PROBIOTICS AND PREBIOTICS
Gabe Mirkin, M.D.
There are two absorption systems in your body. Food that is easily broken down is absorbed into your upper intestinal tract. If you cannot absorb a particular food, it goes to the lower intestinal tract (colon), where bacteria (in your colon) ferment it to smaller products that can be absorbed.
Your colon is loaded with good and bad bacteria. Examples of bad bacteria are clostridia that are kept in check by good bacteria. If you take an Antibiotic that knocks off the good bacteria, the clostridia can overgrow and cause horrible bloody diarrhea and you can die if you are not given special Antibiotics , specific to kill clostridia, such as metronidazole and vancomycin.
The good bacteria break down soluble fiber to form chemicals such as short chain fatty acids that are absorbed into your bloodstream and travel to your liver where they block the liver from making cholesterol and help to prevent heart attacks. These short chain fatty acids also reduce inflammation, so they help to control the horrible bloody diarrhea and ulcers caused by Crohn's disease. They also reduce swelling and pain of arthritis, diabetes and psoriasis, and some studies show they may even improve your immunity to help you to kill germs.
The only good bacteria that has been studied extensively and has been shown in controlled scientific studies to do all these good things is called lactobacillus GG, which was isolated from intestines of humans by two professors at Tufts Medical School named Sheldon Gorbash and his colleague named Golden, hence the name lactobacillus GG.. They have patented their product and make a lot of money from it.
The lactobacilli that are in live cultures of yogurt will not remain in your intestines, so they disappear as soon as you stop taking your daily yogurt. Most yogurt does not contain live lactobacilli anyway. Certain foods that cannot be absorbed in your upper intestinal tract pass to your colon and form the food that is used to grow the good bacteria there. These include whole grains, beans, seeds, vegetables and nuts and the most likely part of these foods to encourage the growth of good bacteria is called soluble fiber.
So Probiotics are living microorganisms, the good bacteria, that live in the colon and reduce inflammation and help prevent and treat Crohn's disease, psoriasis, arthritis, and perhaps even certain types of cancers. Prebiotics are nondigestible food ingredients that cannot be absorbed in the upper intestinal tract and travel to the colon to encourage the growth of these good bacteria.
Several studies show that Lactobacillus GG can help control the frequency and severity of infectious diarrhea in children. Diarrhea that is often caused by taking Antibiotics can be prevented by taking either Lactobacillus GG or Saccharomyces boulardii with the Antibiotics . A probiotic preparation (VSL=3 - 6 g/day) that uses a combination of three species of Bifidobacterium, four strains of Lactobacillus and one strain of Streptocccus has been shown to maintain remission in ulcerative colitis as well as in preventing the postoperative recurrence of Crohn's disease. Taking probiotic compounds is well tolerated and safe.
The use of probiotics in gastrointestinal disease. Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology, 2001, Vol 15, Iss 12, pp 817-822. KL Madsen. Univ Alberta, 536 Newton Bldg, Edmonton, AB T6G 2C2, CANADA