Tag Archives for " gastrointestinal "

1 Probiotic FAQ: Part 1

Hope you all had a great weekend! Our family was visiting my husband’s parents. On Friday my daughter and I had appointments for acupressure allergy treatments which went very well. I’ve been struggling with a lot of sinus headaches recently and I’m hopefully that these will help those calm down. One of the foods I was reacting to was chocolate 😔, but thankfully the treatment should allow me to put it back in my diet occasionally. 😊 I think I’m going to try to abstain for a little while before re-introducing. Our daughter is doing so well from where she was as a baby, hopefully these will help her be able to continue to expand her food choices. We had a lot of success with them in the past and calming down her eczema.

We enjoyed a relaxing Saturday with his family and today are celebrating his mom’s birthday before we head home. Hopefully this week we also get to meet our newest nephew who is due to arrive any day now!

Probiotics are a hot topic, and I don’t have all the answers but this post and my post next week will help address some of the most common questions I receive about them. We aren’t at a place yet where we can say you have this issue and you need this particular product 100%, but we have good data and is helping us guide recommendations. The microbiome is complex and everyone’s is different which makes it challenging. A lot of probiotic treatment is trial and error but sometimes what we try the first few times works! If you missed the first post Probiotic 101, make sure to check it out. As with the last post, two of my interns Vineeta Rao and Ruth Gunti worked hard on this! Thank you!

Hope you enjoy this first FAQ and stay tuned for more next week.

Dr. Hartzler

If I have a milk or other food allergy, can I take probiotics?

Yes. A  randomized controlled-trial found that supplementation with a probiotic helped infants allergic to cow’s milk develop a tolerance at a higher rate.1  Severe milk allergy patients should avoid probiotics made from milk. Dairy free probiotics are recommended for those with severe intolerance or allergy, where as dairy free would not be necessary for lactose intolerant patients. Additionally, a recent study that followed peanut allergic children found that a combination of probiotics (Lactobacillus rhamnosus) and peanut oral immunotherapy produced a sustained non-allergic response in children even four years after initial treatment indicating potential future use of probiotics in immunotherapy for the treatment of food allergies.2

If I have lactose intolerance, can I take probiotics?

Yes. In fact, probiotics are being used to help those with lactose intolerance. In a review article examining the relationship between probiotics and their use in those with lactose intolerance it was found that there was an overall positive relationship. The species of bacteria that were most common among the reviews studied were lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus bulgaricus, and streptococcus thermophilus all of which demonstrated some level activity. 3

The World Gastroenterology Organisation Global Guidelines on probiotics states that “Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus improve lactose digestion and reduce symptoms related to lactose intolerance.”3

Should I take my probiotic with or without food?

A study looking at four species of bacteria found that survival through the GI tract was most preserved when given with a meal or 30 minutes before the meal.4   This may be due to the changes in acidity of the stomach during the fed and fasting states. During the fasting state, the stomach environment is more acidic, making it is more difficult for the bacteria to survive. Upon eating, however, the stomach environment becomes less acidic, thus providing a more favorable environment for bacteria to thrive. 4,5 In this study, probiotic survival was greater when taken with foods high fat content than with carbohydrates, apple juice, or water alone. Fat content appears to help “coat” the bacteria to protect against stomach acid. Thus, it is best to take your probiotic with a higher fat meal or snack to help the bacteria survive transit through the acidic stomach environment.4

What is the safety profile of probiotics?

Studies have found that probiotics have minimal to no side effects. Side effects that are observed are most commonly bloating and flatulence, but the symptoms are mild and subside with continued use of the probiotic. Constipation and increased thirst have also been rarely associated with the species S. boulardii.6 The extreme side effects that have been found are in patients whose immune system have already been compromised.

Why might my probiotic cause diarrhea or constipation?

Diarrhea or constipation can occur with probiotics especially at the start of therapy due to multiple factors. Likely, it depends on the degree to which the gut is imbalanced to begin with, and as the gut is being rebalanced, bacteria can release by-products through fermentation that influence how fast the bowels move. Also, since the brain and gut appear to influence each other, lifestyle factors such as stress may influence the gut’s movement. While we do not know how each of these factors specifically affect the gut, there are multiple neurological influences by different types of bacteria which may contribute to the speed in which transit happens.7

That is a wrap for today’s FAQ.. more to come next week! Next week I will address probiotics with antibiotics, histamine intolerance, and Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). Don’t miss it! If you are looking for a quality probiotic feel free to check out my FullScript Store or send me an email if you need help!

References:

  1. Probiotic formula reverses cow’s milk allergies by changing gut bacteria of infants. The University of Chicago Medicine. https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/biological-sciences-articles/probiotic-formula-reverses-cows-milk-allergies-by-changing-gut-bacteria-of-infants. Updated September 22, 2015. Accessed February 9, 2019.
  2. Hsiao KC, Ponsonby AL, Axelrad C, Pitkin S, Tang MLK. Long-term clinical and immunological effects of probiotic and peanut oral immunotherapy after treatment cessation: 4-year follow-up of a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet Child Adolesc Health. 2017;1(2):97-105.
  3. Oak SJ, Jha R. The effects of probiotics in lactose intolerance: A systematic review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2018;9:1-9.
  4. Tompkins TA, Mainville I, Arcand Y. The impact of meals on a probiotic during transit through a model of the human upper gastrointestinal tract. Benef Microbes. 2011;2(4):295-303.
  5. Zembroski R. Why taking probiotics on an empty stomach is a bad idea. REBUILD. https://www.drzembroski.com/why-taking-probiotics-on-an-empty-stomach-is-a-bad-idea/. Accessed February 9, 2019.
  6. Williams NT. Probiotics. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2010;67(6):449-58.
  7. Conlon MA, Bird AR. The impact of diet and lifestyle on gut microbiota and human health. Nutrients. 2014;7(1):17-44.

3 Probiotics 101

It’s been a whirlwind the last few months. I’m teaching my last lecture in Endocrine tomorrow.. I’m excited it’s on functional medicine approach to pre-diabetes and obesity! The best part about teaching part-time is getting to teach what I’m passionate about. After this, I just have lots of grading and course coordination items. But the course ends next week then I’m off to Seattle, WA to speak on diabetes cardiovascular outcomes trials. It’s the same presentation from December in Anaheim showcased at a different meeting. It’s nice when you spend a lot of time on something, to be able to do it twice! For this blog post, I had a lot of help from two students working on this probiotic series, so thank you to Vineeta Rao and Ruth Gunti for your hard work. Soon they will be my colleagues! Enjoy!

Dr. Hartzler


Welcome to probiotics 101, a guide to all your FAQs!

What are probiotics?

‘Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.’ 1 The microorganisms are bacteria of different strains that process our food into nutrients that benefit our health. Probiotics come from the Latin preposition pro (“for”) and the Greek adjective (biōtikos) meaning “fit for life, lively.” Put together this means that probiotics are for life.

Why use probiotics?

Using probiotics enhances the gut microbiota to better do its job.  The gut microbiota/microbiome is the conglomerate of bacteria that live in your gut and work together to bolster the immune system, to fight against potential infections, and to make nutrients such as vitamins, fats and other molecules that are needed by the body to function. 1  Furthermore facets of our modern day western lifestyle, such as diet, stress, geography, as well as sleep and travel patterns can negatively affect our gut microbiome meaning we don’t have a healthy gut to begin with. 2 In addition to the poor lifestyle factors, the increasingly prevalent use proton pump inhibitors is correlated with and probably contributes to “decreased bacterial richness” of  gut microbiome, an increased amount of oral bacteria that is potentially pathogenic present in the gut, and an overall greater “microbial alterations” in the gut than those on antibiotics. 3

How do probiotics work?

While probiotics are most commonly associated with replacing flora or colonizing the gut, modifications made to the gut microbiota are not likely permanent and reflect only one of many actions that probiotics have in the body. Among these actions are immune modulation, anti-inflammatory activity, pathogen antagonism, production of short chain fatty acids, repairing and strengthening of the intestinal barrier, metabolism of gut cholesterol, and enhanced antibody secretion.4 While not all probiotics encompass all of these features, depending on the strain, a given probiotic may provide one or several of these protective benefits.5

What is genus, species, and strain?

Bacteria are usually classified to the public by three names much like people who have first, middle and last names. Therefore the first name is a broad name termed genus, followed by a more specific name called a species finally followed by a strain number that is further specifies the exact kind of bacteria.  A labeled example is below!

What is the evidence for probiotic use?

Numerous review studies indicate that probiotics are beneficial overall, especially for gut health.6 However, evidence for treating or preventing specific conditions through probiotics is best established through clinical trials that demonstrate how probiotics produce a specific effect. While the number of controlled trials demonstrating specific effects in humans is still growing, probiotics have also been evaluated in animal experiments and or other in vitro studies that demonstrate efficacy and safety in terms of their use. 1  Fermented foods with probiotics in them have been consumed for centuries for health benefits. Additionally, the modern diet lacks prebiotic fiber that contributes to a diverse gut microbiome.7

What is the difference between Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus genus of bacteria?

Lactobacillus bacteria is a type of bacteria that produces lactic acid as an end-product of its metabolism. Bifidobacterium bacteria on the other hand produce lactic acid and acetic acid; both these substances are important for the maintenance of the gut microbiome. 8,9

Here are some of the bacteria in each genus considered to be probiotics.8

Microorganisms
 considered as probiotics
Lactobacillus speciesBifidobacterium species
L. acidophilus
L. casei
L. crispatus
L. gallinarum
 L. gasseri
L. johnsonii
L. paracasei
L. plantarum
L. reuteri
L. rhamnosus
B. adolescentis
B. animalis
B. bifidum
B. breve
B. infantis
B. lactis
 B. longum

How to know you are getting a good product?

There are many overarching reviews that conclude that probiotics as a whole class are effective, suggesting that many strains share the similar levels of effectiveness. Additionally, there are number of factors that contribute to how probiotics act in our bodies such as genetics, diet and host microbiome that makes it difficult to isolate the effects of one strain over another. However, it is important that the product contains the live bacteria in large doses that will survive the harsh environments of the stomach.6

How much does the specific strain matter when ensuring that you have a good product? As more studies for probiotic use emerge, there is an ongoing controversy about the importance of the strain. On one side of the debate, larger studies that examine multiple clinical trials suggest that probiotics have benefit even when grouping similar strains together in one class. The theory behind this position is that similar strains of probiotics will have actions causing similar effects in the body.6 One the other side of the debate, some clinicians compare strain selection to choosing a particular antibiotic to attack a specific disease-causing microbe.4 Advocates of this position point to the fact that Lactobacillus plantarum DSM 9843 reduces irritable bowel syndrome while Lactobacillus plantarum MF 1298 aggravates the condition and thus conclude that when supporting a specific condition, one should only use a strain that has demonstrated efficacy for that specific condition.10-12

In summary, data for use of probiotics is exploding on a daily basis. Probiotics are useful to promote healthy gut transit and repair and for a myriad of immune benefits.  In addition, data suggests significant changes to the gut microbiome is most easily stimulated by ingestion of prebiotics, which are non-digestible foods that promote and stimulate the growth of bacteria in the gut.13 Prebiotics are often combined with probiotic supplements.  Sometimes they may not be well tolerated by certain individuals especially those that have an imbalance in bacteria. Certain non-gas producing prebiotics may be helpful for some patients. We will talk more about these situations in my next post!

If you are looking for quality probiotics. Please check out my Fullscript store and click on the probiotics category! I’m happy to help with simple questions on products via email or if you are interested in a 1:1 personal GI health consults with my team, please let me know. We are launching tele-health services soon!

SOURCES:

  1. Fijan S. Microorganisms with claimed probiotic properties: an overview of recent literature. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014;11(5):4745-67.
  2. Conlon MA, Bird AR. The impact of diet and lifestyle on gut microbiota and human health. Nutrients. 2014;7(1):17-44.
  3. Imhann F, Bonder MJ, Vich vila A, et al. Proton pump inhibitors affect the gut microbiome. Gut. 2016;65(5):740-8.
  4. Probiotic Advisor. The Importance of Strain. https://www.probioticadvisor.com/probiotic-essentials-1/the-importance-of-strain/#.XC-EEPZFxPZ. Accessed January 21, 2019.
  5. Hill, C., et al., Expert consensus document: The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics consensus statement on the scope and appropriate use of the term probiotic. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol, 2014. 11(8): p. 506-514.
  6. California Dairy Research Foundation. Is it time to consider generic probiotic effects? http://cdrf.org/2013/03/01/is-it-time-to-consider-generic-probiotic-effects/. Updated March 1, 2013. Accessed August 20, 2018.
  7. Holscher HD. Dietary fiber and prebiotics and the gastrointestinal microbiota. Gut Microbes. 2017;8(2):172-184.
  8. Kechagia M, Basoulis D, Konstantopoulou S, et al. Health benefits of probiotics: a review. ISRN Nutr. 2013;2013:481651.
  9. Bifidobacteria Institute. Difference between bifidobacteria and lactobacillus. http://bb536.jp/english/basic/basic03.html. Accessed August 20, 2018.
  10. Ducrotte, P., P. Sawant, and V. Jayanthi, Clinical trial: Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (DSM 9843) improves symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. World J Gastroenterol, 2012. 18(30): p. 4012-8.
  11. Niedzielin, K., H. Kordecki, and B. Birkenfeld, A controlled, double-blind, randomized study on the efficacy of Lactobacillus plantarum 299V in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol, 2001. 13: p. 1143-1147.
  12. Ligaarden, S.C., et al., A candidate probiotic with unfavourable effects in subjects with irritable bowel syndrome: a randomised controlled trial. BMC Gastroenterol, 2010. 10: p. 16.
  13. Cashman K. Prebiotics and calcium bioavailability. Curr Issues Intest
    Microbiol. 2003 Mar;4(1):21-32. Review.