The Benefits of Probiotics
Dietary live bacteria supplementation, collectively termed probiotic therapy, is a popular way to improve your health.
Recent estimates suggest that 3.9 million adults in the US consume prebiotic or probiotic supplements. Up to 60% of healthcare providers prescribe probiotics to their patients.
Probiotics are a type of dietary supplement that are meant to improve your health. People take probiotics for many reasons, such as to:
- Relieve gastrointestinal problems
- Help their immune system
- Protect them from infection
- And help them feel better.
However, we need more evidence to know if probiotics actually help improve people’s health.
It is still being debated whether or not probiotics work to help cure infections or other conditions. Some studies have even shown people who have died after taking probiotics. However, it’s important to remember that not all the effects of probiotics have been reported in these studies.
So, medical authorities, like the European Food Safety Authority and the US Food and Drug Administration, don’t think that probiotics should be used as a medical intervention. They’re usually classified as dietary supplements instead. This means that they’re safe.
Do Probiotics Stay in the Gut
Do bacteria that you eat (probiotics) stay in your gut and help the gut work better? Some studies say that when you take probiotics, they stay in your gut for a short time after you stop taking them. However, other studies say that some probiotics stay in your gut even after you stop taking them.
Nobody knows for sure if probiotics help the gut work better or not. A recent study said that probiotics didn’t have an effect on the gut bacteria in most people, but other studies have said that probiotics do change the gut bacteria.
A comprehensive assessment of probiotic effects on the mammalian host is necessary for researchers, caregivers, and consumers. However, this is difficult because probiotics can have different effects depending on the person, the age, diet, antibiotic usage, and other factors of the person.
In addition, the way probiotics act in the gut can be different from how they act in the stool, and it can be hard to tell if probiotics are actually changing the gut microbiome.
Probiotic Effects Differ from One Person to Another
Finally, researchers investigated how well an 11-strain probiotic preparation colonized the gut in mice and humans. They did this by looking at the gut microbiome before and after taking the probiotic, and by looking at how the probiotic changed the gut microbiome.
They found that the probiotic strains were not all able to colonize the gut, and that the colonization patterns were very different from subject to subject.
The Study on Human Participants
29 participants were recruited for this study between 2014 and 2018. Participants filled out questionnaires about their medical history, lifestyle, and diet before they were allowed to participate.
Two groups of participants were recruited – a group of 10 people who had never taken probiotics before, and a group of 19 people who were given probiotics or placebo pills for 4 weeks. Ten people in the probiotics group and the entire placebo group had two endoscopic examinations: one before the intervention and one 3 weeks into the intervention.
The study was completed as planned on 29 people. Seven minor adverse events were reported and all fully resolved. One participant developed a serious adverse event after the first colonoscopy and was treated and recovered. All participants received payment for their participation in the study. Throughout the study, 248 luminal, 483 mucosal, 320 stool, and 242 regional biopsies were collected.
The Study on Mice Trials
8 week old male mice were purchased from a company and got used to the new environment for 2 weeks before the experiment started.
For the probiotic supplement, a pill was dissolved in sterile water and given to the mice by mouth. For the conventionalization of GF mice, human stool was taken and put in water. The water was then given to the GF mice by mouth.
The mice were monitored for 3 days before the probiotic supplement was given to them. The mice were then sacrificed and their digestive tracts were taken out. The content within the cavity was extracted and collected for luminal microbiome isolation, and the remaining tissue was rinsed three times with sterile water and collected for mucosal microbiome isolation.
The results showed that the composition and function of the gut microbiome varies along the entire gastrointestinal tract in both mice and humans. It also showed that using stool samples to measure the gut microbiome may not give accurate results.
The study found that the probiotics examined were able to pass through the gastrointestinal tract into the stool, but were met with a resistance from the gut microbiome. This resistance varied from person to person.