Probiotics: Keeping Your Kids Healthy

If you measured the amount of snot in the average daycare . . . well, let’s just say no one in their right mind would even try. But put a pack of little kids together, and those germs just fly around. Ugh.

But probiotics hold hope for keeping your little ones healthier. A study in August 2009 Pediatrics highlighted an investigation with children ages 3 to 5 attending daycare. The children were split into three groups: one group took a Lactobacillus probiotic twice a days; the second group took Lactobacillus plus Bifidobacterium twice a day; and the final group took a placebo. And, wow! Look what they found:

Incidence of fever was reduced 63% in the Lacto/Bifido group; 48% in the Lacto group.

Cough was reduced by 54% in the Lacto/Bifido group; 42% in the Lacto group.

Runny noses were reduced by 44% in the Lacto/Bifido group; 9% in the Lacto group.

Antibiotic use was reduced by 80% in the Lacto/Bifido group; 68% in the Lacto group.

The results of some studies are a little wishy-washy. Not this one. The researchers concluded the probiotics “significantly reduced the incidence and duration of respiratory tract infection symptoms in children.”

For more information, check out PEDIATRICS: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

I don’t know about you — but the less snot in my house the better. . . I’m stocking up on probiotics.

Go with your gut,

The Probulin Team

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Probiotics and Flu Shots: A successful combination

It’s that time of year when grown-ups and kids alike turn to sniveling scaredy cats as they face their annual flu shots. But our bravery is rewarded by all the benefits of getting that shot! And guess what. . . the probiotics you’re taking make the flu shot even more effective.

A study published in 2007 in Nutrition found that two weeks after the vaccination, natural killer cells were increased in the group of patients taking probiotics but not in the placebo group. (The probiotic strain taken by that group was in the Lactobacillus fermentum family.) The probiotic group also saw an increase in immunoglobulin A (an antibody, which is a large protein that fights foreign invaders in your body).

What this means is that the probiotic group saw their immune response ramped up — and over the next five months, that group got fewer flu-like illnesses.

The idea that probiotics make your flu shot more effective won’t make it hurt less when it’s administered. But at least you know that, teamed up with your probiotics, it’s going to really work to keep you healthy this winter!

Go with your gut,

The Probulin Team

Living Long – How the Probiotic Revolution Began

Elie Metchnikoff 1845-1916

Early in the 20th century, a Russian scientist Elie Metchnikoff wondered about the long, healthy lives of Bulgarian pheasants. When Metchnikoff (who won a Noble Prize for other scientific work he did) explored the diet of these rural communities, he found they ate a lot of fermented foods, dairy products in particular.

From there, Metchnikoff explored what in the foods might be affecting the Bulgarian’s health, deciding that lactic-acid producing bacteria in the gut had some impact on health. Although he didn’t call them probiotics (that term wasn’t coined until decades later) he was the first person to examine the effects of bacteria on our health.

Metchnikoff wasn’t alone in his work. A French scientist, Henry Tissier, noticed bacterial differences in children suffering from diarrhea. He identified bifid bacteria and recommended that children suffering from diarrhea might benefit from taking that bacteria.

On the shoulders of these two men – and many other insightful medical researchers – is built an industry that today may hold the key to many health issues we face. From bacterial changes in children with autism to probiotics that help fight off antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the exciting world of probiotics and probiotics is finally getting the attention it deserves!

Go with your gut,

The Probulin Team

The Brain-Gut Connection

A terrific article in Scientific American recently highlighted the strong connection scientists are finding between the bacteria in your gut and brain development. What they’re discovering is that varying problems with gut flora can cause brain and neurological issues. They’re even finding connections between what bacteria are in your gut and autoimmune issues.

The article said, “In autism and other pervasive developmental disorders, there are reports that the specific bacterial species present in the gust are altered and that gastrointestinal problems exacerbate behavioral symptoms. A newly developed biochemical test for autism is based, in part, upon the end products of bacterial metabolism.”

It’s exciting to see the advances being made as we begin to understand how the bacteria in our body affects us. Be sure to check out the entire article at Scientific American!

Go with your gut,

The Probulin Team

Prebiotics: Is that a typo?

Nope, we really mean to say prebiotics and not probiotics. Although you’ve been hearing a lot about probiotics in the media (and certainly on our blog!), prebiotics are starting to get their fair share of attention. Identified in 1995, prebiotics are non-digestible ingredients found in foods that stimulate the growth and/or activity of bacteria that’s already in your digestive system.

So what prebiotics really do is help probiotics work better, feeding them so they grow and flourish. Research is finding that probiotics are more effective when they contain a prebiotic as well (just like Probulin does).

The big three prebiotics are (1) inulin (2) oligofructose, and (3) polydextrose. They’re usually carbohydrates and soluble fibers. Prebiotics:

  • Have healthy bacteria-building potential
  • Have starch and sugar replacement capabilities
  • Improve gut health as fibres or as texturants.

A 2010 research report on prebiotics from UBIC Consulting found that from 1999 to 2010, the U.S. insoluble fibers market grew 120 percent. As research continues to spike on the effectiveness of prebiotics and probiotics, you can expect to see more people adding these important supplements to their diets.

The U.S. already lags behind European countries (and countries like Japan, which has recognized the usefulness of prebiotics since the 1980s) in adding these to our diet. Let’s catch up!

Go with your gut,

The Probiotics Team

Boning up on Prebiotics

Research studies show that prebiotics can increase your calcium absorption and help with bone minieralization. That’s an issue of primary concern as you age, in particular!

One young adult study found that after a year of taking a prebiotic (specifically an inulin-like fructans), the young adults taking the supplement had greater whole-body bone mineral content and density than the control group that didn’t get fructans.

Other studies have replicated that one, finding “increasing evidence that the colon can absorb nutritionally significant amounts of calcium, and this process may be susceptible to dietary manipulation by fermentable substrates, especially inulin-type fructans.” Whew – that a mouthful, and what it means is that by taking a prebiotic like inulin, you’ll absorb calcium better, which helps your bones! Some of the studies focused on older women, finding positive effects from prebiotics there as well!

Protect your bones with prebiotics and probiotics!

Go with your gut,

The Probulin Team