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Benefits And Uses of Probiotics
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Benefits And Uses of Probiotics

Probiotics perform a wide range of functions important for maintaining good health. They can be particularly helpful in supporting digestive health. Probiotic supplements can be taken preventatively and are also often used to treat gastrointestinal problems.

So how do you know if you might benefit from a probiotic supplement? Signs of intestinal imbalance include bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation and fungal overgrowth. Let's take a closer look at the benefits of probiotics and which conditions probiotics might be effective at helping treat.

 

1. Probiotics and Constipation

Constipation can be commonly treated with probiotics. Probiotics are specifically helpful in situations where constipation is caused by the improper or incomplete digestion of food. Such constipation is usually the result of imbalances in intestinal flora, and a probiotic supplement can help restore the imbalance. In this way, a probiotic may allow you to regain the ability to properly digest food.

 

2. Probiotics and Diarrhoea

At the other end of the scale, probiotics are also often indicated in the treatment of diarrhoea. Here they perform a dual role: firstly, a probiotic supplement can ensure that the gut flora remains healthy and well-balanced. This could speed up the return to normal defecation. Secondly, serious diarrhoea can cause the gut flora to become depleted, which can slow recovery. Supplementation of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus Plantarum seems to be particularly useful in treating diarrhoea. Traditionally, the Plantarum strain was administered alone, but modern best practice includes both Lactobacillus Plantarum and Lactobacillus Acidophilus for increased efficacy.

 

3. Probiotics for Gas & Bloating

Gas and bloating can often occur due to the improper digestion of foods in the stomach and intestine, and due to an overgrowth of a number of bacteria or a change in the type of bacteria in the small intestine. These bacteria often produce excess gas. Probiotics have been scientifically and clinically proven to improve intestinal health by promoting a healthy balance of good bacteria, and thereby reducing the harmful bacteria that produces gas and leads to bloating. To help reduce symptoms, ensure that Bifidobacterium strains are dominant in the human colon, as these are one of the most predominant cultures of ‘good’ bacteria that are found naturally. Lactobacillus acidophilis and Bifidobacterium lactis have extensive research individually and in combination in helping to improve intestinal health and digestive health (Liong 2007, Kopp 2001, Sinn D 2008).

 

4. Probiotics and Immune Support

The gastrointestinal tract functions as a barrier and immune system modulator. It is accepted that probiotics may directly or indirectly influence the host’s immune system. Recent studies show that probiotic strain B. Lactis enhances natural immune function by promoting the normalization of increased intestinal permeability, improving altered gut microecology, improvement of the immunologic barrier and alleviation of intestinal inflammatory responses, which produce a gut-stabilizing effect. Specific clinical trials using the combination of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp lactis show an effect on the faecal microbiota as well as improvements in immunological parameters in healthy adults. They are able to modulate unspecific cellular immune responses by increasing phagocytic (white blood cell) activity (Liong 2007, Isolauri 2001, Klein 2008).

 

5. Probiotics and Lactose Intolerance

Probiotics have also been shown to be effective in helping people with lactose intolerance minimise their symptoms. Lactobacillus acidophilus in particular has been shown to be greatly effective in boosting levels of the lactose-digesting enzyme, lactase, in the gastrointestinal tract. Bloating, cramping, flatulence and diarrhoea can cause substantial discomfort to those with lactose intolerance, forcing them to adopt restricted diets. There is currently no cure for lactose intolerance, but certain treatments are available to improve individuals’ tolerance of lactose. Probiotics are increasingly recommended as a method to help people with lactose intolerance better digest lactose.

Which Probiotic Should You Use?

Use our Probiotic cheat sheet to help you work out which probiotic is best for you.

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This article was provided by our online health partner Health365. For more information on nutrition and digestive health, visit www.health365.com.au.

How Probiotics Can Improve Immunity
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How Probiotics Can Improve Immunity

Probiotics are beneficial for immunity due to a number of reasons. Firstly, probiotics help to rebalance the gut in favour of ‘good’ bacteria so that harmful bacteria are outnumbered.

Secondly, certain types of gut bacteria are involved in functions related to the body’s immune system. Researchers from Harvard Medical School have found evidence that certain bacteria aid in T-cell production, and correcting mineral and nutrient deficiencies.

Thirdly, healthy good bacteria also works to produce a barrier between food and the internal tissues of the body. Were this boundary to lie unprotected, the potential for illness is substantial due to potentially harmful micro-organisms found in food. A deficiency in certain beneficial bacteria could weaken this defence mechanism and, on occasion, allow for infection. A probiotic supplement could help to maintain the levels of good bacteria necessary to ensure that this barrier remains effective, and thus minimise the chance of illness. Your digestive tract contains 70% of your body’s immune system and is the largest source of toxins in the body due to its exposure to the food we eat and the air we breathe. Therefore to help support your immunity, it’s important to look after your digestive health, and one of the best ways to do that is to keep it balanced.   Want to know more about probiotics? Check out our range of probiotic and digestion products. ------ This article was provided by our online partner Health365. For more information on why you might benefit from natural probiotics, visit www.health365.com.au.
How Probiotics Help With Antibiotics
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How Probiotics Help With Antibiotics

Antibiotics are commonly prescribed drugs that inhibit or kill the ..
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The Effects of Alcohol On Sleep
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The Effects of Alcohol On Sleep

Alcohol is a depressant. That is, a substance that reduces stimulation and mental / physical activity. In theory, a depressant like alcohol would usually help a person get to sleep and/or sleep more soundly. However, excessive alcohol actually thwarts your ability to get a good night's sleep. We take a closer look at the effects of alcohol on sleep, and the reasons why alcohol can ruin a good night's sleep.

How Alcohol Effects Sleep

1. Alcohol is a diuretic.

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases the excretion of fluids from your body via sweat and - more typically - urination. This effect makes it more likely you will have to have to get up multiple times during the night to go to the toilet. Of course, this hurts your chances of deep, truly restful sleep. The diuretic effects of alcohol also leads to a second sleep disruptor... thirst. Your body needs water to replace the lost fluids, and this need for water can cause interrupted sleep as your body tries to tell you it is running low on it's most important nutrient.  

2.  Alcohol Increases Snoring

Drinking excessive alcohol may not just be bad for your sleep. It may also be a bad thing for the person you share the bed with. Snoring is typically caused by the partial blocking of airways, which leads to vibration as we breath in and out. This vibration is what causes the snoring sound. Alcohol can act to relax the muscles around the airways, which can stop air flowing in and out of our lungs as freely as it needs. This will increase the chances you will snore, and snore loudly.  

3. Alcohol = Sugar. Sugar = Bad.

Most alcohols (and common mixers) contain sugar. This has the obvious problems of causing a spike in blood sugar levels if you drink just before bedtime. This spike disrupts sleep, among other things. Excessive sugar also depletes the body of magnesium, a mineral that is critical for muscle function and relaxation. If your magnesium levels are low, you may notice you feel restless, anxious and have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep.  

4. Alcohol Needs to be Processed By Your Body

Your kidneys and liver process alcohol. Depending on how many drinks you have had and when you stopped drinking, your  kidneys and liver continue working away at metabolising and processing that alcohol for many hours after you nod off to sleep. This means your organs are working away at a time when they should be reducing activity so they can rest and recover for the next day. This, in turn, causes a number of problems for sleep. When we metabolise a food/drink (including alcohol), an 'exothermic' reaction occurs. That is, metabolism gives off heat and raises our body temperature. This can make temperature regulation more difficult and - combined  with the sweating and dehydration effect caused by alcohol - results in an overheated, uncomfortable night's sleep. Furthermore, when we metabolise a food/drink, energy is produced. Does energy production sound like something that is a good idea of a night time when you are trying to sleep?  

Final Tip

We have covered the main negative effects of alcohol on sleep, but excessive alcohol consumption in general can have a number of negative effects on your  health and mental wellbeing. If you like a drink, we recommend sticking to the Australian Federal guidelines for alcohol consumption to ensure it doesn't adversely affect your health. These guidelines can be found at http://www.alcohol.gov.au/. ------ This article was provided by our online partner Health365. For more information on getting a good night's sleep, visit www.health365.com.au.
Which Probiotic should you use?
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Which Probiotic should you use?

Not all probiotics are created equal.... different 'strains' of probiotics deliver different benefits. Thus, different probiotic supplements can be effective at treating very different conditions. This can make choosing a probiotic supplement confusing. To help clear up some of the confusion, we've made it simple. Read on to find out: which probiotic should you use?  

Which probiotic should you use?

The below strains of bacteria have been shown to be beneficial in these particular instances:

 CONDITION   PROBIOTIC STRAIN   YOU SHOULD TRY: 
Diarrhoea Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum Restore Bowel and Colon
Constipation Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum Restore Bowel and Colon
Medically Diagnosed IBS Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum Restore Bowel and Colon
Lactose Intolerance Lactobacillus acidophilus Restore Daily 
Antibiotic Side Effects Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis Restore 30 Billion or Restore Daily Probiotic Choc Balls
Boost Immunity Howaru Bifido Restore 30 Billion
 

More Tips On Choosing a Probiotic

Choose a probiotic supplement that best suits your needs and your particular diagnosis or health condition at any given time. Simply look for the appropriate strains on the product label, or ask your doctor or pharmacist for assistance. Also keep these helpful tips in mind: 1. Check the Expiry Date. Probiotics are living organisms and probiotic supplements' strength can be reduced after sitting on a shelf for a long time. Look for a probiotic supplement that has a longer shelf life / is fresher. 2. Check that the probiotic comes with some kind of prebiotic, such as inulin. A prebiotic provides “food” for the bacteria in the probiotic supplement. This helps to maximise the amount of beneficial bacteria that survive the journey to the intestine. 3. Lastly, always read the label and keep in mind that if symptoms persist, it’s important to consult a doctor. References: - Sullivan, A., Barkholt., & Nord C.E. (2003) Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactobacillus F19 prevent antibiotic-associated ecological disturbances of Bacteroides fragilis in the intestine. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. 52 (2). - Isolauri, E., Sutas,Y., Kankaanpaa, P., Arvilommi, H., & Salminen, S. (2009) Probiotics: effects on immunity. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. - Gill, H.S., Rutherfurd, K.J., & Cross, M.L. (2001) Dietary probiotic supplementation enhances natural killer cell activity in the elderly: an investigation of age-related immunological changes. Journal of Clinical Immunology. (21). - Dupont, H.L. (2014) Review article: evidence for the role of gut microbiota in irritable bowel syndrome and its potential influence on therapeutic targets. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics ------ This article was provided by our online health partner Health365. To learn more about the health benefits of probiotics, visit www.health365.com.au.
How To Lose Your Beer Belly
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How To Lose Your Beer Belly

A beer belly used to be a mark of the great Australian larrikin. ..