About Probiotics

About Probiotics

What are probiotics? 

Probiotics are friends of our gut. They are a specific type of microorganism, typically Lactobacilli, which provide health benefits to us when consumed in sufficient amounts. As recommended by the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP), the daily effective dose is 1 billion CFU [1].

Probiotics benefit us in ways more than just our general gut health. Every strain of probiotics is different and works together to maintain an overall good gut ecosystem. We are using Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM which has been tested in various human clinical trials and has been shown to provide benefits to overall gut health and digestion [2]. Probiotics by nature are able to survive your gastro-intestinal passage to get to the intestines where they are able to exert their effect by balancing the friendly bacteria in our digestive system.

Benefits of Probiotics for Your Gut Health

green apples on brown wooden table

The digestive system is home to many different kinds of microorganisms. Probiotics can stimulate the growth of good microorganisms in the gut while also protecting you against disease-causing (pathogenic) bacteria. Together, they form the gut microbiota or gut microbiome which plays a key role in your health. Since mid-1990s, clinical studies have shown that probiotic therapy can help treat several gastrointestinal diseases (such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bloating, diarrhoea and/or constipation), delay the development of allergies, and prevent infections [3,4].

1. Promotes gut health by balancing the microorganisms in your digestive system

Probiotics help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut and help populate the gut with healthy bacteria after conditions that disturb the microbiome. One common instance is the consumption of antibiotics that kills off many of your good gut bacteria. This creates an opportunity for bad bacteria, viruses and fungi to colonise your gut. It is highly recommended to take probiotics during and after antibiotics for sustained health [5].

2. Help reduce symptoms of digestive disorders

Digestive disorders or gastrointestinal diseases like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may be caused by fluctuations to the normal bacteria levels found in the gut. Research suggests that probiotics may reduce the severity of IBS symptoms including constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, abdominal pain, and gas [6].

3. Reduce gas and bloating

Too often, we experience gas and bloating. These are common digestive problems. They can be caused by imbalance in gut microbiome, yeast overgrowth, diet, and food intolerances. Probiotics can help rebalance the gut microbiome and crowd out the bad microorganisms.[7]

4. Maintain and improve gut integrity

Our digestive tract is protected by a thin but strong wall of cells called the gut barrier. Gut microbiota plays an important role in maintaining the integrity of the gut barrier. When gut barrier is inflamed or damaged, proteins and other good bacteria may leak through the barrier. Stress, alcohol consumption, poor diet, certain medications, and genetics can affect the gut microbiota leading to dysbiosis hence disrupting integrity of gut barrier. Probiotics can help to achieve eubiosis and thus improve the stability of the gut barrier and support the development of a stronger barrier [8].

Benefits of Probiotics for Your Mind and Brain

person doing yoga on seashore during daytime 

The gut microbiota plays an essential role in our daily functions. The gut-brain axis is the pathway which the nervous system/ brain and the gastrointestinal tract communicate. Hence when the gut microbiome is disrupted, it can affect our mental wellbeing [9]. Good bacteria in the gut releases neurotransmitters (your body's messengers) that can improve mood and reduce stress [10]. These messengers help with sleep, mood, even your bladder control and heart function. Stress is widely known to disturb and cause an imbalance to the gut microbiome, which may affect the quantity and quality of neurotransmitters produced. 95% of the "feel good" neurotransmitter serotonin is produced by the good bacteria in the gut [11]. Probiotics can help repopulate the gut microbiome with beneficial microorganisms during and after periods of stress to improve mood, sleep and brain cognitive functions.

Benefits of Probiotics for Your Immune System

poached egg with vegetables and tomatoes on blue plate

1. Boost your immune system and accelerate recovery from illnesses

Often, your gut microbiome is imbalanced during illness, especially when you suffer from a stomach flu [12], food poisoning, or taken antibiotics. Probiotics repopulate your gut microbiome with good microorganisms and help to balance the immune system again.

2. Reduce severity of certain allergies and eczema

Your gut is a representation of your immune system. Your immune system is directly related to onset of allergies. Keeping your gut healthy has been of interest in helping to relieve allergies and skin conditions like eczema. Research have suggested that probiotics have positive effects in reducing symptoms and onset of allergies like eczema [13].

Benefits of Probiotics for Your Heart Health

Recent evidence suggest that the gut microbiota has a role in lowering blood cholesterol and cardiovascular risks. There are a few ways which probiotics contribute to the lowering of cholesterol in the blood such as binding to the cholesterol to reduce uptake, using the cholesterol for their own growth and also helping convert into other compounds which will be excreted by our bodies. [14,15,16]  

Are Probiotics Safe?

Probiotics are generally safe to take. Many available probiotics strains are found in a healthy digestive gut or have been shown to be safe in foods. You also want to make sure that the product you are choosing declares the probiotic strains that are backed by substantial scientific research and clinical testing.

For a healthy individual, probiotics have a long history of being safe and beneficial to consume daily. Side effects of probiotic consumption are usually minor and involve mild digestive symptoms like bloating, gas, or smoother bowel movements. This can happen especially in the first few days of taking probiotics as your gut microbiome is rebalancing and repopulating with the good microorganisms. [17]



[1] Salminen, S., Collado, M.C., Endo, A. et al. The International Scientific Association of Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of postbiotics. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 18, 649–667 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41575-021-00440-6
[2] Scott-Lutyens, J. and Beeson, K. (2020) Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM®Database. Available at: https://www.optibacprobiotics.com/professionals/probiotics-database/lactobacillus/lactobacillus-acidophilus/lactobacillus-acidophilus-ncfm (Accessed: January 11, 2023).
[3] Dunne, C., Murphy, L., Flynn, S. et al. Probiotics: from myth to reality. Demonstration of functionality in animal models of disease and in human clinical trials. Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek 76, 279–292 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1002065931997
[4] Dronkers TMG, Ouwehand AC, Rijkers GT. Global analysis of clinical trials with probiotics. Heliyon. 2020 Jul 17;6(7):e04467. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e04467. PMID: 32715136; PMCID: PMC7371762.
[5] Rodgers B, Kirley K, Mounsey A. PURLs: prescribing an antibiotic? Pair it with probiotics. J Fam Pract. 2013 Mar;62(3):148-50. PMID: 23520586; PMCID: PMC3601687.
[6] Satish Kumar L, Pugalenthi LS, Ahmad M, Reddy S, Barkhane Z, Elmadi J. Probiotics in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Review of Their Therapeutic Role. Cureus. 2022 Apr 18;14(4):e24240. doi: 10.7759/cureus.24240. PMID: 35602835; PMCID: PMC9116469.
[7] Ringel-Kulka, Tamar MD, MPH†; Palsson, Olafur S. PsyD*; Maier, Danielle PA*; Carroll, Ian PhD*; Galanko, Joseph A. PhD*; Leyer, Gregory PhD‡; Ringel, Yehuda MD*. Probiotic Bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 Versus Placebo for the Symptoms of Bloating in Patients With Functional Bowel Disorders: A Double-blind Study. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology 45(6):p 518-525, July 2011. | DOI: 10.1097/MCG.0b013e31820ca4d6
[8] Kocot AM, Jarocka-Cyrta E, Drabińska N. Overview of the Importance of Biotics in Gut Barrier Integrity. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Mar 7;23(5):2896. doi: 10.3390/ijms23052896. PMID: 35270039; PMCID: PMC8911280.
[9] Cryan, J.F. et al. (2019) “The microbiota-gut-brain axis,” Physiological Reviews, 99(4), pp. 1877–2013. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1152/physrev.00018.2018.
[10] Madison A, Kiecolt-Glaser JK. Stress, depression, diet, and the gut microbiota: human-bacteria interactions at the core of psychoneuroimmunology and nutrition. Curr Opin Behav Sci. 2019 Aug;28:105-110. doi: 10.1016/j.cobeha.2019.01.011. Epub 2019 Mar 25. PMID: 32395568; PMCID: PMC7213601.
[11] Appleton J. The Gut-Brain Axis: Influence of Microbiota on Mood and Mental Health. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2018 Aug;17(4):28-32. PMID: 31043907; PMCID: PMC6469458.
[12] Ansari Fereshteh , Pashazadeh Fariba , Nourollahi Elaheh , Hajebrahimi Sakineh , Munn Zachary and Pourjafar Hadi *, A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis: The Effectiveness of Probiotics for Viral Gastroenteritis, Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology 2020; 21(11) . https://dx.doi.org/10.2174/1389201021666200416123931
[13] Lopez-Santamarina A, Gonzalez EG, Lamas A, Mondragon ADC, Regal P, Miranda JM. Probiotics as a Possible Strategy for the Prevention and Treatment of Allergies. A Narrative Review. Foods. 2021 Mar 25;10(4):701. doi: 10.3390/foods10040701. PMID: 33806092; PMCID: PMC8064452.
[14] Wang L, Guo MJ, Gao Q, Yang JF, Yang L, Pang XL, Jiang XJ. The effects of probiotics on total cholesterol: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018 Feb;97(5):e9679. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000009679. PMID: 29384846; PMCID: PMC5805418.
[15] Ooi LG, Liong MT. Cholesterol-lowering effects of probiotics and prebiotics: a review of in vivo and in vitro findings. Int J Mol Sci. 2010 Jun 17;11(6):2499-522. doi: 10.3390/ijms11062499. PMID: 20640165; PMCID: PMC2904929.
[16] Juste, C., & Gérard, P. (2021). Cholesterol-to-Coprostanol Conversion by the Gut Microbiota: What We Know, Suspect, and Ignore. Microorganisms, 9(9), 1881. MDPI AG. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9091881
[17]Snydman D. R. (2008). The safety of probiotics. Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America46 Suppl 2, S104–S151. https://doi.org/10.1086/523331
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