SFPMG Health News

Journal of American Medical Association Sees Promise in Future of Probiotic

The second January issue of JAMA dedicates one page to the topic of probiotics and their emerging involvement in medicine. The author discusses a recently published animal study that shows how several probiotic strains prevent salmonella infection in the gastrointestinal tract of pigs.  Another specific probiotic bacteria called Lactobacillus salivarius has been shown to produce a toxin that kills Listeria monocytogenes, a pathogenic bacteria that can be fatal in pregnant women and patients with suppressed immune systems.  The article supports further study of this emerging field in medical science.

Comments:
It is encouraging to see that a prominent and medically conservative journal such as JAMA is beginning to recognize the existence, importance and the health benefits of probiotics.   Reel back ten, fifteen years ago, and many gastroenterologists across the US were dismissing the  existence of the gut flora as insignificant to human health, even downright ridiculing alternative healthcare practitioners in the US who were using probiotic supplement, fermented foods and other supportive measures for a healthy gut flora to improve a wide variety of conditions.
Probiotics are microorganisms that exist in fermented foods and supplements, which, when ingested have a healthy, positive impact on health in general and the gastrointestinal tract specifically.  The human body has a flora of microorganisms in the gut that exceeds in numbers ten times the amount of cells that make up the body!  Each person has their own individual group of different strains of bacteria, comprising of 500 to 1000 different strains.  The gut flora is involved in many different and very important processes that keep us healthy, such as absorption of nutrients, breaking down of toxins, the defense against infections, and the development of a healthy gut lining and immune system.

Advice:
  • Probiotics are a good choice for a wide group of health concerns.  For example, you can use them to support your gut while on antibiotics, as antibiotics kill any bacteria, including the good ones.  They are also a simple remedy to promote healthy bowel movements and ward off diarrhea.  If diarrhea persists, please contact your health practitioner.
  • Probiotics can be helpful in a number of diseases.  Please consult a professional health practitioner to make a proper diagnosis and develop a comprehensive treatment plan, that may include probiotics.
  • The internet and healthfood stores are being swamped with numerous probiotic brands.  Unfortunately, many of the brands sold have inadequate amounts of bacteria, often do not contain the strains that are labeled, and many bottles contain probiotics that are inadequately handled and thus have no live cultures:  probiotics are useless when destroyed.   I advise against buying probiotics from the internet, unless you have verified the quality of the brand.  Buy Probiotics only from trusted sources.  Ask your health care practitioner.
  • Fermented foods contain a healthful amount of probiotics, such as yoghurts, Kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha, just to mention a few.  Eat a daily source of natural, well prepared fermented foods that are minimally processed.  Go to your neighborhood healthfood store and ask for details.
Sources:
  • Journal of the American Medical Association, January 2008
  • Journal of the American College of Nutrition, December 2007
  • Bastyr University

 

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