We’ve all heard of probiotics but do you really understand what they are and how they could help you and your family’s health? It is not generally appreciated the health benefits that they can bring to mothers before and during pregnancy, and also in the health and the development of the child. Here nutritionist Amy Morris explains more.
- The digestive tract contains both “good” and “bad” bacteria, and the more good bacteria present, the less likely disease and other conditions are able to prevail. Unfortunately, it is easy to destroy “good” bacteria in the body. Culprits include refined sugar and carbohydrates, prescription medications, antibiotics, and emotional stress. Side effects of a lack of probiotics include an increased risk of autoimmune diseases, candida, skin problems, digestive disorders, and reoccurring colds. Supplementing with probiotics and eating fermented foods such as Kefir and yogurt which are high in probiotics, can help restore the “correct” ratio of bacteria.
- Research suggests women should take probiotics well before they want to start a family to increase fertility. According to a study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, supplementing with the probiotic strain Lactobacillus halted a colony of pathogenic strains, and resulted in the reinforcement of natural microflora and bringing back increased fertility[i]. A study in the British Journal of Nutrition also found that supplementing with probiotics before pregnancy, helped women to lose weight and keep it off[ii]
- An ongoing two-year study is currently identifying whether supplementing with the probiotic strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus during early pregnancy and while breastfeeding reduces the risk of maternal gestational diabetes mellitus, bacterial vaginosis, Group B streptococcal, infant eczema and atopic sensitisation at one year, as well as postpartum depression and anxiety[iii].
- While the benefits of taking probiotics before, during and after pregnancy are many, it must be noted that not all probiotics are created equal. A 2007 study investigated the efficacy of five different probiotic preparations on children aged between three and 36 months, suffering from diarrhoea. Results showed that the duration of diarrhoea was significantly shorter in those who took the L rhamnosus strain GG and the mix of the four bacterial strains than the children in the control group[iv].
- Further research supports that having a wide range of bacteria in the microbiome is most beneficial for health. The human microbiome is a group of diverse organisms in the gut that interacts with the rest of your body to modulate the inflammatory response and react to stimuli, fluctuate the amount of energy available from the diet, and synthesize proteins and other small molecules that the digestive tract takes in[v]. Newer research also shows that the microbiome is responsible for how a person stores fat, responds to hormones that create feelings of hunger or fullness, and balance glucose levels in the blood[vi]
- Many autistic children complain of gut problems, such as diarrhoea and constipation, and a new study concludes that Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often starts when the gut is compromised. It concluded that the imbalance between “good” and “bad” bacteria makes the gut lining more permeable and toxins can get into the bloodstream and the brain. The research also suggested that the cause also holds the key to a solution – restoring the gut microbiota can also help reverse the problem, and taking probiotics, prebiotics or changing the diet to one that is gluten and casein free had a positive impact on symptoms. Introducing these dietary changes improved sociability, reduced repetitive behaviour and enhanced social communication
- There have been significant advances in probiotic research over the last decade. A new entrant to the UK market is Progurt. Progurt products are different from most other probiotics in two key areas. Firstly, the strains of beneficial bacteria are Human Derived Isolates, which are believed to give better bowel colonisation. Secondly, they have a significantly higher colony count (1 trillion per sachet) making the products much more powerful helping to restore microbiome balance. An ideal way to use the Progurt probiotics is using their special Incubator to create probiotic yogurt. This range is a quantum leap in probiotic use and offers huge potential benefits for many people, and in particular for the health of mothers and their children. Progurt products are distributed exclusively in the UK by Water for Health Ltd http://www.water-for-health.co.uk/progurt-probiotics-1018.html