29 May Probiotics – a fast developing supplement sector in SA
Researchers have recently found that the use of antibiotics in mice during the perinatal period (one week before birth) until weaning (three weeks after birth) may lead to unwanted long-term side effects, with high doses affecting changes in behaviour and neurochemistry.
Upon administering penicillin to the mice, researchers observed that there were marked changes in gut microbiota composition, reinforcement of blood-brain barrier integrity and increased levels of certain brain cytokines.
However, in this study published in the journal Nature Communications, the administration of a probiotic (Lactobacillus rhamnosus JB-1) in addition to the antibiotic penicillin prevented some of these alterations to some extent.
With increased consumer interest, awareness and understanding of the benefits of probiotics that can aid digestive healthy and immunity, it comes as little surprise that probiotics are the fastest growing sector in supplements in SA, seeing a growth of 25% in 2016.
The heart of probiotics
Our so-called “second brain” is in fact our gut. As such, gut health is of utmost importance in maintaining our health and a strong immune system. Probiotics are essential in helping us maintain this important neurological system.
Probiotics are bacteria that line our digestive tracts and assist out body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight infection. To increase our natural intake of probiotics we need to add sour foods such as apple cider vinegar and fermented vegetables to our diets. Organic probiotic yoghurt is also a great source of probiotic-rich food.
The soul of probiotics
Our gut contains both good and bad bacteria; health experts agree the ratio should be around 85% good bacteria and 15% bad bacteria. As soon as this is out of balance we experience a condition known as dysbiosis, which can lead to various health problems.
By consuming probiotic-rich foods and adding supplements to the diet we can bring this ratio back into balance to ensure that the gut functions at an optimum level.
The health benefits of probiotics include:
- Protection against viruses, parasites, toxins and infections
- Optimal absorption of vitamins B12 and minerals such as iron and magnesium
- Assisting production of vitamin K2 and healthy enzymes
- Boosting immune function, gastric secretion and bile creation
- Modulating inflammatory response
Increasing probiotic intake
Sour foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi are wonderful sources of probiotics that are relatively easy to add to meal plans. At the same time probiotic-rich foods such as yoghurt containing live cultures and kefir, are both great sources of probiotics to add to a morning smoothie.
Consider the fact that the probiotics already present in the body are living organisms that require fuel to survive. By consuming high fibre foods we are essentially feeding the existing probiotics and helping to increase them. Organic fruits and vegetables, chia seeds and flaxseeds are also great sources of food to feed the helpful bacteria.
As consumers are becoming more educated about the usefulness of adding probiotics to their diet, so their requirements should continue being met. Probiotic supplements containing strain diversity (10 – 30 different strains) and a high CFU count (15 – 100 billion) are sought after, as they cover a larger area of issues the consumer would like to address by adding a probiotic to their diet.
Considering all the amazing benefits the consumption of probiotics has to offer, is it any wonder that it is one of the fastest growing sectors in nutritional supplementation in South Africa at present?