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New Studies Reveal Probiotics' Wide-ranging Health Benefits

New Studies Reveal Probiotics' Wide-ranging Health Benefits


According to a recent article in The New York Times, "The body's microbial community may influence the brain and behavior, perhaps even playing a role in dementia, autism and other disorders." (Zimmer, Carl. Germs in Your Gut Are Talking to Your Brain. Scientists Want to Know What They're Saying. NYTimes, Jan 28, 2019)

Not long ago, scientists scoffed at the idea that the microbiome could influence the brain. But new, recent research continues to turn up remarkable links between the microbiome and the brain. Scientists are finding evidence that microbiome may play a role not just in Alzheimer's disease, but Parkinson's disease, depression, schizophrenia, autism and other conditions.

Studies in mice and  humans have revealed some surprising patterns. Children with autism, for example, have unusual patterns of microbial species in their stool. Differences in the gut bacteria of people with a host of other brain-based conditions also have been reported. Interesting research involving fecal transplants is ongoing.

In the meantime, other results have been forthcoming. Here are two examples, regarding inflammation and insulin resistance and stress-memory.

People with type 2 diabetes may develop a bacterial imbalance in the gut that can allow a type of toxin, LPS endotoxin, to leak into the  bloodstream, creating systemic inflammation. In this study, 61 adults with type 2 diabetes took a placebo or combined several probiotic strains of lactobacillus and v for a total of five-billion colony-forming-units per day.

After six months, while the placebo group had not changed, those taking probiotics saw a nearly 70 percent decrease in circulating endotoxin levels compared to the start of the study. Also, several signs of inflammation--tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-6, and C-reactive protein--declined between 53 and 77 percent.

The probiotics group also saw a 38 percent drop in glucose and insulin levels, and a 64 percent decrease in insulin resistance (HOMA-IR). Triglycerides declined 48 percent, total cholesterol dropped 19 percent, and the ratio of HDL, the "good" cholesterol, to total cholesterol, increased.

Doctors said the significant improvements in insulin resistance, inflammation, and lipid profiles in type 2 diabetes suggest multi-strain probiotics may be an effective anti-diabetes therapy.

(Reference: Clinical Nutrition Journal; 2018, 31351-7; Published Online)

This second study, dealing with stress and memory, adds support to the proposed gut-brain connection.

Recent studies suggest gut and brain health are connected. In this study, 51 adults with moderate stress scores, average age 32, took a placebo or lactobacillus plantarum P8 at a dose of 20-billion colony-forming-units per day.

After four weeks, while there was no change for placebo, the probiotics group had reduced levels of stress and anxiety. After 12 weeks, levels of inflammatory factors interferon gamma and tumor necrosis factor alpha were lower for probiotics. Also for probiotics, women saw improvements in social emotional cognition while men saw improvements in verbal learning and memory.

Doctors said harmful bacteria in the gut can increase inflammation which they believe can effect cognitive function, and that probiotics can reduce this inflammation.

(Reference: Clinical Nutrition Journal; 2018, 32448-8; Published Online)

Product Recommendations by Arnie Gitomer

A product containing a combination of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium is available from many suppliers. Lactobacillus Plantarum at a dose of 20-billion colony forming units is available from Metagenics as Ultra Flora Intensive Care.