You won’t need telling what probiotics are. But it is always helpful to be reminded how powerful they can be.
Hippocrates said “all diseases begin in the gut.” He was not wrong. We now know that inflammation from the intestinal tract is a major factor in almost all ill health.
We also know that inflammation is probably the number one aging factor. Forget telomeres: they can be rebuilt (good science on that). But inflammation damages and ages tissues rapidly and permanently. Think of arthritis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). These are all inflammatory diseases. Even cancer has an inflammatory element.
These are also the diseases typical of aging. So anything which helps quench inflammation is a good thing, right?
Back to the probiotics story…
Several studies highlighted during a press briefing at the American College of Gastroenterology 2011 Annual Scientific Meeting and Postgraduate Course made it clear that probiotics settle down inflammation.
The researchers hypothesized that microbial imbalance in the gut could explain the increased incidence of a wide range of inflammatory disorders. To test whether altering the balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut raises the immune regulatory response, which could lower inflammation, researchers from in Ireland, conducted a double-blind placebo controlled study.
The results were plain enough.
By giving a specific probiotic orally, researchers were able to reduce the levels of these pro-inflammatory cytokines and actually enhance the production of an anti-inflammatory cytokines, to a significant degree.
Plasma levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-10 rose significantly, while levels of two pro-inflammatory cytokines — tumor necrosis factor-alpha and IL-6 — dropped in all patients who received probiotics.
C-reactive protein level (another big marker for inflammation) was also significantly lower in patients with psoriasis, ulcerative colitis, and chronic fatigue after treatment with the bacterium than after treatment with placebo.
So orthodox medicine has come a long way in the last 20 years. Almost caught up with doctors like me, who were saying this 20 years ago. I even had it in several of my 1980s books!
If only they’d listened!
Safety: probiotics is something with “vanishingly low side effects,” according to Fergus Shanahan, MD, FACG, professor and chair of the Department of Medicine at University College Cork. “It can’t be zero, but it is very, very low,” he added.
Alimentary Health was one of the sponsors of the study. Dr. Shanahan reports a financial relationship with Alimentary Health Ltd. Is that a worry? Nah, I don’t think so. Seems clean evidence.
If you want to know more about anti-aging and preventing inflammatory decline, you had better get my book “How to Live Beyond 100 Years”. You can order it here.
[American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) 2011 Annual Scientific Meeting and Postgraduate Course: Abstracts P650, P120, P60, P283. Presented November 1, 2011]