WHAT ARE PROBIOTICS?
Experts have debated how to define probiotics. One widely used definition,
developed by the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations, is that probiotics are "live microorganisms,
which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on
the host." (Microorganisms are tiny living organisms—such as bacteria, viruses,
and yeasts—that can be seen only under a microscope.)
Probiotics are not the same thing as prebiotics; non- digestible food ingredients
that selectively stimulate the growth and/or activity of beneficial microorganisms
already in people's colons. When probiotics and prebiotics are mixed together,
they form a synbiotic.
Probiotics are available in foods and dietary supplements (for example, capsules,
tablets, and powders) and in some other forms as well. Examples of foods
containing probiotics are yogurt, fermented and unfermented milk, miso,
tempeh, and some juices and soy beverages. In probiotic foods and supplements,
the bacteria may have been present originally or added during preparation.
Most probiotics are bacteria similar to those naturally found in people's guts,
especially in those of breastfed infants (who have natural protection against many
diseases). Most often, the bacteria come from two groups, Lactobacillus or
Bifidobacterium. Within each group, there are different species and within
each species, different strains (or varieties). A few common probiotics, such as
Saccharomyces boulardii, are yeasts, which are different from bacteria.
Some probiotic foods date back to ancient times, such as fermented foods and
cultured milk products. Interest in probiotics in general has been growing;
Americans' spending on probiotic supplements, for example, nearly tripled from
1994 to 2003.
WHAT THE SCIENCE SAY?
Scientific understanding of probiotics and their potential for preventing and
treating health conditions is at an early stage, but moving ahead. In November
2005, a conference that was confounded by the National Center for
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and convened by the
American Society for Microbiology explored this topic.
According to the conference report, some uses of probiotics for which there is
some encouraging evidence from the study of specific probiotic formulations are
To treat diarrhea (this is the strongest area of evidence, especially for
diarrhea from rotavirus).
To prevent and treat infections of the urinary tract or female genital tract.
To treat irritable bowel syndrome, reduce recurrence of bladder cancer.
To shorten how long an intestinal infection lasts that is caused by a
bacterium called Clostridium difficile.
To prevent and treat pouchitis (a condition that can follow surgery to
remove the colon).
To prevent and manage atopic dermatitis (eczema) in children.
Some other areas of interest to researchers on
What is going on at the molecular level with the bacteria themselves and
how they may interact with the body (such as the gut and its bacteria) to
prevent and treat diseases? Advances in technology and medicine are
making it possible to study these areas much better than in the past.
Issues of quality. For example, what happens when probiotic bacteria are
treated or are added to foods—is their ability to survive, grow, and have a
therapeutic effect altered?
Probiotics' potential to help with the problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria
in the gut.
Whether they can prevent unfriendly bacteria from getting through the skin
or mucous membranes and traveling through the body (e.g., which can
happen with burns, shock, trauma, or suppressed immunity).
Why not give it a try? After all, what harm is there in enjoying a nutritious,
bacteria-friendly yogurt? Probiotics are not a magic bullet to prevent or cure
disease, but they are considered safe since the good bacteria are already a
part of the digestive system. They offer a quick and easy first line of defense
along with a healthy diet.
Come lets get a quick glance at what these Probiotics really are?
THE EFFECTS OF PROBIOTICS ON BODY’S NAURAL DEFENSES
The host’s intestinal flora provides the first line of defense against
pathogens by preventing them from developing in the gastrointestinal
tract, for instance by generating an inhibitory medium. Beneficial bacteria
within the flora are able to interact with the adhesion and toxic
effects of pathogens. Ingested probiotic strains have a proven effect on
the composition and metabolic activity of the intestinal micro flora in
The intestinal epithelium constitutes a second line of defense and a true
barrier against pathogens, by the combined effect of the mucus layer and
the epithelial cells themselves. Recent results support the hypothesis that
consumption of probiotics may improve intestinal barrier
function. However, these effects seem strain-specific and need to be
The immune system constitutes the third defense barrier against invasion.
The innate immunity reacts immediately but unspecifically. The adaptive
immunity takes longer but is specific and keeps memory of previous
aggressions. A mild inflammatory state is necessary to keep the defense
enabled, but the system must remain balance in order not to start an
inflammatory disease. Current scientific knowledge supports the
hypothesis that consumption of lactic acid bacteria may modulate
immune response, which in turn increases resistance to
[ For each type of aggression,
the body has a number of ]
Adaptation to the constrains of one’s environment is vital for the survival
and development of living species. Certain of these constrains may be
classed as aggression, in other words forms of external attack that can
result in damage to individuals: free radicals, pathogenic microorganisms,
as well as diverse kinds of challenging situations classified under the
generic name of “stress”… For each of these types of aggressions, the
body has a number of defense systems, often very complex, which it
uses either to destroy the aggressive agent or to minimize or repair the
consequences of any harmful action by the latter.
Pathogenic bacteria and viruses are kept away from the body by
the barriers formed by the skin, mucosa and endogenous
intestinal flora. If these physical barriers are overcome, the
immune systems and its many components spring into action in
order to stem infection and its consequences.
Natural defenses rely on precise physiological mechanisms, which,
for the most part, are genetically programmed into our body’s cells.
More generally, everything that helps maintain the body in good general
condition, particularly a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet, assist in
maintaining the body’s defense systems at a sufficient level of stimulation
to allow effective response to external aggression.
The defense systems in the gut can be split into three lines, for
the sake of clarity: the gut flora, the gut mucosa and epithelium,
and the related immune system, as shown in the figure.
What is the intestinal micro flora?
The human large intestine is an extremely diverse microbial ecosystem.
The endogenous gut flora amounts thus approximately to 1014 bacteria,
equivalent to 10 times the number of human cells in the gut following
ingestion and make up the transient flora.
Among the gut flora, many strains are more or less putrefactive or
pathogenic: these are the so-called “harmful bacteria” that may form
substance that are noxious such as ammonia, hydrogen sulphide, amines,
phenols are secondary bile acids.
On the other hand, some bacteria such as the lactic acid bacteria do not
produce putrefactive products, and are consequently referred to as
“beneficial bacteria”. (Fig.2)
Why is the gut flora considered as part of the
host defense system?
The gut flora indeed provides protection against a broad range
of enteric pathogens, including certain forms of Clostridia, E. coli,
Salmonella, Shigella and Pseudomonas, as well as yeasts such as Candida
The mechanisms include:
Depletion and/or competition for substrates.
Competition for receptor sites
Generation of a restrictive physiological environment
Production of anti-microbial substance
Some bacteria of the gut flora are able to produce metabolites toxic
As a result of these four mechanisms, the gut flora actually exerts a
barrier effect that provides protection against a broad range of
Effects of probiotics on the intestinal micoflora
Probiotics modulate the composition of the intestinal micro flora…
The survival of ingested probiotics in different parts of the
gastrointestinal tract differs between strains. Some strains are
rapidly killed in the stomach while specific strains of lactic acid bacteria
can pass through the entire gut in high quantities. As a result f their
concentration in the lumen, they contribute to transient modulation of the
micro flora ecology, at least during the period of intake. This specific
change may be seen for a few days after the start of consumption of the
probiotic preparation, depending on the capacity of the strain in question
to modulate the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract.
Many studies have demonstrated significant shifts in bacterial counts in
human faeces following consumption of specific probiotic strains, generally
resulting in increased numbers of health promoting genera (Lactobacillus
and Bifidobacterium) and decreased numbers of potentially harmful ones
(several strains of Clostridium and Enterococcus).
These studies however, reflect the bacteriological situation in faecal matter
only and do not provide accurate picture of the situation in different parts
of the gastrointestinal tract or in the mucosal layer of the gut. Furthermore,
many species of intestinal bacteria from faecal samples cannot be cultured
on specific plates.
New methods recently established open up new perspective for research
and will contribute to accurate description of changes in the composition of
microbial populations, as yet uncharacterized, within the micro flora.
…By several mechanisms
Animal experiments and in vitro studies have proved that specific probiotic
strains have a protective action against the adherence, establishment,
reproduction and/or pathogenic action of specific enteropathogens,
through the four mechanisms previously described:
Rendering specific nutrients unavailable to pathogens;
Rendering specific binding-sites unavailable for adhesion.
For instance, different Lactobacillus strains were tested for their
ability to adhere to Caco-2 cell cultures and inhibit the adhesion of
pathogens such as Escherichia coli or Salmonella typhimurium, most
likely by mere steric hindrance of enterocytic pathogen receptors.
Reduction of luminal pH through the production of volatile short
chain fatty acids; production of hydrogen peroxide under anaerobic
conditions; and of course, production of lactic acid (Bifidobacterium,
Lactobacillus and Streptococcus), leading to a reduction in colonic
pH; this is regarded as being the major mechanism by which lactic
acid bacteria inhibit the growth of various facultative or mandatory
And/or production of a broad spectrum of specific antimicrobial
substances such as bacteriocines.
Probiotics modulate the metabolic activity of the gut
The expression of many bacterial enzymes is influenced by the pH of the
medium. Probiotics, being able to lower the pH in the intestinal tract, may
thus be able to interfere with the enzymatic activity of the flora.
It has been demonstrated that probiotic strains reduce the activity of
procarcinogenic enzymes produced by the intestinal flora. This
effect has been extensively demonstrated in animal models and human
studies measuring the activity of certain bacterial enzymes involved in
colonic carcinogenesis in faeces after ingestion of specific probiotic strains.
These studies, however, reflect only the biochemical situation in the faecal
material and do not give an accurate picture of the situation throughout the
entire colon. Because the pH cannot be measured within the intestine, in
vivo assessment of the effects or carcinogenesis of acid production by lactic
acid bacteria is difficult. Due to the complexity of the development of
colonic tumours in humans, it is not possible to infer any positive benefit
from this result in the prevention of colonic cancer.
Effect of probiotics on the intestinal epithelium
Recent studies have demonstrated probiotic effects on intestinal
epithelium by different mechanisms, all dependent upon specific bacterial
species and strains.
Probiotics modify the mucus layer
Several in vitro and in vivo studies have demonstrated that specific
bacterial species and strains produce extra cellular glycosidase that
degrade intestinal glycoproteins or mucins and that some other are
able to stimulate mucus secretion although data specific for probiotics
are relatively scarce. One in vitro study has recently demonstrated a direct
probiotic effect through the induction of intestinal mucins gene
expression in epithelial cells, caused either by cell wall determinants or
secreted products from probiotic bacteria.
The biological role of alteration in complex glycoconjugate and mucus
expression has yet to be determined. Nevertheless, recent studies have
shown that the biochemical changes induced by probiotics might
inhibit binding of pathogen bacteria to cultured intestinal cells in
vitro Specific modifications of the mucus
layer could be either beneficial (through destruction of receptors for some
pathogens) or detrimental (by unmasking receptors buried in the mucus
layer, providing pathogens with an anchor on the gut wall). There is thus a
great need to continue research in this field in order to understand both the
overall impact of modifications in intestinal glycosylation on humans and
the underlying mechanisms.
Probiotics influence epithelial permeability and
enhance barrier integrity
A recent study has demonstrated that some probiotics produce
metabolites that directly alter epithelial permeability and enhance
barrier integrity in vitro Evidence from both animal and human studies
showing that probiotics may restore disturbed epithelium
permeability also supports such a mechanism. This capacity may
protect the host against bacterial translocation and invasion by
pathogenic bacteria. Further investigations are needed to gain insight
into the specific effects of probiotic strains.
Although very recent, the above mentioned investigations relating to the
direct effect of probiotics on intestinal epithelium have already led to
important in vivo and in vitro results and open promising perspective.
The most recent knowledge provides strong support for the hypothesis that
consumption of probiotics in healthy humans may improve intestinal
barrier function. However there is still a great need to carefully study these
effects, and to provide evidence of the actual beneficial effects in well-
controlled clinical trials.
[ Once pathogens enter the body,
they are countered by innate
defense mechanisms that act within
minutes of invasion ]
Effects of probiotics on the immune system
The results of human and animal studies support the notion that lactic acid
bacteria exert immunomodulatory effects, although there have been few
studies in humans. To date, the overall findings of studies on the
immunological effects of lactic acid bacteria provide strong support for the
hypothesis that consumption of lactic acid bacteria may modulate immune
response, which in turn increases resistance to immune-related diseases.
Probiotics modulate immune parameters
In human studies, cytokine production, phagocytic activity,
antibody production have been shown to increase with yogurt
It has also been demonstrated that probiotics are able to modulate
lymphocyte proliferation in vitro as well as production of both
specific and non-specific antibodies in humans and mice. The results
also show that probiotics enhance cytokine production.
[ Consumption of lactic acid bacteria
may increase resistance
to immune-related diseases ]
Probiotics modulate mucosal inflammation
The central design paradox of mucosal immunity is avoidance
of unnecessary, potentially harmful reactivity to commensal
flora coupled with the capacity for rapid responsiveness to
episodic challenge from infection. Continual antigen sampling of the
luminal environment, discrimination between pathogenic danger
signals and innocuous stimuli accomplish this by indigenous flora,
and rigorous control of immune
A CRASH COURSE ON HUMAN DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
Digestion of food begins as soon as you begin to eat. Chewing breaks
food down into smaller particles with greater surface area,
rendering the food easier for digestive enzymes (including those
in your saliva) to act upon. Food passes down the esophagus into the
stomach, where it’s combined with a highly acidic mixture of more
digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid. This mixture is called “chyme”;
it’s pumped out of the stomach and into the small intestine, where the
chyme combines with yet more enzymes and bile. It’s in the small intestine
that the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates and fats concludes. Most
nutrients are also absorbed in the small intestine. Within four to six
hours of ingestion, what’s left of the food passes to the large
intestine, also known as the colon. Here, waste accumulates and
water and electrolytes are absorbed. Every 24 to 48 hours, what has
become fecal matter passes out of the system via the rectum.
All bacteria (whether friendly or pathogenic) are minute
living creatures—single-celled organisms that live all over the
outside and the inside of the human body. The environment is
not ideal for these bacteria in the stomach or upper small intestine, but
toward the lower small intestine, and especially in the colon, much
higher populations are achieved. Humans have at least several hundred
different kinds of bacteria (some sources believe many times that
number) living in their intestinal tract alone; these “bugs” number in
the hundreds of billions, if not trillions. Most are not pathenogenic, but
there are bacteria present in the intestinal tract whose function is
currently not known. The bacterial environment here is highly complex
and can change rapidly.
Many factors, such as diet, stress, the taking of antibiotics
and even aging, can affect the balance of these bacteria. The
balance can shift in favor of beneficial microbes (which would result in a
lower pH or greater acidity, an unfavorable environment for
pathogens), or in favor of harmful microorganisms. When the latter
occurs, health issues may result. For example, when antibiotics are
ingested, they may kill beneficial bacteria, as well as pathogens. When
normal intestinal flora populations are thus altered, the resulting
imbalance may be conducive to the introduction and/or multiplication
of pathogens. This may cause antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD),
which in its serious forms can result in hospitalization.
The huge numbers of intestinal tract microbes play roles
both within and apart from the digestive process. They help to
complete the digestion of any food components not digested in the
small intestine (including the breakdown of lactose in lactose-intolerant
individuals or some enzyme-resistant fibers). Some of these microbes
produce vitamins. Microbes normally seen in the intestinal tract can
reinforce the intestinal lining’s function as a “barrier,” preventing
bacteria associated with the intestine from passing into the bloodstream
(“leaky gut” syndrome). It is also thought that the majority of the
human immune system, some 50% to 70% depending upon whose
estimates you credit, is based in the intestinal tract, so keeping
sufficient populations of beneficial bacteria there may play a role in
preventing some diseases.
Earlier probiotic research concluded that for any bacteria
to have an effect on the human host, it must attach itself to
the lining of the gastrointestinal tract-something known as
“bacterial adherence.” It was believed that as probiotic cells age,
they could be mutated, so that they did not stick to the lining of the
gastrointestinal tract as well. If these probiotics lost their grip, there was
a possibility for pathogens to establish themselves in place of the
probiotics. Once established, pathogens could act in several ways to
potentially harm the host.
MECHANISM OF ACTION
Lactobacillus plantarum 299v, which is derived from sour dough and
which is used to ferment sauerkraut and salami, has been demonstrated to
improve the recovery of patients with enteric bacterial infections. This
bacterium adheres to reinforce the barrier function of the
intestinal mucosa, thus preventing the attachment of the
pathogenic bacteria to the intestinal wall. Bifidobacterium breve
was found to eradicate Campylobacter jejuni from the stools of children
with enteritis, although less rapidly than in those treated with
erythromycin. Lactobacillus GG was found to eradicate Clostridium
difficile in patients with relapsing colitis, and supplementation of infant
formula milk with Bifidobacterium bifidum and Streptococcus
thermophilus reduced rotavirus shedding and episodes of diarrhea in
The antimicrobial activity of probiotics is thought to be accounted for, in
large part, by their ability to colonize the colon and reinforce the barrier
function of the intestinal mucosa. Probiotics, such as Lactobacillus
bulgaricus, which do not adhere as well to the intestinal mucosa, are much
less effective against enteric pathogens. In addition, some probiotics
have been found to secrete antimicrobial substances. These
substances are known as bacteriocins. Such a bacteriocin has been
isolated from Lactobacillus plantarum ST31, a probiotic derived from sour
dough. The substance was found to be a 20 amino acid peptide. A different
bacteriocin was isolated from another strain of Lactobacillus plantarum.
The bacteriocin has 27 amino acids and contains lanthionine residues. This
type of bacteriocin is classified as a lantibiotic.
Lactobacillus casei has been demonstrated to increase levels of circulating
immunoglobulin A (IgA) in infants infected with rotavirus. This has been
found to be correlated with shortened duration of rotavirus-induced
diarrhea. Lactobacillus GG has also been shown to potentiate intestinal
immune response to rotavirus infection in children. Lactobacillus
acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum appear to enhance the
nonspecific immune phagocytic activity of circulating blood
granulocytes. This effect may account, in part, for the stimulation of IgA
responses in infants infected with rotavirus. In healthy individuals,
Lactobacillus salivarius UCC118 and Lactobacillus johnsonii LA1 were
demonstrated to produce an increase in the phagocytic activity of
peripheral blood monocytes and granulocytes. Also, Lactobacillus
johnsonii LA1, but not Lactobacillus salivarius UCC118, was found to
increase the frequency of interferon-gamma-producing peripheral blood
[ Lactobacillus GG has been shown to inhibit
chemically induced intestinal tumors in rats. The
probiotic appears to alter the initiation and/or
promotional events of the chemically induced tumors.
Lactobacillus GG also binds to some chemical
Saccharomyces boulardii has been shown to prevent antibiotic-associated
diarrhea and also to prevent diarrhea in critically ill tube-fed patients. The
mechanism of this antidiarrheal effect is not well understood. S. boulardii
has been found to secrete a protease, which digests two protein exotoxins,
toxin A and toxin B, which appear to mediate diarrhea and colitis caused
by Clostridium difficile. The protective effects of S. boulardii on C. difficile-
induced inflammatory diarrhea may, in part, be due to proteolytic
digestion of toxin A and toxin B by a secreted protease.
Dietary antigens may induce an immunoinflammatory response that
impairs the barrier function of the intestine, resulting in aberrant
absorption of intralumenal antigens. This may account, in part, for food
allergies. Probiotics that colonize the colon may be helpful in the
management of some with food allergies by reinforcing the barrier function
of the intestinal mucosa. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and
Bifidobacterium lactis Bb12 were found to produce significant
improvement of atopic eczema in children with food allergies.
The decrease in the signs and symptoms of atopic eczema occurred in
parallel with a reduction in the concentration of circulating CD4+ T
lymphocytes and an increase in transforming growth factor beta1 (TGF-
beta1), indicating suppressive effects on T cell functions in this disorder.
These probiotics may help restore the Th1/Th2 balance in atopic eczema.
Lactobacillus GG was found to scavenge superoxide anion radicals, inhibit
lipid peroxidation and chelate iron in vitro. The iron chelating active of
Lactobacillus GG may account, in part, for its antioxidant activity. Other
lactic acid bacteria, including strains of Lactobacillus
acidophilus, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Bifidobacterium longum
and Streptococcus thermophilus, have also demonstrated
antioxidative ability. Mechanisms include chelation of metal ions (iron,
copper), scavenging of reactive oxygen species and reducing activity.
The effectiveness of probiotics is related to their ability to
survive in the acidic stomach environment and the alkaline
conditions in the duodenum, as well as their ability to adhere to
the intestinal mucosa of the colon and to colonize the colon.
Some probiotics, such as Lactobacillus GG and Lactobacillus plantarum
299v, are better able to colonize the colon than others. After passage
through the stomach and the small intestine, those probiotics that do
survive become established transiently in the colon.
There have relatively few studies to date of the effect of probiotics, and
suggests that several strains of lactic acid bacteria are active on various
functions of the gut.
Forms Of Food Available To Consumers:
Probiotics are most often ingested by mouth and can be obtained from
foods or supplements.
For most people, yogurt is their principal probiotic food.
It includes live cultures of Lactobacillus bulgaricus,
Streptococcus thermo-philus, L. acidophilus,
L. casei, L.reuteri and bifidus.
2. FROZEN YOGURT
A) Red Mango USA emphasizes that its frozen
yogurt is tart, non-fat, and carries “Live and
B) Fraiche Yogurt of Palo Alto makes both fresh
and frozen organic yogurts in their shop. They
assert that their probiotic culture “ survives the
freezing process, so you’ll enjoy all the same
health benefits as you would with our fresh
3. Probiotic Cheese
A) Finger Lakes Dexter Creamery makes a kefir cheese. “Dexter” refers
to the breed of cattle used on this farm. This is a farmstead, raw milk
cheese, made with genuine kefir grains, and aged for at least 60 days.
The cheese ranges from whitish to cream. This is strictly seasonal
cheese with limited
B) Another probiotic-enhanced
cheese is made by Bunker Hill
Cheese Company and sold
under the name of Heini’s
Yogurt Cultured Cheese. It is
made in 8 flavours. The cheese
contains the cultures L.
acidophilus, L. casei, L.
Kombucha is simply a fermented tea drink. Usually, tea, water and
sugar are combined together and heated gently, then starter cultures are
introduced into the mixture, exactly as is done with yogurt.
Fermentation takes place over a period of time partially determined by
ambient temperature; but this must be
carefully controlled, as fermentation is
temperature- sensitive. During
fermentation, the pH of Kombucha
drops from roughly neutral to about 3.6
or 3.7, so the drink is on acidic side.
Despite the fermentation process
Kombucha undergoes, the finished
product contains only a negligible
quantity of alcohol.
One thing is certain: Kombucha contains
probiotic cultures. According to G.T.
Dave, founder of Millennium Products,
Kombucha contains at least 1 billion
organisms each of S. boulardii, L. plantarum and L. fermentum, per
5. Probiotic fermented vegetables
Organic Dill Pickles and Asian-Style Cabbage (kimchi) are two of the
handful of products produced by Real Pickles. Like the other fermented
veggies, here these are unpasterized and produced without the use of
6. Probiotic juice
Next Foods, founded by Steve Demos,
launched the first probiotic juice in
the fall of 2007. GoodBelly is an
organic fruit juice-based probiotic
beverage that contains a patented
probiotic called L. plantarum 299v,
which was developed in the U.K. and
has tested for its effects on Irritable
Bowel Syndrome. Twenty billion live
probiotic are in each serving juices to
provide digestive health. Three initial flavours include brilliant
Blueberry, peach mango, and Strawberry Rosehip.
Attune makes wellness bars in three chocolate
varieties and three yogurt and granola varieties. All
products contain” more than 5 times the live active
cultures in yogurt, with less sugar. These bars are
symbiotic, with both inulin and probiotics in amount
and they state that” have proven to help promote
strong, healthy digestive and immune systems”.
8. Probiotics for pets
Given the number of cats and dogs and
other animal family members with
sensitive stomachs, probiotics for pets is
no joke. A handful of companies
produce various formulations for cats,
dogs, or both.
A) Purina’s FortiFlora, a probiotic
nutritional supplement, is offered
in different formulations for cats
and dogs, and is suggested for the
“dietary management” of those animals suffering from diarrhea.
9. PROBIOTIC LIQUID SUPPLEMENTS
Body Ecology Diet:
It has not one but three probiotic beverages. Coco-Biotic contains the
liquid of young coconuts, Dong Quai contains probiotics as well as the
herb of the same name, and Innergy Biotic is a “gluten-free, energy-
boosting, probiotic liquid.” Each beverage has a two-ounce serving size.
While they vary in the level of probiotics per serving, all contain the
same four probiotics: two strains of Lactobacillus and
two of Sacceromyces.
According to the Yakult
USA website, more than
25 million people drink
Yakult on a daily basis.
One small bottle of this
cultured dairy drink
contains more than 8
casei Shirota- the ‘
friendly bacteria’ that help balance your digestive
system and support immune functioning. L. casei
Shirota can ONLY be found in Yakult [Shirota was the microbiologist
inventor] and when consumed in sufficient quantities, this probiotic
strain can be very beneficial for you.”
ABCs of Probiotics
Researchers are discovering more and more about
how probiotics may provide health benefits by
altering the intestinal micro flora and improving
intestinal functions. Though benefits vary
depending on the type of probiotic bacteria used
and the amount consumed, experts agree that
daily consumption of probiotics is most beneficial. If you think you
have any of the conditions described below, you should contact your
physician immediately. Additionally, you should always include a
healthcare professional in any decision about your health.
Allergic diseases have increased dramatically in the U.S. over the past
40 years. The incidence of asthma alone has doubled in the last 25
years. Research suggests that certain probiotics may have an impact
on the mucosal barrier function of the intestinal tract, which affects
allergens entering the body and the activity of inflammation-producing
More than a third of all adults over the age of 20 have cholesterol
levels that are too high, putting them at increased risk for
cardiovascular disease. Results of studies with both animals and
humans suggest that regular consumption of certain probiotic dairy
products may have an impact on cholesterol- level and may affect
the levels of "good" HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol in
Colon cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the
United States. Many researchers believe that interactions between
diet, the intestinal microflora and the cells in the lining of the colon,
together with genetic factors, may be what cause colon cancer to
develop. Daily consumption of probiotics may help maintain a healthy
intestinal microflora and promote a healthy environment. Another
theory for the cause of colon cancer is that prolonged exposure to
cancer-causing compounds in the colon may trigger the process.
Although the evidence is not conclusive and more research is needed,
probiotics may modulate several major intestinal functions potentially
associated with the development of colon cancer.
Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints in
the United States, with about 3 million people reporting that they are
frequently affected, including children. Research has shown that
regular daily consumption of certain probiotic fermented dairy product
may have an effect in occasional constipation conditions and also help
shorten long intestinal transit time, improving regularity.
Though there are many causes of diarrhea, bacterial and viral
infections are among the most common. However, diarrhea often
occurs when the intestinal microflora becomes unbalanced. This can
happen temporarily, for example, when antibiotics are prescribed to
fight an infection and "good" bacteria are destroyed along with the
bad. Doctors suggested as far back as the early 20th century that live
bacterial cultures, such as those used for the fermentation of dairy
products, might help restore the micro floral balance in the intestines
and offer benefits for diarrhea sufferers. While the effect of
probiotics on diarrhea hasn't been fully established and the exact
mechanism for how probiotics may impact diarrhea sufferers still isn't
known, research in this area continues.
High Blood Pressure
More than 65 million Americans have high blood pressure and
approximately $15 billion is spent each year on medications to treat
the condition. It's particularly prevalent in African Americans, middle-
aged and elderly people, obese people, heavy drinkers and women who
are taking birth control pills. People with diabetes mellitus, gout or
kidney disease are also more likely to have high blood pressure. While
more research is needed to reach a consensus, several studies have
suggested that fermented dairy products may have an effect on blood
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
More than 1 million people in the United States suffer from IBD, a
painful and debilitating chronic inflammation of the digestive tract.
The two most common forms of IBD are Crohn's disease and ulcerative
colitis. There is no cure. Studies have found higher than normal levels
of "bad" bacteria in the intestinal tracts of people with IBD and there
is growing evidence that the balance of the intestinal microflora may
play an important role in the development of IBD. Probiotics help
restore the balance of bacteria in the intestinal tract to one that
favors beneficial bacteria over potentially harmful bacteria. Research
about the role that probiotics may play in this area is in the early
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS occurs when the muscles in the intestines don't work properly,
and there is heightened pain perception in the colon. Gas, abdominal
pain, and diarrhea or constipation, or both typically characterize it.
Some studies have shown that an imbalance of "good" and "bad"
bacteria in the intestines may play a role in the development of
symptoms for some people with IBS. Probiotics help restore the
balance of bacteria in the intestinal tract to one that favors beneficial
bacteria over potentially harmful bacteria. Research about the role
that probiotics may play in this area is in the early stages.
Immune Function and Natural Defense Systems
Our body has its own natural defense mechanisms against invading
bacteria, viruses, and other aggressions. While you may be familiar
with some aspects of your body's disease-fighting capabilities, you
may be surprised to find out that about 70% of the body's immune
system is located in the digestive tract, where specialized cells play a
vital role as a first line of defense against invading bacteria. The
microflora in the lining of the intestinal tract also act a physical
barrier. Regular consumption of probiotics helps regulate the level of
friendly bacteria, reinforcing this barrier and helping to maintain
intestinal health. Research suggests that certain probiotics may have a
beneficial action on the intestinal microflora, the functioning of the
intestinal lining and regulation of critical components of the immune
system such as antibodies and natural killer cells.
PROS AND CONS ABOUT PROBIOTICS
What is the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?
Probiotics are healthy bacteria. We already have about 400 healthy bacteria in
our intestinal system. They actually help us to stay healthy. A probiotic
supplement or food product helps to replenish the good bacteria in our bodies,
help fight infection and boost immune function. . Prebiotics are not bacteria at
all. They are nutrients, typically non-absorbable carbohydrates such as fructo-
oligo-saccharides, which are found in legumes, fruits and whole grains.
Where can you find probiotics?
The best place to find them is in milk and yogurt products, but you can also find
them in supplement form.
How often do you need to take a probiotic?
It's important to make sure you do it on a daily basis. That's the best way to get
the long-term benefits.
Why should you take a probiotic when you're on an antibiotic?
Whenever you're on an antibiotic a lot of time the good bacteria are taken out
with the bad bacteria causing the problem. Probiotics will help replenish your
good bacteria to get your body back to a healthy state.
How do you know if a product contains probiotics?
You want to look for a label that says "live and active cultures." Usually there is a
seal to tell you that those cultures are present and active, and healthy bacteria are
Should a probiotic supplement be taken with food?
Food acts as a buffer so that the probiotics arrive alive in your intestines. If you're
getting it from a supplement you might not have that protection unless you take it
Are there some people who shouldn't take probiotics?
If you have a weakened immune system, such as a person who has HIV/AIDS or
someone who is undergoing chemotherapy, it's a good idea to talk with your
physician before you start to use probiotics on a regular basis.
Why are we hearing so much about probiotics now?
They have been around for years. But research has shown they are great at
helping us fight infection, and they've been shown to help with diarrhea and
lactose intolerance. People are more health conscious now and looking for ways
to proactively keep themselves healthy.
What should people know about probiotics?
While there is a lot of enthusiasm about probiotics being a "natural cure," there is
not enough data to conclusively say that they help autoimmune disease or human
One should know about these things:
Are the bacteria inside the bottle live and active?
What is the quality control used in manufacturing the products?
What is the optimal dose?
Which probiotic should be used to treat a specific condition of a
The culture should possess high survival rate and multiply faster
in the digestive tract. It should be strain-specific.
In what circumstances would probiotics be used?
Probiotics are frequently used in treating stomach bugs, having shown the most
impact on infants with acute diarrhea. Infants who get rotavirus, or other viral
illnesses typically have diarrhea for three or four days. Probiotics have been
shown to decrease the duration of the illness by a day.
Pregnant women and nursing mothers should only use probiotic nutritional
supplements if recommended by their physicians.
The use of probiotics for the treatment of any disorder must be medically
The most common adverse reactions with use of probiotics are gastrointestinal and include
flatulence and constipation. Probiotics are generally well tolerated.
A CASE STUDY ON:
BACILLUS AQUACULTURE PROBIOTICS: POTENTIAL AND LIMITATIONS.
Bacillus as probiotic for animal use:
Authorized additive EU
Bacillus cereus var. toyoi (Toyocerin)
Bacillus subtilis (Belfeed, Calsporin, Bioplus 2B)
Bacillus licheniformis (Bioplus 2B)
Benefits of selected Bacillus strains:
Present in aquatic animals and environment.
Ability to grow under wide range of conditions.
Producer of numerous enzymes.
Active against many pathogens.
Directly by growth inhibition.
Advantages of spores:
Long shelf life
Easy to transport
Resistant to dehydration
Resistant to temperatures up to 60.C
Probiotics as alternative to prophylactic use of anti microbial:
Doubts of efficacy Suitable claims
Doubts of composition Suitable delivery
Doubts of safety Suitable production
Advantages of Bacillus mixtures: