Probiotics May Soothe Gastrointestinal Problems
Zonulin is a protein that helps control intestinal function. Increased levels of zonulin indicate a "leak" in the intestinal wall. A leak occurs when the intestines are damaged and toxins are able to pass into the bloodstream, which can increase the risk of infections.
A recent study suggests that daily supplementation of probiotics may decrease levels of zonulin, which would indicate improvements in the leak.
Participants in the study included 23 male performance athletes with an average age of 38. Athletes were chosen for the study because they tend to have more gastrointestinal problems as a result of increased demand in blood flow to the muscles and heart. This results in a decrease in blood flow to the intestines.
The participants took either a probiotic blend or a placebo for 14 weeks. At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted lower levels of zonulin in the supplement group but not the placebo group. They also noted lower levels of markers of inflammation.
The study was conducted by researchers at the Medical University of Graz in Austria. It was published on September 20, 2012 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
Probiotics are most commonly known for improving digestion and gut health, but they have also been linked to other health benefits, including weight loss, a stronger immune system, and a reduced risk of chronic disease.
Probiotics can be found naturally in many foods, such as yogurt, milk and sauerkraut. You may also consider taking a high quality supplement but make sure it is packaged to block light, air and moisture which can easily kill probiotics.