Gut Micorbiota (Gut Flora) Our digestive tract contains a complex and dynamic community of living microorganisms. They reside within different parts of the digestive tract and are known as the gut microbiota. Every individual’s gut microbiota is unique and changes with diet, age, health conditions and with intake of certain medications. A healthy gut microbiota contributes to our well-being. Some functions of the gut microbioata are: · To aid in digestion of food and nutrients · Production of some vitamins (e.g. B and K) · To participate in our body’s immune system Probiotics Probiotics are products that contain living microorganisms, mainly bacteria or yeast (a type of fungus) which can provide health benefits when present in adequate amounts. Probiotics are not regarded as a medication but can be used as food or dietary supplements. The research studies on probiotics are still on-going; however more studies have to be carried out to confirm the health benefits of probiotics. Common Types of Probiotics There are many types of probiotics in the market but most of the available probiotics are from one of the following common genera: · Lactobacillus · Bifidobacterium · Streptococcus · Pediococcus · Saccharomyces With the exception of Saccharomyces being a fungus, all of the above probiotics are classified under the bacteria domain. Potential Benefits of Probiotics Some studies have showed that probiotics may be beneficial to prevent, manage or reduce the severity of a few health conditions; for example diarrhea, urinary tract infections, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), intestinal infection, travelers’ diarrhea and even childhood eczema. Some probiotics are also prescribed for patients who are on antibiotics to prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Probiotic Strains Each strain works differently and thus, it is advisable to select the appropriate strain based on the intended indications. The table below is a summary of the potential health or medical conditions of common probiotic strains based on available studies.
Acne, vaginal health, diarrhea
Brain function, diarrhea
Inflammatory bowel diseas (IBD), IBS
Gut health, childhood eczema
Gut health, immunity
Gut health, immunity
Brain function, constipation
Gut health, skin health
Gut health, diarrhea
Prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea
Number of Probiotics Strains Probiotics that are commercially available may have one or a mixture of strains. We have products that are backed by scientific studies to show the potential health benefits of the mixture of different probiotic strains. Literature has shown that multi-strain probiotic products may synergistically manage bloating and cramps associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inhibit the growth of pathogens which may upset your gut flora. It is advisable to also refer to the product details for the expected beneficial effects of the product. CFU of Probiotics Colony-forming unit or in short CFU, is a measurement unit used to estimate the number of viable microorganisms that is capable of reproducing to form a mass of its own or a colony. CFU is commonly used in probiotics supplements, which represents the amount of live microorganisms present in each tablet or capsule. However, having a higher CFU does not necessarily improve the health benefits of a product. Refrigeration and Storage of Probiotics Not all probiotics require refrigeration. Some probiotics can be stored at room temperature without affecting its quality. Do follow the manufacturer’s advice on the storage conditions. To overcome the quick degradation, certain probiotics are formulated with a higher CFU. Lyophilization, or commonly known as freeze drying, is a preservation technology carried out by removing the water content through freezing in vacuum. As these products need to be protected from exposure to moisture, probiotics are often lyophilized to increase its shelf life and also for the ease of storage and transportation. Some newer probiotics products are formulated with a patented dual-coating technology to ensure high survival rate of the probiotics in the intestine.
Prebiotics Prebiotics are carbohydrates that cannot be broken down by our digestive system and serve as food for the gut microbiota. Some examples of prebiotics include fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), lactulose and inulin. Some prebiotics can be naturally found in food from plant sources such as banana, tomatoes, onions and whole grains. Tips for a Healthy Gut · Always opt for healthy diets which consist of a variety of vegetables, fruits and wholegrain. · Quit smoking and reduce intake of alcohol. · Do not rush. Chew meals slowly and refrain from skipping meals. · Reduce consumption of processed foods which may contain excessive amounts of preservatives, fats and salt. · Practice good stress management · Drink adequate amount of water to prevent constipation or hard stools. · Exercise regularly.
Kwoji W, Aiyegoro O, Okpeku M et al. Multi-strain probiotics: Synergy among isolates enhances biological activities. Biology (Basel). 2021 Apr ; 10(4):322. Doi: 10.3390/biology10040322
Probiotics – factsheet for health professionals. National Institutes of Health. Online article. 2 June 2022.
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