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Could Probiotics Improve Health Outcomes After Injury?

probiotic, fermented food, yogurt, sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar, gut health, digestion

Fermented foods can provide natural sources of good bacteria.

From hearing your stomach grumble when it’s hungry to the gurgling sounds of indigestion, the gut reminds us everyday of its important presence in our health. Gut bacteria are vital to keeping balance in the body. Also, gut bacteria make sure that any food consumed is being used for energy.  However, recent research has shown that gut bacteria may also be crucial for positive health outcomes after injury.

What is gut bacteria?

Gut bacteria is part of a community of microorganisms such as fungi and viruses that live in the gut microbiome. Also, gut bacteria get along well with the cells of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and are not known for causing disease. Functions of gut bacteria include:

  • breaking down nutrients to be used for energy
  • protecting the body from toxic invaders
  • breaking down and eliminating drugs from the body

Imbalances of gut bacteria in the body can lead to conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).  Also, gut bacteria live in harmony with the immune system and work together to keep the body safe from “bad” bacteria. However, an imbalance in “good” versus “bad” bacteria in the gut could have an impact on immune system function.

Gut bacteria and Injury

A study of 12 critically injured adults in the journal Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open looked at the status of gut bacteria health over time. Stool samples were taken 24 hours and 72 hours after admission to the hospital.  After 72 hours, three types of bacteria had been depleted in the injured group, while two types of bacteria had risen.  More studies need to be done to explore this finding more. However, the researchers suggest that gut bacteria structure could affect patient outcomes after traumatic injury.  Furthermore, probiotics may be one future treatment to help improve patient outcomes in these cases.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics, which means “for life,” are live microorganisms meant to have positive health benefits.  You may see on store shelves many probiotic medicines containing bacteria from the groups Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.  However, since each strain of bacteria benefits a different function in the gut, the more types of strains in a probiotic, the potentially greater health impact. Probiotics may be helpful in preventing diarrhea caused by infections and antibiotics as well as in treatment of those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Basic functions of probiotics may include:

  • maintaining a diverse community of microorganisms
  • maintain a protective barrier for the gut to keep out pathogens
  • recover balance after infection, antibiotic treatment, or other disturbances
  • Stop growth of and fight off unwanted microorganisms
  • Nourish and strengthen the immune system

Biovia30 by VitaSciences provides 30 million colony forming units per dose of diverse strains to help restore balance in the gut and promote immune system strength. Furthermore,  Biovia30 contains various strains of Bacillus, Lactobacillus, and Bifidobacterium to help you build up “good” bacteria stores and keep “bad” bacteria out.

Other ways to protect the gut

  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and other fiber-rich foods to help promote diversity of gut bacteria.
  • Stop smoking or don’t start since smoking can negatively affect gut bacteria and the immune system. Not only does smoking constrict blood vessels, but it also causes inflammation in the body which can cause cell damage.
  • Find healthy ways to manage stress such as yoga, meditation, or exercise since stress can alter gut bacteria populations. Stress is one of the contributing factors of IBS.
  • Lower saturated fat intake to help lower numbers of inflammatory microbes in the gut.
  • Consume phytonutrients such as polyphenols and tannins found in colorful berries, beans, nuts, seeds, and teas. These compounds can nourish microbes in the digestive tract.

Probiotics shown great promise for helping to treat various health conditions. However, potential benefits of probiotics must be confirmed by further research. Please contact your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

Sources:

Conlon, M. A., & Bird, A. R. (2015). The Impact of Diet and Lifestyle on Gut Microbiota and Human Health. Nutrients, 7(1), 17–44. http://doi.org/10.3390/nu7010017

Jandhyala, S. M., Talukdar, R., Subramanyam, C., Vuyyuru, H., Sasikala, M., & Reddy, D. N. (2015). Role of the normal gut microbiota. World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG, 21(29), 8787–8803. http://doi.org/10.3748/wjg.v21.i29.8787

Medline Plus (October 26, 2017) “Gut Bacteria May Change Rapidly After Severe Injury.”

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (October 2016) “Probiotics: In Depth”

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Top Three Ways Probiotics Can Improve Gut Health

Probiotics, or gut-loving bacteria, started to blossom back in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s as part of a healthy lifestyle.  It was during this time that Scientist Elie Metchnikoff proposed that consumption of yogurt with Lactobacillus helped decrease the amount of toxin-producing bacteria in the gut and increased life years in hosts.  The advent of probiotics has improved gut health for many.

About Probiotics

You may have heard about fermented foods, probiotics, and how good they are for you. However, do you really know what they are, and why they are so healthy?  The conversion of carbohydrates in the foods to alcohol or organic acids produces fermented foods. This is done by using microorganisms such as yeast or bacteria under the absence of free oxygen.  As a result, the fermentation process can lead to increased concentration of vitamins and  nutrients in the final product. In addition, other benefits of fermented foods include enhanced flavor and increased digestibility. Finally, it is important to note that fermented foods are only probiotics if the bacteria culture survives long enough to provide benefits to the GI tract.  

Probiotic Foods

These are some fermented foods that are considered probiotics.

  • Yogurt, which is milk fermented with bacteria like Lactobacillus acidophilus. 
  • Kimchi, or spicy pickled cabbage, which is a popular dish in Korean culture.
  • Sauerkraut, which is a pickled cabbage commonly eaten in German culture.
  • Cheeses like Gouda, Cheddar, Swiss, and Parmesan. Not all cheeses have probiotic qualities, but in these particular cheeses the bacteria survives long enough to benefit the GI tract.  Furthermore, during digestion  beneficial bacteria is protected by the fat in cheese.

Probiotic Drinks

There are also some fermented drinks that provide probiotic benefits.

  • Cow’s milk fermented with bacteria creates the sour yogurt-like drink called kefir.
  • Live cultures added to milk creates buttermilk. However, cooked buttermilk can deactivate these gut-beneficial cultures.
  • Sweet tea fermented with yeast and bacteria creates Kombucha.

Probiotic Supplements

With so many different probiotics on the market containing so many different bacterial cultures in so many different amounts, it can be difficult to know which will provide the most benefit.  However, Vitasciences makes it easy for you when it comes to choosing the proper probiotic.  BioVia30 contains a diversity of bacterial strains containing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium that helps to increase the good bacteria in your gut. Therefore, choose Vitasciences when shopping for your supplement needs.

-by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Battcock, M. and S. Azam-Ali (1998) “Fermented Frutis and Vegetables: A Global Perspective.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. http://www.fao.org/docrep/x0560e/x0560e00.htm#con

Cruz, A., et al. (2009 Aug) “Probiotic cheese: Health benefits, technological and stability aspects” Trends in Food Science & Technology, 20(8):344-354.

Ganesan, B. et al. (2014) “Probiotic Bacteria Survive in Cheddar Cheese and modify  populations of other Lactic Acid Bacteria.” Journal of Applied Microbiology, 116(6): 1642-56.

 

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