cholesterol levels and heart disease rates in the Maasai and Samburu tribes of Africa, both of which consumed a diet high in saturated fats via dairy and beef.2,3 Since then, many studies have looked at the effects of probiotics on lowering LDL cholesterol to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Of the four probiotic strains and two synbiotic combinations studied, L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 has the most robust evidence. Two randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, parallel arm, multicenter studies in both yogurt (2.8 billion CFU daily)4 and capsules (4 billion CFU daily)5 found that the probiotic reduced total and LDL-cholesterol when compared to placebo. L. reuteri also had beneficial effects on lowering hs-CRP (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein) and fibrinogen levels, two more biomarkers of CVD health, and major markers of overall systemic inflammation as well.
Although it is known that probiotics have a positive effect on cholesterol levels, it is not entirely known how they work. The review article proposes several mechanisms for how probiotics may reduce circulating cholesterol levels:
- “Binding of cholesterol by the cellular surfaces and membranes of the probiotics.
- Assimilation of cholesterol particles into growing probiotic cells.
- Microbial deconjugation of bile via bile salt hydrolase, resulting in increased fecal excretion of deconjugated bile salts with a compensatory increase in the use of cholesterol to produce new bile acids.
- Short-chain fatty acid production from fermentation of carbohydrate, leading to decreased levels of blood lipids and reduced production of endogenous cholesterol by the liver.
- A reduction in cholesterol absorption, perhaps through bile salt hydrolase activity and deconjugation of biliary salts in the small intestine.”
Statin drugs are widely prescribed for their cholesterol-lowering effects, but they come with side effects that many find intolerable. Probiotics, in addition to the healthy lifestyle habits mentioned above, are an excellent natural option with additional digestive and immune health benefits.
- DiRienzo DB, “Effect of probiotics on biomarkers of cardiovascular disease: implications for heart-healthy diets.” Nutr Rev. 2014 Jan;72(1):18-29.
- Shaper AG, Jones JW, Jones M, “Serum lipids in three nomadic tribes of Northern Kenya.” Am J Clin Nutr. 1963 Sep;13:135-46.
- Mann GV, “Studies of a surfactant and cholesteremia in the Maasai.” Am J Clin Nutr. 1974 May;27(5):464-9.
- Jones ML, Martoni CJ, and Prakash S, “Cholesterol lowering and inhibition of sterol absorption by Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242: a randomized controlled trial.” Eur J Clin Nutr. 2012 Nov;66(11):1234-41.
- Jones ML, Martoni CJ, Tamber S, et al., “Evaluation of safety and tolerance of microencapsulated Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242 in a yogurt formulation: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study.” Food Chem Toxicol. 2012 Jun;50(6):2216-23.
Leonard Smith, MD
Dr. Leonard Smith is a prominent Board-Certified, general, gastrointestinal and vascular surgeon who had a successful private practice for 25 years. In addition to his active surgery practice, he also incorporated lifestyle, diet, supplementation, exercise, detoxification, and stress management into many of the therapies he would prescribe. Many of his patients with cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other serious illnesses did so well under his treatment regimes that he began to devote most of his career to foundational health care and preventive medicine.
Even the word parasites is unpleasant, but worse is what they can do in your gut—so listen up! Although I’ve talked about parasites before, I wanted to give you a quick refresher course. A balanced digestive environment is essential to your overall health, but there will always be organisms trying to move in and upset that balance. And when parasites move in, they can compromise immune health and your good digestion.
Just What Is a Parasite?
A parasite is an organism that lives by feeding upon another organism. Parasites living in the human body feed on our cells, our energy, our blood, the food we eat and even the supplements we take. There are several types of parasites: protozoa are single-celled organisms that are only visible under a microscope, while worms come in all different sizes, from threadworms measuring less than a centimeter to tapeworms that can grow up to 12 meters in length!
Parasites Can Cause That?
Take a look at the list of symptoms below. Do any of them sound familiar?
- Occasional diarrhea or constipation
- Gas, bloating and/or cramps
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Persistent skin problems
- Insomnia/disturbed sleep
- Muscle cramps
- Teeth grinding
- Post-nasal drip
- Sugar cravings
- Rectal itching
- Brain fog
- Pain in the umbilicus
5 Simple Steps to a Balanced Digestive Environment
A buildup of toxins and waste material in the colon increases your risk of parasites, which is why the right diet and nutrition are essential. Here are five simple steps to promote a healthy internal balance:
1. Eat plenty of fresh, non-starchy vegetables, lean meats and legumes, and avoid carbohydrates, sugar and starchy vegetables.
2. Get at least 35 grams of fiber each day to help stimulate the muscular contractions of the colon (peristalsis) that remove the contamination on which parasites thrive.
3. Consider an internal cleansing program to promote a healthy balance of intestinal microbes.
4. Maintain a healthy balance of intestinal bacteria with daily probiotics.
5. Supplement with enzymes and hydrochloric acid to enhance digestion and help deter parasites in the stomach.
In addition to their role in supporting digestive and immune health, scientists have been looking at the link between probiotics and weight loss—and a new study out of Canada shows these good bacteria may indeed help us shed those extra pounds and keep them off.
Researchers from the Université Laval in Quebec recently teamed up with the food and beverage company Nestlé to dig deeper into how probiotics may help us stay slim by influencing the bacteria in our digestive tracts. They followed 125 obese but otherwise healthy adults for a period six months, half of whom received two pills daily of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus while the others received a placebo. For the first three months of the study, participants followed a calorie-restricted weight loss plan, but the remainder of the study was considered a “weight maintenance” period, during which participants still followed a diet plan but the calorie restrictions were lifted.
While there were no significant changes noted in the men, the women receiving the probiotics lost more weight—nearly twice as much—and more fat mass than those receiving the placebo. In addition, they showed a significant drop (25%) in the levels of leptin in their blood (a hormone closely linked to metabolism and appetite control) as well as a reduction in the number of Lachnospiraceae bacteria in the gut. In studies, this “superfamily” of bacteria has been linked to obesity.
The idea that probiotics can help us lose weight and stay slim is not a new one—several other studies have looked at the link between obesity and gut bacteria, including one study in mice that showed obese mice had a decidedly different bacterial environment than lean mice, and that transplanting specific bacteria from the lean to the obese mice actually resulted in the recipients eating less, losing weight, and storing less fat in their bodies.
Adding More Probiotics to Your Diet
Certain foods such as yogurt and cottage cheese contain probiotics, along with fermented foods like kefir (a fermented milk drink), pickled or fermented vegetables, tempeh, miso, kombucha, and sauerkraut. However, because some foods often don’t contain enough probiotic cultures or a variety of strains, many experts recommend taking a daily probiotic supplement to reap the full benefits of probiotics. Look for a high-potency, billion-count daily formula with at least 10 different strains that include clinically studied bacteria and delayed-release capsules for targeted delivery. The amount of live cultures should also be guaranteed through the expiration date, and not just at the time of manufacture.
A multi-strain probiotic has been found to reduce the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) and reduce gastrointestinal symptoms in hospitalized patients taking antibiotics according to a recent study published in the journal Vaccine. The formulation contained four strains of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus and was taken daily up to seven days after the final antibiotic dosage.
Those patients taking a higher dosage of probiotics (17 billion CFUs daily) were at decreased risk of AAD and also experienced less fever, abdominal pain, and bloating, as well as had a decreased number of liquid stools and duration of diarrhea when compared to those receiving low-dose probiotics (4 billion CFUs daily). And the low-dose group still fared better than those patients receiving only placebo. “The results indicate that the higher tested dose is more efficacious than they lower lose in reducing AAD symptoms, duration, and incidence in a hospital setting,” noted the researchers.
Antibiotic-associated diarrhea is one of the conditions most benefitted by probiotic supplementation, according to studies. Because antibiotics disrupt the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut (remember that the word antibiotics means “against life” and probiotics means “for life”), digestive disruptions often occur along with antibiotic use. By replenishing beneficial probiotic bacteria during antibiotic use, these digestive disruptions can be avoided, as illustrated by this study.
If you are prescribed antibiotics, it would be wise to take probiotics as well. Just remember to take them at a different time of day than the antibiotics so that their chance of survival is increased.
When it comes to nutrition and digestive care, I love to meet others who share my enthusiasm for helping people live healthier every day—and one of those people is author and nutritionist Lauren Slayton.
Lauren is the founder of New York City-based Foodtrainers™ and her new book, The Little Book of Thin, will make you think twice about diving into the next fad diet by revealing the truth about why most food plans fall short. And guess what? Lauren is as passionate as I am about probiotics—especially when talking about the link between intestinal bacteria and sugar cravings.
In Chapter Five, aptly titled The Witching Hour, Lauren talks about those pesky late afternoon cravings (the sweet ones in particular) and explains that fermented foods can increase the amount of good bacteria in the gut, which actually helps to enhance mood and reduce cravings. She recommends adding more of these foods to the diet, but when supply is short? Check out her advice on page 59:
“Supplements may be a good alternative if you don’t have access to fermented foods or want a backup plan,” says Lauren. She includes probiotics in her list of Food First-Aid Kit Essentials (see pages 123 & 124) and says to look for a number greater than 20 billion live cultures on the label. She also recommends probiotics for travel-related “tummy turbulence.”
Of course, weight loss is about more than just probiotics, but having the right tools is big part of being successful—and those tools can help you overcome the challenges along the way. The key to living thintastically ever after, says Lauren, is planning ahead and being prepared for the daily obstacles that can thwart your weight loss efforts. “If nutrition knowledge equaled weight loss, we would all be thin. We know what to eat until life gets in the way.” So true!
Pick up your copy of The Little Book of Thin by Lauren Slayton, MS, RD today, and be sure to add a probiotic supplement to your Food First-Aid Kit!
The gut bacteria composition of people at risk for colorectal cancer differs from that of healthy people, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.1 Researchers from the New York University School of Medicine analyzed stool samples from 141 patients—47 of which had colorectal cancer—and found lower bacterial diversity in patients with colon cancer.
Bacterial diversity is the hallmark of a healthy gut. The more diverse the gut bacteria, the less likely potential pathogens can gain the upper hand and lead to infection. This study suggests that lower gut diversity may also lead to increases in certain bacteria and decreases in others; colon cancer patients had higher levels of Fusobacterium and Porphyromonas bacteria than did healthy subjects. Fusobacterium has been found to contribute to colitis,2 which involves inflammation of the colon, and both Fusobacterium and Porphyromonas have been linked to periodontal disease,3 which itself has been linked to colon cancer.4 Perhaps based on the latest research, gingival and oral cultures may soon be a preventative biomarker of inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer.
Patients with colon cancer were also found to have decreased levels of the Clostridia class of bacteria. You may recognize the name Clostridia because one bacterium from this class—Clostridium difficile—is a major pathogen that can be deadly. Not all Clostridia are harmful, however. One particular Clostridia family (Lachnosporaceae) and one bacterium within this family (Corpococcus) are both known to efficiently ferment dietary fiber and complex carbohydrates, producing butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid well known to be protective of colon cancer due to its nourishing effects on the lining of the colon. In addition to helping feed the cells that line the colon, butyrate enters the cells and prevents damaged cells from becoming cancerous. Also telling, Clostridia have been found to be less abundant in colon tumors when compared to normal adjacent tissue.3
“In conclusion, this survey of the gut microbiota found that colorectal cancer risk was associated with decreased bacterial diversity in feces; depletion of Gram-positive, fiber-fermenting Clostridia; and increased presence of Gram-negative, pro-inflammatory genera Fusobacterium and Porphyromonas,” stated the researchers. “Because of the potentially modifiable nature of the gut bacteria, our findings may have implications for colorectal cancer prevention.”
Maintaining gut balance is crucial for protection against many conditions, digestive or otherwise. Administration of probiotics (beneficial bacteria) and prebiotics (fibers that feed beneficial bacteria in the gut) has been found to have a protective effect against colon cancer.6 One main reason probiotics and prebiotics are so beneficial is because they promote increased production of butyrate in the colon, just as the beneficial Clostridia do. Achieving gut balance is one of the most important things you can do for your health.
- Ahn J, Sinha R, Pei Z, et al., “Human gut microbiome and risk of colorectal cancer.” J Natl Cancer Inst. 2013 Dec; online ahead of print.
- Ohkusa T, Okayasu I, Ogihara T, et al., “Induction of experimental ulcerative colitis by Fusobacterium varium isolated from colonic mucosa of patients with ulcerative colitis.” Gut. 2003 Jan;52(1):79-83.
- Signat, Rogues C, Poulet P, et al., “Fusobacterium nucleatum in periodontal health and disease.” Curr Issues Mol Biol. 2011;13(2):25-36.
- Ahn J, Segers S, Hayes RB, “Periodontal disease, Porphyromonas gingivalis serum antibody levels and orodigestive cancer mortality.” Carcinogenesis. 2012 May;33(5):1055-8.
- Kostic AD, Gevers D, Pedamallu CS, et al., “Genomic analysis identifies association of Fusobacterium with colorectal carcinoma.” Genome Res. 2012 Feb;22(2):292-8.
- Wollowski I, Rechkemmer G, Pool-Zobel BL, “Protective role of probiotics and prebiotics in colon cancer.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Feb;73(2 Suppl):451S-455S.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when taken in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host (that’s you). Probiotics are most known for their digestive benefits because the digestive tract is where they work. Not everyone is aware that probiotics also have important immune health benefits, primarily because up to 80 percent of the immune system resides in the digestive tract. The gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT for short) is situated in and around the intestines and is in constant contact and communication with the microbes (which includes the probiotics) living in the intestines.
Probiotics play as much a role on immune health as they do on digestive health. A recent study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition highlights the immune benefits of the probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis. The study involved 465 healthy adults average age 35 and found that those participants who took 2 billion CFUs (colony forming units) of Bifidobacterium lactis daily for 150 days had a 27 percent reduction in the risk of upper respiratory tract infections (that’s a fancy way of saying the common cold) than did those participants who took a placebo.
“This study adds important new information regarding the effects of probiotic supplementation for respiratory illness,” wrote the authors. “The positive effects of probiotic supplementation appear to extend beyond individuals considered to have a higher susceptibility to illness.” They also found that the time it took for participants to get sick was delayed by 0.7 months in those people taking the probiotic when compared to those taking placebo.
This study shows that daily supplementation with B. lactis has important immune benefits even for healthy people who want to ward off the common cold.
In order for Americans to really change their diets and improve their health, foods that are available in grocery stores—and the information people receive about these foods—must change. That’s why I found it hopeful when I read that Mary Ellen Sanders, PhD, writing on behalf of the International Scientific Association of Probiotics and Prebiotics, commented that the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee should consider live microbes and probiotics as part of a healthy American diet.
Dr. Sanders is a principal in the Centennial, Colorado–based consulting firm Dairy & Food Technologies. She recently drew attention to the fact that fermented foods like yogurt deliver live microbes, which include probiotics. Fermented foods include yogurt, kefir, cheese, fermented milk, and fermented vegetables like kim chi and sauerkraut.
Of course, you’ve heard me share the incredible benefits of probiotics, from digestive and cardiovascular support to vital immune health, just for starters. Dr. Sanders notes, “Because of this prevalence of persuasive science, we believe that the committee should study the following question: What is the relationship between foods with live and active cultures and probiotics on long-term health maintenance and reduced disease risk?”
I really like her next comment: “Consumers would further benefit if these foods were described as a source of potentially useful bacteria, and not only as a valuable source of calcium and other nutrients.”
At this point in time, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations/World Health Organization defines probiotic as a live microorganism, which when administered in adequate amounts, confers a health benefit on the host. (Italics mine due to the fact that research points to larger health benefits realized with higher dosages of probiotics in many cases.)
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee noted that the gut microbiota affects health, but they failed to make any recommendations on consumption of probiotics or fermented food.
I sincerely hope that the 15 people who were selected last May for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee appreciate the incredible value of probiotics in our diets and provide more substance to their guidelines in this area. These guidelines serve as the foundation for our national nutrition programs, standards, and education. The committee also makes recommendations to help the general population and specific groups to choose healthy diets. More info on the dietary guidelines and public comments can be found at health.gov/dietaryguidelines.
I’m excited to see what 2015 will bring!
There are over 1000 species of bacteria that naturally occur in the human digestive tract. A high diversity of bacteria is characteristic of a healthy gut balance. Increasingly, researchers and doctors are recommending multi-strain probiotic formulas to reflect the natural diversity found in a healthy gut. Because each strain has unique characteristics and functions, a multi-strain probiotic may be the best way to ensure the probiotics are producing the most benefit.
A recent study published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology administered a multi-strain probiotic containing six strains of a mix of Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Streptococcus daily for four weeks. Fully 68 percent of participants with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) taking the probiotic reported IBS symptom relief compared to only 37 percent of participants taking placebo.
“Multi-species probiotics may have a variety of different beneficial effects on IBS symptoms because each species acts in a particular way on the gastrointestinal tract and two or more species acting together may have a synergistic effect,” noted the researchers. “Multi-species probiotics given to IBS patients are effective in the global relief of IBS symptoms as well as in alleviating abdominal pain, discomfort, and bloating. Furthermore, the multi-species probiotics induced the alterations of intestinal microbiota.”
Although studies on single strain probiotics are less complicated, due to the less complicated nature of the formula, it is becoming clear that multi-strain probiotics have benefits above that of single strains. For example, a recent study investigating the effect of a single strain yogurt containing Bifidobacterium animalis did not find benefit, in contrast to the study reported here. It simply makes sense that a multi-strain probiotic would work better when you consider the vast diversity of a healthy human gut.