Probiotics Explained

The word "Probiotic" means "for life". Probiotic supplements contain bacteria that can help strengthen the body's natural defenses while also restoring the natural balance of the more than 500 bacteria found in the human gut.

 

How Do Probiotics Work?

Researchers believe that some digestive disorders happen when the balance of friendly bacteria in the intestines becomes disturbed. This can happen after an infection or after taking antibiotics. Intestinal problems can also arise when the lining of the intestines is damaged. Taking probiotics may help.

"Probiotics can improve intestinal function and maintain the integrity of the lining of the intestines," says Stefano Guandalini, MD, professor of pediatrics and gastroenterology at the University of Chicago Medical Center. These friendly organisms may also help fight bacteria that cause diarrhea.

Probiotics
 

Probiotics May Help Lots of Ailments

Although they are still being studied, probiotics may help several specific illnesses, studies show. In 2011, experts at Yale University reviewed the research. They concluded that probiotics are most effective for:

  • Treating childhood diarrhea
  • Treating necrotizing enterocolitis, a type of infection and inflammation of the intestines mostly seen in infants
  • Preventing pouchitis, an inflammation of the intestines that can follow intestinal surgery
  • Helping the immune system

  • Treating ulcerative colitis
  • Preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea and infectious diarrhea
  • Treating and preventing eczema associated with cow's milk allergy

The Yale University panel of experts concluded that probiotics may be helpful in other ways, although the evidence is less convincing. These include:

  • Treating symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
  • Treating diarrhea caused by C. difficile bacteria

  • Treating vaginitis
  • Treating Crohn's disease

Probiotics may also be useful in unexpected ways. A study published in 2010 suggests that probiotics may lower the risk of common childhood illnesses such as ear infections, strep throat, and colds.

 

Cautions About Probiotics

For the most part, taking probiotics is safe and causes few side effects.

" People in cultures around the world have been eating yogurt, cheeses, and other foods containing live cultures for centuries "
— says Martin Floch, MD, a professor of gastroenterology at Yale University, co-author of Probiotics: A Clinical Guide, and a consultant for the Dannon Company.

Still, probiotics may be dangerous for people with weakened immune systems or serious illnesses. One study found that patients with severe pancreatitis who were given probiotics had a higher risk of death.
Reference: http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/what-are-probiotics

Not All Probiotic Supplements Are Created Equal

It's important to note that all probiotic supplements are not the same. In fact, there are many different probiotic strains. Many products containing probiotics, such as yogurts claim to offer health benefits, but these claims have not been substantiated with clinical trials and as such are not necessarily among the best probiotic supplements. TuZen®, in contrast, contains a probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (Lp299v) that has been clinically proven to eliminate or reduce 95% of the symptoms associated with IBS.