How the probiotic Lactobacillus keeps us healthy uncovered

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
First study shows how probiotics work with other intestinal bacteria

Probiotics are touted for their health benefits. Some evidence suggests taking supplements or eating foods containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), such as yogurt, can help stave off respiratory infections, boost immunity, aid weight loss and more. Researchers have been trying to understanding how so-called friendly gut bacteria work to keep us healthy.

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Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) have uncovered how LGG affects other bacteria in our gut to keep us healthy. The new finding is published in the journal mBio.

Researchers for the study say they wanted to understand how probiotics keep us healthy. So they tested 12 subjects, who took the popular probiotic LGG twice a day for 28 days.

Claire M. Fraser, PhD, professor of medicine at University of Maryland School of Medicine and her collaborator Dr. Patricia Hibberd at Massachusetts General Hospital discovered the probiotic modifies the activity of other gut bacteria to promote better health.

"This is a new idea, that some probiotics may work by affecting the overall ecosystem of the gut," said Prof. Fraser in a press release. Rather than working on the host, the finding revealed our guts contain tiny ecosystems that are interconnected.

Fraser added the finding has "exciting implications".

Probiotic works on gut ecosystem

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The researchers analyzed gut bacteria from the study participants before and after they took LGG. They found Lactobacillus increases genes that foster Bacteroides, Eubacterium, Faecalibacterium, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus - bacteria linked to a variety of health benefits.

Studying the microbiome of the gut is an emerging field of research. The scientists used an innovative technique known as metagenomic analysis that allows bacteria in the intestines to be studied directly from their natural environment.

Information that can be obtained using the technique include specific protein functions, genome sequencing and pinpointing antibiotic resistant genes to help diagnose chronic health conditions.

The finding showing how the popular probiotic works helps answer questions about why Lactobacillus can help keep us healthy and prevent disease. It could also lead to new strategies to help us keep our intestines in tip to shape.

Citation:
Eloe-Fadrosh EA, Brady A, Crabtree J, Drabek EF, Ma B, Mahurkar A, Ravel J, Haverkamp M, Fiorino A-M, Botelho C, Andreyeva I, Hibberd PL, Fraser CM. 2015. Functional dynamics of the gut microbiome in elderly people during probiotic consumption. mBio 6(2):e00231-15. doi:10.1128/mBio.00231-15.

Related:

Can probiotics stop Crohn's disease flare-ups?
Probiotics may do more for health than you knew
Are probiotics better than antibiotics?

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Comments

If there is a deficiency of probiotics there must be a reason as the small intestine releases juices containing probiotic bacteria when triggered to do so by the brain. Most of the breakdown of the large food molecules and absorption of the smaller molecules take place in the long and narrow small intestine. It is divided into 3 sections: the duodenum (after the stomach), jejunum and ileum. The duodenum receives 3 different secretions: 1) Bile from the liver; 2) Pancreatic juice from the pancreas and 3) Intestinal juice from glands in the intestinal wall. These juices replace gut flora continually and complete the digestion of starch, fats and protein. The products of digestion are then absorbed into the blood and lymphatic system. Of course, we need to realize that this production of intestinal juice is being triggered by the brain ONLY if the brain recognizes a food. If the brain does not recognize a food as beneficial it activates the immune system. Allergic reactions are the underlying cause of depleted gut flora. The recognition of food as beneficial occurs through the taste buds on the tongue. The brain then activates the digestive system through the vagus nerve, which helps to regulate the heart beat, control muscle movement, keep a person breathing, and to transmit a variety of chemicals through the body. It is also responsible for keeping the digestive tract in working order, contracting the muscles of the stomach and intestines to help process food, and sending back information about what is being digested and what the body is getting out of it. It is indeed very doubtful if orally administered probiotic could survive the trip through hydrochloric acid of the stomach, carbonate of soda from the pancreas, and bile from the liver. All three secretions are meant to breakdown foods for digestion.
Epigenetics Hans - Western lifestyle.