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Study Shows New Health Benefits of Probiotics E-mail
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Gastrointestinal benefits of probiotics have been well-documented, but more and more research is revealing that probiotic benefits extend to the entire body.

Data from a recent study demonstrate the anti-inflammatory and pathogen protection benefits of Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 a probiotic bacterial strain of human origin. The inflammatory response is a key part of the immune system’s battle against invaders. The normal response to infection is rapid and effective, however, the immune response may occasionally cause inflammation and damage to healthy tissue.

“Inflammation is a major factor in a number of chronic diseases affecting millions of people and can cause an unwanted impact on healthy tissue,” said Dr. Liam O’Mahony, lead investigator. “Past research has shown that the probiotic Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 can positively impact the body’s immune defense, and this most recent data suggests that its benefits are not restricted to the gastrointestinal tract.”

Inflammation is associated with a wide range of conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, bacterial-induced colitis, type I diabetes and organ transplantation. Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 has previously shown ability to modulate the inflammatory response in a clinical trial of patients with irritable bowel syndrome. The new data suggests additional health benefits of this particular probiotic strain.

he published study examined the effect of Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 administration on immunity to Salmonella (Salmonella typhimurium), harmful bacteria that can cause intestinal infections and trigger the body’s inflammatory response. Bifidobacterium infantis 35624, a probiotic strain isolated from healthy human gastrointestinal tissue, was administered to mice in freeze-dried powder at least three weeks prior to salmonella infection. Animals that received Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 showed dramatically increased numbers of certain immune cells that control the immune system response to harmful pathogens, in this case Salmonella.

Additionally, data show increased numbers of T-regulatory (Treg) cells, or cells that suppress inflammatory disease in a wide range of autoimmune diseases. Administration of Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 resulted in the induction of these Treg cells, which protected the host from excessive inflammation during the course of infection. Researchers concluded that the introduction of Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 results in enhanced protection from infection, while limiting pro-inflammatory damage caused by superfluous activation of the innate immune system.

The report was published in the August issue of the Public Library of Science (PLoS) Pathogens.

About Probiotics

Probiotics, which means "for life", have been used for centuries as natural components in health-promoting foods. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can restore the balance of bacteria in your digestive tract. Common strains of probiotics include Lactobacillis and Bifidobacterium families of bacteria.

Probiotic bacterial cultures are intended to assist the body's naturally occurring gut flora, an ecology of microbes, to re-establish themselves. They are sometimes recommended by doctors, and, more frequently, by nutritionists, after a course of antibiotics, or as part of the treatment for gut related candidiasis. Claims are made that probiotics strengthen the immune system to combat allergies, excessive alcohol intake, stress, exposure to toxic substances, and other diseases. In these cases, the bacteria that work well with our bodies (see symbiosis) may decrease in number, an event which allows harmful competitors to thrive, to the detriment of our health.Maintenance of a healthy gut flora is, however, dependent on many factors, especially the quality of food intake. Including a significant proportion of prebiotic foods in the diet has been demonstrated[citation needed] to support a healthy gut flora and may be another means of achieving the desirable health benefits promised by probiotics.

Probiotics can be be found in various foods and can also be obtained through supplementation.  Probiotic bacteria like lactobacilli are naturally found in fermented foods like sauerkraut and yogurt. It is important to also note that some foods will have added probiotics as healthy nutritional ingredients, or to prevent food spoilage, which will be evident on the label.

Health Benefits Claims of Probiotics

Improving Immune Function and Preventing Infections. Lactic acid bacteria are thought to have several presumably beneficial effects on immune function. There is evidence to suggest that they may improve immune function by increasing the number of IgA-producing plasma cells, increasing or improving phagocytosis as well as increasing the proportion of T lymphocytes and Natural Killer cells.

Managing Lactose Intolerance. Lactic acid bacteria actively convert lactose into lactic acid, ingestion of certain active strains may help lactose intolerant individuals tolerate more lactose than what they would have otherwise.

Lowering Cholesterol. Animal studies have demonstrated the efficacy of a range of lactic acid bacteria to be able to lower serum cholesterol levels, presumably by breaking down bile in the gut, thus inhibiting its reabsorption (which enters the blood as cholesterol). Some human trials have shown that dairy foods fermented with specific lactic acid bacteria can produce modest reductions in total and LDL cholesterol levels in those with normal levels to begin with, however trials in hyperlipidemic subjects are needed.

Lowering Blood Pressure. Several small clinical trials have shown that consumption of milk fermented with various strains of lactic acid bacteria can result in modest reductions in blood pressure.


 
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