Category Archives: probiotic

5 Tips for Healthy Travel

‘Buy an adaptor, find my swimsuit, pick up the dry cleaning, pack the phone chargers!’. When you’re rushing around last minute preparing for a holiday, your health is often the last thing on your mind. However when you put your body in an unfamiliar environment, often with little sleep along the way, it’s important to look after your health. What’s more, your holiday should be a time to explore, relax, and let go. You certainly don’t want an upset stomach or heavy case of jetlag ruining your fun time so we’ve prepared 5 simple steps to enjoy your holiday, the healthy way.

1. Beat the jet lag

The real pros will try to adjust their sleep schedules 2–3 days before leaving on holiday. If you know that you’re going to be sleeping and waking up later once you reach a different time zone, try to work your way into that time zone before you even leave home. Even if all you can manage is half an hour or an hour of difference, it should help to make life easier (and your holiday more relaxing!) when you’re trying to adjust to a new time schedule abroad.

2. Pack healthy snacks

Spend time preparing healthy snacks for you and your family before you leave for the airport. It will be much better for your body, and likely better for your bank balance, than picking up sugary or carb-loaded snacks at the airport. Cut up some apples, carrots, or try things like sugar snap peas – they’re good raw too and with an extra crunch which should go down well with the kids.

 3. Wear sun cream

Even if there is cloud cover, the sun can burn. Choose a sun cream with at least SPF 15, or at least SPF 30 if you’re off to a hot and sunny destination. Do not forget to top up on your cream throughout the day , this is where a lot of people slip up – it’s not enough to put cream on once in the morning then forget about it! Make sure you have a good sized day bag to carry all your essentials including your sun cream, snacks and water.

4. Water, water, everywhere!

Optibac can help with bowel calm when travelling abroad
OptiBac Probiotics for travelling abroad helps support a traveller’s digestive health

Do not forget to hydrate. Carry a bottle of water around with you. A lot of us forget to hydrate properly when we’re not in our usual place (e.g. at our desk at work) and hydration is all the more important when you’re enjoying a warm, sunny holiday. Water will flush the pathogens out of your body, and help to prevent any stomach upsets.

5. Look after your gut health

When visiting a new country, the body, and in particular your digestive system, have a tough time adjusting to a new environment and to new foods. Up to 50% of travellers are said to experience traveller’s diarrhoea because the ingestion of foreign microbes can upset the stomach (not much fun when you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself!).

Look after your digestive health whilst abroad by taking a probiotic especially made for travel. OptiBac Probiotics ‘For travelling abroad’ supports your body’s natural defence against bad bacteria whilst travelling. Get 60 capsules for £19.99 (usually £30.57) – perfect for those travelling as a family, or going away for a significant length of time.

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Natural Immune Support for Children

Children frequently pick up and pass on common bacterial and viral infections, often through interaction with others at school which can manifest into sore throats, colds, flu, sinusitis and more. Unfortunately large numbers of these children are prescribed antibiotics repeatedly. With the current concern over antibiotic resistance, it is natural to want to avoid having your child take antibiotics if possible.

There are a number of natural ways to reduce the risk of your children picking up illnesses. The very best insurance to help prevent you and your children getting ill is to support the immune system through diet, nutrients and lifestyle.

Here are 5 ways to boost children’s immunity naturally:

1. Wash hands but don’t be a germaphobe: Good hygiene at school and at home is important to help reduce the spread of germs. Washing hands is particularly easy and effective. However, extreme hygiene practices may have a negative effect on your child’s maturing immunity.

Strawberry's, melons and berries are all high in Vitamin C
Strawberries, melons and berries are all high in Vitamin C

2. Eat foods packed with immune-boosting nutrients: Serve nutrient-dense foods to help boost your children’s immunity. A few nutrients can be essential to supporting a balanced immune system. Vitamin C can be found not only in citrus fruits, but also in broccoli, kale, green beans, berries, cantaloupe, strawberries, melons and zinc, which supports immune cell function. Foods such as pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and seafood are all rich in zinc. Probiotic foods such as natural organic yogurt balance gut flora and are essential to a well functioning immune system.

3. Reduce refined carbohydrates and sugary foods: Refined carbohydrates like pasta, bread, biscuits and cakes and sugary foods like soda and candy can seriously tax the immune system. They feed bacterial growth and contribute to inflammation, which depletes and exhausts immune function.

4. Exercise: Research has shown that moderate exercise improves immune function for all ages. Turning off the TV, limiting the video games and getting the kids outdoors are great ways to boost children’s immunity naturally.

5. Try natural immune support nutrients and supplements: Bee Propolis is an immune boosting plant-based nutrient that is safe and effective for children. This resin is collected by bees, from tree and plant buds and has natural antibiotic, antiviral and antibacterial properties. Olive leaf extract and black elderberry are also full of antimicrobial nutrients and are also safe for all ages. Bee Prepared Immune Support Daily Defence combines these ingredients and other equally beneficial nutrients which support immune health. Capsules may be swallowed or broken open and put into juices, smoothies or yogurt.

A practical, delicious and child-friendly way to include a few of these recommendations into your daily routine is with an immune boosting smoothie.

Immunity Smoothie Ingredients:

  • 1 apple, cored, peeled and sliced
  • 1 orange, peeled and seeded
  • 1/2 cup filtered water or organic apple juice
  • 1/2 cup natural yogurt
  • 2 tsp manuka honey
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seed butter *optional
  • 1 (2-inch) piece of fresh ginger root, peeled
  • 1 capsule Bee Prepared Daily Defence (open capsule and use the powder)

Combine all of these ingredients in a blender, serve and enjoy!

References:
1. Image courtesy of Roger Kirby.

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Probiotics – What are they and do you need them?

Probiotics, or ‘friendly bacteria’, are live microorganisms, which when consumed in adequate amounts, are thought to confer health benefits on the human body. Taking a daily probiotic supplement could not only help with your digestion, but could also spark off other feel-good factors, such as good skin health, immunity and wellbeing.

Digestion
Probiotics are key to the digestive system. They help the body to produce digestive enzymes (such as lactase) which breakdown certain food substances (in this case, lactose, found in dairy products.) This is why topping up your levels of probiotics on a daily basis can help with food intolerances.

Probiotics support the digestive system, and various research has shown that these microorganisms can help to encourage bowel regularity, and discourage digestive disorders or conditions such as diarrhoea (1,2), bloating (3) , or constipation(4,5).

High Quality Probiotic
A High Quality Probiotic such as OptiBac For Daily Wellbeing EXTRA Strength can help line the gut wall with good bacteria to fend off pathogens.

Immunity
Probiotics are thought to support the immune system thanks to the ‘barrier effect’. A high quality probiotic is tested for its ability to bind to cells on the gut wall lining. When you supplement with plenty of probiotics they begin to coat your gut wall, taking up space on this lining. This means that when pathogens (harmful microorganisms) enter the body, they reach the gut and have fewer points on the gut wall upon which they can adhere. It’s effectively a competition for space, between the good guys and the bad! The more good guys (probiotics) you have lining your gut wall, the fewer bad guys (pathogens) you should have in turn. This is known as the barrier effect; taking a daily probiotic can support this process.

Probiotics also improve the absorption of vitamins and minerals into the bloodstream. After all there’s no use taking lots of vitamins if your body is not absorbing them. This improved vitamin uptake provides essential support for the immune system, and what’s more, means that a probiotic nicely complements any other daily supplements you may take.

Skin health
Probiotics are also thought to help support healthy skin, as often acne or spots are caused by bad bacteria, or toxins in the body. Supporting your gut with friendly bacteria means that the body will digest foods more efficiently (producing fewer toxins in the first place) and what’s more, probiotics help to displace toxins or bad bacteria in the gut (through various mechanisms, including the barrier effect mentioned above.) Probiotics have even been shown to help with atopic allergies such as eczema (6). Supporting your gut health from the inside should hopefully see you benefiting on the outside too.

Frequency of Use
Some specific probiotics can be effectively taken as a ‘one-off’ treatment, for example Saccharomyces boulardii to support gut health in those suffering from diarrhoea. However if you’re taking probiotics for general support to your digestion, immunity, energy & skin, best to take them every day for at least a few months; giving your gut time to top up its friendly bacteria levels. Many people safely and happily take probiotics on an ongoing basis for years.

 

References:

1. McFarland, L.V. & Bernasconi, P. (1993) Saccharomyces boulardii: A Review of an Innovative Biotherapeutic Agent. Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease; Vol. 6 pp. 157-171.
2. Hochter, W. et al (1990) Saccharomyces boulardii in acute adult diarrhea. Efficacy and tolerance of treatment. Munchener Medizinische Wochenschrift; Vol. 132 (12) pp. 188-192
3. Paineau, D. (2007) Regular consumption of short-chain fructo-oligosachharides improves digestive comfort with minor functional bowel disorders. Br. J. Nutr. Aug 13:1-8 [Epub ahead of print]
4. Matsumoto, M. et al. (2001) Effect of Yoghurt with Bifidobacterium lactis Bb-12® in Improving Fecal Microflora and Defecation of Healthy Volunteers. Journal of Intestinal Microbiology; 14(2): pp. 97-102
5. Pitkala, K.H et al. (2007) Fermented cereal with specific bifidobacteria normalizes bowel movements in elderly nursing home residents. A randomized, controlled trial. Journal of Nutritional Health and Aging; 11(4): pp.305-311.
6. Isolauri, E., et al., Probiotics in the management of atopic eczema. Clin Exp Allergy, 2000. 30(11): p. 1604-10.

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Could Probiotics help with Weight Management?

Some research exists to suggest that probiotics could help with weight management – but how would that work, and how sound is the research?

In 2006, a seminal study[1] published in the well-respected journal, Nature, showed a clear difference in the gut bacteria of obese people as opposed to their lean counterparts. What’s more, when obese participants later lost weight, their gut bacteria reverted back to those observed in lean participants.

Since then, smaller studies continue to support the theory that gut bacteria could influence weight. In 2009, a trial[2] found that women who took Lactobacillus & Bifidobacterium probiotics during pregnancy and breastfeeding were less likely to be obese 6 months following birth. 25% of the women who had received dietary advice alongside probiotic supplementation had excess abdominal fat, as opposed to in 43% of women who had received dietary advice with a placebo.

Weight Loss
Weight Loss may be supported by a higher probiotic bacteria balance in the gut

Could we be doing more to fight the obesity epidemic?

In 2010, a double-blind, randomised placebo-controlled trial in Japan[3] found a Lactobacillus probiotic to reduce abdominal fat by 4.6% and subcutaneous fat (just below the skin) by 3.3%. The trial recruited 87 overweight participants and randomly assigned a daily dose of fermented milk either with or without the probiotics, for a period of 12 weeks. The probiotic group given milk containing the probiotic Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055, showed significant decreases in body weight BMI, in waist circumference, and in the hips.

How could Probiotics encourage Weight Loss?

No one knows for certain just yet, but mechanisms could include:

  • Better breakdown of foods (a well understood benefit of probiotics).
  • Displacement of pathogenic bacteria associated with weight gain.
  • Stimulating the body’s production of natural substances associated with decreased body fat.
  • L. acidophilus was found in a small study in 2008[5] to increase the body’s production of leptin (a protein commonly accepted to decrease appetite and increase metabolism) and to result in weight loss.
  • In 2010 scientists in Ireland found another Lactobacillus probiotic to influence the fat composition of the host, via production of the fatty acid t10, c12 CLA; a molecule previously associated with decreased body fat.
  • Correlation between obesity & digestive health issues such as constipation. Fascinating ongoing research in the USA by Dr Mark Pimental suggests that those with constipation could be absorbing more calories, potentially because when the gut performs at a slower rate the body has more time to absorb calories.[6] As probiotics could help to support bowel regularity (especially well-researched strains such as Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12Ò [7],[8]), a more efficient digestive process could lead to fewer calories being absorbed.

Moving Forward

In England our rates of obesity have doubled over the last 25 years, with 60% of adults overweight or obese today[9]. Any natural support in tackling this obesity epidemic could therefore play a fundamental role in the future. Currently evidence remains too sparse for any firm conclusions, although the results certainly look promising. Of course we needn’t tell you that taking a holistic approach and also looking at diet, fitness and exercise is always to be encouraged.

For individuals looking to lose weight a high quality daily probiotic might be suggested. For daily wellbeing EXTRA Strength contains 20 billion high quality Lactobacillus & Bifidobacteria probiotics. L. acidophilus NCFM is thought to be the most researched strain of acidophilus in the world which can be found in this probiotic supplement.

 

References:

1.Bajzer, M, & Seeley, R. ‘Phsyiology: Obesity and Gut Flora.’ Nature, 2006, Vol. 444, pp.1009 -1010.

2.News release, 17th European Congress on Obesity. 17th European Congress on obesity meeting, Amsterdam, Netherlands, May 6-9, 2009.

3. Y. Kadooka et al., ‘Regulation of abdominal adiposity by probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055) in adults with obese tendencies in a randomised controlled trial.’ European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010, vol. 64, No. 6, pp.636-643.

4. Rosberg-Cody, E. ‘Recombinant Lactobacilli expressing linolic acid isomerise can modulate the fatty acid composition of host adipose tissue in mice’. Microbiology, Dec, 22, 2012 DOI: 10. 1099/mic.0.043406-0.

5. R. Sousa et al., ‘Effect of Lactobacillus acidophilus supernatants on body weight and leptin expression in rats’. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2008, 8:5 doi: 10.1186/6882-8-5.

6. BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 8th March 2011 2100-2130h ‘Programme no. 9 – gut bacteria’ Radio science unit. Presented by Mark Porter; contributors: Glenn Gibson, Christine Edwards, Thomas Broody, Alisdair Macchonnachie, Mark Pimentel & Ian Rowland.

7. Matsumoto, M. et al. (2001) Effect of yoghurt with Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12 in improving fecal microflora and defecation of healthy volunteers. Journal of Intestinal Microbiology; 14(2): pp.97-102.

8. Pitkala, K, H. et al. (2007) Fermented cereal with specific Bifidobacteria normalises bowel movements in elderly nursing home residents. A randomised, controlled trial. Journal of Nutriitonal Health and Ageing; 11.(4): pp.305-311.

9. guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/food-companies-health-wellbeing

Content supplied by OptiBac.

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Rising Pollen Counts – Bad News for Hay Fever Sufferers

Pollen counts are continuing to rise across Europe, predicting months of misery for unprepared hay fever sufferers. A new study has found that pollen counts are rising by around 3% each year in urban areas, and that this rise may be caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (1).

Lead researcher Annette Menzel, from the Technical University of Munich, calls this the “carbon dioxide effect”. Plants use carbon dioxide to thrive, just as we use oxygen. She explains, “we know from experiments in the real world and in climate chambers that CO2 does promote the amount of pollen that trees produce.”

Hay Fever sufferers may find supplementation useful
Hay Fever Sufferers may find probiotics and quercetin & bromelain supplements useful in managing symptoms

In hayfever sufferers, pollen triggers the release of histamine, an inflammatory chemical that causes sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and an increase in mucous production. The condition is often treated with anti-histamine drugs and decongestants such as nasal sprays.

For those looking for a more natural way to relieve symptoms, there are a number of nutrients that act as anti-histamines. For example, Vitamin C enhances the action of the enzyme histaminase, which breaks down histamine. Quercetin, a natural bioflavonoid, reduces the activity of mast cells – the cells that release histamine and other inflammatory messengers. It is present in onions, shallots and garlic and is available in supplement form. Quercetin is often taken alongside bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapples that may help reduce the swelling and inflammation associated with hay fever.

A more holistic way of approaching the condition might be to support the immune system, altering the way that your body’s immune cells respond to pollen. This would help to prevent histamine from being released in the first place. Preliminary research suggests that probiotics may be an effective way of doing this.

For example, a recent double-blind study found that probiotics decreased levels of IgE (an antibody that stimulates histamine) in hay fever sufferers. Researcher Dr Kamal Ivory claims that the probiotic appeared to change the body’s response to grass pollen, “restoring a more balanced immune response” (2).

The pollen study suggests that allergic conditions such as hay fever will continue to rise. Indeed hay fever seems to be increasingly common across Europe. In the UK alone, there has been a 33% increase in allergic rhinitis in recent years (3). Taking steps now to alleviate the condition and to support your immune system could help you to avoid unpleasant symptoms and enjoy the summer months ahead.

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC

References

1. Ziello et al (2012) Changes to Airborne Pollen Counts across Europe. PLoS ONE, 7 (4): e34076

2. Ivory et al. (2008) Oral delivery of Lactobacillus casei Shirota modifies allergen-induced immune responses in allergic rhinitis. Clinical & Experimental Allergy 38(8):1282-9

3. Hippisley-Cox et al (2007) Primary care epidemiology of allergic disorders: analysis using QRESEARCH database 2001-2006 QResearch June 2007.

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Travelling abroad? Pack a Probiotic

Did you know?

Each year, up to 50% of travellers are thought to experience the dreaded ‘traveller’s diarrhoea’ (1.), and with more people going abroad year on year, that’s an awful lot of upset stomachs.

There’s nothing worse: You’ve booked your holiday, looked forward to it for months, packed all of the right clothes, sun creams, insect repellents and so on. You arrive at your destination tired, but thrilled to be there… You settle in to the hotel, enjoy a couple of fabulous local dishes, and hey presto – you’ve been hit with a tummy bug. What now? You have to spend precious holiday time sitting on the loo!

Why?

The body’s balance of friendly bacteria is delicate, and can easily be disrupted. Travelling can naturally put strains on the immune system, and when you travel to new environments and eat foreign foods, unfamiliar microbes can irritate the gut wall lining – causing diarrhoea.

OptiBac Probiotics - For Travelling Abroad
A probiotic supplement such as OptiBac Probiotics - For Travelling Abroad - taken during your holiday could help avoid an upset tummy!

Gastroenterologist Dr Georges Mouton recommends taking a probiotic supplement such as ‘For travelling abroad’ by OptiBac Probiotics – especially made to support your gut health during travels. This travel probiotic has been shown to reduce the likelihood of contracting travellers’ diarrhoea to just five per cent (2.). For travelling abroad contains four different probiotics, chosen for their ability to support the immune system, and to flush out pathogenic bacteria before it can cause an upset tummy. Unlike many popular probiotic yoghurt drinks, this vegetarian supplement contains no added sugars or flavourings, and does not require refrigeration. So you can rest assured it wont lose any of it’s potency whilst in transit to your holiday destination.

It is advised to start taking a travel probiotic 3 – 5 days before you go away, to support your digestive health in advance, and then every day during your holiday.

Other precautions?

Other things you can do to minimise your risk of contracting traveller’s diarrhoea include regularly washing your hands and especially before eating and drinking, avoiding raw foods or salads and sticking to bottled water.

So next time you go away, don’t get caught short and remember to protect your digestive health…

 

Written by OptiBac Probiotics

References

(1.)  http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/travelersdiarrhea_g.htm
(2.) McFarland, L. V. (2007) Meta-analysis of probiotics for the prevention of traveller’s diarrhoea. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease. Vol. 5, Issue 2, pp. 97 – 105

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CLA – a promising new supplement for Crohn’s?

A recent pilot study, soon to be published in Clinical Nutrition, has tested the effects of the supplement Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) on patients with Crohn’s disease.

Crohn’s disease is digestive condition marked by inflammation and irritation in the intestines. Symptoms include pain, bloating and diarrhoea, and the condition may lead to narrowing of the digestive tract as result of scar tissue build up. Diseased areas of the gut tend not to absorb nutrients efficiently, leading to malnutrition. The exact cause of Crohn’s is unknown, although hereditary and immune factors appear to play a role.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is a promising new supplement in the support of Crohn's Disease

The study, conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech, found that Crohn’s patients who took supplementary CLA showed significant improvement. 50% of the participants who tried the supplement showed marked improvement in both quality of life and in disease activity.

In conventional medicine, Crohn’s is treated with anti-inflammatory medications as well as drugs that suppress the immune system, such as steroids.

It is thought that CLA has anti-inflammatory effects, which explains its benefits in Crohn’s patients. Furthermore, CLA supplements appear to be free from the side effects associated with anti-inflammatory drugs. In this particular study CLA was well tolerated by all of the participants.

Dietary sources of CLA include dairy products and certain types of meat such as beef and lamb. Unfortunately some sufferers find that foods such as dairy exacerbate Crohn’s symptoms. A good way to include a dietary source of CLA would be to eat kefir, a cultured milk drink popular in countries such as Russia and Romania. This would be easy and inexpensive to make at home using organic milk of grass-fed cows or a milk alternative such as rice milk. It provides a great source of both CLA and probiotics to support digestive health. CLA is also widely available in supplement form.

The recent study was ‘open label’ meaning that no placebo group was used, and participants knew what supplement they were taking. While lead researcher Professor Kim L. Isaacs says the results are promising, he concedes that they will need to be verified in a randomised controlled trial. It is too early to say whether CLA could be considered a treatment for Crohn’s. Hopefully these promising results will encourage more research in this area.

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC

Reference

Bassaganya-Riera, J., R. Hontecillas, W.T. Horne, M. Sandridge, H. Herfarth, R. Bloomfeld, and K. Isaacs (2012) Conjugated linoleic modulates immune responses in patients with Mild to Moderately active Crohn’s disease. Clinical Nutrition (in press)

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Probiotics may prevent childhood eczema

Eczema is a dry, itchy skin condition, and childhood eczema can be distressing for both children and their parents. Unfortunately, childhood eczema is becoming increasingly common.

A new study looking at the effects of a probiotic called Lactobacillus Rhamnosus offers a promising new approach to dealing with this troublesome condition (1).

Research published last month in the journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy found that children who take probiotics in the first two years of life had a decreased incidence of eczema, and were protected against the condition until at least 4 years of age.

The researchers followed 425 infants for 4 years after daily supplementation with the probiotics L. Rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium animalis or placebo.

Probiotics in pregnancy and childhood can prevent eczema
Taking probiotics, specifically Lactobacillus Rhamnosus, during pregnancy and in childhood can prevent childhood eczema (2,3)

The mothers were given a probiotic supplement or a placebo pill at the gestational age of 35 weeks. Each mother continued to take the supplement for 6 months following the birth, while her baby was breastfeeding. After this time, all of the infants were given a probiotic or placebo supplement from birth until the age of 2.

The results showed that the protective effect of the probiotic lasted until the children were at least 4 years of age.

The research team published the initial results of their double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, back in 2008 (2). Here they tested the effects of the probiotic during the first two years of life. They found that the supplement L. Rhamnosus (strain HN001) resulted in a 49% reduction in eczema prevalence – essentially it halved the risk of eczema in the children studied.

The more recent study demonstrates that the benefits of L. Rhamnosus HN001 persisted to age 4 years, despite the fact that probiotic supplementation stopped two years earlier. This suggests that this particular probiotic might work as a protective measure against eczema for high-risk infants.

There is no way of knowing for sure if you baby will have eczema. However, the risk of your baby developing eczema is much greater if someone in your family has already had eczema, asthma and hayfever. If these conditions are present in your family, then probiotic supplementation may offer some degree of protection for your children.

The authors of the study concede that “the precise pathways for effects [of probiotics] on allergic disease remain elusive and require more work”. In light of the distress that this skin condition can cause to both children and parents, I certainly hope that this study paves the way for future research in this area.

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC

References
1. Wickens, K. et al (2012) A protective effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 against eczema in the first 2 years of life persists to age 4 years. Clinical & Experimental Allergy. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.2012.03975

2. Wicken et al (2008) A differential effect of 2 probiotics in the prevention of eczema and atopy: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. J Allergy & Clin Immunol 122:4, pp. 788-794

3. Image courtesy of Rocknroli.

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Probiotics to support regular bowels

Thanks to much focus on probiotics over recent years you may be familiar with the concept that having a good balance of friendly bacteria in your gut is related to healthy digestion. One of these factors is of course bowel regularity. Constipation (bowel movements that are infrequent or hard to pass) can indeed be caused by a lack of good bacteria in the intestines, meaning that your body does not have the suitable means to efficiently break down and digest foods.

The Secret is in the Strain

So what sort of probiotic can you take to help maintain more regular bowel movements? Rather than worrying too much about the form or strength of a probiotic, the secret is actually in the ‘strain’. A probiotic ‘strain’ refers to the exact classification of a micro-organism and it tells you where the probiotic comes from, where it will work in the body, and most importantly, which clinical trials and tests have been carried out on that probiotic.

B. lactis BB-12®

Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12® is probably the most researched strain of the ‘lactis’ species; and has been especially tested in individuals looking to maintain bowel regularity. A number of reliable double blind, placebo-controlled studies (1, 2, 3) have shown this precise probiotic strain to help individuals maintain regular bowel movements.

OptiBac Probiotics - For Maintaining Regularity
OptiBac Probiotics - For Maintaining Regularity contains the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12

For maintaining regularity Probiotic & Prebiotic

The B. lactis BB-12® strain can be found in OptiBac Probiotics For maintaining regularity which can be taken on a daily basis as a maintenance or alternatively as and when required. For maintaining regularity also contains prebiotic fibres for a longer lasting effect. Prebiotics are a food source for your body’s probiotics and these natural fibres are found in foods such as onions, garlic and leeks.

For maintaining regularity is a natural & gentle supplement, and unlike some medicines, will not cause dependency or a lazy gut. It is also suitable for pregnant women, infants from 1 year+ and provides a perfect gentle formula for the elderly.

If you’re looking to maintain your bowel regularity, trying a supplement containing B. lactis BB-12® whilst combining it with some positive health habits could be a good place to start. Ensure you eat plenty of fresh fruit & vegetables, beans and pulses, drink lots of water and take regular exercise – which all encourage more regular bowel movements.

Written by Lou Bowler, BSc (Naturopath)

References

(1.) Matsumoto, M. et al (2001) Effect of Yoghurt with Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12 in improving fecal microflora and defecation of healthy volunteers. Journal of Intestinal Microbiology; 12(2): pp-97-102

(2.) Pitala, K.J et al (2007) Fermented cereal with specific Bifidobacteria normalises bowel movements in elderly nursing home residents. A randomised, controlled trial. Journal of Nutritional Health and Aging; 11(4): pp. 305 – 311.

(3.) Nishida, S. et al. (2004) Effect of yoghurt containing Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12 on improvement of defecation and fecal microflora of healthy female adults.

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Probiotics for the Common Cold

During winter, the common cold strikes 930,000 Britons on average. We probably catch more colds during this season because we spend much more time indoors, in close proximity. New Year’s Eve parties, January sales and family gatherings mean that we’re coming into physical contact with more people, leaving us susceptible to catching and spreading the common cold.

Probiotics may help prevent the Common Cold
Probiotics may help prevent Infections such as the Common Cold

While there is still no cure for the common cold, a recent analysis has found evidence for taking probiotics as a way of preventing the risk of infection (1). It seems that probiotics may improve health by regulating immune function.

The systematic review, conducted by the Cochrane Collaboration, analysed 10 studies involving 3451 participants. The study examined the evidence for probiotics as a way to prevent upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs).

In studies where probiotics were taken for more than a week, probiotics reduced the number of individuals who had at least one acute upper respiratory tract infection by 42%.

Side effects reported were minor, such as digestive discomfort, and were not any more common in those taking probiotics than in the control groups.

Probiotics may support the immune system by bolstering the health of the gut wall and boosting activity of phagocytes, white blood cells that fight infection.

When choosing a probiotic supplement, be sure to opt for one that uses well-researched strains. It is important that the probiotic strain that you use is capable both of surviving stomach acidity and ‘sticking’ to the gut lining.

I often recommend Optibac ‘For daily wellbeing EXTRA strength’ as this contains one of the most well researched strains, L. acidophilus NCFM. It is also FOS free, which can be useful for those who are worried about side effects such as bloating. Udo’s Choice Super 8 Probiotic also provides the strain L. acidophilus NCFM at an effective dosage.

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC

References

(1.) Hao Q, Lu Z, Dong BR, Huang CQ, Wu T. Probiotics for preventing acute upper respiratory tract infections. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Sep 7

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