Though vital for digestive health, practitioners can also utilize probiotics and enzymes to combat a number of additional health issues.
Often, when patients hear the words “probiotics” and “enzymes,” they immediately associate them with digestion.
Of course, this is not necessarily wrong—in fact, they both receive plenty of mention in Vincent M. Pedre, MD’s mbghealth article “How To Take Control Of Your Digestion For Life,” in which he describes in detail tips for better digestion and gut health, including:
• Eating a gut-supporting diet: Patients ought to focus on foods with clean ingredients. If one imagines a plate of food, 25 percent of the plate should contain protein, omega-3-rich fats (think avocados, grass-fed meat), while the remaining 75 percent should have greens and vegetables that are raw, baked or steamed.
• Supporting the good guys: In order to keep out unwanted bacteria, yeast or parasites, consume fermented foods such as kimchi, no-sugar-added coconut yogurt, or unpasteurized sauerkraut. Dairy-free probiotics containing at least 15 billon CFUs (colony-forming units) each of both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium can help too.
• Considering digestive enzymes: These can help problems patients could be experiencing, including bloating and post-meal gas.
Probiotics and enzymes have the ability to solve a plethora of other health-related concerns—practitioners can advise their patients to consider a combination of remedies, natural products and supplements, so that they can live lives filled with less worry here in 2019.
Combatting Health Issues
As mentioned, probiotics can tackle multiple issues, being useful in several capacities.
“Spore probiotics have an impact upon both digestion and immune symptoms,” mentioned Tina Anderson, CEO and co-founder of Just Thrive Probiotic in Illinois. “Reducing the population in the gut of pathogenic bacteria and the toxic irritants they produce helps reduce intestinal swelling and seal the gut, takes stress off the 80-plus percent of our body’s immune system receptor sites located in the intestinal wall, supports nutrient absorption through regrowth of intestinal microvilli and assists our body’s detoxifying organs by lowering our bodily inflammatory load.”
In fact, probiotics are even linked to both immune and brain health as well.
“Probiotics and the postbiotic metabolites they produce play a role in regulating every organ system in the body, including the immune system and the brain,” explained Ross Pelton, RPh, PhD, scientific director, Essential Formulas (Texas). “Virtually all of today’s chronic degenerative diseases (known as lifestyle diseases) are linked to gut problems related to imbalance of probiotics, which results in dysbiosis or problems in gut microbiome.”
Conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can also be treated with the tandem of probiotics and enzymes. Issues absorbing lactose are more pertinent than some may think, but it can be treated with these too.
“Potentially, any condition relating to digestion and immunity could benefit from both probiotics and enzymes. In IBS and SIBO, where the individual is experiencing bloating and gas, this could indicate a need for enzymes and probiotics,” said Claire Barnes, technical advisor and nutritional therapist, ADM Protexin (based in both the U.K. and Florida), manufacturer of the Bio-Kult brand of probiotics. “When food is not broken down effectively in the upper digestive tract, larger particles remain in the intestines where the bacteria present could feed on them. Dysbiosis is present in both IBS and SIBO1—unfortunately the potentially pathogenic bacteria appear to produce more gases when fermenting food, which increases symptoms of bloating, gas and irregular bowel movements. With approximately 70 percent of the world’s population unable to adequately absorb lactose, probiotics and digestive enzymes could be an effective solution for lactose hydrolysis.2 Certain probiotic strains produce their own lactase which could potentially help to break down lactose in the gut and improve its absorption.3
“As we age, it is common for our stomach acid to reduce (hypochlorhydria) alongside a reduction in other secretions needed to help us digest our food and absorb nutrients. Our stomach acid is our first line of defense against pathogenic microbes entering the intestines—therefore, low stomach acid could potentially lead to bacterial overgrowth and a decreased absorption of important nutrients, such as vitamin B12, folate, iron, calcium and zinc.”
Probiotics, whose quantity is determined by their CFUs, can vary.
Specific ones should apply to one’s medical concerns, but patients need to constantly keep in mind that these (alongside enzymes) should be consumed in conjunction with normal meals.
“I like them with about 10 billion [CFUs] or more, with a wide variety of strains, though certain strains are implicated in certain conditions, so depending on the person’s concerns, it may alter what I recommend,” explained Serena Goldstein, ND, who practices in New York and serves on Natural Practitioner’s Editorial Advisory Board. “However, supplements are meant to supplement, not replace an unhealthy lifestyle. Probiotics and enzymes are most likely not going to have maximum value if you’re still not eating a proper diet, ‘inhaling’ your food, or not chewing thoroughly. Probiotics are a great complement to take in between antibiotics if someone is taking them (could be for many reasons), as most of our immune system and mood hormones are made in our gut (people can be negatively affected after taking antibiotics). To further digestive support like the lifestyle tips I mentioned, focusing on bitter foods and herbs like arugula and radish (coffee too if its tolerable) before meals help ‘wake the body up’ to let it know food is coming.”
Nevada-based Hyperbiotics offers PRO-15, a probiotic supplement that contains multiple strains providing a combination of digestive and whole body support. Its effectiveness is based on being able to successfully feed the microbiome.
“We have trillions of microbes living within and on our body—collectively, these make up our microbiome,” said Jamie Morea, Hyperbiotics’ co-founder. “When we compare the number of our body’s cells to the number of microbes in our microbiome, we are more microbial than human and, what’s more, our resident microbes contribute millions of genes to our genome! The good news is that the vast majority of these organisms are friendly microbes that work with our body’s own cells to support and maintain nearly every bodily process, from immune, digestive and metabolic function to our memory, moods and cognition. Unfortunately, many of today’s lifestyle factors—such as poor diet, antibiotic use, and over-sanitation—can deplete this beneficial bacteria, leading to less than optimal health. Probiotic supplements can help to replenish the microbiome, so it can continue to support health on every level.”
From a nutritional therapist perspective, one would follow what is known as the five R’s for gut-related inquiries. Multi-strain probiotics are also highly recommended as a result of their effectiveness.
“When looking to heal the gut,” Barnes said, “many nutritional therapists will follow a protocol similar to the five R’s (remove, replace, re-inoculate, repair and rebalance). While these programs generally focus on the diet, natural supplements such as betaine hydrochloric acid (stomach acid), digestive enzymes, such as apple cider vinegar and multi-strain probiotics are also essential to their effectiveness.
“Multi-strain probiotics, such as Bio-Kult, contain 14 different strains of probiotic from five different species. As each species resides in different areas of the digestive tract, it is important to choose a multi-strain for overall gut health. This could provide a more natural approach than choosing one or two strains, if you consider that eating fermented foods would provide many different strains and species of bacteria. An in-vitro study on the strains within Bio-Kult showed that the multi-strain mixture was more effective at inhibiting certain potentially pathogenic bacteria than single strains.”4 As previously noted by Anderson, spore-based probiotics have also proven effective.
“Bacillus spore-based probiotics have been shown in clinical studies to be uniquely effective at correcting a gut microbiome imbalance and to increase diversity,” she noted. “This correction supports both the digestive and immune systems, as well as nutrient utilization. On the inside of the intestinal wall are fingerlike projections called microvilli through which nutrients are absorbed. Chronically high levels of irritants excreted by pathological bacteria can shorten microvilli, but the good news is a study using the strains found in Just Thrive on leaky gut that showed a 42 percent reduction of these irritants in just one month.5 Unfortunately, these critically important pathogen-killing spore bacteria have been sterilized out of our food growing and processing sources. Supplementation with a spore-based probiotic is currently not only the best way to guarantee a dose of these essential gut-cleaning bacteria, but also possibly the most important nutritional supplement one can take to assure peak nutrient utilization from both our diet and supplements.”
What makes this type of probiotic effective? Its ability to survive through the intestines is key.
“Naturally protected by their spore shell from stomach acidity, Just Thrive’s bacteria are 100 percent alive when they arrive in the intestines, unlike regular retail probiotics, which tests show to be 99.99-plus percent dead,” Anderson added. “Just Thrive’s strains are neither dead, like regular probiotics, nor chemically based, as in ‘natural’ antimicrobials like colloidal silver, oregano oil, etc. which, unfortunately, kill both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ microbes. Neither dead nor an undiscriminating chemical, but rather alive and uniquely intelligent, Just Thrive’s spore bacteria naturally produce two kinds of substances which they use to: 1) kill pathogens, and only pathogens, and 2) feed nutrients to low populations of ‘good’ bacteria to help them thrive. Using this two-part, population balancing process, Just Thrive’s strains have been shown in a Gut Model Study to both successfully colonize the gut microbiome and create a 30 percent favorable shift in the profile of its microbial residents in about 14 days.”
When it comes to caring for one’s digestive system, at least one takeaway that patients should gather is the relationship between the gut, gut bacteria and overall health.
According to Dr. Goldstein, the market for this field is quite heavy, noting that “there’s certainly a large market for it, as people are becoming increasingly aware of how much the gut affects health and how much can affect the gut/gut bacteria.”
The prominence of probiotics for instance, is continuing to increase, which has translated to media coverage.
“I can speak of the probiotic market, which is ‘on fire!’” exclaimed Terrence O. Tormey, CEO of Pennyslvania-based Kibow Biotech, Inc., a biotechnology company that specializes in pre- and probiotic supplements in the fields of kidney and immune health, along with general wellness. “You cannot read a news summary online (or in the paper, for those that still read a newspaper) without reading about the ‘Gut Microbiome,’ ‘Probiotics and Your Health,’ etc. The use has been growing at double-digits for over a decade now, with no end in sight!”
Unfortunately, issues with digestion also appear to be increasing—this means more demand for medication.
“Digestive conditions appear to be increasing, with approximately 60 to 70 million people in the U.S. affected by some kind of digestive disease,”6 Barnes mentioned. “In 2015, health care providers prescribed 269.4 million antibiotic prescriptions, which is equivalent to 838 antibiotic prescriptions per 1,000 people.7 Given these statistics, the reported overuse of antibiotics and the increasing knowledge of antibiotic side effects, clearly many individuals suffering with digestive complaints are searching out natural alternatives. Our understanding of the importance of our gut health for our overall homeostasis is becoming more widely accepted and understood by both the medical profession and our clients. How we digest our food and even the food sensitivities we have are linked with our mood, behavior, energy, weight, food cravings, hormone balance, immunity and overall wellness.”8
The increasing market trend can be credited to influx of research when it comes to probiotics and the microbiome. Compared to the last decade, PubMed results within the last nine years have increased significantly.
“Research is expanding at an incredibly fast rate, and our greater understanding of the importance that probiotics and the microbiome play in regulating all areas of health is resulting in a parallel increase in the rate of increase in new companies, new probiotic products in the marketplace and increase in sales in the category,” Dr. Pelton said. “A PubMed search for the 10-year period Jan. 1, 2000 to Dec. 31, 2009 with the term ‘microbiome’ in the title field yielded 64 studies. A PubMed from Jan. 1, 2010 to today (nine years) yielded 5,983 studies.”
According to Tormey, Kibow Biotech has both animal and human studies that demonstrate the use of the company’s specific strains of bacteria and their ability to reduce uremic toxins—over the years, Kibow’s research has been cited in more than 300 research papers.
ADM Protexin has spent a large amount of scientific research focus on its Bio-Kult brand of products.
“We have invested in many clinical studies on the probiotic strains within Bio-Kult, such as eczema,9 colic,10 constipation and H.pylori eradication,”11 said Barnes. “Our latest clinical trials have focused on our Bio-Kult 14 multi-strain formula. In the largest trial of its kind on the use of probiotics in IBS (published in May this year ), 400 adult patients with moderate-to-severe symptomatic IBS-D were randomized to treatment with either Bio-Kult or placebo for 16 weeks.12 It was found that probiotic treatment significantly reduced bowel movements compared to placebo and also improved the severity of abdominal pain (a 69 percent reduction for probiotic versus 47 percent for placebo). After five months, the proportion of patients who rated their symptoms as moderate-to-severe was reduced from 100 percent at baseline to 14 percent for the Bio-Kult group (versus 48 percent for placebo) and 1/3 were symptom free.12
“Another recent clinical trial (awaiting publication) found that the 14 strains of probiotics in Bio-Kult, significantly reduced both episodic and chronic migraine frequency and severity and reliance on medication in as little as eight weeks.”13,14
Just Thrive said it is working diligently to continuously conduct research while awaiting future results. If this represents a microcosm of the industry, many might agree that the future is promising.
“We are currently conducting more clinical studies on our proprietary formula of licensed strains than any other nutritional supplement company in the world. The Leaky Gut human clinical trial is unparalleled in our industry,” Anderson said. “The 42 percent reduction in toxins produced by gut bacteria was accomplished with no additional dietary or lifestyle changes. Other favorable shifts also included a 24 percent reduction in triglycerides, a dramatic reduction in circulating ghrelin (the ‘hunger’ hormone) and a better insulin response. The Diabetes study showed ‘significant reductions’ in levels measuring A1C, fasting glucose and the post-prandial insulin response … In addition, there are currently 13 more studies underway measuring the effect of Just Thrive’s proprietary bacillus strains on: reversing the damage created by glyphosate/Roundup on the gut microbiome, Clostridium difficile (the antibiotic-resistant bacteria), rheumatoid arthritis, acne, triglyceride reduction, gingivitus, and more.”
1 Ghoshal UC, Shukla R, Ghoshal U. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth and Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Bridge between Functional Organic Dichotomy. Gut Liver 2017; 11: 196–208.
2 Ferreira-Lazarte A, Moreno FJ, Villamiel M. Application of a commercial digestive supplement formulated with enzymes and probiotics in lactase non-persistence management. Food Funct 2018; 9: 4642–50. 3 Oak SJ, Jha R. The effects of probiotics in lactose intolerance: A systematic review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2018; : 1–9.
4 Chapman CMC, Gibson GR, Rowland I. In vitro evaluation of single- and multi-strain probiotics: Inter-species inhibition between probiotic strains, and inhibition of pathogens. Anaerobe 2012; 18: 405–13. 5 https://thriveprobiotic.com/blogs/blog/groundbreaking-study-on-healing-leaky-gut-with-the-strains-used-in-just-thrive-probiotic.
6 Digestive Diseases Statistics for the United States | NIDDK. www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/digestive-diseases (accessed Dec 7, 2018).
7 Outpatient Antibiotic Prescriptions-United States, 2015. www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/community/pdfs/Annual-Report-2015.pdf (accessed Dec 7, 2018).
8 Bell V, Ferrão J, Pimentel L, Pintado M, Fernandes T. One Health, Fermented Foods, and Gut Microbiota. Foods 2018; 7: 195.
9 Farid R, Ahanchian H, Jabbari F, Moghiman T. Effect of a new synbiotic mixture on atopic dermatitis in children: a randomized-controlled trial. Iran J Pediatr 2011; 21: 225–30.
10 Kianifar H, Ahanchian H, Grover Z, et al. Synbiotic in the management of infantile colic: a randomised controlled trial. J Paediatr Child Health 2014; 50: 801–5.
11 Ahmad K, Fatemeh F, Mehri N, Maryam S. Probiotics for the treatment of pediatric helicobacter pylori infection: a randomized double blind clinical trial. Iran J Pediatr 2013; 23: 79–84.
12 Ishaque SM, Khosruzzaman SM, Ahmed DS, Sah MP. A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial of a multi-strain probiotic formulation (Bio-Kult) in the management of diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. BMC Gastroenterol 2018; 18: 71.
13 Multi-species probiotic mixture can attenuate the severity of episodic migraine- a double blind randomized controlled trial. Martami F, Seyfi-shahpar M, Ghorbani Z, Jahromi SR, Togha M, Ansari H. Cephalalgia 2017;37:369-370.
14 The Effect of probiotic supplementation on chronic migraine (CM) headache: a randomized placebo-controlled double blind study. Seyfi-Shahpar M, Martami F, Togha M, Ghorbani Z, Jahromi SR, Ansari H. Journal of Headache and Pain 2017;18:159.
Healthy Take Aways:
• Reducing the population in the gut of pathogenic bacteria and the toxic irritants they produce helps reduce intestinal swelling and seal the gut, takes stress off the 80-plus percent of our body’s immune system receptor sites located in the intestinal wall, supports nutrient absorption through regrowth of intestinal microvilli and assists our body’s detoxifying organs by lowering our bodily inflammatory load.”
• Virtually all of today’s chronic degenerative diseases (known as lifestyle diseases) are linked to gut problems related to imbalance of probiotics, which results in dysbiosis or problems in gut microbiome.
• With approximately 70 percent of the world’s population unable to adequately absorb lactose, probiotics and digestive enzymes could be an effective solution for lactose hydrolysis.
• Probiotics and enzymes are most likely not going to have maximum value if you’re still not eating a proper diet, “inhaling” your food, or not chewing thoroughly.
For More Information:
ADM Protexin, www.bio-kult.com
Essential Formulas Inc., www.essentialformulas.com
Hyperbiotics, Inc., www.hyperbiotics.com
Just Thrive Probiotic, www.thriveprobiotic.com
Kibow Biotech, Inc., www.kibowbiotech.com