In the modernized industrialized world, probiotic functional foods are now a staple part of a healthy diet and have proven to provide more than the commonly accepted medical health benefits. While many of us have heard of probiotics in regards to conditions like antibiotic-induced diarrhea, there are actually several other beneficial health benefits of probiotics that many of us are unaware of. For example, probiotics can play a significant role in digestion and have been shown to enhance digestive health in both humans and animals. This is largely due to the fact that probiotics contain a protein-based tail that prevents the bacteria within the gut from clinging to intestinal walls. This allows the bacteria to grow in the system, as well as in the intestine where it provides benefits indigestion.
There are several other health benefits of probiotics that are currently being studied. One such study is being conducted by the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Public Health and Veterinary Medicine and the Institute for Food and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota. The study, which was recently published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American College of Nutrition, looked at two groups of children with lactose intolerance. The study found that although both groups had high levels of both Lactose Intolerance Index (LGI) and Enzymes (E) in their systems, there was a significant difference in the levels of beneficial bacteria in the intestines between the groups. Beneficial bacteria significantly increased in the intestines of those with higher levels of LGI, while the levels of these bacteria were nearly identical between the two groups.
The United States National Library of Medicine has also published a number of peer-reviewed scientific studies on the subject of probiotics and health. A recent study published in Science Daily, “Beneficial bacteria in a probiotic environment increases the rate of spontaneous HIV evolution in human cells,” reported that the study compared the health effects of using probiotics with those of immunosuppressive drugs. The authors reported that after a period of seven weeks on the probiotic regimen, the number of HIV transmissions in the group who took the drug was three times less than the group who did not take the supplement. This evidence, they concluded, “establish [s] that probiotics can slow the progression of HIV.”
Other health benefits of probiotics are being sought by individuals who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The symptoms of IBS are usually diarrhea symptoms and abdominal pain. Supplementing the small intestine with Lactobacillus acidophilus has been reported to help with these symptoms.
Scientists have also explored the health benefits of probiotic bacteria in other areas. For instance, some studies have explored the effect of probiotics on the immune function and the function of the immune system in combating various diseases including autism, HIV, and autoimmune disorders. Probiotics may also prevent or reduce the occurrence of allergic reactions in infants. These studies are just beginning, but it appears that probiotics can be effective against many health problems.
One of the more recent health benefits of probiotics is their positive effect on the GI tract. Probiotics, when introduced into the GI tract, help to strengthen the immune system and thereby reduce the risk of gastrointestinal (GI) disease. Research indicates that beneficial bacteria are able to take up residence in the absence of lactic acid.
It has also been reported that in the absence of the normal population of beneficial bacteria, the incidence of certain kinds of infections increases. In the study mentioned above, the authors did not report any prevention or treatment of allergic reactions. They merely reported that in the absence of the usual flora, an increased incidence of certain kinds of infections, such as those associated with the Streptococcus genus and the Staphylococcus species, was seen. However, since this study did not directly investigate the interaction of probiotics with gliadin and/or gliadin-like proteins, and the etiology of these diseases is still unclear, it is difficult to assess the extent to which probiotics may lower the incidence of allergic reactions in patients. However, for many patients, the results of these studies may well prove beneficial and may help them to achieve a healthy state of mind free from the potential consequences of allergic reactions.
There are several reports of the health benefits of probiotics for a wide range of health issues. They include preventing the occurrence of aseptic meningitis in children, reducing the incidence of allergies, preventing irritable bowel syndrome, promoting weight control, and reducing the risk of colon cancer. Probiotic foods may also prevent the occurrence of depression and promote general good health. However, when considering probiotics for your own well-being, it is important to consult your physician about the exact amounts that you need, and the duration of time for which you should take them.