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Probiotics, antioxidants & zinc support healthy digestion

Beneficial bacteria (known as probiotics), the antioxidant vitamins C and E, and zinc helped reduce the risk of gut disease, decrease inflammation and rebalance the intestine in four new studies.

In the first of two probiotics studies, 53 healthy Belgian volunteers aged 19 to 26 took several forms of probiotics over two four-week periods, separated by a two-week non-treatment period. Scientists collected waste (feces) before and after each treatment period and found that those who had taken two types of probiotics (Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains) separately or together, had significantly less activity of a type of enzyme (beta glucuronidase) that encourages toxins and cancer-causing (carcinogenic) agents to recirculate in the intestine—a risk factor for colon cancer.

In a study of irritable bowel syndrome, researchers gave a daily placebo or probiotics combination for six months and found that those who had taken probiotics had 42% fewer symptoms—such as abdominal pain, bloating and gas—compared to 6% for placebo.

In a vitamin study, 57 subjects with Crohn’s disease (CD), a chronic inflammatory condition, took 1,000 mg of vitamin C and 800 IU of vitamin E per day or a placebo for four weeks. While the subjects took vitamins C and E, blood-fluid (plasma) levels of oxidized fats (lipid peroxides) decreased significantly, indicating less cell damage (oxidative stress). Disease symptoms such as diarrhea remained stable.

In a zinc study, researchers recruited 10 healthy volunteers who agreed to take 50 mg of indomethacin—a prescription medication that can cause severe intestinal bleeding—three times per day for five days, along with a placebo or 37.5 mg of zinc carnosine twice per day. After treatment, those who had taken indomethacin with placebo had three times more gut leakage (permeability) than before, while those who had taken indomethacin with zinc carnosine had stable intestinal linings.

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