Probiotics

Probiotics, according to a large number of  studies indicate that probiotics help restore and maintain healthy guts leading to overall better health.

a pair of glasses sitting on top of a computer

Question What You Read Everywhere!

If you follow my blog and keep up with the news, you’ve heard about a pair of recent studies published in the medical journal, Cell, that found probiotics may have very limited value.

Unfortunately, the mainstream media — seemingly everyone from CBS News to Forbes — jumped on the bandwagon to dispute the value of probiotics without looking at their considerable and proven benefits over time, many of which we’ve discussed here.

Since you have some questions and concerns about these reports, we have some answers.

What do the studies say?

Study one examined how well a generic probiotic with 11 strains of bacteria could colonize the intestinal lining when given to 25 healthy adults, as determined with a colonoscope taking specimens from the mucosa, versus a placebo.

This approach differs from most previous studies in which probiotics were measured in stools. Their justification was to determine if the generic probiotics you find at most supermarkets “colonize the gastrointestinal tract like they’re supposed to, and then whether these probiotics are having any impact on the human host.”

Study two investigated whether patients should be taking a probiotic when they were prescribed an antibiotic to prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

Twenty-one healthy patients were divided into three groups: Seven took an antibiotic, six more were given an antibiotic and the same generic probiotic from the first study and the rest received an antibiotic and pills containing fecal samples from their own microbiome.

What were the results?

In study one, the generic probiotic bacteria were found in the stools of each patient, and only in the lining of the colon of a few patients. This finding led scientists to conclude that, if probiotic bacteria weren’t found in the colon, they’re not beneficial. It also explains why many stories reported probiotics were ‘’useless.”

The results of study two were a bit more complicated:

  • The microbiomes of patients who received just an antibiotic returned to their healthy composition after 21 days.
  • Patients given fecal transplants experienced a normal intestinal microbiome within days after stopping the antibiotic.
  • Among patients treated with a generic probiotic, their microbiomes did not return to their original composition even five months later.

Problems with both studies

Now that you’ve had a chance to review both studies, it’s easier to see why taking these results at face value is tricky.

The problem with study one that examined the use of a generic probiotic was pretty straight-forward. These generic probiotics were given to healthy people with normal microbiomes, so the beneficial bacteria wouldn’t find a place in the lining of the colon to colonize.

In fact, the immune system of the intestines and existing microbiome would prevent it!

Studies have shown when patients struggle with gut health problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), taking a good probiotic can treat their symptoms and rebalance their microbiomes. So, probiotics aren’t “useless!”

In study two, because patients treated with a generic probiotic after receiving an antibiotic didn’t return to normal right away, researchers assumed the probiotic might cause ”harm” by increasing their risk of intestinal disorders. Moreover, researchers suggested patients “personalized probiotics” in the form of fecal transplants might lessen any risks.

Unfortunately, this phase of the study set up patients for more health problems like diarrhea down the road, merely by giving them antibiotics.

Plus, antibiotics change the composition and balance of bacteria in the gut, which may increase the activity of enzymes that trigger a faster absorption of carbohydrates, leaving you more vulnerable to obesity and diabetes.

Remember those extra carbs and fats feed poor dietary habits that disrupt your gut-brain axis, the biological connection that links your intestines, brain and emotions.

One more variable this research team didn’t consider in either study: The contribution of prebiotics, the non-digestible starches that feed the bacteria in your gut contained in a lot of probiotics, including EndoMune Advanced ProbioticEndoMune Junior Probiotic and EndoMune Metabolic Rescue.

Prebiotics have been shown to offer a number of health benefits connected with probiotics, like improving your sleep and giving your body some extra protection from type 2 diabetes.

Also, I have to take issue with the use of fecal transplants to engineer the results of this study. Fecal transplants may have performed better among three options in this second study, but going this route isn’t without its risks, especially if you’re receiving fecal matter from another donor.

In one 2015 report, a patient was successfully treated for a recurring C. diff infection with a fecal transplant from an overweight donor (her daughter) only to gain 34 pounds in just 16 months.

In other cases, people who have tried “do-it-yourself” fecal transplants from donors have suffered brand new health problems they never expected from people who seemed to be very healthy, but were carriers of germs they could pass on to others.

I cannot stress enough that using these results from both studies to imply that probiotics in many cases are “useless” or “harmful” just isn’t accurate.

As a physician specializing in gastroenterology, I’ve seen firsthand how the use of probiotics has changed the lives of patients suffering from simple problems like constipation and hard-to-treat ones like IBS. Also, patients who are on a strong course of antibiotics may avoid the risks of experiencing life-threating infections just by taking a probiotic too.

little girl playing with a puppy

A Dog’s Gut Health May Look Like Yours

How many of you think of your pets as if they were members of your own family? You’d probably have a hard time finding anyone who doesn’t feel that way about their four-legged family members, especially dogs.

Did you know a dog’s gut health has developed very similarly to ours, and good gut health may be beneficial to dogs and their human masters?

Not only did researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory discover great parallels in the gut health and microbial composition of 64 retrievers and beagles, they concluded our gut health could be more similar to dogs, according to their study published in the open access journal Microbiome.

The latter finding is an interesting one, given that pigs and mice are used commonly in gut health research, which led scientists to study how the gut health and diversity of lean and overweight dogs changed when fed low carb/high protein diets.

Just like their overweight masters, the microbiomes of heavier dogs changed significantly when fed high protein/low carb food, but not those of leaner dogs (a sign that thinner canines had healthier, more resilient gut microbiomes).

“These findings suggest that dogs could be a better model for nutrition studies than pigs or mice and we could potentially use data from dogs to study the impact of diet on gut microbiota on humans, and humans could be a good model to study the nutrition of dogs,” says Dr. Luis Pedro Coehlo, as told to BioMed Central.

The hygiene hypothesis connection

You may be wondering how the microbiomes of dogs and their masters became so interconnected. That’s where the hygiene hypothesis may come into play due to Western cultures living in more sterile environments that are too clean for our good.

On the other paw, dogs only get soapy when they’ve been dirty (and probably bad) and they tend to scratch, sniff and lick spots on their bodies and those of fellow canines that most of us would never do.

Dogs may not be the only animals that provide microbial protection to humans either. Based on a 2016 study from the New England Journal of Medicine, Amish children raised around farm animals were up to six times less likely to experience asthma.

What can you do to protect the microbiomes of your family if you don’t live on or near a farm and caring for a pet just isn’t realistic?

Taking a probiotic, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Junior Probiotic for kids, containing multiple strains of beneficial bacteria can make a healthy difference in your gut health profile even if Fido isn’t available to help.

(Anecdotally, my wife and I have given our dogs EndoMune for seven years with no problems. All of them have a healthy GI tract and have experienced no gas, bloating or diarrhea during that time.)

a jar of pills

The Impact of Medication on Gut Health

Science is well aware of the problems antibiotics and heartburn drugs can create for your gut health, all while leaving you vulnerable to even deadlier infections if you rely on them a lot.

Unfortunately, the list of non-antibiotic drugs that can affect your gut has grown sharply too (coming on the heels of a report that found metformin, a go-to drug for diabetes alters gut health).

Out of more than 1,000 drugs tested by researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, 24 percent affected the growth of at least one bacterial species in the human microbiome, according to a study appearing in Nature.

Overall, 250 out of 923 non-antibiotic drugs tested on 40 samples of selected species of human gut bacteria (including one species of Lactobacillus) altered their growth.

What’s more, 40 drugs affected at least 10 strains of gut bacteria, and 14 of them were previously unknown to have an antibacterial effect on gut bacteria. The most dramatic inhibitors of gut bacteria include these commonly prescribed medications:

  • Calcium-channel blockers that treat an array of conditions, from Raynaud’s to high blood pressure.
  • Antineoplastic drugs that treat cancer.
  • Antipsychotic drugs that treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

What concerns researchers the most?

“This shift in the composition of our gut bacteria contributes to drug side effects but might also be part of the drugs’ beneficial action,” says Peer Bork, according to a press release.

“This is scary, considering that we take many non-antibiotic drugs in our life, often for long periods,” says Nassos Typas. “Still, not all drugs will impact gut bacteria and not all resistance will be common. In some cases, resistance to specific non-antibiotics will trigger sensitivity to specific antibiotics, opening paths for designing optimal drug combinations.”

Since this study finds that individuals taking any prescription medications are inadvertently harming their gut health, they should consider taking EndoMune Advanced Probiotic to ensure their gut health isn’t being comprised by their prescribed medications.

aerial view of san antonio

Dr. Hoberman Speaks About Gut Health on SA Living

SA Living welcomed Dr. Hoberman, creator of EndoMune Probiotics, on the show to discuss the need people have for probiotics in their daily routine. Watch him discuss the benefits it delivers to your gut health and your overall health. The segment features the latest addition to EndoMune Probiotics, Metabolic Rescue. EMR is a unique blend of prebiotics and probiotics that support natural effective weight loss by boosting your metabolism and helping to curb your appetite.

downtown san antonio by the riverwalk

Dr. Hoberman Features EMR on Daytime at 9

Dr. Hoberman created EndoMune Probiotics when he discovered the need for a supplement that could help with stomach issues like gas, bloating, diarrhea, Irritable Bowl Syndrome, and constipation. Watch Dr. Hoberman speak about the benefits of adding a probiotic in your daily routine during San Antonio’s TV segment, Daytime at Nine. Dr. Hoberman discusses his latest addition to the EndoMune family, Metabolic Rescue. EMR is a unique blend of prebiotics and probiotics that supports natural effective weight loss by boosting your metabolism and helping curb your appetite. Watch the Daytime at Nine segment to learn more.

a woman getting ready to sneeze

How to Beat Allergy Season with Probiotics

No matter where you live, if the 2018 allergy season hasn’t started already, it will very soon for up to 30 percent of American adults and 40 percent of kids.

If you’re dealing with hay fever, one of the most common seasonal allergies around, you already know the routine. Exposure to outdoor or indoor allergens (not to mention strong chemical odors from cleaning products and perfumes or smoking) can trigger a stuffy or runny nose, which can lead to sneezing, upper respiratory congestion and fatigue.

Unfortunately, avoiding allergens in our polluted environment can only get you so far and taking medications can be a hit or miss.

Are you tired of the usual rounds of nasal sprays, antihistamines, decongestants, eye drops and allergy shots that only keep seasonal allergies at bay? Taking a probiotic may be a smarter solution to ease your allergy symptoms, according to research appearing in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

University of Florida researchers randomly split 173 healthy adults who suffered from seasonal allergies, either into a placebo group or a second one that was given a probiotic containing multiple species of beneficial bacteria.

(Two of the three bacteria species tested in this study included proprietary blends of Bifidobacterium bifidum and Bifidobacterium longum, key ingredients in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic. All three species were chosen based on their performance in previous studies and their ability to boost the immune system.)

During the eight-week research period – deliberately scheduled during the height of the spring allergy season — patients reported their symptoms regularly via online surveys and provided fecal samples to monitor any gut bacteria changes.

Those who took probiotics experienced improvements in their symptoms, including fewer allergy-related nasal problems. Plus, patients in the probiotic group reported far fewer problems with constipation too.

This isn’t the first time we’ve discussed the benefits of using a probiotic containing another EndoMune species (Lactobacillus casei) to combat hay fever naturally by supporting the body’s immune system.

There are plenty of reasons to take simple steps to prevent allergies from invading your home, even if you have to travel to and from your home outdoors at least once a day for work or to run errands.

That’s why taking a probiotic with multiple species of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic may be your best first step to protect your health during the coming allergy season.

Beat The Flu With Probiotics

If you and your family have stayed healthy throughout this latest flu season — one that many experts say may be one of the worst ever — consider yourselves lucky.

The huge majority of this year’s flu cases in America originates from the H3N2 strain, one that hit Australia hard last year, sending countless patients to hospitals and killing four times more people than the most recent five-year average for a flu season.

Also, treating the flu is very expensive for all of us, accounting for more than $27 billion annually in direct medical expenses and lost wages.

A very timely study appearing in Scientific Reports demonstrates how a single strain of beneficial bacteria may protect you from some of the worst symptoms of the influenza A virus and its many variations.

Scientists at Georgia State University treated mice with a proprietary strain of Lactobacillus casei (one of the 10 strains of beneficial bacteria used in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic) before infecting them with a lethal dose of the influenza A virus.

Surviving the flu

All of the mice that were treated with Lactobacillus casei survived their run-ins with influenza A, according to Dr. Sang-Moo Kang, lead study author and a professor at Georgia State’s Institute for Biomedical Sciences.

Among the survivors, their immune systems were strong enough to resist deadly primary and secondary strains of the flu and protect them from losing weight.

By comparison, the control mice that weren’t treated with Lactobacillus casei experienced severe weight loss within nine days after being infected with the flu, had 18 times more influenza virus in their tiny lungs and eventually died.

These results aren’t surprising, considering the findings of an older study that found treating patients with another proprietary strain of Lactobacillus after giving them a flu shot held onto a protective amount of the vaccine for at least four weeks.

Even if you hate getting a flu shot in the first place, there’s many simple steps you can take to boost your immune system, from washing your hands early and often with plain soap and water (no antibacterial soaps) to getting the right amount of sleep and staying hydrated.

Taking a multi-species probiotic with important strains of beneficial bacteria, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Junior Probiotic (for kids), can also be a safe and effective non-drug way to protect your family’s health from the flu too.

Smarter Babies, Better Gut Health

For the longest time, we’ve discussed the connection between the brain and gut, better known as the gut-brain axis, and how it affects an array of human health variables from emotions to protecting your baby’s brain.

That connection may also be responsible for higher levels of cognitive development in young babies, depending on the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut, according to research featured recently in Biological Psychiatry.

Smelly diapers

To assess the relationship between the gut and brain development, researchers at the University of North Carolina’s (UNC) School of Medicine studied fecal samples from 1-year-old babies. Those samples were analyzed then separated into one of three microbial communities.

A year later, that same group of infants was given a series of cognitive tests that measured their language, perception and motor skills.

Overall, babies with higher concentrations of the Bacteroides bacterial genus did the best on cognitive tests. Interestingly, babies with more diverse gut microbiomes didn’t perform as well, a big surprise to UNC scientists.

“We had originally predicted that children with highly diverse microbiomes would perform better – since other studies have shown that low diversity in infancy is associated with negative health outcomes, including type 1 diabetes and asthma,” says Dr. Rebecca Knickmeyer, a member of UNC’s Department of Psychiatry, according to a press release.

“Our work suggests that an ‘optimal’ microbiome for cognitive and psychiatric outcomes may be different than an ‘optimal’ microbiome for other outcomes.”

Gut-brain communication

Another interesting aspect of this study is the realization that the guts and the developing brains of babies may be communicating in very unique ways we’re just learning about every day, Dr. Knickmeyer says.

“That’s something that we are working on now, so we’re looking at some signaling pathways that might be involved. Another possibility is that the bacterial community is acting as a proxy for some other process that influences brain development – for example, variation in certain dietary nutrients.”

Another huge takeaway from this study in measuring the microbiomes of infants: Adult-like gut microbiome communities emerging at such an early age, implying that the ideal age in which to intervene would happen before age 1, says UNC grad student Alexander Carlson.

“Big picture: these results suggest you may be able to guide the development of the microbiome to optimize cognitive development or reduce the risk for disorders like autism which can include problems with cognition and language,” says Dr. Knickmeyer.

Although researchers were hesitant to speculate how probiotics may play a role, a severe imbalance of gut bacteria — specifically Lactobacillus reuteri — may be a trigger for autism, based on a recent study conducted at the Baylor College of Medicine.

These deficits, along with the exploding growth of babies being delivered via Cesarean section in America, puts the health of our most vulnerable at risk from the very beginning of their lives.

A targeted, non-drug solution like a probiotic, like EndoMune Junior Probiotic, may be a safe way to promote better gut health and smarter brains.

 

Protect Your Gut From Fatty Holiday Foods

Many of us can’t wait for the end of the year, if for no other reason than to satisfy our year-round cravings for eggnog, prime rib, dressing, pecan pie and other fatty holiday foods.

Eating those holiday foods in excess as many of us do during the season comes with an unhealthy price to pay in adding extra pounds, not to mention harming our gut.

A recent study featured in Cell Reports goes a long way toward describing how the gut may predict the damage you do to your body merely by eating excessive amounts of high-fat foods.

High-fat diets: No ho, ho, ho!

Previous studies have found that people eating the same high-fat diets — the major culprit in an array of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and stroke — react differently. Some may suffer from less or more problems than others.

Researchers fed genetically similar mice healthy foods and screened urine samples for compounds produced by their gut bacteria, establishing a baseline of healthy chemical profiles.

Once those same lab animals were switched to fatty foods, their tiny bodies reacted just like their human counterparts, with some becoming less tolerant to glucose (an early sign of diabetes) while others gained more weight.

Follow-up analyses of urine samples taken from mice after feeding them fatty foods changed too, predicting signs of unhealthy changes in weight, glucose and behavior.

In fact, the presence of one very popular chemical produced by the gut — trimethylene n-oxide (TMAO) — was a sign of glucose issues, not to mention heart disease.

“We tend to believe that obesity is caused by bad genes or by bad genes interacting with bad environment,” says Dr. Dominique Gauguier, a senior investigator on this study based in Paris, according to a press release.

“Our findings indicate that an organism’s gut microbiome can drive the adaptation to dietary challenges in the absence of genetic variation.”

These results are only the beginning, as researchers plan to embark on a larger, more in-depth clinical trial on 2,000 human patients that will go further toward forecasting how people react to differing diets and how gut health drives their overall health.

The long-term goal: Generating chemical profiles from urine and blood samples that may offer guidance on what diets are most supportive for a patient’s optimal health.

Until that comes…

What we do know right now is that maintaining a healthy balance of beneficial gut bacteria is critical in protecting your body from cardiovascular diseases like diabetes, based on the findings of a Danish study we’ve discussed previously.

That same study also found that patients who had less diverse gut microbiomes carried more fat on their bodies and experienced more inflammation in their digestive tracts, making them more vulnerable to cardiovascular diseases.

The holiday season is full of gatherings with friends, family and lots of fatty seasonal foods that can add inches and pounds to your waistline and disrupt the diversity of your gut in no time if you overindulge too often.

Keeping your portion sizes small and eating healthier foods rich in fiber can do a lot of good for your body and keep off those extra pounds.

Taking a multi-species probiotic, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic with 10 distinct species of beneficial bacteria, can also go a long way toward protecting the diversity of your gut and your overall health too.

Probiotics may Help Treat Peanut Allergies

Allergies to peanuts have become such a big problem for adults and kids — from diarrhea and hives to shortness of breath and life-threatening anaphylaxis — many people avoid them altogether.

Despite federal regulations that ensure packaged foods list the presence of the eight major food allergens, including peanuts, paying attention to the fine print on food labels (especially foods bought in bulk) and restaurant menus requires consumers to be constantly vigilant.

You may recall the results of an Australian study conducted at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) I posted a while back that found children taking probiotics containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus along with increasing amounts of peanut protein “trained” their immune systems to develop a tolerance to small amounts of peanuts without a problem.

Combining doses of Lactobacillus rhamnosus, one of the 10 strains of beneficial bacteria contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, with peanut protein would shift the body’s allergic response to one of tolerance, researchers said.

At the time, all but five of the 28 children who received this treatment consumed peanuts with few problems. So, would this protection to severe allergic symptoms last?

Commonly, the benefits of such therapies extend for a short time, and very few patients enjoy this protection over the long term, according to medical experts.

The results of follow-up research with 48 children from the previous study (featured recently in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health) were far better than many expected.

Two-thirds of the kids who were treated with probiotics four years ago and could eat peanuts safely back then were still able to do so.

Even better, more than half of those young patients in the probiotic group were eating 2 grams or more of peanuts at least once or twice a week.

“These children had been eating peanut[s] freely in their diet without having to follow any particular program of peanut intake in the years after treatment was completed,” says lead researcher Dr. Mimi Tang, according to a press release.

“The importance of this finding is that these children were able to eat peanut[s] like children who don’t have peanut [allergies] and still maintain their tolerant state, protected against reactions to peanut[s].”

Now, Australian researchers are hoping to duplicate these impressive results on a larger scale with a larger follow-up study already taking place, says Dr. Tang.

Still, rolling out an effective protocol for patients and doctors could take at least five years if not longer.

Until then, you’ll want to review my tips for avoiding peanut allergens and discuss any strategies to treat them with your family physician first.

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