WHAT CAN PROBIOTICS DO FOR ME?
By Don Pearson, Technical Director BioBrew Ltd
The gut of humans is a complex microbial environment and shows strong ecological resilience, also referred to as homeostatic properties (Tannock, 2004). This means that once established the composition of the gut microbiome is resistant to change.
Probiotic organisms are considered to be transitory in the gut environment as they typically disappear from stool samples shortly (1-4 days) after administration has ceased (Tannock, 2004). Form this we can deduce that probiotics should be viewed as a supplement rather than an inoculation, i.e., usefulness is dependent on continued use.
While the residence time in the gut may be relatively short compared with the established microbiome, there is ample scientific evidence that probiotic organisms affect the host animal in a number of ways. These include;
- stimulating gut epithelial cells to replace and shed (Tannock et al, 2014),
- reduced gut inflammation (Tannock, 2004),
- changes in gene expression within the gut lining (Tannock et al, 2014),
- producing bacterocin like substances to directly inhibit pathogenic organisms (Mørtvedt et al, 1991),
- improved host immune status and protection from specific gut pathogens (Hamilton-Miller, 2003).
Each probiotic organism has a particular, limited, suit of ‘superpowers’ that it can express while in the gut. A combination of different microbes, i.e, a multi-strain probiotic, has been put forward as a way of combining these benefits (Wu, 2014). The trick with an intact fermentation is to find a combination of beneficial probiotic organisms that play well together long enough to provide a practical shelf life (Prassinos and Pearson, 2014)
Many probiotic organisms also produce SCFAs (short chain fatty acids), e.g. acetate and butyrate during the production phase. As mentioned in the section on fibre, these SCFAs are beneficial to the gut lining and the microbiome immune interactions (Honda and Littman, 2016). An intact fermentation has the additional advantage of delivering appreciable quantities of SCFAs to the gut.
Probiotic organisms are capable of a range of beneficial effects on the gut and immune system during their short stay in the gut. A combination of different probiotic organisms and an intact fermentation, complete with microbial metabolites, amplify these benefits.
Hamilton-Miller J. M. (2003) "The role of probiotics in the treatment and prevention of Helicobacter pyloriinfection". International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents 22 (4): 360–6. doi:10.1016/S0924-8579(03)00153-5. PMID 14522098.
Mørtvedt, C. I.; Nissen-Meyer, J.; Sletten, K.; Nes, I. F. (1991). "Purification and amino acid sequence of lactocin S, a bacteriocin produced by Lactobacillus sake L45". Applied and environmental microbiology 57 (6): 1829–1834.
Prassinos, A. P. and Pearson D. R. (2014) “Practical Use of Microbial Tools in Agriculture” Asia-Pacific Workshop 20-21 October, 2014. Centre for Food Research and Innovation, Lincoln University, New Zealand, “Programme and Abstracts”
Tannock, G. W. (2004) “A Special Fondness for Lactobacilli” Appl. Environ. Microbiol., 70(6):3189. DOI: 10.1128/AEM.70.6.3189-3194.2004.
Tannock, G. W., Taylor, C., Lawley, B., Loach, D., Gould, M., Dunn, A. C., McLellan, A. D., Black, M. A., McNoe, L., Dekker, J., Gopal, G. and Collett, M. A. (2014) “Altered Transcription of Murine Genes Induced in the Small Bowel by Administration of Probiotic Strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001” Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 80(9):2851. DOI: 10.1128/AEM.00336-14.
Wu, X. (2014) “Probiotic consortia as feed supplement” In: Asia-Pacific Workshop 20-21 October, 2014. Centre for Food Research and Innovation, Lincoln University, New Zealand, “Programme and Abstracts”