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Study Shows Probiotics May Improve Gut Health

Want a healthier gut? Probiotics may be the answer! Results of a new study show that daily probiotic supplementation may improve transit time and boost general gut health.

The researchers, based in Houston, included scientists from Accurate Clinical Research, Fonterra Research Centre, Danisco, and Sprim Advanced Life Services. The findings were published online June 13, 2011 ahead of the print version of the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology.

The subject group included 100 men and women in good health with an average age of 44. Over the course of 14 days, the subjects consumed daily doses of Bifidobacterium lactis HN109 or a placebo.

The group was randomly split into three groups: high dose, low dose, and placebo. The high dose group received 17.2 billion colony forming units (CFU) and the low dose group received 1.8 billion CFU.

While the placebo group showed improvements in diarrhea and constipation, only the groups receiving the probiotics showed improvements in whole gut transit time: 33 percent improvement for the high dose group and 25 percent improvement for the low dose group.

Additionally, the probiotic groups showed improvement in other symptoms of gastrointestinal functioning such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and flatulence.

Whole gut transit time is the time that food takes to pass through the entire digestive system. Lowering of the transit time can produce beneficial reductions in the risk of potential colo-rectal conditions.

According to the researchers, there are several possibilities for the positive results of the probiotics, including increasing fecal bacterial mass, stimulation of cholecystokinin (a hormone responsible for digesting fat and protein), and breakdown of bile salts to stimulate colonic motility and excretion.

Bifidobacterium lactis is a common probiotic found in supplement form. When purchasing a probiotic supplement, please make sure it contains several probiotic strains and is packaged to block light, air, and moisture, which can easily kill probiotics.

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