Healthy Aging

Healthy Aging depends on maintaining a healthy digestive system aided by probiotics.

woman laying on couch holding stomach in pain from fibromyalgia and IBS

The Gut Health Link to Fibromyalgia

The medical condition known as fibromyalgia — punctuated by widespread and intense musculoskeletal pain, debilitating fatigue and cognitive problems — has been one of the most challenging medical conditions for a very long time.

It’s been a real struggle until recently to convince medical professionals and laypeople that fibromyalgia is a very real thing (it is!), largely because the root causes of this condition remain very much unknown. Plus, diagnosing fibromyalgia can take a long time.

What we do know: Fibromyalgia goes hand-in-hand with gut problems, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). As many as 70 percent of the fibromyalgia patients experience IBS symptoms, according to a paper written by UCLA’s Dr. Lin Chang for the University of North Carolina Center For Functional GI and Motility Disorders.

Like fibromyalgia, the exact causes of IBS are a mystery too. However, among the factors related to an IBS diagnosis is an imbalance of gut bacteria.

It just makes sense that a gut health link must exist and a group of Canadian researchers from the McGill University and the University of Montreal recently discovered it, in a hot-off-the-presses study appearing in the journal Pain.

Big differences

Scientists discovered very distinct differences in the mix of gut bacteria between healthy people and those who suffer from fibromyalgia.

Using computational techniques including artificial intelligence, they compared the urine, blood, saliva and stool samples taken from 156 patients, including 77 female fibromyalgia patients, between ages 30-60.

Researchers identified 19 variances in species of gut bacteria — in abnormally higher and lower amounts — in fibromyalgia patients.

Moreover, these techniques allowed scientists to diagnose fibromyalgia in patients using only a patient’s microbiome with an amazing accuracy of 87 percent.

“The changes we saw in the microbiomes of fibromyalgia patients were not caused by factors such as diet, medication, physical activity, age, and so on, which are known to affect the microbiome,” says Dr. Amir Minerbi, lead author of the study.

Some imbalances in gut bacteria species have been linked to several intestinal diseases in lower amounts or inflammatory arthritis in higher numbers.

This news has some pain management experts intrigued about addressing fibromyalgia in a much broader way as part of the gut-brain axis.

“Having a microbiome signature could allow clinicians to understand to what extent the gut is promoting the condition as well as how planned interventions that may alter the microbiome — such as diet, prebiotics and probiotics — could be promising tools,” as pointed out by noted pain management expert Dr. Robert Bonakdar to Medscape.

Probiotics do a great deal of good, and not only as an IBS treatment. According to a recent review of studies, probiotics may be an effective tool in treating, not only fibromyalgia but chronic fatigue syndrome too.

To achieve the best outcome for your gut health, whether you suffer from fibromyalgia or IBS, your best bet is to take a probiotic created with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria.

EndoMune Advanced Probiotic contains 10 strains of beneficial bacteria amounting to 20 billion CFU, not to mention a prebiotic (FOS) that provides food for the good guys in your gut.

heart and stethoscope

How Eating Dietary Fiber Promotes Heart Health

One of the easiest and best things you can do to give your health a much needed boost is to eat more foods rich in dietary fiber.

When you hear people talking about eating more dietary fiber (found in whole grains, fruits, legumes and vegetables), it’s mostly associated with treating.

However, eating more dietary fiber — the indigestible parts of plant foods that pass through your lower gastrointestinal tract relatively intact  — does a lot to promote good heart health too.

Based on previous research, it doesn’t take eating a whole lot more dietary fiber to make a heart-healthy difference. But the hows and whys have been a mystery to scientists…

A recent study from researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, UCLA and the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) may go a long way toward explaining the reasons behind this gut-healthy benefit that gets far less attention than it should.

The fatty acid connection

Wisconsin scientists identified one species of gut bacteria — Roseburia — linked to the production of the beneficial fatty acid butyrate in the guts of germ-free mice. Conclusions from the study appearing in Nature Microbiology showed reduced inflammation and atherosclerosis.

But there’s one catch: The presence of Roseburia alone wasn’t enough.

Feeding mice a high-fiber diet was the catalyst that provided extra protection. Even test animals who had Roseburia in their gut microbiomes but not enough fiber in their diets just didn’t produce enough butyrate to make a heart-healthy difference.

To ensure their high-fiber results were valid, researchers fed germ-free mice that lacked butyrate-producing bacteria a slow-release version of butyrate that would survive intact through their gastrointestinal tract.

No surprise, the presence of butyrate alone reduced signs of atherosclerosis and inflammation along with the amount of fatty plaques.

Leaky gut issues

This study really underscores the important link between dietary fiber and gut health, given previous research that found human patients with cardiovascular disease had diminished levels of gut bacteria and butyrate-producing Roseburia.

Not to mention, the presence of leaky gut, a condition in which unintended substances penetrate the vulnerable intestinal lining of the gut and into the bloodstream, is linked in a huge way to inflammation.

The good news: It doesn’t take much dietary fiber to make a big difference in your health. Increasing your intake of dietary fiber by 1 ounce (30 grams) can lower your cardiovascular risks and help you lose weight too.

In addition to eating a bit more dietary fiber every day, taking a probiotic with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria and a prebiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic can do a lot of good by promoting the natural fermentation process that feeds and protects your gut.

an x-ray of a broken shoulder bone

How Probiotics May Increase Bone Volume

Recently, we shared the results of an interesting report about the benefits of taking probiotics to protect the health and longevity of your bones

That’s great news, but how do probiotics really work to make a bone-healthy difference?

A new study featured in the medical journal Immunity provided an answer with the help of a proprietary blend of Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and it’s a familiar one too.

During a four-week testing period, scientists discovered female mice that were given Lactobacillus Rhamnosus also enjoyed a healthy boost of short-chain fatty acids known as butyrate.

The production of butyrate already does a lot of good behind the scenes to protect your gut from inflammation and harmful bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli.

Giving female mice living in an open environment a probiotic stimulated the growth of butyrate in their tiny bodies and increased the formation of bones too.

Supplementation with a probiotic or butyrate also triggered the growth of regulatory T cells in the gut and bone marrow of mice. These extra T cells in bone marrow were also responsible for secretions of a unique protein (Wnt10b) that’s vital for bone development.

(Interestingly, mice raised in a germ-free environment didn’t enjoy the same bone-building benefits, leading scientists to speculate that a probiotic works better when it interacts with other microbes in the gut.)

“We were surprised by the potency of the gut microbiome in regulating bone and by the complexity of the mechanism of action of probiotics,” says senior study author Dr. Roberto Pacifici of Emory University.

And, despite recent controversies in the press about the true health value of probiotics, “We show that they work for real in bone,” Dr. Pacifici says.

Emory University researchers plan to continue their exploration of gut health in relation to other bone diseases, how supplementation with butyrate may treat osteoporosis and if probiotics are versatile enough to improve bone health in varying disease states.

Lactobacillus rhamnosus is just one of 10 species of beneficial bacteria contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic that may do a world of good for your health in addition to your bones.

a medical writing down a list of medication

The Best Weapon Against C. Diff: Probiotics

Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections are the most common superbug pathogens patients face in American healthcare settings (hospitals and long-term care facilities), largely due to doctors overprescribing antibiotics.

Some 500,000 patients are sickened by C. diff infections annually in America and nearly 30,000 lives (largely seniors) are lost as a result.

Fortunately, medical experts are coming around to the idea that less — in the case of antibiotics — is more and multi-strain probiotics may be better weapons for preventing these infections, based on a pair of studies published earlier this year in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

The first report — a metanalysis of 18 controlled trials and about 6,800 patients in 12 countries — found probiotics reduced the chances patients would be sickened by a C. diff infection by roughly two-thirds.

Moreover, multi-species probiotics (probiotics with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria) were much more beneficial to preventing C. diff infections, compared to single-strain probiotics.

Interestingly, probiotics were very effective in preventing C. diff infections in cases where patients were taking more than one antibiotic and in healthcare settings where the risks of infection were higher than 5 percent.

A second study, conducted in the Cook County Health System in Illinois, reported more positive results with multi-strain probiotics (featuring three of the 10 strains contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic) providing a long-term benefit.

Over a 12-month period of monitoring treatment with probiotics, reports of C. diff infections fell significantly during the final six months. During that time, patients took probiotics initially within 12 hours after receiving their first antibiotic dose until five days after completing their course of antibiotics.

It’s not surprising how protective and beneficial multi-strain probiotics can be for your health, given how effective they are in easing the symptoms of a variety of health conditions, including leaky gut, depression and constipation.

Even when you’re not actively taking antibiotics for a health condition, you may be surprised by how often you’ve exposed to them merely by eating meat or dairy products that retain traces of antibiotic-resistant germs that can trigger foodborne infections all on their own.

All the more reason you may want to consider taking a multi-strain probiotic like EndoMune to protect your health.

a few pills next to a thermometer

Can Probiotics Reduce the Need for Antibiotics?

If you follow our blog regularly, you’re very aware of the many problems associated with antibiotics.

Patients have leaned on antibiotics so much over the years as go-to drugs to feel better in a hurry that doctors have tended to over-prescribe them.

All too often, doctors will give in to their patients, even for relatively minor health problems caused by viruses (colds, bronchitis and sore throats) that don’t respond to antibiotics in the first place or bacterial infections (many ear and sinus infections) that often aren’t necessary.

Every year, some 47 million prescriptions written for antibiotics are completely unnecessary, according to the CDC. At least half of the antibiotic prescriptions written for bacterial infections are unwarranted too.

This excess use has created an environment in which antibiotic resistance has become far too common. At least 2 million Americans are infected by antibiotic-resistant bacteria annually and some 23,000 will die from exposure to infections, including superbugs like Clostridium difficile (C. diff).

That’s only about 75 years removed from the introduction of penicillin, the first commercially available antibiotic during World War II, in 1943, and a drug that was discovered almost by accident.

However, the tide may be starting to turn away from the excessive use of antibiotics, thanks to the timely use of probiotics, according to a recent report published in the European Journal of Public Health.

Based on a review of a dozen studies, researchers from the U.S. Netherlands and U.K. discovered children and babies were 29 percent less likely to be prescribed antibiotics if they were taking a daily probiotic.

Even more encouraging, a second look at studies that researchers judged to be of the highest quality saw those numbers of probiotic-protected children jump to 53 percent.

“More studies are needed in all ages, and particularly in the elderly, to see if sustained probiotic use is connected to an overall reduction in antibiotic prescriptions. If so, this could potentially have a huge impact on the use of probiotics in general medicine and consumers in general,” says Dr. Sarah King, lead author of the study.

Not surprisingly, the probiotics children were taking in these studies contained strains of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, some of the very same ones in EndoMune Jr. and EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.

Even if you or your family need to take antibiotics when you’re sick, it’s critical to recognize how these drugs can shift the balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut and affect your recovery.

If you’re unsure how to maximize the benefits of taking a probiotic when prescribed an antibiotic, I urge you to review my recently updated and very easy-to-follow probiotic protocol.

Also, check with your doctor before taking a probiotic if you have any concerns, especially if you’re taking immunosuppressant drugs or antifungal products for a health condition.

window cleaner next to paper towels

Why a “too clean” home may harm your child

Keeping your home a bit “too clean” by using common multi-surface disinfectants could be changing and harming your child’s gut bacteria by making them more susceptible to obesity.

That’s the chief finding from data culled from an examination of fecal samples collected from 757 Canadian babies, along with their exposure to various cleaning products, according to a recent report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Babies living in homes where disinfectants were used every week were twice as likely to have increased levels of one bacteria (Lachnospiraceae), according to researchers.

That difference in one strain of bacteria was enough to elevate the chances of young children being overweight by age 3, compared to kids who weren’t exposed to disinfectants as infants, says Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj, the principal investigator on the SyMBIOTA project that examines how altering the gut health of infants impacts their health.

Canadian scientists could see the connection, especially as they discovered babies living in households with greater use of more eco-friendly cleaners had a decreased risk of becoming overweight or obese.

Although this study cited concerns about the use of antibacterial cleaners, researchers didn’t track the kinds of chemicals being used to clean the homes where their participants lived as babies.

Still, these results may be more evidence of the hygiene hypothesis, in which the body’s immune responses are reversed due to continuing exposure to disinfectants, antibacterial chemicals, antibiotics and bottled water, all of them intended to make our lives way too clean.

(The hygiene hypothesis can also work to protect kids from health problems like asthma. For example, Amish children surrounded by nature, farm animals and common house dust — a less hygienic environment than most homes — were less likely to suffer from asthma, according to a New England Journal of Medicine report.)

Fortunately, there’s a simple and healthy solution to protect the delicate balance of bacteria in your baby’s gut and reduce his/her risks of obesity at the same time (especially for moms who can’t breastfeed for very long or at all).

A quarter-teaspoon of EndoMune Jr. Powder, recommended for children up to age 3, contains four strains of beneficial bacteria from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria families along with a prebiotic (FOS) that keeps their gut health in balance.

someone pouring sweetener into their coffee

How Artificial Sweeteners May Hurt You

Artificial sweeteners have found their way into a wide variety of foods — mostly processed products like diet sodas, but even in ones prepared at home — people eat in their efforts to lose weight over the years.

There are always tradeoffs when you make drastic changes in your diet, however, and some may not be worth it based on the state of your health.

Unfortunately, switching to artificial sweeteners could be a serious tradeoff that can cause serious problems for your gut health.

The damage was real, based on the results of a very recent study that monitored the gut health of 29 healthy, non-diabetic Australian patients who consumed artificial sweeteners.

Some patients received the amount of artificial sweeteners you’d drink in 1.5 liters (about 51 ounces) of diet sodas each day for just two weeks or a placebo.

After comparing stool samples before and after the trial, researchers concluded the consumption of artificial sweeteners was enough to change the composition of bacteria in the human gut for the worse.

Not only did bacteria that promote good health significantly decrease, so did the species that fermented foods. Plus, 11 different species of opportunistic bad bacteria increased too.

All of these changes in the gut occurred at the very same time as declines in microbial genes that work to metabolize simple sugars like glucose and a specific hormone (GLP-1) that controls blood glucose levels.

Just to reiterate, all of these changes happened in just two weeks.

A second recent study appearing in the journal Molecules (conducted by researchers in Singapore and Israel) underscored the damage artificial sweeteners could do to your gut health.

This time, scientists exposed modified E. coli bacteria to 1 milligram amounts of a half-dozen popular sweeteners. Interestingly, each sugary substance did its own unique damage, from harming DNA to proteins in bacteria.

Artificial sweeteners are non-natural for good reason. Compared to real table sugar, many high-intensity, artificial sweeteners can be as much as 20,000 times sweeter than the real thing.

For example, the six artificial sweeteners used in the E. coli study are referred to as high-intensity sweeteners, according to the FDA. Here’s why, based how much sweeter they are compared to table sugar.

  • Aspartame: 200 times
  • Acesulfame potassium-k: 200 times
  • Sucralose: 600 times
  • Saccharine: 200-700 times
  • Neotame: 7,000-13,000 times
  • Advantame: 20,000 times

These aren’t the first studies that have called out artificial sweeteners for the possible harmful effects to your gut health, and they probably won’t be the last ones either.

The good news is that you have healthy options that are easy to do. For example, drinking more water keeps you hydrated, and promotes a sense of fullness so you won’t overeat.

If diet drinks are too hard for you to give up, based on this research alone, taking a probiotic — ideally a brand with multiple species of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic — will protect the healthy balance of bacteria in your gut.

And, if you’ve been wanting to lose weight, the unique mix of Bififobacterium lactis and the prebiotic XOS in EndoMune Metabolic Rescue will give your body the jump start it needs to promote a feeling of fullness and protect your gut health too.

someone sitting down showing a jagged spine

Probiotics may help prevent Osteoporosis

Many people assume bone health is a condition only older adults need to worry about. That’s not a surprise, considering how harmful falls can be to seniors.

However, you may be shocked to learn that people reach their peak bone mass by age 30, and your body begins to lose more bone than it rebuilds after that.

Many variables affect bone health, from hormone levels and gender to specific medications and how much you smoke or consume alcohol.

Fortunately, there’s some really simple things you can do to protect the health of your bones, like staying physically active and making sure your body gets the right amounts of calcium and vitamin D.

Considering adding a daily probiotic to the list of preventative measures to protect your bone health, based on a recent study featured in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

Researchers at Sahlgrenska University Hospital (Sweden) came to that conclusion after monitoring the bone health of 90 older women (average age 76) who took a probiotic containing a proprietary strain of Lactobacillus or a placebo for 12 months.

Women who received the active probiotic lost only half as much bone compared to patients taking the placebo, based on comparisons of CT scans taken before supplementation began and after it ended.

There’s one important advantage probiotics offer that bisphosphonates (a class of drugs typically prescribed by doctors for bone density loss) don’t: Probiotics would reduce the rare but very serious risks of side effects linked to the long-term use of these drugs, like fractures to the jaw bone and possibly more common ones like heartburn.

“Today, there are effective medications administered to treat osteoporosis, but because bone fragility is rarely detected before the first fracture, there is a pressing need for preventive treatments,” says Dr. Mattias Lorentzon, a chief physician and professor of geriatrics at the Sahlgrenska Academy.

“The fact that we have been able to show that treatment with probiotics can affect bone loss represents a paradigm shift. Treatment with probiotics can be an effective and safe way to prevent the onset of osteoporosis in many older people in the future.”

The results of this study are less surprising than you might assume, given research we’ve discussed previously about poor dietary habits harming one’s gut health and triggering auto-inflammatory bone disease.

Imagine what taking a more robust probiotic with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic could do to make a healthy difference in your gut and your bones.

two men running in the sunset

Prebiotics May Help Treat Osteoarthritis

If your joints begin to stiffen and feel painful — especially when you wake up in the morning or as swelling becomes more common — your body could be telling you that osteoarthritis may be just around the corner.

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common chronic conditions that harms the joints, often affecting the lower backs, necks, small joints of fingers and the knees of nearly 10 percent of all Americans.

A deterioration of cartilage is the common culprit in osteoarthritis, leading to breakdowns that spur inflammation, pain and joint damage. Because this discomfort makes it harder to move around, you may be dealing with other health problems related to a sedentary lifestyle that lead to obesity and cardiovascular problems like heart disease or diabetes.

Osteoarthritis also increases your chances of experiencing more falls (30 percent) and debilitating fractures (20 percent) than someone in good health.

You may be very surprised to learn the health of your gut could be a driving force behind osteoarthritis and that prebiotics — non-digestible carbohydrates/plant fiber that feeds the good bacteria living in your gut — may play an important role in treating this condition, according to a study appearing in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Prebiotics to the rescue!

Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center discovered how prebiotics could help in treating osteoarthritis while studying mice fed high-fat foods, not unlike the cheeseburgers and shakes humans eat in a Western diet.

After 12 weeks on a high-fat diet, mice experienced all of the telltale signs of eating a poor diet (obesity, diabetes) and their gut health showed it.

Not only were their microbiomes dominated by bacteria that triggered inflammation, they were nearly depleted of beneficial bacteria, including Bifidobacteria.

(These symptoms are also linked very strongly with leaky gut, a serious health condition that occurs when unintended substances seep through the intestinal barrier to the bloodstream.)

These internal changes were evident with signs of inflammation prevalent all over the tiny bodies of obese mice, along with a faster progression of osteoarthritis (nearly a total loss of knee cartilage within 12 weeks after a meniscal tear) compared to leaner mice.

However, the damage done by obesity was prevented almost completely when obese mice were fed a prebiotic (oligofructose). Although their body weight remained the same, the effects of osteoarthritis lessened greatly.

In fact, obese mice that were fed prebiotics had healthy knee cartilage indistinguishable to those of leaner mice and signs of diabetes diminished too.

“This reinforces the idea that osteoarthritis is another second complication of obesity, just like diabetes, heart disease and stroke, which all have inflammation as part of their root cause,” says Dr. Robert Mooney, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, according to the URMC Newsroom.

These positive results of the mice study have set the stage for a follow-up study with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs using probiotics and prebiotics to help vets suffering from obesity-related osteoarthritis.

Just a reminder that EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Jr. (Chewable and Powder) contain multiple strains of beneficial bacteria, and the prebiotic FOS (fructooligosaccharides). Both are proven weapons for fighting obesity that could also protect your body from the damage done by osteoarthritis.

gardening woman standing in the sunlight

A Healthy Gut May Protect Your Liver

We’ve talked a lot about how the gut is so hard-wired to the body that it governs many aspects of your health behind the scenes, from the inner workings of your brain to getting a healthy night’s sleep.

Your gut microbiome may also play an important role in spotting early warning signs of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), the most common form of chronic liver disease harming patients who build up too much fat in their liver, according to research in Nature Medicine.

Not only does NAFLD affect people in their middle years (especially those with a higher risk of metabolic syndrome), it is the most common form of liver disease found in children, according to the American Liver Foundation.

The most common problem with NAFLD, according to the Mayo Clinic, is cirrhosis, usually in response to inflammation due to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (a syndrome that promotes liver damage not associated with alcoholism but is indistinguishable from it).

Over time, some 20 percent of patients who are diagnosed with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis will fight cirrhosis.

The reason this discovery by European researchers led by Imperial College London is so very important: NAFLD has few external signs, apart from fatigue, abdominal pain and an enlarged liver. But, sometimes, there’s no signs at all.

Unless blood work or an ultrasound is recommended by a physician, this disease may not be detected until damage to the liver is significant.

European researchers led by Imperial College London found this gut health link by comparing biological data from 100 obese women with fatty livers (including fecal, blood and urine samples and liver biopsies) to those taken from healthy patients.

Scientists involved in the research identified a compound produced by gut bacteria — phenylacetic acid (PAA) — that breaks down amino acids for food and could be used down the road by doctors to screen patients in blood tests for NAFLD.

Not only do high PAA levels signal more fat accumulating in the liver, subtle drops in genetic gut health diversity begin to occur.

As NAFLD becomes more advanced, the number of genes encoded by gut bacteria lessen, thus the composition and diversity of the gut drops too.

That’s not surprising, considering metabolic syndrome — the cluster of conditions fueled by obesity and high-fat diets that boost your risk of cardiovascular issues like stroke and heart disease — harms your gut by creating problems that alter your gut bacteria and produce inflammation in your intestine.

More studies are needed to determine how and why PAA may be linked to NAFLD and its relation to gut bacteria imbalances.

In the meantime, if you’ve been fighting a losing battle with metabolic syndrome, experiencing trouble losing weight and are concerned about the damage being done to your gut, you’re in luck.

EndoMune Metabolic Rescue and its unique blend of Bifidobacterium lactis and the prebiotic XOS work in tandem to restore the balance of bacteria in your gut and give your body the boost it needs to promote weight loss in an effective and healthy way.

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