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Probiotics Send Signals From Your Gut to Your Skin

Probiotics are now widely known for their beneficial role in your gut health, but emerging research further proves their benefits are not limited to your digestive tract.

Signals from these gut microorganisms are sent throughout your body and interact with organisms in your skin and gut mucosa. Researchers are now looking into how these interactions can help with skin conditions like dryness, improve collagen, or stabilize the microflora on your skin to help with irritations.

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Much more is known about how probiotics work in your gut than is known about their effects elsewhere in your body. But new research shows that there may be signals coming from these gut microorganisms that are sent to your skin and mucosa.

According to Professor Christine Lang, the potential benefits of skin probiotics would depend on how each microorganism is selected, and the specific effects that they have on the skin.

NutraIngredients reports:

“For now, [Lang] said that it was important to find how different probiotic microorganisms affect the skin microflora.”

Source: NutraIngredients October 26, 2010

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Probiotics may Help Fat and Weight Loss

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Daily supplements with the probiotic Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 may help weight loss in people with obese tendencies, according to new research.
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After twelve weeks of consuming a fermented milk product containing the Lactobacillus strain, study subjects averaged a 4.6 percent reduction in abdominal fat and a 3.3 percent reduction in subcutaneous fat.

NutraIngredients reports:
“Furthermore, body weight dropped by 1.4 percent and waist size decreased by 1.8 percent … The study extends previous findings … which showed LG2055 may reduce fat levels (adiposity) and fat cells in animals”.

Resources:
NutraIngredients June 11, 2010

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition June 2010; 64(6):636-43

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Cup of Magic

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Probiotics, prebiotics, antibiotics. The words often cause confusion because they sound similar. But, of course, they mean very different things, although all three are derived from the Greek word “bios”, meaning “life”.

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Most people would love a magic pill that would put an end to all their health problems. Preferably one that contains prebiotics (meaning “before life”) and probiotics (“helping life”), along with a few trace elements, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins.

Probiotics are defined by the World Health Organization as microorganisms, which when administered alive in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to the host. They are advertised by the pharma industry as protective, anti-infection agents that give the body’s natural reserves a boost against disease. They are sold as capsules and powders containing organisms like Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. The products are much hyped, and have fancy names and expensive packaging.

However, what advertisements do not mention is that to be effective, there should be at least 75 million live organisms in each capsule. Food and chlorine in water kill these organisms. They therefore have to be swallowed with non-chlorinated water on an empty stomach
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The intestines need to be populated with these organisms. So initially, the capsules have to be swallowed four to six times a day. The minuscule numbers contained in commercially available capsules are insufficient and do not confer any real health benefit.

Probiotics are not new products; they have been around for centuries. Fermented dough and curd (yogurt) contain natural, healthy probiotics. Commercially available yogurt may not contain live lactobacillus (probiotics) unless specifically mentioned on the package.

Natural probiotics like curd have many medicinal properties that are being rediscovered now. Curd starts to act in the mouth itself. It reduces the number of plaque forming bacteria, and prevents bad breath, tooth decay and mouth ulcers.

In the stomach, curd helps neutralise gastric acidity, reducing belching, burning and dyspepsia. It prevents infections, particularly the growth and multiplication of H. pylori, which is implicated in gastric ulcers and stomach cancer.

In the intestine, probiotics live with other protective intestinal flora, reducing gas formation and diarrhoea. The immunological effects reduce the incidence and symptoms of Crohn’s disease (inflammatory condition of the intestines that may affect any part from the mouth to the anus) and ulcerative colitis. Bowel habits become regular and the incidence of colon cancer reduces in those who eat curd regularly.

The action of the probiotics on digested food results in the synthesis of B-complex vitamins. This reduces vitamin deficiencies. Children who are given curd in addition to milk have less diarrhoea than those given milk alone.

Many Indians are relatively lactose intolerant and develop bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhoea when given to drink milk. They thus tend to curtail their milk intake and in the absence of calcium supplementation become susceptible to osteoporosis. In curd, however, the milk is already partially digested, and this reduces the symptoms of intolerance. As little as one cup of curd a day is beneficial in the prevention of osteoporosis.

Studies have also shown that eating curd regularly prevents the development of candidiasis, a common vaginal fungal infection. Other studies have shown conflicting results with no real benefit. But this has not prevented pharmaceutical companies from advocating lactobacillus capsules and vaginal pessaries for candidial infection. Curd also boosts the immune system. Regular eaters swear by it, saying it reduces infections as well as the duration of illnesses.

Prebiotics, on the other hand, are soluble fibres and non-digestible food ingredients that remain in the colon. They selectively stimulate the growth and activity of beneficial microorganisms already present in the large intestine. Prebiotics are found in oats, wheat, onions and garlic. When probiotics and prebiotics are combined, they form “synbiotics”. This probably confers the best health benefits with probiotics acting in the small intestine and prebiotics in the large.

Antibiotics are used to kill harmful microorganisms in the intestine, bloodstream and the various organs. They should be used appropriately in the correct dosage and duration. Unlike probiotics and prebiotics, antibiotics are specific for a particular infection. They are not health supplements.

Antioxidants are found in coloured fruits and vegetables. Oxidation is essential for cell metabolism. During this process a few cells die releasing harmful free radicals. This is prevented by antioxidants.

All said and done, health does not come packaged as an expensive magic capsule containing probiotics and antioxidants to be drunk with a glass of artificial fibre. For good health,

Eat four to five helpings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. The green, yellow, orange and red ones contain antioxidants

Curd reduces infections as well as the duration of illnesses

Eat one tablespoon of homemade curd first thing in the morning on an empty stomach

Eat chappatis four or five times a week

Give these health ingredients an extra boost by exercising one hour everyday.


Source
: The Telegraph (Kolkata)

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Blueberries Can Help Counteract Intestinal Diseases

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Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and vitamins. But new research shows that blueberry fiber is also important and can alleviate and protect against intestinal inflammations, such as ulcerative colitis.


The protective effect is even better if the blueberries are eaten together with probiotics.

Blueberries are rich in polyphenols, which have an antimicrobial and antioxidative effect. The combination of blueberries and probiotics reduced inflammation-inducing bacteria in the intestine at the same time as the number of health-promoting lactobacilla increased.

Resources:
Science Daily February 9, 2010
Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology 2009;44(10):1213-25

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Good Bacteria Fight the Flu

Bacteria present naturally in your body and sometimes found in food could keep cold and flu viruses at bay.
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According to a study, young children who drank a mixture of such bacteria, known as probiotics, had fewer colds, needed fewer antibiotics, and missed fewer days of school.

Researchers have already shown that probiotics can benefit those who are ill, and the bacteria are thought to boost the immune system‘s response to invaders.

Resources:
ABC News July 27, 2009
Reuters July 27, 2009

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