Probiotics May Help Inhibit Colon Cancer

Your gut microbiota is an incredibly diverse environment populated by trillions of tiny organisms that perform all sorts of important functions behind the scenes in the human body.

The average human gut is dominated by about 150-170 different species of bacteria, although as many as 1,000 unique species can be found. That’s a lot of diversity, although humans commonly share about a third of the same species of gut bacteria.

The more diverse the bugs that inhabit your gut are, the better your health will be. Unfortunately, diseases like colon cancer harm that healthy, stable mix of gut bacteria.

A growing number of studies have shown how probiotics made from multiple strains of beneficial bacteria do a great job of making up for fluctuations in diet that deplete your diverse microbiome and treating conditions like constipation.

Multi-species probiotics may play a larger role in the treatment of colon cancer too, based on the recent findings of a small study featured in BMJ Open Gastroenterology.

A Swedish research team at the University of Gothenburg tracked the health of 15 patients with malignant cases of colon cancer who were given probiotics.

At the start, scientists studied the gut health of colon cancer patients by taking biopsies and fecal samples, then comparing them to similar samples from 21 healthy patients.

Eight patients received a probiotic containing proprietary strains of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis (these bacterial strains are contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic), while the rest received no probiotic.

Biopsies on colon cancer patients showed a different composition of the microbiota in tumor tissues and surrounding mucosa compared samples from healthy patients.

However, the gut health of colon cancer patients treated with probiotics improved due to the increased production of butyrate, a short chain fatty acid linked to promoting better colon health and anti-inflammatory benefits as well as inhibiting the growth of cancer cells in the intestines.

The next phase of research for researchers: Working with a larger group of patients whose colon cancer diagnoses are in a pre-malignant stage in hopes of working toward prevention.

Besides taking a multi-species probiotic, what else can you do to reduce your risks of colon cancer? Here’s four more things you can do today.

  1. Avoid excess contact with antibacterial soaps and antibiotics linked to antibacterial resistance.
  2. Take a daily supplement that includes the right amounts of calcium (1,000-1,200 mg) or vitamin D (1,000 IU) per day.
  3. Fight the obesity epidemic by losing a few pounds and moving a bit more with exercise.
  4. Get screened for colon cancer with annual blood work (a high-sensitivity fecal occult blood test) and less frequently with a flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy.

Why Do I Need to Take a Probiotic?

For people who are reading our blog for the very first time or those needing a refresher course in good gut health habits, you may be wondering why we devote so much space to explaining why you need to take a probiotic.

There are A LOT of reasons for taking probiotics, in addition to promoting good gut health! Fortunately, you don’t have to do the research.

What follows are 10 important reasons why you should be taking probiotics for your good health, based on the latest research.

  1. Many cheap brands of probiotics contain a single strain of beneficial bacteria, which may be good for a specific problem. However, a multi-strain probiotic protects the diversity of your gut and treats common gut health problems like constipation too.
  1. Do you use an over-the-counter medication like loperamide (Imodium) to treat a case of diarrhea? Taking a probiotic is one of the most effective ways, not only to get rid of diarrhea, but to prevent it altogether.
  1. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can do great harm to your gut and your emotions, disrupting your body’s gut-brain axis. Taking a probiotic and a prebiotic (EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and Endomune Jr. Probiotics for Kids contains both) may be a good way to treat IBS and depression without a drug.
  1. Are you taking antibiotics more than once a year to treat persistent infections? Antibiotics rapidly deplete the beneficial bacteria and make you more vulnerable to serious diseases such as colon cancer and more serious antibiotic-resistant infections. Taking a daily probiotic gives your body extra protection by replenishing the beneficial bacteria your body needs.

(You’ll also do your health a great deal of good by avoiding contact with antibacterial soaps that contain broad spectrum and synthetic antimicrobial compounds like triclosan too.)

  1. For patients who suffer from migraines, scientists have recently discovered a link between those painful headaches and nitrates, a common food additive. Some gut health experts believe taking a probiotic may become a safer, non-drug answer to treat migraines.
  1. Have problems with your teeth? Taking a probiotic is good treatment, as it may be a one more way to heal chronic periodontitis and reduce inflammation and levels of gingivitis and plaque, in addition to regular dental care.
  1. Hypertension can be a warning sign of serious health problems behind the scenes and even death. Taking a daily probiotic can improve your overall health, lower your blood pressure safely and lessen your dependence on prescription medications.
  1. Do you fly for your job or pleasure on a frequent basis or work a swing shift? The balance of bacteria in your gut is affected your body’s circadian rhythms as you cross time zones — often due to jet lag — but taking a probiotic prevents that yo-yo effect from harming your health.
  1. Protecting your sleep is an important part of restoring your body night after night. Be sure that any probiotic you consider taking also contains a prebiotic that can help you improve your sleep.
  1. Are you a new parent losing sleep over your baby’s prolonged crying due to colic? A number of studies point to probiotics as a safe, healthy way to lessen colic and prevent other common problems for babies like acid reflux and constipation.

Can excessive exercise promote leaky gut?

The benefits from regular exercise — from reducing your risks to catastrophic conditions like cancer, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease to improving your brain — are many and varied. In fact, a very popular Lancet study argued the lack of regular exercise could be as deadly to your health as smoking.

But, what happens when you take exercise to the opposite extreme? Overdoing anything often reverses much of the benefits you might’ve achieved in moderation, and exercise is no exception.

Based on a 2015 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, people who exercised more than four hours a week had virtually the same risk of dying as sedentary folks who rarely exercised.

A pair of very recent scientific reports have also tied excessive exercise to serious health problems that may promote leaky gut, a disorder in which a breakdown in the intestinal wall allows unintended substances — undigested food, toxic waste products, bacteria and viruses — to seep through the intestinal barrier and into the bloodstream.

Extreme exercise may harm your gut after 2 hours

Exercising for two hours at 60 percent of the maximum volume of oxygen an athlete can use (VO2 max) along with stress felt from excess heat pushed patients into an unhealthy state, based on a review of studies featured in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

How does that happen? If a patient’s gut loses a lot of blood during exercise, medical experts speculate the resulting inflammation can leave its protective lining damaged. In this vulnerable state, an ideal environment is created for leaky gut.

This review also determined that low to moderate exercise may be beneficial for patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Lengthy military training may harm the gut too

Prolonged exercise was a trigger for leaky gut in a second study appearing in the American Journal of Physiology — Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology.

In this study, military scientists from Norway, the U.S. Army and the Geneva Foundation as well as the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research tracked the health of 73 Norwegian Army soldiers training in cross country skiing for four days. During that time, soldiers skied 31 miles while carrying 99-pound backpacks.

Researchers collected blood and fecal samples before and after the exercise. Before giving urine samples on the first and third days of training, soldiers drank a mix of water and sucralose and mannitol (an artificial sugar and a sugar alcohol, respectively) to detect signs of leaky gut.

By the end of the training period, the collective gut health of these soldiers as well as the composition of substances in blood and stool samples taken from them changed significantly and for worse. The excretion of sucralose rose greatly too, indicating an increase in leaky gut.

Multi-species probiotics do make an impact

Despite the good probiotics do, some scientists believe they may not do much to protect gut permeability. However, a 2012 report from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition that tracked the health of 22 trained athletes taking multi-species probiotics proved otherwise.

The key takeaway: The production of zonulin — an inflammatory protein that regulates leakiness in the gut — decreased slightly from levels slightly above normal to normal ranges, then dropped significantly after 14 weeks of supplementation with multi-species probiotics.

There are times when the leakiness triggered by zonulin protects your body in healthy ways, experts say, when you eat foods contaminated with harmful bacteria. When that happens, zonulin reacts by triggering diarrhea to get rid of the bad bugs.

Not only is taking a probiotic with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic an ideal way to shorten the duration of diarrhea, this non-drug treatment gives your body a much needed boost to its natural defenses and may offer some protection from leaky gut too.

Beat Depressing Thoughts with Probiotics

Reflecting on life’s lessons about a difficult time in your life can be beneficial, and even instructive.

Looking back, however, can become unhealthy if your mind gets stuck ruminating, and replaying the same situation over and over again, causing you to focus more on what you might’ve done rather than how to solve the issue or avoid it.

When taken to an extreme, according to the American Psychological Association, ruminating doesn’t offer new insights at all. Instead, it can feed depression and make it harder for you to shake negativity.

There are lots of strategies you can use to beat the rumination cycle, using cognitive skills you can learn on your own, or with the help of a licensed therapist or a trusted friend.

A new study appearing in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity identified a familiar weapon — multi-species probiotics — which can also be helpful in breaking the depression-rumination cycle too.

Psychologists at the Leiden Institute of Brain and Cognition (located in the Netherlands) tested the effect of probiotics containing proprietary strains of various beneficial bacteria, including Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus lactis, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium bifidum and Bifidobacterium lactis on 40 healthy patients.

(These five strains represent half of the beneficial bacteria contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.)

Half of the patients received a drink made of lukewarm water or milk containing probiotics or a placebo for four weeks. At the beginning and end of the study, patients completed questionnaires that measured their sensitivity to depression.

Patients who were given the multi-strain probiotic experienced significantly fewer ruminative thoughts, compared to those assigned the placebo.

“Even if preliminary, these results provide the first evidence that the intake of probiotics may help reduce negative thoughts associated with sad mood,” says Dr. Lorenza Colezato, co-researcher of the study in a press release.

“As such, our findings shed an interesting new light on the potential of probiotics to serve as adjuvant or preventive therapy for depression.”

Considering the results of a recent study that identified specific beneficial bacteria in your gut responsible for the production of serotonin, as well as more evidence of the gut-brain axis, these results were not unexpected.

In addition to multiple species of beneficial bacteria, EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Jr. contain no artificial colorings, sugar, dairy products, preservatives or gluten and both are certified kosher.

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