Probiotics are the healthy bacteria for optimal wellness
Probiotics cut cold symptoms
Doctors said earlier studies found probiotics reduce the number, severity, and length of colds in the old, young, the healthy sedentary, and in highly trained athletes, but that no research exists on health-conscious, physically active men and women. This study involved 465 healthy adults who regularly engaged in a range of physical activities from daily walking to competitive amateur athletics. Participants took a daily dose of Bifidobacterium lactis, with or without Lactobacillus acidophilus, while a third group took a placebo. After 150 days from the fall through the spring, compared to placebo, those who took Bifidobacterium lactis were 27 percent less likely to have developed an upper respiratory tract infection. Also, the placebo group caught colds sooner, with the probiotics group healthy about three weeks longer. The group that took the combination of Bifidobacterium lactis with Lactobacillus acidophilus was able to be significantly more physically active than the placebo group.
Reference: Clinical Nutrition; published online 14 October 2013.

Probiotics reduce diarrhea when taking antibiotics
Antibiotics kill off good bacteria, altering the delicate balance in the gut. People in hospitals, nursing homes or other health care facilities who take antibiotics over the long term can suffer severe diarrhea when bad bacteria, known as Clostridium difficile or C. diff., grow unchecked. In this review of 23 studies, 4,213 adults and children in health care facilities who were taking long-term antibiotics took probiotics, a placebo, or no treatment. After 30 days or less, those who had taken probiotics were 64 percent less likely to have developed diarrhea compared to placebo or no treatment.
Reference: Cochrane Database SystRev. 2013 May 31; 5: CD006095

Probiotics for colic
Babies that suddenly start crying, often after feeding, may have different gut bacteria than babies without colic. To explore this idea, doctors reviewed 12 probiotics studies covering 1,800 infants with colic and found mixed, but positive, results. Half the studies found probiotics reduced crying; three of five placebo-controlled studies found probiotics effective in breast-fed infants, and one study found probiotic benefits for infants fed formula. In three small pilot studies, the probiotic L. reuteri reduced crying time. Doctors said evidence is still insufficient to support using probiotics to manage or prevent colic, particularly in formula-fed babies, but probiotics may be effective in breastfed babies.
Reference: JAMA Pediatrics; October, Dec 1;167 (12):1150-7

Probiotics reduce allergy
Some people inherit the tendency to overreact to environmental allergens, overproducing antibodies. Doctors analyzed 25 studies involving 4,013 allergen-sensitive people and found that those whose mothers took probiotics while pregnant, or newborns who got probiotics right away, had much lower levels of antibodies, a sign they were less sensitive to allergens. A mixture of probiotics seemed to offer the best protection, especially in highly sensitive infants, and the longer newborns took probiotics, the lower the level of antibodies. Discussing their findings, doctors suggested new studies of specific probiotics, and longer follow-up times in infants to optimize the benefit of probiotics.
Reference: Pediatrics 2013; 132: e666-e676

Probiotics benefit those with diverticulosis
In diverticulosis, the intestinal lining weakens, forming pouches that bulge outward. Symptoms can include constipation, diarrhea and abdominal pain. In one study, 45 men and women with diverticulosis, average age 63, took 10 mL of Lactobacilli acidophilus (providing 37.5 million CFU) and bifidobacterium (providing 1.48 billion CFU) three times per day. Symptoms subsided during the study, and after six months, 68 percent of participants were still completely symptom free, with 78 percent of all participants saying probiotics were effective, or very effective, in reducing symptoms compared to the beginning of the study.
Reference: European Journal of Internal Medicine; 2010, Vol. 21, No. 4, 320-3

Probiotics lower infection
In children, probiotics curbed infections in the first years of life and in the hospital, and melatonin improved sleep in epileptic kids, in several new studies. In a probiotics study, 925 pregnant mothers carrying children prone to allergies took probiotics or a placebo four weeks before delivery. Their newborns got the same probiotics or placebo daily for six months after birth. During the first six months, there were no significant differences between the groups of children. Over two years of follow up, compared to placebo, kids who had taken probiotics were 7 percent less likely to have a respiratory infection and 5 percent less likely to have a middle-ear infection, and overall had fewer total infections.

In an infection study, doctors said that children admitted to the hospital, particularly the very young, often catch an unrelated infection. In this study, 742 hospitalized children, aged 1 to 18, took 1 billion colony-forming units of Lactobacillus GG or a placebo per day during their stay. Overall compared to placebo, the probiotics group was about 66 percent less likely to develop a gastrointestinal tract or respiratory tract infection in the hospital.

In a sleep study, doctors measured sleep quality and melatonin levels in 23 children with hard-to-treat epilepsy and 14 with controlled epilepsy. All the children took melatonin at bedtime. After three months, those with hard-to-treat epilepsy were much less likely to resist going to bed, fell asleep quicker, slept longer, woke up less during the night, had less sleep apnea, night walking, bed wetting, and teeth grinding, and were less sleepy during the day. Doctors also noted that the severity of seizures was significantly less.
Reference: Pediatrics; 2010, Vol. 125, No. 5, 1171-7

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