antibiotics

A balanced gut may tame autism

Is medicine better able to spot signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or is the incidence of this challenging developmental disability actually growing?

It’s a question without a concrete answer…

Although the numbers remained stable from 2010 to 2012 according to the most recent CDC stats (2012), autism affects 1 in 68 children, and it’s some 450 percent more common among boys than girls.

Despite this lack of clarity, fortunately, researchers have identified a pretty common problem kids across the spectrum share: Gastrointestinal challenges that could be related to taking too many antibiotics, thus reducing their microbial diversity too early in their young lives.

A pair of recent studies highlighted the range of gut-based treatments that may soon tame the effects of autism.

 

Going the fecal transplant route

A research team from Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and Ohio State University experienced success treating a small group of 18 kids using fecal transplants, according to a study appearing in Microbiome.

Over 10 weeks, this young group of patients, ranging in age from 7-16, were treated with a bowel cleanse and two weeks of antibiotics, followed by daily fecal transplants for eight weeks.

The treatment regimen was effective, as it improved gastrointestinal symptoms by some 80 percent along with gut microbial diversity and calmed autistic behaviors by around 25 percent. And, that gut diversity held after treatments ended too.

But, there’s a couple of caveats to consider about this study too. For starters, there was no side-by-side placebo trial that would demonstrate if doing nothing made a difference too. That’s not a big deal.

The larger concerns, however, are the unintended consequences of having a fecal transplant in the first place, like receiving gut bacteria from someone who may be reasonably healthy but overweight then acquiring that same health problem.

Also, these risks can be especially tricky when patients attempt to take matters into their own hands by trying to replicate these treatments, a real problem researchers have acknowledged.

 

A dietary/probiotic solution?

The lack of diversity in the gut was important to another study, this time with mice bred to exhibit autism-like behaviors, according to a 2016 report by Baylor College of Medicine researchers appearing Cell.

Based on sequencing long strands of DNA, the offspring of mice moms fed high-fat diets were severely lacking in Lactobacillus reuteri in their guts by a factor of nine.

Restoring that balance lessened some autistic behaviors and boosted the production of oxytocin, a hormone that acts like a neurotransmitter in the brain and a facilitator of bonding

Researchers speculate this genus of Lactobacillus may provide a basis for treating human neurodevelopmental issues in the form of a probiotic.

Treating neurodevelopmental issues with a probiotic, ideally a product made of multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, certainly seems more ideal and much safer than taking drugs or undergoing treatments that may not yield the best results.

Could your gut be training your body to yo-yo diet?

Losing weight isn’t easy. It takes a lot of consistent effort in many areas — exercise, food choices, portion control, sleep, self-esteem are just a few — to do it the safe and right way.

Sadly, life often gets in the way and not every weight loss effort goes as planned. Sometimes, this can lead to weight cycling, better known as yo-yo dieting.

Although there’s no general consensus among medical experts whether repeatedly losing and regaining weight is bad, there are health consequences associated with yo-yo dieting, like coronary issues, extra stress and a slower metabolism.

A recent series of tests by a team of Israeli researchers pinpointed a potential cause for yo-yo dieting in a study appearing in Nature: A gut microbiome that changes when weight is lost, then exposed to high-fat foods again.

 

The experiments

As scientists studied mice, they discovered an important constant with yo-yo dieting: After one cycle of gaining and losing weight, every bodily system in their test subjects reverted to normal except for their microbiomes. For some six months after their weight loss, mice retained an “obese” microbiome.

“This persistent microbiome accelerated the regaining of weight when the mice were put back on a high-calorie diet or ate regular food in excessive amounts,” said lead researcher Dr. Eran Elinav of the Weizman Institute of Science in a press release.

No surprise, when researchers transplanted gut bacteria from obese mice into germ-free mice, they began to gain weight too when fed high-fat foods.

It was only when scientists bombarded obese mice with broad-spectrum antibiotics or gave them fecal samples from mice that had never been obese that the cycle stopped.

Those treatments may work for mice, but for humans, antibiotics have been a known enemy of gut health for a very long time and fecal transplants have unintended consequences that may do more harm than good.

However, scientists identified a pair of flavonoids, a diverse family of natural chemicals found in nearly all fruits and vegetables, that were in short supply among obese mice that would improve fat-burning.

When mice were fed flavonoids in their drinking water, their little bodies readjusted and didn’t experience accelerated weight gains, even when fed high-calorie diets.

 

Targeting the gut

Whether extra flavonoids will work on the guts of humans to prevent yo-yo weight gains is anyone’s guess. However, there’s one critical aspect of gut health that the Israeli study didn’t investigate.

Microbial diversity in the gut plays a vital role in protecting humans from all kinds of health issues, not to mention obesity. Unfortunately, our go-go-go lifestyles can make it difficult to eat at the right times, get enough exercise or follow a consistent sleep schedule.

That’s when taking a quality probiotic made with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic can make a big impact in protecting your health.

Antibiotics and the C. Diff Superbug

American doctors wrote some 266 MILLION prescriptions for antibiotics in 2014, according to the most recent numbers reported by the CDC. Simply put, for every 1,000 Americans, 835 prescriptions for antibiotics were written.

Those are amazing and frightening numbers…

Hovering near the top of the list of most prescribed antibiotics is Ciprofloxacin (better known as Cipro), part of the fluoroquinolone class of synthetic broad-spectrum drugs.

If Cipro sounds familiar, your doctor may have prescribed it (or Levaquin) at some point to treat a urinary tract infection, bronchitis or sinus infection.

(You may have also missed a recent FDA advisory urging doctors to dial back prescribing fluoroquinolones due to reports of disabling and permanent side effects to the central nervous system as well as joints, tendons and muscles.)

Superbugs = super-damage to human health

This deluge of antibiotics has done unintentional but very serious damage to the collective health of Americans, contributing to the epidemic of superbugs like Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections in hospitals.

Fighting C. diff has been a real headache for health care facilities that have already scrambled to update their cleaning protocols to eliminate the use of chemicals containing antibacterial compounds like triclosan to prevent healthcare associated infections (HAIs) from doing harm to patients who just want to get well and go home.

For a long time, hospitals and medical professionals assumed dirt and germs were at the root of the superbug epidemic.

So, how much of an impact do antibiotics really have in a hospital setting? Based on a recent study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, it’s much more than you’d expect given all of the attention to superbugs.

  1. diff rates dropped by a dramatic 80 percent only when the use of fluoroquinolone antibiotics like Cipro was restricted and used in targeted ways, according to the study of hospitals in the UK.

“These findings are of international importance because other regions such as North America, where fluoroquinolone prescribing remains unrestricted, still suffer from epidemic numbers of C. difficile infections,” said Dr. Derrick Crook, co-study author and professor of microbiology at the University of Oxford in a press release.

“Similar C. diff bugs that affected the UK have spread around the world, and so it is plausible that targeted antibiotic control could help achieve large reductions in C. diff infections in other countries,” says co-author Dr. Mark Wilcox.

Protect your health from antibiotic-associated infections

Apart from dispensing too many antibiotics, physicians and hospitals have another tool upon which they can rely to reduce the rate of antibiotic-associated infections like C. diff., according to a 2016 survey of studies published in the International Journal of General Medicine.

Giving adults and children probiotics reduced the risks of developing a C. diff infection by some 60 percent, particularly among patients recovering in a hospital.

Among the beneficial bacteria cited as beneficial in halting the spread of C. diff: Lactobacillus, among the active strains contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Junior.

Take care of your aging gut health

Nearly 45 million Americans — slightly more than 14 percent of our nation’s population — are 65 years or older, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging (AOA). Over the next 45 years, the AOA estimates the number of American seniors will explode, more than doubling to 98 million by 2060.

With so many heading to retirement now and in record numbers over the long term, it will become more important than ever for seniors to take steps to safeguard their gut health.

Changes in gut health among the elderly, spurred by taking many more medications (think antibiotics), eating poorly and moving a lot less frequently than before, can create more serious problems, like inflammatory bowel disease, cancer and diabetes.

A pair of recent studies — both substituting fruit flies for humans — tracked the progress of the aging gut and came up with mixed results on how to protect the gut.

Free radicals

In one study conducted by the Buck Institute For Research on Aging, scientists took factors like inflammation, impaired immune response, oxidative stress and the overgrowth of stem cells into account.

When a stress response gene (FOXO) is activated, this suppresses the action of a single class of molecules (PGRP-SCs) that regulate the immune response to bacteria, promoting an imbalance.

In turn, this imbalance triggers inflammation, including the production of free radicals that causes stem cells in the gut to over-proliferate in the gut, setting the stage for a possible pre-cancerous condition.

The good news: Increasing the expression of PGRP-SC limits the growth of stem cells and restores a good gut health balance.

Treating gut health with antibiotics?

In previous research conducted by UCLA scientists, fruit flies developed signs of leaky gut, a serious health condition that occurs when unintended substances seep through the vulnerable intestinal barrier and into the bloodstream, about six days before dying.

When fruit flies experience leaky gut, their immune response revs up strongly and chronically, causing health problems just like it does in humans.

In their latest research, however, UCLA scientists detected bacterial changes before leaky gut occurred, and gave some fruit flies antibiotics that prevented the age-related increases of gut bacteria and improved their gut health.

Seniors don’t need antibiotics!

While it’s not surprising antibiotics would reduce the amount of gut bacteria in fruit flies, we live in a world where we’re over-exposed to antibiotics, from the flesh foods we eat to the antibacterial soaps we use to wash our hands.

The deadly result of this over-exposure: Creating superbugs that resist all drugs, causing serious and untreatable diseases that kill a growing amount of Americans every year.

For many reasons, the best and safest way to protect your gut health, old or young, from harm is to take a probiotic, ideally a multi-strain product like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic that contains 10 strains of beneficial bacteria.

The colon cancer-antibiotics connection

Taking antibiotics over the course of your life often contributes to a number of health problems, including bacterial imbalances that deplete the “good” and “bad” bacteria in your gut.

A study presented at last year’s annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology concluded that long-term and repeated exposure to some antibiotics modestly may increase your risk of colon cancer.

Researchers used the Health Improvement Network, a large population-based database of patients in the United Kingdom, to access the records of colon cancer patients.

Overall, scientists compared the health of some 22,000 colon cancer patients to nearly 86,000 healthy patients over a six-year period, taking into account risk factors for colon cancer (smoking, obesity, alcohol consumption and diabetes). Then, they tracked the use of antibiotics for at least six months prior to a colon cancer diagnosis.

While there was no connection between anti-viral or anti-fungal drugs, there was a link to some antibiotics, including metronidazole, quinolones and penicillins. Exposure to those antibiotics increased a patient’s risk of colon cancer by up to 11 percent.

Of those antibiotics, exposure to penicillin proved to be the most problematic. The risk of colon cancer continued for patients taking antibiotics for up to a decade before their diagnosis. The possible cause, according to researchers: penicillin has an effect on gut bacteria.

“Certain bacteria might promote a pro-inflammatory environment,” co-investigator Dr. Yu-Xiao Yang said to ClinicalOncology News. “Others may alter or generate toxins that might potentially be carcinogenic or might transform certain dietary or intestinal content into carcinogenic components.

“Looking at what are more biologically plausible effects of antibiotics on colorectal cancer risk, we should be looking at longer-term exposure, or exposure in the more distant past.”

(One of the side effects connected with taking penicillin, according to the Mayo Clinic: A greater likelihood for people with stomach or intestinal diseases to develop colitis.)

The best thing you can do to protect the health of you and your family when antibiotics are prescribed: Take a probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic or EndoMune Advanced Junior (for kids). Probiotics with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune protect the healthy balance of bacteria in the gut.

Taking a probiotic about two hours after an antibiotic will reduce the risk of these drugs depleting the live, beneficial bacteria that protect your gut.

Another safety tip: Avoid using antibacterial soaps and personal hygiene products (body soaps, toothpaste and cosmetics) that contain triclosan, a broad-spectrum antimicrobial compound also linked to bacterial resistance.

Moms: Are you limiting your baby’s exposure to antibiotics?

When taken too often, antibiotics are harmful to gut health. Medical evidence proving such damaging effects has grown significantly over the past year.

The main hazards linked to taking too many rounds of antibiotics have centered on a growing vulnerability to Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections and obesity in adults.

Unfortunately, the harm antibiotics do to human health may start much earlier, during the early stages of childhood development—even before your baby is born—and may last for a lifetime, according to a pair of recent studies.

Reprogramming your baby’s gut health with antibiotics

Researchers at NYU’s Langone Medical Center studied the effect low doses of penicillin given over a lifetime would have on the health of mice in a study published in the medical journal Cell.

The big picture conclusion: Starting in the last week of pregnancy or during nursing, mice given low doses of penicillin were more vulnerable to metabolic abnormalities including obesity than animals exposed to antibiotics later in their lives.

In the main experiment, researchers compared the effect of penicillin on three groups of rodents: Two groups received penicillin—one before birth and the other later after weaning—then for the remainder of their short lives, while a third control group was given no antibiotics at all.

Both groups of mice that were fed penicillin had higher amounts of fat on their little bodies than the control group, but the womb group was the fattest, providing solid proof that mice were “more metabolically vulnerable if they get antibiotics earlier in life,” says Dr. Laura Cox, lead author of the study.

Not only did penicillin-treated mice carry twice as much fat compared those fed only high-fat food, but their bodies also showed signs of metabolic disorders.

Do antibiotics lessen the amount of gut bacteria? Not necessarily…

Scientists took another important step by transferring gut bacteria from penicillin-treated mice and those not given the antibiotic to antibiotic- and germ-free mice shortly after the time they would be weaned (three weeks old).

Mice given gut bacteria from donors treated with antibiotics were fatter than those treated with antibiotic-free gut bacteria.

Another interesting discovery made by NYC researchers during their study may have overturned a long-standing belief that antibiotics (at least penicillin) reduces the amount of gut bacteria contained in the body.

As a whole, gut bacteria didn’t decrease, but four very important strains did: Allobaculum, Candidatus, Arthromitus, member of the Rikenellaceae family and the very popular Lactobacillus (one of the key bacteria ingredients in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic).

These results reaffirm the work conducted by one of the most popular researchers in the field of gut health research, Dr. Martin Blaser, director of the NYU Human Microbiome Program and author of the book, Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics is Fueling Our Modern Plagues.

More evidence broad-spectrum antibiotics may trigger obesity

A more recent study appearing in JAMA Pediatrics gets to the heart of the problem: Health problems occur when exposing babies under age 2 and up to age 5 to broad-spectrum antibiotics.

Using electronic records spanning 2001-13 from a network of primary health clinics, scientists tracked the health of more than 64,000 children from birth to age 5. The numbers speak volumes:

  • Nearly 70 percent of all children were exposed to antibiotics more than twice on average before they reached age 2.
  • Young children who were exposed to all antibiotics or broad-spectrum antibiotics four or more times had a greater risk of obesity.
  • The prevalence of obesity or being overweight increased over time from 23 percent at age 2 to 33 percent at age 4.

One additional factoid from the study that’s worth noting: No link was found between obesity and prescribing children narrow-spectrum antibiotics, medicines that treat a more select group of bacterial types, according to the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (APUA).

However, broad-spectrum antibiotics can handle a greater number of bacterial types and are often prescribed to treat a wider variety of infectious diseases or when the source of the infection is unknown, according to APUA. Varieties of broad-spectrum antibiotics include some synthetic penicillins, quinolones and aminoglycosides.

Because infants are so very vulnerable to antibiotics, especially soon after they’re born, it’s important for moms to work with their family pediatricians to ensure their babies get the healthy start they need to avoid metabolic problems that could lead to lifelong ailments like obesity.

The good news: A multi-species probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Junior can give your baby’s health a much-needed boost by protecting the diversity of beneficial bacteria in their gut and strengthening their tiny but growing immune systems.

Can colon cancer be prevented with a probiotic?

Colon cancer is an equal opportunity killer in America, cutting across all racial and ethnic lines. Out of the nearly 600,000 cancer deaths predicted in 2014, colon cancer is the third leading cause for men and women, according to the American Cancer Society.

Until recently, most of the deaths linked to colon cancer were confined to Americans over age 50. However, recent findings showed a decline in cases among older patients and an alarming rise among younger patients ages 20-49.

If a predictive model holds true over the next two decades, colon cancer cases will rise by 90 percent among patients ages 20-34 and 28 percent among patients ages 35-49.

There are many ways to prevent colon cancer, ranging from the simple — consuming fewer processed meats, getting more exercise and taking a multi-vitamin — to the complex and problematic — taking an aspirin or Celebrex.

A growing number of studies have shown gut health may be the key to avoiding colon cancer altogether, giving rise to the belief that taking a probiotic and fewer antibiotics may be one more way to treat this non-discriminating killer.

Microbial imbalances lead to cancer

A study conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan and Baylor College of Medicine may have settled the fact that microbial imbalances contribute to colon cancer once and for all.

Scientists came to this conclusion after exposing healthy mice to fecal matter from cancerous animals. Mice that were exposed to fecal matter from cancerous animals doubled the likelihood they would develop tumors, compared to similar matter from disease-free animals.

Interventions via antibiotics reduced the number and size of tumors in mice significantly, leading scientists to suggest that taking a probiotic may prevent changes in the gut microbiome that trigger the development of colon cancer.

More bad bugs than good bugs

The delicate balance between the good and bad gut bacteria was clearly implicated as a cause for colon cancer in a recent Journal of the National Cancer Institute study.

After comparing the DNA composition of intestinal microbes in stool samples of 94 healthy patients to 47 colon cancer patients, scientists discovered cancer patients had more fusobacteria, organisms found in the mouth and gastrointestional tract that are associated with gut inflammation.

Colon cancer patients were also more likely to be depleted of clostridia, beneficial bacteria that helps your gut digest carbohydrates and dietary fiber better.

Bad bacteria vs. your genes

New research featured in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found the incidence of colon cancer may be dictated by more than genetics.

Although colon cancer can occur when healthy cells undergo genetic alterations, specific kinds of this disease may also happen in specific locations in the intestine, suggesting non-genetic causes.

Researchers came to this conclusion when they stopped the development of polyps in mice, altering their gut bacteria by giving them antibiotics. As we know, however, antibiotics may create as many health problems as they solve.

Although more studies will be needed to identify which bacteria triggered colon cancer, scientists suspect non-genetic factors may contribute too. “In addition to genetic changes, various lifestyle-related factors, such as obesity and diet, have been linked to colorectal cancer,” said lead researcher Dr. Sergio Lira.

“Some of these lifestyle factors appear to affect the types of bacteria present in the gut. Ultimately, understanding the interplay between genetic mutations, gut microbes and inflammation may lead to novel diagnostics and therapies for intestinal cancer.”

Unfortunately, the health complications linked with antibiotics — namely obesity — if you take them too often can create their own set of undesirable problems.

The good news: Improving your gut health is as easy as following a better diet and taking a daily probiotic made from multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.

Prescribed Antibiotics? Do This

Antibiotics can be effective pharmaceutical weapons that treat a myriad of infections. As of late, however, antibiotics have received a lot of attention from medical experts for all the wrong reasons.

A growing number of medical reports have concluded exposing your body to too many antibiotics may be more hazardous than helpful, triggering a greater number of Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections that can be severe and even deadly.

C. diff infections cause nearly 14,000 deaths annually, with 90 percent involving people age 65 and older. Medical experts say patients who have taken antibiotics very recently are at the highest risk of contracting them.

Don’t take antibiotics for every health problem

Taking an antibiotic for one health problem like a sinus infection may destroy the balance of healthy bacteria in your gut, causing the bad bugs to proliferate and trigger new problems like diarrhea that can vary from mildly annoying to life-threatening.

What’s more, you don’t have to take a drug to be exposed to antibiotic-related health problems. The overuse of antibiotics on food animal production has grown significantly, to the degree that some of these drugs have been used to treat human diseases, creating the opportunity for antibiotic-resistant infections.

The problem with overusing antibiotics has gotten so out of hand that the FDA has implemented a plan to phase out the use of some antibiotics used on farm animals to enhance their growth or improve feed efficiency.

The good news: Taking a probiotic, especially when you’ve been prescribed an antibiotic, can make all the difference in protecting the ideal balance of bacteria in your gut and your health.

Take a probiotic to maintain your body’s healthy bacterial balance

Taking a probiotic with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria, like EndoMune, is the easiest and safest way to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria for good gut health.

The best time to take a probiotic: A two-hour delay between taking an antibiotic and probiotic will reduce the risk of the former depleting the live, beneficial bacteria that protect your gut health.

Also avoid antibacterial soaps and other products (cosmetics, body washes and toothpaste) containing triclosan, a broad-spectrum antimicrobial compound linked to bacterial-resistance problems in Midwestern streams and rivers.

10 ways to treat acne naturally

Are you fighting acne without success? A survey of websites about acne lists countless ways to beat it. Unfortunately, many treatments involve taking drugs like the controversial Accutane or antibiotics that have been so overprescribed they often disrupt the healthy balance of gut bacteria that can lead to diarrhea.

The good news, however, is that there are many effective ways to treat and prevent the spread of acne. What follows are 10 completely safe natural acne treatments.

  1. Keep your hair cut and off your face. Because your hair contains oils that contribute to acne breakouts, keep your hair off your face. Washing your hair every day and after workouts is also recommended.
  2. Apply honey on acne for a quick fix. Honey is a natural antibacterial that’s used in many facial products. But, if you want to eliminate a pimple in a hurry, there’s nothing like applying a dab of real honey on it then putting on a Band-Aid before going to bed. By the following morning, the pimple should be a lot smaller, if it isn’t gone.
  3. Don’t touch your face. You probably aren’t aware how often you touch your face, scratch your nose or lick your fingertips with your lips before turning the page of a book. This doesn’t account for the all the unclean surfaces you touch, including germs on your cell phone, either. Since touching your face at some point during the day is unavoidable, washing your hands often with soap (a non-antimicrobial product is better for your health), and hot water is a safe and easy solution.
  4. Wash your pillowcases regularly. You spend a good portion of your day in a resting position with your face planted on a pillowcase that absorbs the oils and dirt your face has accumulated. Give your face a rest by changing the pillowcases on your bed at least every other day.
  5. Ice it down. When you first notice a pimple, put an ice cube in a plastic bag and place it on the infected area at least twice each day for no more than five minutes at a time. The icy cold reduces inflammation and eases the redness.
  6. Don’t squeeze! Probably the worst thing you can do – picking at or squeezing your pimples – breaks membranes below the skin, thus increasing sebum production and spreading it underneath your skin.
  7. Do you need all that makeup? Using makeup is one more way to clog your pores. If wearing makeup is important to you, be sure to use water-based products, and wash them off your face when your day is done.
  8. Reduce the extra rubbing of your skin with plastic or synthetic fibers. Although we assume acne as being just a problem on your face, it can creep up anywhere. One form, acne mechanica, is caused by friction, pressure or heat applied to the skin or when skin isn’t exposed to air (playing an musical instrument, carrying a backpack or wearing athletic equipment are good examples). What we assume is a rash due to constantly rubbed skin is really acne.
  9. Sweating cleans the pores of your face. Have you incorporated exercise into your daily routine? Working up a good sweat improves your emotional health, and beats the stress that can disturb the healthy balance of intestinal bacteria. This imbalance over-stimulates the immune system that can contribute to skin inflammation and trigger acne.
  10. Take a multi-species probiotic every day. When people experience acne due to the aforementioned imbalance that over-stimulates the immune system, many doctors prescribe a topical or oral antibiotic. However, the overprescribing of antibiotics have led to undesirable side effects, including a disruption in the body’s healthy balance of good and bad bacteria causing unwelcome side effects like diarrhea. Not only can taking a multi-species probiotic replenish the healthy balance of bacteria in your body, it can lessen gastrointestinal problems and reduce the inflammation that triggers acne safely and naturally.

We hope these 10 tips help you cure acne naturally!

How and when to take a probiotic

Apart from understanding the many reasons why you should take a good probiotic—ideally with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria—an important part of maintaining optimal gut health is knowing when to take them.

The short answer: It depends on a number of factors, taking into account the health of the patient and his or her age.

For healthy adults, we suggest taking a probiotic like EndoMune Advanced on an empty stomach about a half an hour before eating your morning meal to boost your immune system and promote optimal gut health.

For children under age 8 taking a children’s probiotic in a powdered form like EndoMune Junior, mix it with a noncarbonated liquid or formula or sprinkled on soft foods before or with a meal once a day. This will reduce the amount of colic they experience and support the development of regular bowel movements, among many other benefits.

Some health experts advise not taking a probiotic after a meal, as that is when stomach acid is typically at its highest. In fact, one study found very low levels of beneficial bacteria survived when a probiotic was taken after a meal.

Many patients start taking probiotics when they’re sick, sometimes after taking an antibiotic. The bad news about antibiotics: Taking one for a single health problem like bronchitis may also destroy the healthy bacteria in your gut, causing the bad bugs to proliferate and trigger residual problems like diarrhea that can vary from mildly annoying to seriously life-threatening.

The optimal time to take a probiotic in those situations: Leaving a space of two hours between taking a probiotic and antibiotic will lower the risk of the latter destroying the live and beneficial probiotic bacteria that preserve and protect your gut health.

It’s also a good idea to consult with your doctor when he or she prescribes an antibiotic about taking a probiotic to preserve the healthy balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut.

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