Probiotics and Fish Oil During Pregnancy Could Cut Children’s Allergy Risk

Fish Oil-Probiotics-AllergiesA systematic review and meta-analysis, points to reductions in allergy and eczema risks in infants and toddlers.

Data from over 400 studies which involved over 1 million people was utilized in this review and meta-analysis.  Fish Oil supplements were taken by pregnant women beginning in the 20th week of pregnancy up until either the 3rd or 4th month of breastfeeding.  Researchers found a 31% reduction in egg allergy in the infants by the time they reached 1 year old.  A 38% reduction in peanut allergies was also seen in the group supplementing with Fish Oil.  Participants supplementing Probiotics saw a 22% reduction in their children’s risk of developing atopic Eczema by the time they reached 4 years of age.  Probiotic supplementation began around 36 to 38 weeks into the gestation cycle and lasted between 3 to 6 months of the breastfeeding cycle.

Avoidance of allergenic foods by the mother had no effect on a child’s risk of developing an allergy or an autoimmune disease.    Additionally beginning Fish Oil supplementation only during the breast feeding period had only a non-significant effect on reductions in egg allergies in offspring when compared to supplementation which began during pregnancy and lasted throughout the breast feeding period.  Probiotic supplements studied included the species Lactobacillus rhamnosus and doses found to be effective varied from between 1 and 10 billion Organism.

Further studies are needed.

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Probiotics in Pregnancy Could Protect Against Childhood Obesity

Probiotics and Childhood ObesityAccording to researchers taking probiotics during pregnancy and breast feeding may modify genes related to obesity in both the mother and their infants.

15 pregnant women participated in this double-blinded randomized controlled (RCT) pilot study.  7 of the women were randomly chosen to supplement with a Probiotic which contained 10 Billion of each Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifiobacterium lactis strains of friendly bacteria.  The remaining 8 participants were given a placebo.  The dosing began on the participants first study visit which occurred while they were pregnant and lasted until the end of an exclusive breast feeding period with a maximum study period of 6 months.  Blood samples were taken from the mother’s prior to the commencement of supplementation with the Probiotic and between 6-12 months after the birth of their children.  Researchers reviewed the DNA methylation status of 623 obesity related and 433 weight gain related gene promoters, using the Ingenuity Pathway tool, in each blood sample taken.

Researchers found the levels of DNA methylation in some genes known to carry an increased risk for obesity, including the FTO gene the single most influential gene, were decreased in the group taking the Probiotic supplement.  The FTO gene has been associated with type II diabetes, obesity risk and body mass index.  Suggesting that Probiotic supplementation during pregnancy may have more applications beyond obesity, researchers found Probiotics had effects on the DNA methylation levels of genes involved with immunological and metabolic processes.  Further studies are needed.

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Study Finds Link Between Gut Microbiota, Sleep Quality and Cognitive Flexibility

Sleep and ProbioticsAccording to a new study, poor sleep quality was linked with composition of the gut microbiome and cognitive flexibility in healthy older adults.  Low amounts of bacteria in the phyla Verrucomicrobia and Lentisphaerae, were associated with poor sleep quality as well as performance on specific cognitive tests.

Stool samples were provided by study participants.  Data on sleep quality using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index were also given by participants.  Cognitive flexibility was assessed through the completion of tests like the Stroop Color Word Test.  Results showed that when participants experienced better sleep both higher proportions of Verrucomicrobia and Lentisphaerae were present and improvements were seen in better cognitive flexibility.

The bidirectional interaction between the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract which is called the gut-brain axis has been increasingly gaining attention from both consumers as well as scientists.  Research links the microflora found in the digestive system to many markers of health including reduced anxiety levels, depression and overall general mood.  Scientific evidence shows partial sleep deprivation may change the gut microbiota.  Also seen in scientific literature is dysbiosis, a microbial imbalance, caused by shift work and jet lag which may actually promote glucose intolerance and obesity.

A 2014 survey by Datamonitor Consumer ranked insomnia as the fourth most relevant health issue experienced by Americans by percentage after stress, tiredness and fatigue, and allergies.  Middle aged women were the most worried about insomnia.

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Probiotics Backed for Weight Loss Benefits

Weight Loss and ProbioticsA new meta analysis and review shows Probiotic supplementation containing various strains of Lactobacillus have been shown to cause a small but statistically significant weight loss in overweight and obese individuals.

15 studies of Probiotic supplementation studies were reviewed.  Larger reductions in body weight, BMI (body mass index) and fat percentages were seen in the supplementation group when compared to the participants receiving a placebo.  Even short term supplementation with probiotics (Less than 12 weeks) show small reductions in fat percentage, BMI and body weight.

The studies included in the review lasted between 3 and 12 weeks.  All the studies but three used Lactobacillus.  More than one of the studies reviewed were not registered and were considered a higher risk of bias.

Other reviews done in the past have found similar conclusions on BMI and body weight reductions; however in some of those studies reviewed participants also received Prebiotics in addition to Probiotics.

Further long term studies are needed to examine the effects Probiotic supplements may have on different measures of body weight.

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Nestle`-Backed Study Links Probiotic Strain and Depression

gut health probioticsA new study backed by Nestle` shows a specific strain of a probiotic, Bifidobacterium longum, helped relieve symptoms of depression as well as alleviating gastrointestinal upsets.

Over 40 adults who had experienced Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in addition to mild to moderate amounts of depression or anxiety participated in this study.   Half the group took a dose of Bifidobacterium longum (B. longum) daily and the other half of the group took a placebo.  After six weeks researchers found 64% of the patients taking the probiotic experienced reductions in depression scores when compared to 32% of the participants taking the placebo.  Additionally functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), showed depression score improvements were associated with changes in multiple areas in the brain involved with mood control.  No changes were seen in anxiety scores however improvements in quality of life were seen in the group supplementing with the probiotic.

Although the results of this study are promising, larger scale trials are needed.

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Could Probiotics Restore Microbiome Imbalance Linked to Auto-Immune Disorder?

Probiotics and ImmuneA new study finds that probiotics may aid in restoring imbalances in gut bacterial in patients with the auto-immune disorder systemic sclerosis.  Systemic sclerosis affects connective tissue in the body.  It is not a common condition, but results in the skin thickening and becoming hard.  Occasionally this condition creates problems with blood vessels and internal organs.

17 adults with systemic sclerosis from UCLA, 17 adults with systemic sclerosis from Oslo University Hospital and 17 healthy adults participated in this trial.  Stool specimens were used to determine the amount and types of bacteria present.  Participants with systemic sclerosis had significantly lower amounts of gut bacteria believed to protect against inflammation like Bacteroides.  Additionally the participants with systemic sclerosis were found to have higher amounts of bacteria, like Fusobacterium, which actually promote inflammation when compared to those without this auto-immune disorder.

Researchers believe that probiotics are helpful in restoring the bacterial balance in the gut in individuals suffering from systemic sclerosis and play a role in improving these patients quality of life.

Further testing is planned using larger patient groups.

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Digestive Health Digest

Digestive HealthIn the past, when discussing digestive health, products targeting the prevention of gas and bloating, indigestion, diarrhea and constipation were in the forefront.  Specific conditions usually addressed were Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Colon Cancer prevention and general support for healthy elimination.  Products like Fiber and Oat Bran were touted as providing cardiovascular support as well as reducing the risks of colon cancer and promoting increased regular elimination.  Today people are beginning to understand that there is a connection between overall wellness and digestive health. They are taking a more proactive role in searching for products that support this health connection without looking to necessarily treat a specific condition.

Probiotics have taken the center stage as more studies show the connection between digestive health and overall wellness.  Ensuring that the Probiotics available contain the correct strains and a proper transport system are keys to realizing the benefits Probiotics are able to provide.  Up and coming interest in digestive health support supplements are in the areas of Prebiotics and Digestive Enzymes.

Prebiotics help the body produce its own friendly bacteria while Probiotics involve introducing foreign strains of friendly bacteria into the digestive tract.  Prebiotics basically insure success of the Probiotic strains in the gut.  They are synergistic in that taken together they provide the maximum benefits available for digestive health.

While not as well known as Probiotics, Digestive Enzymes are also critical for optimal digestive health.  As we age our body natural slows down its production of Digestive Enzymes.  Additionally stressful situations as well as over processing of our food sources may cause a lack of Digestive Enzyme production in our intestinal system.  Without adequate Digestive Enzymes feelings of bloating and increased gas production may be experienced.  A reduction in nutrient absorption also occurs which may lead to a reduction in overall immunity and health as well as digestive disturbances.

According to the National Digestive Disease Clearinghouse approximately 60 to 70 million people are affected by digestive conditions every year.  Taking a proactive role to supporting healthier digestive health seems to be a step in the right direction.

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