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Probiotics

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Five Health Issues that Probiotics can Help

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Do you know that your body is a host to over a trillion living microorganisms that no amount of hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap can eliminate? The microorganisms include bacteria, fungi and viruses. The most surprising fact is that these microbes can be beneficial to your health!

Probiotics, according to ISAPP (The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics) are defined as "live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host." Humans get probiotics from breast milk, supplements and fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut and kombucha.

The most common probiotic strains are from two groups: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. Different strains have various benefits that include maintaining a healthy immune system and digestive tract. Sometimes, there can be an imbalance of "bad" and "good" bacteria.

Antibiotics, for example, can cause this imbalance, as they can kill both good and bad bacteria in the fight against infections.

Research points to bacterial imbalances as causes or factors contributing to many health issues. The intake or use of probiotics, therefore, can help in balancing the microbes. The following are five health issues that have been proven to be relieved by probiotics.


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1. Diarrhea

Diarrhea can be caused by many things including antibiotics, intestinal diseases and bacterial infections from certain types of food poisoning. In these cases, the millions of bacteria in your stomach may have become unbalanced so that there are more harmful bacteria than beneficial ones that help in digestion and protection against infections.

Probiotics can help balance the good bacteria with the bad bacteria and create a healthy environment in the stomach. After examining 63 studies, The Cochrane Collaboration, a network of researchers, concluded that probiotics can reduce the severity and duration of diarrhea.  

2. Constipation

Constipation includes symptoms such as having hard stools, painful bowel movements and being unable to empty the bowels. Typically, it is treated with fiber-rich foods such as whole-grain cereals and flaxseeds, along with water and exercise.  

Certain strains of probiotics can aid in the relief of constipation. Magro, Oliveira, Bernasconi et al. (2014) found that yogurt containing Polydextrose, Lactobacillus Acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium Lactis HN019 can relieve chronic constipation in adults if 180 milliliters (about 10 tablespoons) is taken daily for two weeks.



3. Vaginal Yeast Infections

Just like the rest of the body, the vagina hosts numerous species of microorganisms, namely Lactobacillus Iners and Lactobacillus Crispatus. A balance of these organisms keeps the vagina healthy. However, sometimes an overgrowth of a fungus called Candida Albicans occurs. This overgrowth can be caused by antibiotics, diabetes and hormonal imbalances. It results in symptoms such as intense itching, pain and a thick white discharge.

Abdelmonem, Rasheed and Mohamed (2012) found that there was a high cure rate when pregnant patients received a mixture of bee-honey and yogurt vaginally. The result was similar to that of taking antifungal medications. A 2017 study by Fares, Abd el Kader, Hamid et al. also found that the ingestion of yogurt can suppress the growth of candida and reduce the symptoms of vaginal yeast infections.

4. Acne

Acne, which consists of pimples, whiteheads and blackheads, is formed when oil and dead skin cells clog hair follicles. Hormonal imbalances, aging, stress and certain diseases are some of the triggers of this occurrence.

It is not clear how probiotics act in treating acne. However, research suggests that when there are too many harmful microorganisms in the body, the immune system is triggered and tries to fight them. This results in inflammation. Therefore, The American Academy of Dermatology suggests that probiotics such as Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Lactobacillus Bifidobacterium can be promising forms of acne treatments.



5. Hay Fever 

Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is caused when the immune system has a excessive response to common allergens such as pollen, dust and pet fur. Common cold-like symptoms appear, such as itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing.  

Certain strains of probiotics regulate T cells, which are types of white blood cells that have a key role in adapting the body's response to certain pathogens. In a study done at Griffith University's Menzies Health Institute, Queensland, researchers found that 64% of allergy patients improved with multi-strain probiotics.

It is evident that particular strains of probiotics can cure or relieve the symptoms of certain health issues. It is important to note, however, that probiotics are not the panacea that many have claimed. Each person's case is different and not everyone will react the same to treatment as there are many factors to consider. Be sure to talk to a health care professional before starting a new health care routine, particularly if you are already on medication.

References

  1. Abdelmonem, A.M., Rasheed, S.M., & Mohamed, A.S. (2012). Bee-honey and yogurt: A novel mixture for treating patients with vulvovaginal candidiasis during pregnancy. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 286 (1), 109-114.
  2. Fares, Abd el Kader, Hamid et al. (2017). Effect of ingestion of yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus on vulvovaginal candidiasis among women attending a gynecological clinic. Egyptian Nursing Journal, 14 (1), 41-49.
  3. Magro, D.O., de Oliveira, L.M.R., Bernasconi, I. et al. (2014). Effect of yogurt containing polydextrose, Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium lactis HN019: A randomized, double-blind, controlled study in chronic constipation. Nutrition Journal, 13 (75).
  4. Yang, G., Liu, Z.Q., & Yang, P.C. (2013). Treatment of allergic rhinitis with probiotics: An alternative approach. North American Journal of Medical Sciences, 5 (8), 465-468.

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Disclaimer: Articles not intended to Diagnose, Treat, Cure or Prevent Diseases.

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