Quest Vitamins LTD,
Gut Flora and its role in maintaining normal Intestinal Function
Beneficial bacteria, also known as probiotics, include Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus plantarum 299v and Bifobacterium longum. Probiotics reduce the presence of undesirable bacteria by competing for adhesion sites and nutrients, producing anti-microbial substances and lowering the pH of the digestive tract through the production of short chain fatty acids.
The consumption of friendly bacteria has also been shown to help digestive complaints such as irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhoea, and they can also produce essential vitamins such as vitamin K, which is vital for the healthy clotting of blood, and some B vitamins which are important for energy production.
A Babys digestive tract is sterile at birth, and the colonisation of the digestive tract by population of microorganisms specific to each person is done in the first few days of life. The most significant changes in the intestinal flora take place from birth until weaning and again in the later stages of life. In between, the microbial population of the dominant flora remains relatively stable and prevent potentially pathogenic bacteria from adhering to the intestinal wall. This has been termed the barrier effect.
In this respect, it is essential that a babys gut is populated by friendly bacteria from an early age to prevent the onset of neurological and digestive conditions. When a baby is born the intestines are sterile and the first contact the baby has with bacteria is via the mother when it passes along the birth canal. Therefore, if the mothers bacterial flora is compromised, then any bad bacteria or toxins will be passed to the baby. It is then important that the balance of bacteria is altered favourably either by supplements or, more importantly, by the baby being breast fed for at least six months. If this were to be achieved, then harmful mico-organisms which cause conditions such as autism and diarrhoea, will not be able to thrive in the gut.
L.plantarum is a member of the Lactobacillus family of microorganisms and has been found to populate a healthy human gastrointestinal tract. Scientific studies show that this particular strain of probiotic has adhesion properties which allow it to temporarily colonise the large intestine.
Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (Lp299v) is a highly specific strain from the plantarum group of friendly bacteria. This strain differs from other plantarum species because it has been extensively researched regarding its use for those with digestive conditions and, in particular, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Studies have shown that Lp299v could decrease the frequency and severity of up to 90% of symptoms experienced by IBS sufferers. However, this particular strain has also been associated with a therapeutic role for conditions such as diarrhoea and heart disease and has also been shown to help boost the immune system at the gut level.
Causes of IBS
Lp299v and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The most natural way of ingesting large concentrations of good bacteria is with our foods. However, the activities involved in the processing and preparation of food can be detrimental to the beneficial bacteria found in fresh goods and foods that are rich sources of beneficial bacteria, such as Camembert cheese, sauerkraut and yoghurt are not usually present in the diet in great quantities.
Additionally, the quantity of bacteria required for any preventative or therapeutic effect is beyond the amount that could conceivably be provided by the diet. For example, a person would have to consume a litre of yoghurt to obtain between 1 and 10 billion bacteria whereas probiotic supplements can provide as much as 2 billion bacteria in a single capsule.
Ingesting high levels of animal fats, sugars and alcohol can inhibit the friendly bacteria, while complex carbohydrates from vegetables, beans and grains are of benefit to them. Highly processed foods and fast foods can increase acid levels in the intestines and this highly acidic environment will damage the microflora. Re-colonising the intestines with friendly bacteria, can help prevent illnesses by depriving the pathogenic bacteria of the opportunity to overgrow and flourish.
It may be prudent for sufferers of digestive disorders to avoid irritants such as spicy foods or undercooked, suspect foods that may contain large amounts of bacteria. Also to avoid stressful, anxious situations that may cause acid reflux.
Whenever there are severe pains or prolonged problems being experienced, always refer to a medical practitioner.
Which factors contribute to good digestive health?
Lp299v is a specific strain of probiotic that has been found to help sufferers of IBS, however, it is vital that a broad range of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species of friendly bacteria be consumed on a daily basis to help prevent the onset, or reduce the symptoms of digestive diseases and complaints.