Probiotics are not just for your gut health
Probiotics are becoming increasingly popular, and associated with good gut health, assisting in digestion and boosting the body’s immunity, but it goes much further than that.
Their benefits begin in the gut but continue into other parts of the body to offer multiple health benefits. In this blog post, we walk you through the specific health issues that probiotics can support.
These areas are heart health, liver health, throat health, oral health, immunity and mental health.
Probiotics for the heart
Probiotics are proven to target cholesterol levels
In remarkable recent research, scientists have determined that specific strains of probiotics can target disease-specific risk factors, especially those related to cardiovascular disease. (1-4)
A specific strain of Lactobacillus called L. reuteri 30242 has been found to work in two distinct ways to help lower cholesterol. It does this by removing excess cholesterol from the body and helps to increase the metabolism of cholesterol. (5,6)
Clinical studies show that L. reuteri reduces total and LDL cholesterol levels, without statin drug side effects. (5-9) With these findings, researchers are eager to produce drug versions of these targeted probiotics aimed at lowering cholesterol. (10)
The good news is that you can initiate supplementation with L. reuteri today and accomplish similar results with this natural strain of a common and beneficial member of the intestinal microbiome.
Probiotics for the liver
Liver health and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Those attentive to their liver's care are few and far between, but it works incessantly to filter your blood and detoxify the body. When we imagine liver issues, we usually associate liver failure with an excess intake in alcohol long-term.
In recent years, however, a liver disease which is not associated with alcohol or infection has catapulted. What happens with the condition, namely Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), are high levels of fatty tissue build up in the liver, slowly destroying it. The only way NAFLD can be diagnosed is through several blood tests and medical scans.
Individuals most at risk are the obese and those who suffer from high blood sugar. Individuals with NAFLD usually have no symptoms. In cases where the diagnosis is not clear, (11) a biopsy may be necessary. The danger of NAFLD in the long term is, that it can cause liver fibrosis (scarring), significantly impairing normal liver function. (12-14)
Advanced scarring, known as liver cirrhosis, is irreversible and can lead to liver failure, which is eventually fatal. The only treatment at that point is a liver transplant. (15)
Scientific research reveals that the health of the liver is closely related to the gut microbiota, the mix of bacteria in the digestive tract. This is where probiotics come in! Thankfully, probiotics can help against NAFLD.
Clinical trials have demonstrated that a carefully designed probiotic and prebiotic blend, combined with following dietary and lifestyle advice, can significantly reduce several markers of NAFLD severity, and even appears to stop the damage it does to the liver.
Scientists designed a blend of microorganisms they believed was ideal to improve gut health and favourably impact the liver, reducing the risk and severity of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
This probiotic blend consists of seven beneficial bacteria that are considered to be a part of a healthy gut microbiome. They are:
- Lactobacillus casei PXN® 37
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus PXN® 54
- Streptococcus thermophilus PXN® 66
- Bifidobacterium breve PXN® 25
- Lactobacillus acidophilus PXN® 35
- Bifidobacterium longum PXN® 30
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus PXN® 39
Probiotics for throat health
In order to protect the throat against infections and viral throat infections, probiotics can help!
Strep throat is a bacterial infection that causes a painful sore throat and fever. It can also lead to serious complications, including heart and kidney damage.
Scientists have now shown that there is a safe and effective way to help block strep-causing bacteria from taking hold and causing infection. A strain of Streptococcus salivarius obstructs the growth of bacteria that causes strep throat.
Lozenges containing the probiotic S. salivarius K12 have been clinically shown to protect against strep throat in both adults and children.
In two clinical trials, S. salivarius K12 reduced the incidence of strep throat by as much as 84% in adults and 97% in children. Strep throat is marked by a painful sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, and the sudden onset of fever. (16,17)
Most sore throats, like those associated with a cold, are caused by a virus. (18) These cases seldom have dangerous complications and are generally left to run their course. Strep throat, however, is different. It gets its name from the bacteria that cause it, group A Streptococcus (or S. pyogenes). Strep throat can lead to serious consequences if not treated properly.
It may: (19)
- Spread to surrounding tissues, causing sinus or ear infections
- Produce a toxin that causes a scarlet fever rash, leading to rheumatic fever, inflamed joints and potentially damaging valves of the heart
- Causing kidney inflammation (glomerulonephritis), which can trigger chronic kidney problems
To avoid these complications, and because strep throat is highly contagious, it may be best to promptly treat it with antibiotics. But it would be far better to prevent strep throat in the first place, and probiotics are the solution.
Probiotics for the mouth
This is how probiotics can improve oral health
Poor oral health is unfortunately widespread among maturing individuals, with the highest rates of gum disease prevailing among older adults. Gum disease leads to tooth loss and high expenses related to dental work and dentures. Worse than tooth loss, however, are the total body health implications of gum disease.
The chronic presence of inflamed tissue contributes to the chronic, low-grade inflammation associated with so many of the disorders we associate with ageing, including cancer, cardiovascular, brain, kidney, and bone diseases.
A major factor in the development of tooth and gum disease is an imbalance in the normal oral microbial community of the mouth, in which disease-causing organisms predominate and sideline those that contribute to good health.
By helping to rebalance the oral microbial community with S. salivarius strain BLIS M18, individuals can turn the tables on the pathogens in the mouth, marginalizing them and allowing healthy organisms to predominate.
This natural probiotic strain produces powerful lantibiotics, which are germ-killing molecules that act locally within the mouth to suppress more harmful germs. Studies show that regular supplementation with S. salivarius BLIS M18 can improve multiple measures of gum health and reduce inflammation in the oral cavity.
Further inflammation control is provided by the addition of beneficial Bacillus coagulans, another probiotic strain that inhibits the germs that cause dental caries and helps to reduce the inflammatory response.
Probiotic can combat gum disease
Tooth and gum diseases are an often-overlooked major indicator and contributor to failing health as we age. In addition to taking its toll on functions of the mouth, these conditions predispose us to heart, lung, brain, liver, and other age-related disorders. A balanced oral microbiome helps maintain a state of disease resistance.
An imbalanced, or dysbiotic, microbiome invites disaster by changing the elaborate natural immune and bacterial defences against oral disease. Balancing a dysbiotic oral microbiome can restore natural disease resistance.
HT-L. plantarum L-137 is a heat-treated strain of common Lactobacillus bacteria capable of inducing pro-healing cytokines in the mouth and boosting local immunity. S. salivarius M18 is a living probiotic strain that is armed with powerful lantibiotics that help kill harmful bacteria.
Adding these healthy bacteria to a regular brushing and flossing routine can help make the mouth a safe place for protective microbes, which produces benefits throughout the body.
Probiotics for brain & mood
Depression and anxiety and the role of probiotics in mental health
Scientists have found a new way to relieve mood disorders, and that is through probiotics. Findings from laboratory and human studies have identified two probiotic strains that can significantly reduce depression and anxiety, without the side effects that often come with antidepressant drugs.
As well as this, clinical studies show that saffron extract significantly improves depression scores and is equally as beneficial as common antidepressant drugs, also without unwanted effects. Two unique strains of these helpful bacteria have been found to help significantly reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
These two probiotics along with saffron have been combined to provide a unique option to combat anxiety and depression. Among those taking antidepressants, 30%-50% find their initial treatment doesn’t work, (20, 21) and two-thirds experience at least one side effect — including nausea, weight gain, fatigue, sexual dysfunction, and in some cases, suicidal thoughts. (21,22)
One human study showed a 50% improvement in depression scores with these two probiotics, and another showed a 55% improvement in anxiety scores, all without side effects.(23,24)
Scientists have now combined these probiotics with an extract of the spice saffron that has been shown to be equally as beneficial as anti-depressant drugs to reduce depression—without side effects. (25-28) The result is a safe, powerful new way to relieve depression and anxiety and boost overall mood.
A unique combination of antidepressant ingredients
For the first time, scientists have combined the mood-boosting probiotics Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175 with saffron extract for maximum antidepressant and anti-anxiety benefits. The researchers used dosages based on clinical studies demonstrating safe efficacy.
A unique form of the saffron extract was developed to optimise this formula after studying the results of several clinical trials. It is an 80% ethanolic extract, standardized to 11% crocin and 2% safranal—the percentages of these active compounds found to be most beneficial in the trials.
Probiotics for immunity
This is why probiotics can boost your immune health
Probiotics can restore and rebalance your gut microbiome, strengthening its ability to interact with your immune system in many ways. (29)
These friendly bacteria help stimulate healthy immune surveillance, boosting populations of cells that seek out and kill infecting organisms and cancers. (30,31,32)
They upregulate inflammatory cytokines during the acute stage of an infection, cancer, or other threat to your body’s integrity, while they also contribute to the suppression of the inflammatory response as the threat disappears. (31,32)
The lining of your gastrointestinal tract is the most extensive interface between your body and the external environment. So much so that it has even more surface area than your skin. (34)
At that interface your body has three types of chemical detectors. These are nerve cells, endocrine cells, and immune cells. Signals from those detectors affect tissues and organs throughout your body.
Those detector systems are more extensive than those of any other organ. There are nearly a billion neurons in the intestinal nervous system, the intestinal endocrine system uses more than 20 identified hormones, and the gut immune system contains 70 to 80% of the body’s immune cells. (34)
The role of Bifidobacteria
Bifidobacteria in particular have been shown to help protect humans against inflammation, infection, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
A clinically validated strain of bifidobacteria, BB536, arrives in the colon largely intact and ready to boost your intestinal microbial population. BB536 has demonstrated potent immune modulatory effects, reducing inflammation while protecting against infections and promoting cardiovascular health.
Read more blog posts on probiotics
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