probioticsAccording to a recent definition used in Germanyprobiotics are defined“ viablemicroorganisms, sufficient amounts of which reachthe intestine in an active state and thus exert positivehealth effects”
What are Probiotics?Experts have debated how to define probiotics. Onewidely used definition, developed by the World HealthOrganization and the Food and Agriculture Organizationof the United Nations, is that probiotics are ―livemicroorganisms, which, when administered in adequateamounts, confer a health benefit on the host.‖(Microorganisms are tiny living organisms—such asbacteria, viruses, and yeasts—that can be seen only undera microscope.)
What are Probiotics?Probiotics are live microorganisms (in mostcases, bacteria) that are similar to beneficialmicroorganisms found in the human gut. They arealso called ―friendly bacteria‖ or ―good bacteria.‖Probiotic is a term derived from two Greek words –―pro‖ and ―biotic‖ which means ―Promote life‖ or―for life‖.
COnt….Probiotics are not the same thing as prebiotics—nondigestible food ingredients that selectively stimulate thegrowth and/or activity of beneficial microorganismsalready in people’s colons. When probiotics andprebiotics are mixed together, they form a synbiotic.
Cont..Probiotics are available in foods and dietarysupplements (for example, capsules, tablets, andpowders) and in some other forms as well. Examplesof foods containing probiotics are yogurt, fermentedand unfermented milk, some juices and soybeverages. In probiotic foods and supplements, thebacteria may have been present originally or addedduring preparation.
Probiotic Microorganisms:Most probiotics are bacteria similar to those naturally found inpeople’s guts, especially in those of breastfed infants (whohave natural protection against many diseases). Most often, thebacteria come from two groups, Lactobacillus orBifidobacterium. Within each group, there are different species(for example, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteriumbifidus), and within each species, different strains (orvarieties). A few common probiotics, such as Saccharomycesboulardii, are yeasts, which are different from bacteria.
Cont…Lactobacilli are non-spore forming rod shapedbacteria. They have complex nutritional requirementsand are strictly fermentative, aero tolerant oranaerobic, aciduric or acidophilic. Lactobacilli arefound in a variety of habitats where rich, carbohydratescontaining substrates are available, such as human andanimal mucosal membranes, on plant or materials ofplant origin, sewage and fermented milk productsfermenting or spoiling food.
Cont…Bifidobacteria constitute a major part of normal intestinal micro flora inhumans throughout life. They appear in stools a few days after birth ofadults is 1010 -1011 cfu/gram, but this number decreases with age.Bifidobacteria are non-motile, non sporulating rods with varyingappearance. Most strains are strictly anaerobic.
Selection criteria for probiotic organism: Safe for humans, i.e. free of pathogenic and toxic effects. Origin from the intestinal tract of healthy persons as suchmicroorganism are regarded safe for humans and bestadapted to ecosystem of the gut. Tolerance to gastric and bile acid as well as sufficientresistance against digestive enzymes enables the survivalduring the passage through stomach and upper intestinaltract, and have health promoting effects in the gut.
Cont…As the decrease in pH of the ingested food in the stomachis low due to buffer capacity of gastric acid, resistanceagainst gastric acid is less critical than tolerance ofbacteria to bile acid and digestive enzymes in smallbowel. Detection of parameters enabling a (positive) influence onintestinal flora like adhesion to intestinal epithelialcells, Survival and reproducing capacity in human largeintestine, or production of antimicrobial substances.
Cont…A permanent colonization of bacteria in the largebowel has not been proven. It is not requested forattaining probiotic effects as far as a daily or at leastregular bacteria supply occur via regular in take ofprobiotics. The yeast Saccharomyces boulardii, used inpharmaceutical products was shown to exertbeneficial effects against diarrhea and enterococcuscontaining pharmaceuticals are used in prediatrics.
Uses for Health PurposesThere are several reasons that people areinterested in probiotics for health purposes. First, the world is full of microorganisms(including bacteria), and so are people’sbodies—in and on the skin, in the gut, and inother orifices. Friendly bacteria are vital toproper development of the immune system, toprotection against microorganisms that couldcause disease, and to the digestion andabsorption of food and nutrients.
Cont…Each person’s mix of bacteria varies.Interactions between a person and themicroorganisms in his body, and among themicroorganisms themselves, can be crucial tothe person’s health and well-being.This bacterial ―balancing act‖ can be thrown offin two major ways:1. By antibiotics, when they kill friendlybacteria in the gut along with unfriendlybacteria. Some people use probiotics to try tooffset side effects from antibiotics likegas, cramping, or diarrhea.
Cont…Similarly, some use them to ease symptoms of lactoseintolerance—a condition in which the gut lacks theenzyme needed to digest significant amounts of the majorsugar in milk, and which also causes gastrointestinalsymptoms. 2. ―Unfriendly‖ microorganisms such as disease-causingbacteria, yeasts, fungi, and parasites can also upset thebalance. Researchers are exploring whether probioticscould halt these unfriendly agents in the first place and/orsuppress
Cont…their growth and activity in conditions like: Infectious diarrhea Irritable bowel syndrome Inflammatory bowel disease (e.g., ulcerative colitisand Crohn’s disease) Infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), abacterium that causes most ulcers and many typesof chronic stomach inflammation.
Cont… Tooth decay and periodontal disease Vaginal infections Stomach and respiratory infections that children acquire in daycare Skin infections.
Cont…Another part of the interest in probiotics stems from the fact there are cellsin the digestive tract connected with the immune system. One theory is thatif you alter the microorganisms in a person’s intestinal tract (as byintroducing probiotic bacteria), you can affect the immune system’sdefenses.
The health value of probiotics are: Inhibits pathogenic invasion especially in the intestines. • Enhances the function of our immune system. Encourages weight gain by promoting nitrogenretention; this is especially Important for children fed onformula milk. Promotes detoxification of the body. Counters allergy.
Cont.. Acts as a source of lactase, the enzyme needed todigest milk. They manufacture some of the B-vitamins includingniacin (B3), Pyridoxine (B6), folic acid and biotin. Assists in the absorption of vitamins and mineralsespecially calcium which is vital at this stage forbone growth. Elevated blood cholesterol.
Scientific understanding of probiotics and their potentialfor preventing and treating health conditions is at an earlystage, but moving ahead. In November 2005, a conferencethat was cofunded by the National Center forComplementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) andconvened by the American Society for Microbiologyexplored this topic.What the Science Says
Cont….. According to the conference report, some uses ofprobiotics for which there is some encouraging evidencefrom the study of specific probiotic formulations are asfollows: To treat diarrhea (this is the strongest area ofevidence, especially for diarrhea from rotavirus) To prevent and treat infections of the urinary tract orfemale genital tract To treat irritable bowel syndrome
Cont…. To reduce recurrence of bladder cancer To shorten how long an intestinal infection lasts that is caused by abacterium called Clostridium difficile To prevent and treat pouchitis (a condition that can follow surgery toremove the colon)
Cont…The conference panel also noted that studies of probioticsas cures, was usually low and more research (especially inthe form of large, carefully designed clinical trials) isneeded in order to draw firmer conclusions.Some other areas of interest to researchers on probioticsare What is going on at the molecular level with the bacteriathemselves and how they may interact with the body
Cont…(such as the gut and its bacteria) to prevent and treat diseases. Advances in technology and medicine are making it possible to studythese areas much better than in the past. Issues of quality. For example, what happens when probiotic bacteriaare treated or are added to foods—is their ability to survive, grow,and have a therapeutic effect altered?
Cont…. The best ways to administer probiotics for therapeuticpurposes, as well as the best doses and schedules. Probiotics’ potential to help with the problem ofantibiotic-resistant bacteria in the gut. Whether they can prevent unfriendly bacteria fromgetting through the skin or mucous membranes andtraveling through the body (e.g., which can happenwith burns, shock, trauma, or suppressed immunity).
Side Effects and RisksSome live microorganisms have a long history of use as probiotics withoutcausing illness in people. Probiotics’ safety has not been thoroughly studiedscientifically, however. More information is especially needed on how safethey are for young children, elderly people, and people with compromisedimmune systems.
Cont…Probiotics’ side effects, if they occur, tend to be mildand digestive (such as gas or bloating). More seriouseffects have been seen in some people. Probioticsmight theoretically cause infections that need to betreated with antibiotics, especially in people withunderlying health conditions. They could also causeunhealthy metabolic activities, too much stimulation ofthe immune system, or gene transfer (insertion ofgenetic material into a cell). Probiotic products taken bymouth as a dietary supplement are manufactured andregulated as foods, not drugs.
Some Other Points To Consider If you are thinking about using a probiotic product asCAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine)consult your health care provider first. No CAMtherapy should be used in place of conventionalmedical care or to delay seeking that care. Effects from one species or strain of probiotics donot necessarily hold true for others, or even fordifferent preparations of the same species or strain. If you use a probiotic product and experience aneffect that concerns you, contact your health careprovider.