Research conducted by Emily Winokur, Senior at University of Central Missouri
Live microorganisms intended to support digestion
Probiotics help improve immune function, protect against hostile bacteria to prevent infection, improve digestion and absorption of food and nutrients
Can help offset bacterial imbalance caused by taking antibiotics
Our gut has a combination of good and bad bacteria
Some studies suggest that they can help in the treatment and prevention of diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease
May help aid in the breakdown protein and fat in the digestive tract
Sources of probiotics can be found in sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, yogurt (and some non-dairy yogurts), kombucha, miso, tempeh, and supplements (sometimes is added into cereals or granola bars)
Many people associate bacteria as all bad; however, many microorganisms are needed to help the body function properly
The ones in the gut help for digestion, destruction of disease causing microorganisms
70% of our immune system is located in the GI tract, therefore a healthy gut=a healthy immune system and will lead to less illness
For healthy individuals, probiotics are a good addition to a healthy diet. Those with compromised immune systems should consult with a registered dietitian before incorporating into the diet.
Not to be confused with prebiotics which are non-digestible food components
These work to promote good bacteria growth in the gut and feed the probiotics (whereas the probiotics are the microorganisms that actually change, repopulate, and colonize the gut with good bacteria, helping with balance)
These include fructooligosaccharides such as inulin and galactooligosaccharides. In simpler terms, eating more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.
Non-digestible carbohydrates, found in foods such as garlic, bananas, oats, onions, and leeks.
Should be included daily
Bacteria can be affected negatively in the gut from antibiotics, fermentable carbohydrates, and smoking.
Antibiotics, while helping kill the bad bacteria making you sick, will also kill the good bacteria as well. This ultimately leads to an imbalance in the gut
A low FODMAP diet can affect the bacteria in the gut negatively as well. Following this diet should be done under the guidance of a registered dietitian
Signs of an unhealthy gut consist of the following
Upset stomach and irregular bowel movements are the most common
Fatigue, constant colds, struggle to lost weight, constant migraines, or irritated skin, these may also be signs of unhealthy microflora
For IBS patients, supplements or foods containing Bifidobacterium have been linked to reduced occurrence of symptoms such as bloating, cramping, and stool frequency
When selecting a probiotic supplement, it is important to ensure it has an appropriate number of bacteria to have an effect (107-1010 per gram) and that it is able to survive the acidic environment of the stomach
Not all probiotic supplements are created equally and will not all work the same for all individuals (some strains of bacteria may be more beneficial for one individual than for another, but that requires a more detailed approach and many studies are still being done in this area)
Having a balanced microbiome through the use of probiotics (and regular consumption of prebiotics) can help promote digestion (eliminate occurrence of digestive woes) and overall gut health