I’m sure you’re aware of probiotics and how good they are for your digestion and immunity. But did you know that these healthful microbes also play a role in bone health and overall health?

Found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, probiotics offer some amazing health benefits. And today, we’re going to look at six of them.

The first one is about digestion, because there’s no doubt that probiotics have tremendous benefits for the gut.

Keep reading – the sixth benefit is especially amazing!

1. Constipation Relief

Constipation can be more than just an inconvenience. It can actually cause great harm, especially if it’s allowed to continue untreated. If impacted fecal matter remains in the gut for long, it can create blockages and toxicity that can make you quite ill. But probiotics have been shown to prevent this painful condition.

Scientists studied the effects of probiotics on a group of 274 male and female participants, aged 18 to 65, with constipation-predominant IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). For six weeks, the participants consumed either a fermented milk drink containing Bifidobacterium animalis DN-173 010, S. thermophilus and L. bulgaricus, or yogurt that had been heated to kill the bacteria. Both products had a similar taste and texture, so participants assumed they were all consuming the same thing.

The probiotic group experienced decreased bloating and abdominal pain, and greater frequency of bowel movements, as well as improved health-related quality of life (HRQoL). 1

The study authors conclude that,

“…the present large-scale study strongly suggests a beneficial effect of a probiotic food containing B. animalis DN-173010 on HRQoL discomfort score and bloating, and also on stool frequency in those subjects with <3 stools per week.” 1

So if you’re looking for yogurt or fermented dairy products to boost your probiotic population, read labels and make sure it contains live and active cultures.

2. Relief Of Constipation’s Unpleasant Opposite: Diarrhea

Diarrhea is another digestive symptom that can be more than just inconvenient, and it is also relieved with probiotics.

In a comprehensive review published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers studied the effects of probiotics on antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD). The data included studies of probiotics on various degrees of diarrhea, from mild to severe with complications such as electrolyte imbalance.

They found that those who ingested probiotics were 42% less likely to come down with diarrhea than control groups who took a placebo.

Researchers concluded the following,

“…our review found sufficient evidence to conclude that adjunct probiotic administration is associated with a reduced risk of AAD,” 2

3. Reduce Upper Respiratory Infections

Multiple studies have shown that probiotics ward off colds and flu. A Chinese meta-analysis, which included 3,720 participants from childhood to approximately 40 years old, found that probiotics were superior to a placebo at the following:

  • Preventing upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) by 47%
  • Reducing the duration of URTIs by nearly 2 days
  • Reducing school absence due to URTIs
  • Decreasing antibiotic use 3

This is hopeful news for anyone, but for those with young children or grandchildren who are exposed to URTIs at daycare and school, a Finnish study provides even more good news.

The study involved 18 daycares in Helsinki, Finland. Researchers found that young children who drank probiotic-enriched milk were 17% less likely to come down with a URTI, and a similar reduction in likelihood of illness-related absence. 4

4. Promote Dental Health

Tooth decay is caused by bacteria, and research shows that Lactobacillus reuteri kills this harmful bacteria. L. reuteri also decreases the damage caused by gum disease and gingivitis.

Specifically, scientists looked at the effect of L. reuteri on a major cavity-causing bacteria, Streptococcus mutans. The L. reuteri inhibited the harmful bacteria significantly, out-performing other probiotic strains commonly found in yogurt. 5 As you’ll see in a moment, the specific strain of probiotic matters.

5. Boosts Cardiovascular Health

The same probiotic that reduces tooth decay, L. reuteri, was found to decrease levels of LDL cholesterol by 12%. Researchers believe this is due to the effect of L. reuteri on bile salts, breaking them up and reducing their uptake in the intestines. 6

In a day and age when heart disease is a top killer, this is especially hopeful news. But that’s not all – I saved the best for last.

6. “Synbiotics” Enhance Mineral Absorption And Structure Of Bone

When combined with substances called prebiotics, probiotics are referred to as “synbiotics,” because these two substances work synergistically. Research shows that synbiotics are more effective than probiotics alone at facilitating mineral absorption in bone. 7

The study notes in its conclusion that,

“…prebiotics are the most promising but also best investigated substances with respect to a bone-health-promoting potential, compared with probiotics and synbiotics.” 7

Prebiotics include carbohydrates that do not digest in the gut, such as inulin fiber and oligofructose. Because they are nondigestible, these prebiotic substances provide “food” for the probiotics to thrive and multiply.

For optimal health benefits, a synbiotic blend is ideal, especially where bone health is concerned.

How To Obtain The Perfect Synbiotic Blend For Optimal Bone Health

Based on solid research, TrueLife PB™ is a prebiotic + probiotic supplement that delivers 30 billion live probiotics per capsule. Only bacteria strains proven to be most beneficial, such as L. reuteri mentioned above, make up the unique FloraFit™ blend featured in TrueLife PB™.

Two prebiotics, inulin fiber and kiwi extract, are added to TrueLife PB™, making this a true synbiotic blend. Its unique, protective packaging eliminates the need for refrigeration, and the prebiotics provide “insurance” that, should the packaging become damaged and the probiotics activated, the healthful bacteria will have enough food to remain alive.

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NatureCity, the manufacturer of TrueLife PB™, has offered an exclusive deal for Savers who order for the first time: enter the coupon code SAVEOURBONES at checkout, and you’ll receive 20% off your order total.

Till next time,

References:

1 Guyonnet, D., et al. “Effect of a fermented milk containing Bifidobacterium animalis DN-173 010 on the health-related quality of life and symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome in adults in primary care: a multicentre, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial.” Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. May 4, 2007. Vol. 26, Issue 3, Pages 75-486. Doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036. 2007.03362.x. Web. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2036.2007.03362.x/full

2 Hempel, Susanne, PhD., et al. “Probiotics for the Prevention and Treatment of Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea.” JAMA. May 9, 2012. Vol 307(18): 1959-1969. Doi: 10.1001/jama.2012.3507. Web. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1151505

3 Hao, Qiukui, Dong, Bi Rong, and Wu, Taixiang. “Probiotics for preventing acute upper respiratory tract infections.” The Cochrane Library. February 3, 2015. Doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006895.pub3. Web. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD006895.pub3/abstract

4 Hatakka, Katja, et al. “Effect of long term consumption of probiotic milk on infections in children attending day care centres: double blind, randomized trial.” BMJ. June 2, 2001. 322:1327. Doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.322.7298.1327. Web. http://www.bmj.com/content/322/7298/1327

5 Nikawa, H., et al. “Lactobacillus reuteri in bovine milk fermented decreases the oral carriage of mutans streptococci.” International Journal of Food Microbiology. September 1, 2004. Vol. 95, Issue 2, Pages 219-223. Doi:10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2004.03.006. Web. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168160504001552

6 “Daily doses of a new probiotic reduces ‘bad’ and total cholesterol.” Abstract 11348. American Heart Association news release. November 5, 2012. Web. http://newsroom.heart.org/news/daily-doses-of-a-new-probiotic-239562

7 Scholz-Ahrens, Katharina E., et al. “Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Synbiotics Affect mineral Absorption, Bone Mineral Content, and Bone Structure.” J Nutr. March 2007. Vol. 137, No. 3 (8385-8465). Web. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/137/3/838S.full

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  1. Patricia Dunn

    Dear Vivian – I’m not sure what’s going on, but I have not received any of your regular emails recently. I became concerned as to whether you are all right or if others are having the same issue. If I’ve been removed from your list somehow, would you please reinstate me. I depend on the information you include to know how to treat my osteoporosis naturally. Thank you!

  2. Susanne

    Hi Vivian, I have been diagnosed with osteopenia bordering on osteoporosis a few years ago but have so far avoided taking any of the drugs suggested to me. I have been encouraged again now to take Prolia as my bone resorption remains continuously too high ie Ca excretion 47 ( expected to be 8-42 umol/L GF) and NTx(BCE)/Cr 87 H nmol/mmol (<50). TFTs are normal. Would you have any suggestions?
    Thank you, Susanne

  3. Lois Aranowicz

    Thank you Vivian. You have been very informative on probiotics. I found this article very helpful. .
    .. Thanks again. Lois

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You are very welcome, Lois!

  4. shula

    I wonder which of the various strains can be found in food, and in which food, other then yogurt?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      There is a variety of fermented foods available, Shula. Foods like natural sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha tea all contain beneficial bacteria that are responsible for the fermentation process. You’ll need to read labels to see which strains are in which products, and make sure the label says “live and active cultures.” 🙂

  5. Diane

    I also noticed it doesn’t contain any of the strains mentioned, it does have all the strains in the Mercola product I an taking but I would like to find one with the strains that you mentioned Vivian. Do you know of any products with them?

  6. Lynn

    The link to the NatureCity site doesn’t show that the product contains l. reuteri.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Many yogurts contain L. reuteri, Lynn, as noted in the study referred to in the sixth point of the post. 🙂 While that particular strain has been studied, it does not mean that other strains do not have significant benefits.

    • Anne

      It doesn’t seem to have the strains listed in study number 1 either, Bifidobacterium animalis DN-173 010, S. thermophilus and L. bulgaricus.

      I have just bought it but I think I might cancel…

      Anyway, it is good to have the info! Thank you!

  7. Sara

    Dear Vivian. I have found your information so helpful. I have been following your regime over the last few weeks since diagnosis of osteoporosis in spine (-2.9) and hips (-1.5) in March. Three weeks ago I was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in my spine, pelvic area and rib. Oncologist advises hormone treatment which may make osteoporosis worse, so advises Bisphosphonates to help strengthen bones and help with any pain. I was determined to avoid this horrible drug but now anxious that the natural approach will not be enough. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • bob Pritchard

      Be careful of drugs that say it strengthens bones. . What they actually do is stop bone cell death.. Apoptosis. This is a natural process as cells become old they die cleaned out and new minerals /nutrients placed in.. New cell. …
      stopping Apoptosis prevents the bones from renewing themselves from our food and the cells grow old and 10 / 15 years your bones are older than your actual years. leading to weakening and fractures.
      Bob.. Nurse.

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