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Probiotics FAQ's

What is a microbiome and why is it important?

The human microbiome is a term used to describe the large communities of microbes that coat the human body, inside and out.  Invisible to the human eye, this extraordinary ecosystem is made up of a diverse collection of bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites, that is as unique to you as your fingerprint.  When in balance, the microbiome coexists peacefully with your body, supporting health like a functioning organ.  Changes to this balance can affect your general health and wellbeing.  

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What is a Probiotic ?

The definition of a probiotic is a live microorganism that can offer health benefits to the host (you) when taken in adequate amounts.  Beneficial microbes can be found in fermented foods such as yoghurt and kimchi.  By supplementing with probiotics, you can choose the type and strength of probiotic specific to your health needs.  For a supplement to be called a ‘probiotic’ in Australia, it should contain live bacteria.

What does a Probiotic do?

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that support our health and wellbeing.  Even though probiotic supplements are taken by mouth, once they reach the gut these clever little microbes can send messages to distant organs to influence health and function. Some of the many systems that benefit from probiotics include:

·       Digestive system

·       Immune system

·       Skin

·       Brain

·       Urinary system

And much more

How do Probiotics work?

Probiotics are multi-talented.  Various strains of probiotics have different actions which allow them to support our health in many different ways. 

Some of these include:

·  Supporting the intestinal microbiome – helping to improve the balance between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria

·  Supporting gastrointestinal mucosal membrane health (AKA gut barrier) – Part of your first line of defence for your precious immune system

·  Supporting immune system health  

·  Supporting healthy bowel function and digestive system health – so that you can have a healthy relationship with the loo! 

What is a CFU ?

CFU stands for ‘Colony Forming Unit’ – a term used to describe the measurement of live bacteria found in a probiotic supplement. Why is this important? Knowing the CFU count of your probiotic supplement helps you to identify the strength of the probiotic supplement, which plays an important role in determining the health benefits. 

Therefore, to help support positive health outcomes.

What is a Probiotic strain and why is it important?

Just like you belong a country, state, town and your own home, probiotic bacteria belong to a genus, species, subspecies and finally, a strain.   Not all probiotics are created equal and research has shown that certain health benefits of probiotics are associated with their specific strain.  

How often should I give my dog Probiotics?

The health benefits of probiotics are experienced during the time period they are supplemented.

Therefore, it is recommended to take probiotics daily.

When is the best time to give Probiotics?

Probiotics can be taken at any time of day but some evidence suggests they are best taken before a meal.

How long does it take for Probiotics to work?

A recent research paper showed that when using probiotics for certain gut imbalances, positive results were shown from as early as 1-2 weeks. 

What is the difference between prebiotic and probiotic?

Nothing goes to waste in our microbial ecosystem.  Certain foods that we can’t digest become the food for our beneficial bugs - these foods are called ‘prebiotics’. Prebiotics can be found in fibrous foods, such as fruit and wholegrains, as well as foods that contain flavanols such as green tea and grape seed. 

How do Probiotics support immune health?

Up to 70% of the immune system is located in your gut. Just like neighbours, the gut microbiome and immune system live alongside each other and communicate regularly.  If the gut microbiome is in balance, this forms a positive relationship which supports the health and function of our body.

Why is the gut sometimes called our second brain?

The microbiome-gut-brain axis describes a complex web that connects parts of the nervous system with the gut and the microbes that grow within it. This connection allows gut health to influence brain health and vice versa.  If you have ever had the feeling of butterflies in your tummy, than you have experienced this connection first-hand.

What is the skin microbiome?

The skin microbiome is like our very own invisible ecosystem that inhabits every square centimeter of our skin. It is made up of a diverse mix of microbes, and can include anything from bacteria, viruses, fungi and even mites!  Each of these microbes have their own unique and important role to play in the way that our skin functions.  When these microbes live in balanced and diverse communities, they support our skin function and live in harmony with our skin. Alternatively, when there are imbalances within the microbial communities, this can pave the way for what is known as dysbiosis, and also dysbiosis-related skin conditions, such as acne.

The Gut-Skin Axis

How good is it when you wake up and your skin is looking radiant, dewy and clear. A bit like a great hair day, or when an outfit comes together - it puts a spring in your step and the world seems like an easier and more fun place to be!

 

By the same token, when your skin is misbehaving - irritated, unbalanced, and the opposite of glowing… it can be depressing and distressing. Especially when you don’t know what’s causing those issues and you can’t find a cream that works to sort it out! 

The truth is your skin is a powerful reflection of what’s happening on the inside, and chronic skin issues such as acne, mild eczema and psoriasis can often be an indicator of an internal imbalance that needs correcting. A common source of skin challenges is a gut-skin axis that is out of balance and, when the gut-skin axis isn’t working well, no amount of serums, potions and lotions are going to shift what’s happening on the surface. 

So what exactly is happening inside? Let’s take a look. 

 

What is the gut-skin axis? 

The term ‘gut-skin axis’ describes the connection between your gastrointestinal tract and skin. It was over 80 years ago now that two dermatologists (John Stokes and Donald Pillsbury) first proposed the gut-skin connection and scientific literature has continued to provide evidence of this relationship. 

Firstly, there is literally not one cell, tissue or organ that is not affected by what’s going on with the gut and, nutrient absorption and waste elimination aside, most of our immune system is present on the other side of the single cell wall lining of our gut and it’s responsible for whether our entire body is in a state of tolerance or inflammation.  

Our gut microbiome heavily influences our immune system and, through complex immune mechanisms, the gut microbiome can affect the wellbeing of distant organs such as the skin.

Essentially, gut health issues, such as dysbiosis, can cause inflammation elsewhere in the body that can then turn into ongoing skin problems. 

 

How do you support the gut-skin axis? 

Supporting gut health requires a multi-faceted approach. There are many things that can affect gut health, and therefore skin health, including: 

  • dietary choices such as consuming refined sugar, excess carbohydrates and fat, alcohol and coffee 

  •  nutrient insufficiencies, including omega-3, zinc, vitamin A and fibre

  • certainmedications 

  • stress

  • illness or infection (including food poisoning)  

  •  psychological stress
     

As a result, there are many things that can also be helpful for supporting gut health, including: 

  •  dietary fibre(especially prebiotics) 

  • digestive enzymes 

  • nutrients such as glutamine, vitamin A, D, zinc and omega-3 

  • colostrum

  • herbs like slippery elm, marshmallow, turmeric and licorice root

  • probiotics 

Gut health is a fundamental foundational for the health of your entire body - including your skin. If you’ve been struggling with skin issues for a while and not having any luck, consider whether your gut-skin axis is in need of some support. Of course, if they persist or change unexpectedly, make sure to discuss with a health professional. 

 

Things you didn't know about the microbiome

What are some of the fascinating facts and figures about the microbiome that people wouldn’t know about?

  • There are over 1000 different bacterial species living on and in the average adult.

  • 70% of your immune system can be found in your digestive tract, where most of your bacteria resides.

  • Our bacterial fingerprint is even more unique than our DNA.

  • Our microbiome, in total, can weigh up to two kilograms.

  • Some animals actively alter their microbiome. Young iguanas, for instance, eat soil or faeces to tailor their microbiome to their current diet.

 

What is it made up of?

The human microbiome consists of bacteria residing in the gut and other body sites, but it also includes an abundant variety of other micro-organisms, from fungi and viruses to less familiar names, such as protists and archaea.

Of the bacteria, which are the most dominant in humans?

The composition of the microbiome can vary greatly from culture to culture, and indeed from person to person and body site to body site, but we know the most about the composition found in the healthy human gut. This community is dominated by bacteria of two phyla – Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes. These make up around 80 to 90 per cent of our total microbiota.

How does bacteria survive in the gastrointestinal system?

You might imagine that the acidic environment of the stomach is an inhospitable place, but acid holds little fear for many types of bacteria. Lactobacillus strains, for instance, create lactic acid as part of their normal operation.

Is the microbiome just in your gut?

While your gut contains the most abundant and diverse population of bacteria, you host a variety of microbial life across your entire body, particularly on the skin, in the mouth and in the urogenital tract.

Who discovered or first reported the microbiome?

The term ‘microbiome’ is a relatively recent invention, but early glimpses of the idea date back to the 1860s, when Antonie van Leeuwenhoek used a specially designed microscope to observe the diversity of bacteria resident in and on his body.

What are some of the things that can have an adverse effect on your microbiome?

Many external factors can influence microbiome diversity. Antibiotics operate by reducing the reproduction of harmful bacteria, but can deplete populations of useful bacteria in the process. Stress can also alter the makeup of the microbiome, lowering numbers of potentially beneficial Lactobacillus bacteria. Fibre provides fuel to the bacteria of the gut, so a diet low in fibre and high in processed foods can be detrimental to microbiome health.

*Information source Life-Space