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Cute vector graphic of a smiling gut. Large intestine shapes the head of character with a smiling face in the center. Text reads "Prebiotics 101: Why prebiotics are important

Prebiotics 101

Prebiotics: Food For Your Gut and More

We talk so much about the benefits of probiotics that it’s worth reminding you how important prebiotics — the unsung heroes of good gut health — really are.

Made of non-digestible plant fibers and carbohydrates, prebiotics are known best for being the food that feeds the good bacteria in your gut.

But that’s not all they do…

We’ve shared previous reports about the importance of prebiotics in protecting your bones, getting a good night’s sleep and even fighting cancer.

Prebiotics may do even more good behind the scenes than we ever imagined, thanks to an international research team who recently developed a non-invasive diagnostic imaging tool using bioluminescence, a chemical reaction that produces light inside the body.

 

See What They Found!

That research team, led by scientists at the University of Missouri, tested the tool (an easy-to-swallow capsule) that measures levels of bile salt hydrolase, a naturally occurring enzyme in the gut, in fecal samples from mice and humans.

This is critical because higher bile salt hydrolase levels have been shown to be indicators of excellent gut health and low levels of inflammation, according to previous studies.

The good news: “We show for the first time that certain types of prebiotics alone are capable of increasing bile salt hydrolase activity of the gut microbiome,” says Dr. Elena Goun, an associate professor at the University of Missouri.

Among the prebiotics monitored with this new tool, fructooligosaccharides (FOS) was responsible for noticeable increases in Bifidobacterium species and bile salt hydrolase levels in mice compared to inulin, another prebiotic derived from chicory root and other sources.

FOS are chains of plant sugars derived from whole foods like bananas, blue agave, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes and asparagus, and you don’t need to consume a lot of it to make a gut healthy difference.

Thanks to FOS, you can make a prebiotic difference and maintain the healthy balance of bacteria in your gut by taking a prebiotic-probiotic combo with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.

 

References

Nebraska Medicine

Science Advances

University of Missouri

Healthline

Father holding an infant in a brightly lit room. Text says "Antibiotics For Babies: Proceed with Caution"

Antibiotics For Babies: Proceed With Caution

Early Antibiotics May Harm Your Baby’s Gut

When we discuss the overuse of antibiotics, it’s usually focused on adults who rely on them too often to treat health problems that would be resolved in time on their own.

This over-reliance can often mean these one-time “miracle drugs” may not work when they’re truly necessary, and create openings for more health problems down the road.

Few of us expect babies to be exposed to antibiotics so early, but we recently learned how often they’re prescribed — even once — for little ones under age 2 may increase the possibility of food allergies, obesity and many more health challenges.

What’s more, little good happens when infants are treated with antibiotics during their first week of life, according to a recent report in Nature Communications.

 

Too Much Exposure To Antibiotics

Experts estimate as many as 10 percent of all newborns are prescribed an antibiotic and that doctors justify them based on “suspected” infections.

This overprescribing is justified by some doctors to prevent a problem they suspect could happen and get serious in a hurry, although a small number of babies ultimately experience an infection.

With those facts in mind, a team of researchers from the UK and The Netherlands conducted a clinical trial involving 227 babies to observe how antibiotics would affect their tiny microbiomes.

Nearly 150 babies with “suspected” sepsis were treated by one of three antibiotics, with the remainder were part of a control group who received no antibiotics. All babies had fecal or rectal samples taken before and after treatments at 1, 4 and 12 months of age.

Among the infants who were prescribed an antibiotic, the harmful effects were obvious.

  • Babies experienced significant decreases in various species of Bifidobacterium, microbes that help them better digest breast milk and support their good gut health.
  • Scientists observed a change in more than 250 strains of bacteria in the guts of babies, flipping the balance in favor of more unhealthy harmful microbes.
  • Those microbial changes lasted at least 12 months and did not improve with breastfeeding.
  • Among the antibiotics prescribed, the combination of penicillin and gentamicin was the least detrimental on a newborn’s microbiome.

The start of antibiotic treatment, not its duration, appears to be trigger for gut health problems, says researcher Dr. Marlies van Houten, a pediatrician at the Spaarne Hospital in The Netherlands.

 

A Probiotic In Your Baby’s Future?

The evidence is clear that antibiotics are prescribed way too often, and breastfeeding may not restore the developing microbiomes of infants, so what are your options?

Should an antibiotic be necessary, we recommend talking to your pediatrician about giving your baby a probiotic with multiple species of beneficial bacteria that can boost the critical balance of bugs in their tiny microbiomes.

If you’re looking for a probiotic with the right made for your baby, consider EndoMune Jr. Powder formulated with 10 billion CFUs of beneficial bacteria from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families plus a prebiotic that feeds their developing microbiome.

Just a half-teaspoon of EndoMune Jr. sprinkled in your baby’s formula or added to soft foods (when your baby is ready for them) once a day can make a gut-healthy difference!

 

Resources

Nature Communications

University of Edinburgh

Medscape

Vector illustration of the large intestine. Text on image reads "Could Your Gut Be Hiding IBS?"

Could Your Gut Be Hiding IBS?

Could Your Gut Be Hiding IBS?

Gastroenterologists diagnose more patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) than any other gut-health condition.

But that familiarity doesn’t always mean more clarity, which can be more problematic given the three most common subtypes of IBS: IBS-C (constipation), IBS-D (diarrhea) or IBS-A (a mix of diarrhea and constipation).

A recent study appearing in the journal Gut may shed new light on the roots of IBS, especially for those dealing with diarrhea symptoms from IBS-D.

Bacteria In Hiding

The culprit is Brachyspira, a bacterial “family” composed of seven different invasive species. Two of those seven species harm humans and trigger diarrhea, abdominal pain and weight loss.

The fascinating part of this study was how researchers at the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) actually found samples of Brachyspira while comparing the gut health of 62 IBS patients with 31 healthy volunteers.

Fecal samples are often the most direct and easiest approach used by scientists to examine gut health issues, yet samples collected in the study provided no evidence of the sickening bacteria.

Brachyspira was eventually found “hiding” in biopsies of colonic tissues collected from nearly a third of the IBS patients tested, but not in biopsies of healthy patients. What’s more, patients infected with Brachyspira primarily suffered from IBS-D.

Antibiotics Are No Answer

So, scientists took the next step in the process to determine if they could treat IBS-D patients with a common weapon: Antibiotics. Patients were instructed to take 500 mg doses of the antibiotic metronidazole three times a day for two weeks.

Yet, antibiotics didn’t eradicate the problem due to more “hiding” by Brachyspira inside intestinal cells, according to Dr. Karolina Sjöberg Jabbar.

“This appears to be a previously unknown way for bacteria to survive antibiotics, which could hopefully improve our understanding of other infections that are difficult to treat.”

The Next Step

These unusual findings have left researchers curious about the connections between IBS and Brachyspira, and open to non-drug treatments that may be more effective, like probiotics.

Probiotics are proven, versatile tools for treating diarrhea and shortening its duration, maintaining the motility in your intestines that eases constipation and always keeping your gut-brain axis in balance.

When you’re looking for a good probiotic, make sure this supplement is formulated with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families, along with a prebiotic to give your gut as much help for treating IBS.

EndoMune Advanced Probiotic covers all of the bases on your checklist to treat IBS safely and effectively and restoring the healthy balance of bacteria in your gut.

References

Gut

University of Gothenburg

ScienceDirect

WebMD

Nutraingredients

Senior african american woman smiling and looking up and away from camera. Overlaid text on image reads "The Aging Gut 101: Healthy Aging, Healthy Gut

The Aging Gut 101

The Aging Gut 101: Healthy Aging, Healthy Gut

“Does my gut age just like the rest of me?”

We get this question a lot, especially from older folks who are starting to understand the connection between the gut and their health in ways that matter directly to them, like maintaining their bones and preserving their cognitive skills.

The simple answer: The composition of bacteria in your gut evolves with time just like your body. Your microbiome develops rapidly from infancy to age 3, stabilizes through middle age, then changes rapidly later in life, according to the National Institute on Aging.

Those changes can be a good thing. In fact, the more your gut bacteria evolves as you age, the better your overall health may be, based on recent research appearing in Nature Metabolism.

Your Evolving Gut

This study compared a wealth of data on human health along with gut microbiome genetic sequencing data on more than 9,000 patients ranging from ages 18-101.

However, the real focus of the research team (led by scientists at the Institute for Systems Biology) was a subset of more than 900 older patients (ages 78-98) to better understand the makeup of their microbiomes and how they matched up with their overall health.

To the good, older adults whose microbiomes kept evolving enjoyed better overall health, as evidenced by lower levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, higher vitamin D levels and more beneficial blood metabolites produced by the gut (including one that reduced inflammation and extended lives in previous animal studies).

Not only did those with more unique microbiomes feel better, they experienced greater overall mobility and could walk faster than their peers whose gut health didn’t change as much with age.

To the bad, patients with less diverse microbiomes took more medications and were nearly twice as likely to die during the course of the study.

Scientists also learned that microbiome uniqueness was more prevalent among women, which may go a long way toward explaining why women often outlive men…

Your Diet Matters

So, what drives microbial evolution and longevity among seniors? The healthiest patients with the most dramatic shifts in their microbiomes experienced steep drops in Bacteroides, a species commonly found in people who eat more processed foods and far less fiber.

When patients eat less fiber, the Bacteroides in their guts have little to eat which can trigger an immune response leading to chronic inflammation and an array of age-related conditions from arthritis to heart disease.

These results certainly mirror previous articles we’ve shared about the many health benefits of dietary fiber, especially if you want to maintain a resilient, healthy gut microbiome that evolves as you age.

How much fiber your body needs every day to maintain optimal health depends on your gender — men need a bit more (31-38 grams) than women (21-25 grams) — and the quality of your diet.

Are You Taking A Probiotic?

If you’re having challenges getting enough fiber, taking a daily probiotic formulated with proven strains of beneficial bacteria and a prebiotic can do a lot of good.

Taking a probiotic with a prebiotic may also reduce low-grade inflammation. This was the key finding in a recent review of studies appearing in Nutrients.

One of the real benefits of taking a probiotic comes from the production of butyrate (short-chain fatty acids created when your gut digests soluble fiber) that reduces chronic low-grade inflammation in your gut.

If you’ve been looking for a good probiotic, find one with multiple strains of beneficial and proven bacteria from the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus families plus a prebiotic that feeds the good guys in your gut, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.

Resources

National Institute on Aging

Nature Metabolism

New York Times

Gut Microbiota For Health

Nutrients

Nutraingredients Asia

Photo of a girl's face with acne. Text reads :Acne & Probiotics

Probiotics May Relieve Acne Outbreaks

Acne and Probiotics

No matter how common it is, acne can be a very touchy and painful subject for people of all ages.

Although acne often arises during the teenage years of raging hormones, it can happen at any stage of life, as we’ve seen with the dramatic rise in maskne during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Medical experts estimate 80 percent of us will experience at least one form of acne by age 30, while others never develop it until they reach adulthood.

While hormones typically drive acne, other variables like clothing, menstrual cycles, high humidity, oily or greasy personal care products and some medications can trigger or worsen acne breakouts.

Depending on the severity of acne, treatments range from non-prescription creams and washes applied topically, all the way to tetracycline antibiotics (minocycline and doxycycline) that can disrupt the healthy balance of bacteria in your gut.

Let’s take a quick look at some findings that link the health of your gut microbiome to your skin.

 

The Gut-Skin Connection In Action

Medical science appears to be catching on to the gut-skin connection based on the growing number of studies comparing acne problems to common gut health issues. For example:

  • Patients suffering from acne vulgaris (a condition in which hair follicles are blocked by dead skin cells, oil and bacteria) and eczema (a condition that makes your skin itchy and red) are experiencing alarming decreases in beneficial bacteria.
  • The prevalence of antibiotic resistance among patients that makes these drugs far less effective over time is a very real problem.
  • Eating a Western diet full of carbs, fiber-poor processed foods and sugar may harm your gut and your skin.
  • The incidence of irritable bowel syndrome was found to be significantly more common among patients suffering from acne vulgaris, according to the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.

These are just a few of the breadcrumbs that clearly point in the direction of a real gut-skin link, but what about a solution that’s safe for your skin and microbiome?

 

Probiotics To The Rescue

Extensive reports from Microorganisms, Frontiers in Microbiology, Experimental Dermatology and the Journal of Clinical Medicine point to evidence that treating skin conditions like acne with oral probiotics can be effective.

The common link: The oral probiotics tested successfully in these studies were formulated with strains from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families, including some of the proven strains contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Junior Advanced Chewable Probiotic.

We recognize that there’s much work still to be done to build a bigger base of knowledge to really understand the hows and whys, but the evidence seems clear to us that taking a probiotic with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune can be good for your gut and your skin.

 

Resources

Vector graphic of a large intestine next to a magnifying glass hovering a vector image of the coronavirus molecular structure. Text reads "Long Covid: Gut bacteria (Im)balances May Affect Your Risk

The Connection Between Gut Health and Long Covid

Long COVID: Gut Bacteria (Im)Balances May Affect Your Risks

Although most patients who contract the coronavirus recover within weeks, some COVID symptoms persist for some people long after an initial bout with the disease.

A study appearing late last year in Nature Communications estimates about 7 percent of patients infected with COVID-19 experienced at least one Long COVID symptom six months later.

Common symptoms of Long COVID include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Joint and chest pain
  • Cognitive challenges
  • Fatigue and brain fog
  • Insomnia

As time goes on, the more modern medical science is learning how the gut plays an increasingly important role in protecting or harming your health.

So far, we’re seen how some key variables come into play with COVID-19 in relation to your microbiome, like how you manage your diet and stress levels which help you maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria.

Failing to protect a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut may also increase your risks of developing Long COVID many months after your initial run-in with the coronavirus, according to a recent report in the medical journal, Gut.

Gut Dysbiosis And Long COVID

A group of Chinese researchers examined the gut health of 106 COVID patients hospitalized over a six-month period in 2020 to 68 healthy patients by using stool samples to monitor any links to Long COVID.

More than three-quarters of patients participating in the study reported symptoms of Long COVID, with fatigue, brain fog, hair loss, anxiety and sleep problems among the most common challenges at the six-month mark.

Yet, despite no significant differences in common risk factors (age, pre-existing conditions or the use of antibiotics), a majority who suffered from Long COVID symptoms a half-year later experienced gut dysbiosis, meaning they had a less diverse mix of gut bacteria.

In fact, the overall makeup of gut bacteria among patients with Long COVID included 81 harmful species. For example, some harmful species from the Streptococcus and Clostridium families were linked to persistent respiratory problems.

Overall, the gut microbiomes of sick patients who didn’t develop Long COVID were similar to those who never contracted COVID at all.

What You Can Do

For the foreseeable future, Long COVID is here to stay and scientists are searching for answers. However, there are steps you can take to protect and strengthen your immune health and make that run-in with COVID a shorter, more uneventful one if it happens.

We already know that the lack of balance in the gut microbiome for COVID patients is a real problem and how these imbalances can show up in your blood. What’s more, just like the previous study, the depletion of key bacterial species associated with boosting immunity really matters.

For starters, cleaning up your diet (cutting out the sugar), starting some form of daily movement and working on a better sleep schedule can do a lot of good.

One more important thing you can do to give your immune system a direct boost: Take a probiotic formulated with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, uniquely fortified with 10 strains of beneficial bacteria from the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus families.

 

Resources

BMJ

Gut

Mayo Clinic

Bloomberg

Inverse

Medical News Today

Nature Communications

Illustrated graphic of a head next to a brain, digestive system, and supplements. Text reads "Mild Cognitive Impairment: Your Gut, Your Brain and Probiotics"

The Microbiome’s Effect On Mild Cognitive Impairment

Mild Cognitive Impairment: Your Gut, Your Brain and Probiotics

Given our existing knowledge of the gut-brain axis — the connection that links your intestines, emotions, and brain — it was only time before modern science would examine how the microbiome and human mind work together in other ways.

Lately, a growing number of researchers are studying the effect of the microbiome on mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a stage between the typical cognitive decline due to normal aging and dementia.

Nearly a fifth of people age 60 or older live with MCI, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Generally, the cognitive shifts associated with MCI are noticeable, but don’t limit a patient’s ability to do daily tasks.

Fortunately, MCI doesn’t always lead to Alzheimer’s and cognitive changes may improve in time and, occasionally, it can be misdiagnosed due to a drug side effect.

Based on what we’ve learned from a pair of recent studies, the health of the human gut may provide some clues about MCI and a possible treatment with the help of probiotics.

 

The Bad News: Gut Bacteria Imbalances

One of the first signs of trouble with gut health are imbalances in the microbiome. Based on a comparative analysis of fecal samples, a group of Chinese researchers spotted noticeable differences in gut bacteria between healthy patients and those with MCI in a study appearing in the Journal of Immunology Research.

On the plus side, MCI patients had significantly more of some strains from the Staphylococcus genus than the healthy controls. That may be problematic, given that another Staphylococcus strain has been linked to neurodegeneration, a deterioration of neuronal structures leading to cognitive problems and dementia.

On the minus side, those with MCI had reduced levels of Bacteroides strains, in line with previous research connecting them to Alzheimer’s. In fact, Chinese scientists recommended that these Bacteroides strains could be used as potential microbiome markers for MCI or Alzheimer’s.

 

The Good News: Probiotics

Fortunately, there may be a silver lining to all of this bad gut bacteria news with the help of a probiotic.

Japanese researchers compared the effect of a probiotic formulated with a proprietary strain of Bifidobacterium breve to a placebo on 80 healthy older MCI patients in a Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease report.

(Bifidobacterium breve is one of the 10 strains of beneficial bacteria contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.)

After both MCI groups took a probiotic or placebo for 16 weeks, researchers measured cognitive functions with a battery of standard tests.

No surprise, patients who took a probiotic achieved significantly higher scores in relation to immediate memory, visuospatial functioning (tasks like buttoning a shirt, assembling furniture or making a bed), and delayed memory.

These studies are merely the beginning of many as science looks to stem the tide of memory issues that surface with MCI and measure how well non-drug therapies like probiotics will perform in the real world.

One thing is certain: Taking a daily probiotic, especially a multi-species product like EndoMune supports your gut-brain axis, improves your mood, alleviates stress and helps you get the restful sleep your body needs naturally, safely, and without a drug.

 

References

Alzheimer’s Association

Journal of Immunology Research

NutraIngredients USA

Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease

Medical News Today

Text: Beat Antibiotic Associated Diarrhea with Probiotics

Treat Diarrhea With Probiotics

Beat Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea With Probiotics

The impact antibiotics have on human health and our gut is one of the most important things modern medicine has learned over the past 20 years.

Antibiotics remain effective tools that treat many problems, but relying on them too often creates additional health complications.

Even when they’re used properly, antibiotics are disruptive to the healthy balance of bacteria in the human gut, spurring antibiotic-associated diarrhea, a very common problem that affects roughly 1 out of every 5 patients.

Fortunately, modern medicine has embraced the important role probiotics play in protecting the healthy balance of bacteria in the human gut, the center of our immune system.

What’s more, probiotics are a safe, effective treatment for antibiotic-associated diarrhea, according to a study recently published in the health journal Nutrients.

 

The Bifidobacterium Way

Scientists from the University of Maryland and Georgetown University examined the benefits of a proprietary blend of Bifidobacterium lactis on 42 patients who were given amoxicillin-clavulanate, a common antibiotic.

Scientists from the University of Maryland and Georgetown University assigned 38 healthy patients to eat a daily serving of yogurt containing Bifidobacterium lactis for two weeks, along with a standard, week-long regimen of the common antibiotic, amoxicillin-clavulanate.

(Bifidobacterium lactis is one of 10 strains of beneficial bacteria contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Junior Advanced Chewable Probiotic.)

An additional 18 patients were assigned to a control group who ate the daily yogurt minus the probiotic bacteria for two weeks while also taking the antibiotic for a week.

No surprise, patients who took a probiotic had a healthier balance of bacteria in their guts than those assigned to a placebo, but how?

For one, patients assigned the placebo had significantly lesser amounts of the short-chain fatty acid acetate, a metabolite produced by gut bacteria, than those taking a probiotic. In fact, acetate levels among patients in the probiotic group more rapidly returned to normal by day 30.

Additionally, researchers cited the benefits of taking a probiotic the very same day they started their seven-day course of antibiotics.

“Starting the probiotic as early as possible, before the antibiotic symptoms have progressed, may result in a greater opportunity for the probiotic mechanisms to be expressed and may ultimately lead to more beneficial clinical outcomes,” says study co-author Dr. Daniel Merenstein of the Georgetown University School of Medicine.

 

Follow Your Antibiotic Protocol!

The results of this study were so impressive and positive, the National Institutes of Health plan to fund a follow-up study to determine the best time to take a probiotic.

Luckily, if you follow our blog regularly, you may already have an antibiotic protocol in place, so you already know what to do!

The important thing to remember: Give yourself a two-hour break between a probiotic — ideally one with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune — and an antibiotic to give those beneficial bacteria some extra time to do their work.

 

Resources

Nutrients

University of Maryland School of Medicine

Oregon State University

Mayo Clinic

Drugs.com

 

 

Illustration of a gut, a heart, and a brain all connected by a dotted line. Text: The Gut's connection to stroke

The Gut Connection to Stroke

The Gut Connection to Stroke

Many of you know about the connection between poor diets rich in fats, red meat and processed foods and the cluster of problems that trigger metabolic syndrome.

Conditions such as high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and extra body weight around the waist are manageable on their own. That is, until they manifest as a group leading to metabolic syndrome.

When they do, your risks of even more serious cardiovascular problems, like stroke, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, escalate dramatically.

Did you know the gut has a direct connection to metabolic syndrome and poor cardiovascular health? This may increase your chances of a severe stroke and other serious health problems afterward?

Here’s how…

 

The TMAO Problem

When we consume foods or drinks high in choline (red meat, eggs, high-fat dairy products) and L-carnitine (red meat and some energy drinks), our gut bacteria breaks them down into trimethylamine (TMA).

Then, TMA is converted by the liver to TMAO (trimethylene N-oxide), a metabolite that has been linked to the narrowing or obstruction of arteries and increases in blood clots, leading to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic have spent more than a decade examining how the gut microbiome affects our cardiovascular health with findings that have yielded significant insights about TMAO.

A recent Cleveland Clinic study determined the dual presence of elevated TMAO and choline was enough to produce, not only strokes of greater size and severity, but more challenging post-stroke functional impairments.

Scientists came to these conclusions after transplanting fecal samples from human patients with high or low levels of TMAO into germ-free mice.

Over the course of the study, animals receiving fecal transplants with higher levels of TMAO had more of it in their bloodstreams and experienced more extensive brain damage in multiple stroke models as well as greater post-stroke motor and cognitive deficits.

What’s more, the presence of bacteria containing CutC, a key enzyme related to choline that drives TMAO production in the gut, was enough to more than double stroke severity and worsened functional outcomes by as much as 30 percent.

 

What You Can Do About It

Based on our previous article about the problems associated with the Paleo Diet, a diet focused on more meat or Western diet staples like highly processed foods, creates the ideal environment for bad gut bacteria that generate unhealthy amounts of TMAO and lessen the impact of beneficial bacteria.

Fortunately, there’s some easy steps you can take to protect your gut and cardiovascular health from harm. For starters, increasing your intake of dietary fiber by just 1 ounce (30 grams) in your diet can help you lose weight and reduce your cardio risks.

Besides adding more fiber to your diet, taking a probiotic fortified with multiple strains of beneficial and proven bacteria from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, can do a great deal of good to promote the natural fermentation process that protects your gut.

 

References

Cell Host & Microbe

Cleveland Clinic/Consult QD

Cleveland HeartLab

SelfDecode

Mayo Clinic

Illustration of the human digestive tract. Text: Origins of IBS 101

IBS 101: The Origins

IBS 101: The Origins

Some of the most popular articles on our website feature irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the most common condition gastroenterologists diagnose.

As many as 15 percent of all Americans may experience IBS symptoms during their lifetime, yet only a small portion of people are diagnosed and treated for it.

That’s really not surprising given the three IBS subtypes, depending on whether the main symptoms are constipation (IBS-C), diarrhea (IBS-D) or a mix of both (IBS-A), that can create a lot of confusion.

A recent European study conducted by the Dutch university, KU Leuven, has shed some new light on the real mystery: What triggers IBS.

 

Food Allergy Or No Food Allergy?

This team of Dutch researchers had already demonstrated how blocking histamine (a chemical released when the immune system is fighting a potential allergen) improved the health of IBS patients.

The real question: If the immune systems of healthy patients don’t react to foods, what would change to trigger IBS? This same European research team conducted tests on mice and IBS patients to find out.

Knowing that patients experience IBS symptoms after a GI problem like food poisoning, scientists infected mice with a stomach bug while feeding them a protein found in egg whites that’s commonly used as a food antigen (any molecule that provokes an immune response).

After the infections cleared up, mice that were fed the same food antigen a second time became sensitive to it, evidenced by the release of more histamine in their bodies and signs of abdominal pain.

What’s more, this immune response was localized in the part of the intestine infected by the gut bug but didn’t produce more generalized symptoms of a food allergy.

When researchers conducted a similar test on 12 IBS patients (injecting their intestines with a mix of cow’s milk, wheat, soy and gluten), the results mirrored the same ones seen in mice to at least one food antigen.

 

More Work To Be Done

Although scientists have identified one trigger for IBS, there’s still a lot of research ahead before a reliable solution ever comes. But you don’t have to wait to treat IBS dependably and safely.

We already know that following a more balanced diet with more fiber and fewer carbohydrates eases symptoms. A registered dietician may also recommend a FODMAP diet, a restrictive but temporary eating plan to help you target problem foods that could trigger IBS symptoms.

Your doctor may also recommend medications, but changes in a patient’s IBS subtype can make that a tricky proposition. Also, if stress is a factor in your IBS challenges, your physician may prescribe an antidepressant drug too.

However, if you’re wary about taking a drug, there are good non-drug options for easing symptoms, like probiotics that handle the key symptoms of each IBS subtype.

Probiotics do a great job of treating diarrhea and shortening its duration. Maintaining the motility in your intestines with help from probiotics eases constipation. And, when stress becomes a factor, probiotics work well to keep your gut-brain axis in balance.

The reputation of probiotics has become so rock-solid that professional organizations like the British Society of Gastroenterology recommend them as a frontline treatment for IBS.

When you’re looking for a good probiotic, be sure it’s formulated with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria that support the healthy microbial diversity of your gut.

Any probiotic you consider should also include a prebiotic, the unsung heroes of gut health that feed the bacteria living in your gut.

You can enjoy the best of both worlds with EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, formulated with 10 strains of beneficial bacteria from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families plus the proven prebiotic FOS.

 

Resources

Nature

KU Leuven

Cleveland Clinic

About IBS

Nutrients

Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News

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