Probiotics. I think we have all heard of them. And many mainstream yogurts have live active cultures, which are probiotics. For years the mainstream pediatric medical community has accepted them as helpful, especially with antibiotic treatment or diarrhea illness. But what does live active cultures mean? And which bacteria are in yogurt? What bacteria are prescribed? And are these the same as the over-the-counter supplements? Should you take supplements or eat foods with live active cultures in them? And how young can you start feeding kids probiotics? What are other people doing and trying? And does this ever cause people to get sick? Is acidophilus enough or should you be taking more than one kind? How often? Why? How long have people been using probiotics?
As I previously mentioned, when I started writing the probiotic post I thought it would be fast and easy. Now it is going to take more than one post and more research than I have already completed. In fact, I discovered a textbook called Probiotics: A Clinical Guide that I seriously want to get my hands on. But, the general idea is that probiotics can be helpful for certain conditions. And this is what I have found so far on specific types of illnesses and which probiotics are helpful. If you are looking for supplements you should be able to check the label to see if it contains the ones you are looking for. Next week I’ll talk more about foods that include these helpful organisms. My lacto-fermented salsa is not ready yet, so no news on that front. Although, my dear husband did ask why we were waiting to eat it and I told him about lacto-fermentation.
I believe that to date probiotic treatment of diarrhea is the area of probiotics that has been most studied and used. The most effective probiotic treatment for antibiotic associated diarrhea (AAD) is Saccharomyces boulardii in combination with Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium. For AAD, the recommendation is that probiotics should be started with the antibiotic and continued for 30 days.
Atopic Disease (allergies)
Probiotics have also been shown effective for atopic diseases such as allergic runny nose, eczema, and asthma in adults and children. For allergic problems like these a combination of L. bulgaricus, L. paracasei, Streptococcus thermophiles and L. rhamnosus have been shown in the research to be helpful. It is also recommended that GOS/beta-1,3-glucan prebiotics be given with the probiotic. We talked about GOS prebiotics when we talked about fiber. Beta-1,3-glucan is also food for good bacteria. It is found naturally in the cell wall of yeast, the bran of grains like oats, barley, and certain mushrooms like shitake and reishi. Just in case you were wondering, it is the beta glucan in oats that is thought to reduce cholesterol.
Some other conditions that research has shown probiotics to be helpful with are irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, vaginal yeast infections. Scientists have only just begun to study synbiotics (probiotics and prebiotics) and different diseases, so expect more information to come out all the time. For instance, they are studying synbiotics and other immune system caused illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and diabetes.
There is so much more to tell you about probiotics, so look for another post next week.