The microbiome’s relationship with health continues to prove powerful, and biotics and enzymes can help your patients/clients to support long-term homeostasis.
Your patients seem to love them. Probiotics (and related pre-, syn- and post-) are perceived as powerful for health promotion. According to ADM Outside Voice consumer research, 58 percent of global consumers see a connection between the function of bacteria in the gut to key well-being factors. Further, according to FMCG Gurus’ “What’s Next for Probiotics in 2023” report, nearly two-thirds of the global population is using or plans on using probiotics for supporting their health and well-being—and 63 percent of North Americans say they have purchased a probiotic product in the past 12 months.
And as a natural practitioner, such familiarity tends to improve communications between you and your client/patient to reach the outcome goals more quickly and clearly.
New research on the gut microbiome is emerging at a rapid clip. And in general, the studies tend to validate the idea of focusing on managing it with probiotics, prebiotics and postbiotics.
Studies investigating the roles of probiotics and microbiome environments show a diversity of findings. For example, one study explored the relationship between sleep, exercise and the gut microbiome. The two-phase study, which included an open-label study followed by a controlled longitudinal study in a professional soccer team, allowed the researchers to identify key interactions between probiotics, the gut microbiome and the hosts (participants). In the placebo-controlled study, the researchers observed significant improvements in sleep quality by 69 percent, energy levels by 31 percent and bowel movements by 37 percent after probiotic intervention relative to after placebo.
The researchers concluded that their study “provides novel insights into how a multi-strain lactobacillus probiotic modulates sleep quality, exercise recovery and gut microbiome composition in both the general population and elite athletes, and introduces potential mechanisms through which this probiotic could be influencing overall health. Our results emphasize the untapped potential of tailored probiotic interventions derived from extremely fit and healthy individuals in improving several aspects of health and performance directly in humans.” (Bongiovanni 2023 DOI:10.13140/RG.2.2.23616.92160).
The gut-lung-axis has also been identified recently, and it describes the communication between the gut microbiome and the inflammatory and immune microenvironment in the lungs. In a new study, researchers focused on supporting lung function and modulating inflammatory response through probiotic supplementation. They gave 22 participants (some with asthma) a blend of lactobacillus probiotics (L. plantarum RSB11, L. acidophilus RSB12 and L. rhamnosus RSB13) with the herbs holy basil, turmeric and vasaka for 28 days. Results showed that asthmatic participants who consumed the probiotic supplement demonstrated significant improvements in lung function as measured by forced expiratory volume and SCFA levels from baseline through week 4. (Wenger, Frontiers in Nutrition 2023).
Probiotical S.p.A., Italy, developed an innovative range of probiotics (BifiZen) for mental wellbeing. At the heart of the range is a high-potential probiotic combination of four different strains (L. fermentum LF16, L. rhamnosus LR06, L. plantarum LP01 and B. longum 04). According to the company, BifiZen’s probiotic blend is characterized by anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, antagonism properties toward different classes of pathogens, protection and restoration of membrane integrity, and the presence of genes coding for the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the main inhibitory neurotransmitter of the central nervous system.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial, 38 healthy students were enrolled and randomized into two groups: the group treated with BifiZen received a daily dosage of 1 billion cfu/afu per strain per day in sachets for six weeks, while the control group received placebo. Participants completed a series of validated psychological questionnaires that assessed their mood, personality and sleep quality before the start of treatment, after three weeks of supplementation, after six weeks of supplementation and finally after three weeks of wash-out.
According to the researchers, BifiZen significantly and consistently improved several aspects of mood, with a reduction in depressive mood state, anger and fatigue, and improvement of acceptance, which correlates with decreased depression sensitivity, and sleep quality in a young and healthy cohort, which is among the most resilient population possible. The effects of the administration of BifiZen were maintained after three weeks of wash-out, demonstrating prolonged benefits after cessation of probiotic intake.
Synbiotic Health, Nebraska, recently announced that a genomic evaluation and in-vitro testing have shown that its B. adolescentis iVS-1 probiotic strain produces Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) as well as folate (vitamin B9). Synbiotic Health says that its in vitro studies show that this probiotic strain produces three times more folate than other analyzed strains. Additionally, according to the company, the folate produced by the strain has higher bioavailability than folic acid in other supplements.
Kevin Hooper, Synbiotic Health’s director of business development, said, “When taken together with the already known attributes of iVS-1, including its proliferation and persistence at high levels in the human gut, its ability to promote a bifidogenic response, and its capacity to promote healthy gut-barrier function all at low levels of supplementation (1 billion cfu/dose), iVS-1 becomes a strong addition to many probiotic products designed for a variety of health claims.”
In a randomized controlled clinical trial 20 students consumed either Missouri-based Stratum Nutrition’s BLIS K12 or placebo for 30 days and performed a graded exercise test and five HIT sessions within three days. Results demonstrated that the probiotic group had significant increases in salivary immunoglobulin A (sIgA), a biochemical acting as the first line of defense to protect against pathogens. (Bertoccioli, Microbial Immunology 2023). This specific strain of S. salivarius secretes antimicrobial bacteriocin-like-inhibitory substances. Previous research has shown that this probiotic may induce an anti-inflammatory immune response, increasing IL-10 production. (Laws, Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins 2021).
“Could the gut microbiome be involved in the cause and potentially help prevent Parkinson’s disease (PD)?” asked Claire Barnes, MBANT, registered nutritionist, ADM Protexin, U.K. “A hallmark feature of PD is the aggregation of alpha-synuclein in the brain. However, many studies in PD have reported that the onset of digestive conditions, such as constipation, appear long before the actual Parkinson’s symptoms arise. It is suggested that the alpha-synuclein aggregates may originate in the gut and spread to the brain via the vagus nerve.”
Barnes reported that a study found that several strains of Desulfovibrio bacteria found in the gut of PD patients lead to the formation of alpha-synuclein aggregates in intestinal cells. In the study, strains of Desulfovibrio were isolated from 10 PD patients and their healthy spouses which were then used to feed C. elegans worms.
According to the researchers, the Desulfovibrio strains from PD patients harbored significantly more and larger alpha-synuclein aggregates than worms fed Desulfovibrio bacteria from healthy individuals. “While more studies are required to understand the different traits between the Desulfovibrio bacteria in PD to healthy controls, the authors conclude that eradicating the Desulfovibrio bacteria or keeping their concentration at a low level could be a preventative strategy for PD,” she said. (Schaeffer, Front Cell Dev Biol. 2020).
Lexi Loch, ND, medical educator, Wisconsin-based EuroMedica/EuroPharma, observed that as individuals become more proactive in extending not only lifespan but health span, there is accumulating evidence pointing to a balanced microbiome as pivotal to helping them reach these goals.
“A recent case series published in Aging demonstrated that supplemental probiotics, along with dietary modifications, sleep optimization and other lifestyle changes were able to lower biological age,” she reported. “The real kicker here was this program was only eight-weeks in duration. The average biological age reduction was about 4.60 years. While probiotics weren’t the only tool used and sample size was small, overall I think there are some exciting takeaways from this study.”
Probiotic supplements are first associated with promoting healthy digestion, and for good reason; often, the first noticeable change when taking probiotic supplements regularly is improvement in digestion. According to a report from the Council for Responsible Nutrition, if people at high-risk of developing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) consumed preventive amounts of probiotics they could cumulatively prevent almost 400 million hours of missed work and save more than $110 billion dollars.
In addition to people with IBS, probiotics, notably Bifidobacterium spp., also have clinically relevant benefits for patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Research has shown that certain probiotics such as B. infantis and B. bifidum can help modulate the immune response, reduce inflammatory markers (like IL-6 and TNF-alpha), and increase the likelihood of remission. (Jakubczyk, Nutrients 2020).
A newer area of research and application of supplemental probiotics is for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and other related metabolic disorders, Dr. Loch noted. “We know that chronic, low-grade inflammation is a significant risk factor for NAFLD and dysbiosis can set the stage for developing NAFLD.” According to a review on this subject, gut microbiota dysregulation is a hallmark of NAFLD. (Chen, Int J Mol. Sci 2020).
Keri Marshall, naturopathic doctor and epidemiologist, medical advisor to PanTheryx, Colorado, related that she is intrigued by the connection between the direct role that neurotransmitters such as serotonin and GABA have with the microbiome—it is estimated that approximately 90 percent of serotonin is produced in the gut by gut microbes, which also produce GABA. She commented, “As a result, people with insomnia and mood issues typically don’t have the right gut microbiome balance. Finding ways to keep the gut healthy is essential for mental health and quality sleep.”
Postbiotics are being increasingly investigated into how they work to support not only the gut microbiome but condition-specific areas of health. Justin Green, PhD, director of scientific affairs for Cargill’s health technologies business, Minnesota, said that there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that inanimate microbes (i.e., postbiotics) are effective in generating many of the health benefits seen with live probiotics. “There is still much to learn about the gut-immune connection and postbiotics are quite new to our lexicon. Nonetheless, given the science-backed benefits these ingredients provide and consumers’ increasing interest in immune support, products containing postbiotics offer many benefits to clients.”
Like all postbiotics, EpiCor is a non-living microbe, which Dr. Green said provides a significant advantage over probiotics, which must remain alive to produce beneficial metabolites in the gut. Instead, EpiCor is made through a natural, proprietary fermentation process that creates a unique fingerprint of metabolites, including proteins, peptides, antioxidants, polyphenols, organic acids, nucleotides, polysaccharides and mannans. “Epicor has eight published clinical trials and seven pre-clinical studies demonstrating a wide range of health benefits, including nasal comfort, immune balance and gut microbiome support,” he described.
Researchers are increasingly focusing on strain-specific mechanisms and synergies, performing condition-focused human clinical trials, and confirming viability through artificial GI (gastrointestinal) testing, observed Pam Conboy, health care practitioner support & education, New York-based Omni-Biotic (AllergoSan USA). “As a result, manufacturers are now able to develop truly effective, targeted probiotics. Although not the standard for all brands, the investment in high quality, indication-focused probiotic development provides practitioners with proven and reliable formulations to address individual health goals via directed microbiome modulation.”
Digestion and More
According to a variety of studies, it appears that more people are dealing with gut issues that are more annoying than alarming. But here they are with you, seeking some resolution.
EuroMedica/EuroPharma’s FloraSure Probiotic features the FloraSure probiotic blend, a unique combination of live, active cultures chosen to help relieve occasional digestive discomfort. FloraSure Probiotic supports healthy intestinal flora and mucosa, eases occasional gut discomforts and promotes everyday gastrointestinal function, according to Dr. Locke.
Enzymes, a category unto its own, are often synergized with probiotics for digestive help. Becky Dattani, director of professional sales, Florida-based Enzyme Science, related, “We’re always on the lookout for the next technological advancement to better deliver digestive enzymes and probiotics. Take our Thera-blend enzyme technology as an example. We include a blend of variants proven to work synergistically throughout the broad pH range of the human body—never one single enzyme. If enzymes are inactive by the time they get to where they’re needed, they can’t offer support.”
Enzyme Science’s Complete Digestion is for mild to moderate digestive discomforts—an enzyme blend formulated for those who might be sensitive to high levels of protease enzymes. Complete Digestion includes 125 million CFUs of a shelf stable multi-strain blend of Bacillus subtilis and lactic acid bacteria, plus Thera-blend digestive enzymes that are guaranteed to work throughout the digestive system, pointed out Dattani.
“Critical Digestion relieves occasional bloating, gas and indigestion; increases absorption of nutrients; and improves energy. The digestive enzymes in Critical Digestion allow the body to break down food more efficiently, and it also includes 1 billion CFUs of a shelf stable multi-strain blend of Bacillus subtilis and lactic acid bacteria,” she described.
Omni-Biotic offers several targeted multi-strain probiotic formulations. “Because Omni-Biotic probiotics are activated prior to ingestion, they survive the harsh gastric environment to arrive in the intestines alive and metabolically active,” Conboy said.
“Omni-Biotic Hetox Gut-Liver (Detoxification and Metabolic) Probiotic is shown to effectively improve cholesterol markers, HOMA-IR, and Hip:Waist ratio and is demonstrated to support liver function,” she explained. “Omni-Biotic AB 10 Microbiome Restoration Probiotic is shown to eradicate recurrent C. diff and other undesirable gram-negative organisms. It is also demonstrated to significantly reduce the development of antibiotic-associated diarrhea.”
And Omni-Biotic Balance Immune Support Probiotic may enhance GALT (gut associated lymphoid tissue) support for a balanced immune response, and enhances microbiome diversity while also encouraging bowel regularity, according to Conboy.
Bio-Kult has numerous probiotic products with condition-specific applications, such as supporting digestive health, immune function, intimate flora (vaginal health), child and infant health and the gut-brain axis. “All of these products are easy to administer, are from a natural source, are non-GMO (genetically modified organism) and do not contain preservatives or artificial colors or flavors,” said Barnes.
This is just a sliver of the mammoth pie of studies and probiotic strains available to help your clients regain healthful balance and address common concerns such as poor sleep, low mood and digestive issues, among others.
Healthy Take Aways:
• Nearly two-thirds of the global population is using or plans on using probiotics for supporting their health and well-being.
• In the placebo-controlled study, the researchers observed significant improvements in sleep quality by 69 percent, energy levels by 31 percent, and bowel movements by 37 percent after probiotic intervention.
• A newer area of research and application of supplemental probiotics is for non-alcohol fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and other related metabolic disorders.
• People with insomnia and mood issues typically don’t have the right gut microbiome balance.
For More Information:
ADM Protexin, www.bio-kult.com
Enzyme Science, www.enzyscience.com
Omni-Biotic (AllergoSan USA), www.allergosan-usa.com
Synbiotic Health, www.synbiotichealth.com
Stratum Nutrition, www.stratumnutrition.com