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Probiotics: What You Need to Know

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An announcement on the National Institutes of Health website on January 17th revealed some interesting results coming out of a study on the benefits of probiotics, which are digestive supplements containing live microorganisms, as a way to complement or replace antibiotics. 

In the study, the probiotic Bacillus was found to be especially promising because it is administered orally and was shown to have a strong effect on the levels of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), which can cause serious skin, bone, lung, and blood infections. In the parallel study of healthy men who were either taking Bacillus probiotics or a placebo, they found after four weeks that there had been no changes in the control group, but in the probiotic group they observed a 96%  reduction of staph. aureus in the stool and a 65% reduction in the nose.

Understanding probiotics

They are similar to the beneficial microorganisms found in the human gut. They can be taken as supplements or found in fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut. When consumed in sufficient amounts, probiotics can help promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria, which can positively impact overall health. 

Some potential benefits of probiotics include improved digestion, stronger immune function, and a reduced risk of certain diseases. 

Many fermented foods contain probiotics and can promote good health. Some examples include:

  • Kimchi: a traditional Korean dish made of fermented vegetables, typically cabbage, and spices.
  • Kombucha: a fermented tea that contains a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.
  • Miso: a traditional Japanese condiment made from fermented soybeans.
  • Tempeh: a traditional Indonesian food made from fermented soybeans.
  • Sourdough bread: made by fermenting dough using naturally occurring lactobacilli and yeasts.
  • Some types of pickles and pickled vegetables
  • Cheeses like Gouda, Cheddar and some others

Not all fermented foods contain probiotics. The fermentation process itself does not necessarily mean it contains probiotics. Additionally, the probiotic strains found in fermented foods may vary from those in supplements. The levels of live microorganisms can also vary depending on the specific food and how it was produced.

It is possible to get the benefits of probiotics from fermented foods. However, it can be difficult to know how much probiotics you are actually getting, as the levels can vary depending on the specific food and how it was produced. Additionally, you may be unable to consume certain fermented foods due to dietary restrictions or personal preferences. So, consider adding probiotic supplements to your daily nutritional intake.

What is Bacillus?

Bacillus is a genus of gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria found in various environments, including soil, water, and the human gut. Some species of Bacillus are known to produce spores, which are highly resistant to environmental stress and can survive for long periods in a dormant state. Because of their ability to form spores, Bacillus bacteria are commonly used in the production of fermented foods and as probiotics.

Some species of Bacillus have been identified as potential probiotics, including Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus coagulans. These strains have been shown to have a positive impact on gut health by improving digestion, reducing inflammation, and strengthening the immune system.

Bacillus subtilis has been found to be effective in reducing diarrhea, constipation and bloating. It has also been shown to have a positive impact on mental health by reducing anxiety and depression symptoms.

Bacillus coagulans is a bacteria that is known to produce lactic acid and bacteriocins that can inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut. It has been found to be effective in reducing the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s Disease and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

It’s important to note that some species of Bacillus can also be pathogenic, meaning they can cause disease, so it is important to use only strains that have been shown to be safe and effective as probiotics.

Adding probiotics to your diet with supplements

Probiotic supplements can be an excellent way to ensure that you get a consistent and sufficient amount of probiotics. However, it is important to choose a high-quality supplement that has been tested for purity and potency. It is also important to note that probiotic supplements can have different effects depending on the specific strains they contain, as well as the dosage, so it’s important to look for a probiotic supplement that has been clinically tested and proven to be effective.

If you are looking for probiotic supplements, some good options include:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Bifidobacterium lactis
  • Streptococcus thermophilus

It’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplement. This is especially true if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications.

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