prebiotics

woman holding white pill tablets in hand with glass of water

How Drugs Interact With Your Gut

The gut microbiome is a vital and important part of human health that touches so many aspects of our daily lives, yet it works in very unpredictable ways.

For example, consider how certain drugs interact with the human gut. Sometimes, they do work but not so well at other times, as we learned about statin drugs.

The very same thing may be true about metformin, the go-to drug prescribed for type 2 diabetic patients to control high blood sugar, according to a study appearing in EBiomedicine.

“For example, certain drugs work fine when given intravenously and go directly to the [blood] circulation, but when they are taken orally and pass through the gut, they don’t work,” says senior study author Dr. Hariom Yadav, a researcher at the Wake Forest School of Medicine.

As we’ve seen previously, metformin works well with the gut, although some patients who take it tend to experience more side effects (nausea, diarrhea and flatulence).

Based on their review of studies, Wake Forest researchers determined the metabolic capacity of a patient’s microbiome may influence how various drugs aimed at treating type 2 diabetes are absorbed and function in effective, inactive or even toxic ways.

“We believe that differences in an individual’s microbiome help explain why drugs will show a 90 or 50 percent optimum efficacy, but never 100 percent,” Dr. Yadav said.

Now, Wake Forest researchers are taking the next important gut-friendly step by testing prebiotics, a natural component of non-digestible plant fiber that feeds the good bacteria living in your gut, and probiotics that may help diabetes drugs work more effectively.

Could a multi-species probiotic containing 10 kinds of beneficial bacteria plus a handy prebiotic (FOS) like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic make gut-friendly difference in the way patients take their drugs?

The evidence is growing!

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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.

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Prebiotics May Help Treat Osteoarthritis

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

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

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

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

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

Prebiotics to the rescue!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 man holding whole foods standing near a window

Fight Type 2 Diabetes with a Healthy Gut

There’s no disputing the health benefits of eating whole foods — legumes, vegetables, fresh fruits and whole grains – rich in dietary fiber.

For a long time, science has recognized the role good gut health plays with help from dietary fiber in treating diseases like type 2 diabetes without really understanding how both converge to promote better overall health.

The results of a Chinese study that treated type 2 diabetes patients partly with a high-fiber diet may offer a critical clue, based on a tiny group of bacteria in the human gut.

A select group of gut bacteria

Researchers split patients into two groups: A control group who received standard dietary recommendations and patient education and a more active group who was prescribed a high-fiber diet containing many kinds of dietary fiber from whole grains, prebiotics and Chinese medicinal foods, according to the study featured in Science.

After 12 weeks, patients following the fiber-rich diet created by scientists that jump-started the development of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) had done its job.

Those patients in the active group experienced sharply reduced blood glucose levels at faster rates and lost extra weight too.

How did high-fiber diets make such a difference?

Researchers believe diseases like type 2 diabetes may occur as a result of problems in producing SCFAs in the gut. Surprisingly, a tiny number of gut bacteria – 15 out of a possible 141 strains – were affected by eating a high-fiber diet. In fact, this select group became the dominant strains in the guts of patients, after increasing butyrate and acetate levels.

Simply, the presence of higher levels of butyrate and acetate (both are SCFAs) created mildly acidic environments that decreased the amounts of bad bacteria in the gut, leading to a greater production of insulin and improved blood glucose control.

“Our study lays the foundation and open the possibility that fibers targeting this group of gut bacteria could eventually become part of your diet and your treatment,” says Dr. Liping Zhao, lead author of the study and a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology at Rutgers University, according to a press release.

More whole-grain goodness

This select group of gut bacteria may also be at work in the results of a study appearing in Gut, in which 60 Danish adults followed a high whole-grain diet (more than 100 grams per day) and a low refined grain diet (13 grams per day) alternately for eight-week periods.

Compared to the refined grain diet, patients eating a diet rich in whole grains lost weight and lowered the number of markers associated with inflammation that causes metabolic syndrome.

That’s a cluster of conditions ranging from elevated blood sugar levels to extra body fat around the waist that increases your risk of serious cardiovascular problems and diabetes.

Are you having trouble losing weight? Are you fighting a losing battle against metabolic syndrome?

To prevent metabolic syndrome from harming your health further and begin the healing process, restore the proper balance of gut bacteria with the help of EndoMune Metabolic Rescue and its unique probiotic blend of Bifidobacterium lactis and the prebiotic XOS.

How EndoMune Metabolic Rescue works

Unfortunately, the number of Bifidobacteria in your gut decline as your body ages, largely due to a changing diet that usually contains more fiber-free foods.

That’s where your adult gut needs extra help from a prebiotic, a substance made from non-digestible starches that literally feed your gut by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria.

In recent years, XOS has emerged as a versatile, natural prebiotic that can provide many benefits, for example, reversing imbalances in the human gut during the development of type 2 diabetes to healthier ones.

EndoMune Metabolic Rescue’s unique formulation of Bifidobacterium lactis (a beneficial subspecies of Bifidobacteria) works as a synbiotic to produce SCFAs, stimulating the production of hormones that could slow down activity in the appetite center of your brain.

This hormonal action also slows down the motility (emptying) of your stomach, which promotes the sense of fullness or satiety. In other words, it takes less food to feel full.

Research related to consuming XOS has found increased amounts of Bifidobacteria in test subjects. Other studies have shown how patients given Bifidobacteria lactis can metabolize resistant starches like XOS, producing the SCFAs that act as signals to reduce appetite and slow down stomach motility, ideally resulting in weight loss and a healthier gut.

For Gut-friendly Holidays, Eat Cranberries

Apart from being a staple in foods for the holiday season (desserts, stuffing, sauces and drinks) and a first-line treatment for urinary tract infections, cranberries receive little notice in the wide world of whole foods, an undeserved sign of disrespect.

Many health experts consider cranberries a superfood due to their low-calorie/high-fiber content and being fill to the brim with important antioxidants and nutrients (resveratrol, vitamins C, E and A and copper).

A study featured recently in Applied and Environmental Microbiology found another important use for cranberries as a natural prebiotic, non-digestible fiber or carbs that feed the bacteria living in your gut.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Amhurst made this discovery when feeding cranberry-derived carbohydrates called xyloglucans to gut bacteria in the lab.

The real benefit from eating cranberries, says lead researcher Dr. David Sela, is the ability to eat for two, as it supports our own nutrition as well as the beneficial bacteria that lives in our gut.

“When we eat cranberries, the xyloglucans make their way into our intestines where beneficial bacteria can break them down into useful molecules and compounds,” says Dr. Sela, according to a press release.

Under the microscope, Dr. Sela and his research team observed these prebiotic compounds from cranberries feeding bifidobacteria under the microscope, an important process in protecting the healthy balance of bacteria in your gut.

Cranberries aren’t the only natural sources for prebiotics. They’re also a healthy component in many whole foods, from bananas, jicama and apples to artichokes, onions, leeks and almonds.

Just like almonds that contain a lot of fat, you have to be careful about eating a lot of cranberries too. Many commercial brands of juices and dried fruits add a lot of unnecessary sugar — 25-30 grams for juices and 8 grams for dried fruits — per 8-ounce serving, so eating them in moderation is a healthy choice.

If you want to add some prebiotic protection for your gut and cranberries aren’t your favorite food, look for a probiotic that contains fructooligosaccarides (FOS).

FOS is a natural substance derived from plant sugars and a proven prebiotic used in products like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Advanced Junior (for kids).

Taking Prebiotics May Improve Your Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do to maintain your good health. Apart from your body’s very obvious need for physical rest — anywhere from 7-10 hours depending on how old you are — to help you function throughout the day, the list of benefits is long.

For example, sleep gives your body a break that allows the brain, blood vessels and heart to do some much-needed maintenance.

But, if your sleep hygiene is poor or you don’t get enough of it, your chances of stroke, kidney disease, diabetes and heart disease increase, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

A healthy amount of sleep also helps you maintain the proper balance of hormones that govern your hunger: Ghrelin increases your appetite while leptin makes you feel full. Messing up your sleep wreaks havoc with those hormones, causing you to feel hungrier while increasing your obesity risks.

When not managed properly, jet lag from airplane traveling and shift work can harm, not only your sleep and waistline, but your gut health too, which explains why some experts have recommended probiotics as a protective measure.

Not only do probiotics play an important role in promoting better sleep, so do prebiotics — non-digestible carbohydrates/plant fiber that feed the good bacteria already living in your gut — according to a recent study appearing in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.

The prebiotic sleep aid

To study the benefits of prebiotics, researchers at the University of Colorado fed two sets of three-week-old rats food that contained it or a control diet that didn’t, then monitored their body temperature, gut bacteria and sleep-wake cycles for four weeks.

Test animals that were fed a prebiotic-rich diet spent more time in a deeper, more restful state of non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep. Plus, when these prebiotic mice were exposed to unexpected stressors, they were better equpped to achieve rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, a critical tool for promoting relief from trauma.

Not surprisingly, those same mice maintained better gut bacteria diversity — higher levels of Lactobacillus rhamnosus — and normal body temperature fluctuations too.

Given these test results, University of Colorado scientists believe “a diet rich in prebiotics started in early life could help improve sleep, support the gut microbiota and promote optimal brain/psychological health,” according to a press release.

How do you get prebiotics?

Prebiotics are a natural component of whole foods ranging from onions, leeks, artichokes, raw garlic, almonds and jicama to fruity fare like bananas and apples.

To ensure you get the right amount of prebiotics your body needs, the easiest way is to take a probiotic, ideally with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria. EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Junior contain fructo-oliggosaccharides (FOS), a natural prebiotic derived from plant sugars.

So, when you’re looking for ways to improve the quality of your sleep naturally, consider taking a probiotic that features a prebiotic as a key ingredient.

Almonds may help Boost your Gut Health

In the world of nutrition, there’s little doubt that almonds are among the most popular, delicious and healthy foods to eat.

A single cup of raw almonds (143 grams) provides a surplus of measurable benefits from a variety of vital nutrients, including calcium, niacin, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, protein and fiber, according to the USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

Chock full of unsaturated fats, almonds have also been associated with a growing number of health benefits, from reducing the risk of heart disease to lowering two of the markers linked to metabolic syndrome and promoting satiety (feeling full after eating).

As the positive health news has spread (with much help from the Almond Board of California), the profile of almonds has risen exponentially, along with the number of products sold at your neighborhood grocery store.

In fact, almonds lead the pack in new food products worldwide by a sizeable margin (9.7 percent) and over all nuts combined (7.1 percent), which may explain why you’ve been seeing more brands of almond milk sitting next to traditional milk products.

Almonds: Food for the Gut

A recent study funded by the Almond Board of California has discovered one more healthy reason to eat almonds and almond skins. Almonds serve as prebiotics—non-digestible carbohydrates/plant fiber that feed the good bacteria already living in the gut.

In this study, patients boosted amounts of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus in the human gut significantly after eating almonds or almond skins for just six weeks.

Scientists monitored the health of 48 healthy patients (ages 18-22) who supplemented their daily diets with 56 grams (almost 2 ounces) of almonds, 10 grams of almond skins or 8 grams of fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), a natural substance derived from plant sugars that’s used as a prebiotic in products like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.

During the six-week observation period, the collective gut bacteria of volunteers were affected positively but at different times.

For example, groups who ate almond skins or FOS enjoyed increased amounts of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria from the beginning. On the other hand, those who consumed roasted almonds didn’t experience growth in good gut bacteria like the other groups until week six. By the end of the study, both almond groups reached the same elevated levels of good gut bacteria.

Additionally, the gut health benefits linked to eating almond skins lasted two additional weeks after the six-week period ended.

One more benefit from eating roasted almonds or almond skins: Levels of Clostridium perfringens, a spore-forming, gram-positive bacterium that contributes to food poisoning, were greatly reduced.

However, before you start loading up on almonds, be aware that up to 80 percent of this nut is fat, so you should eat them in moderation.

When looking for a good probiotic, be sure it contains FOS or another proven prebiotic that feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic or EndoMune Advanced Junior (for kids) with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria.

 

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