Keeping it healthy


Mint Lassi - Fermented milk drink from India

I have been interested in probiotics for a long time, particularly since reading the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) book by Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride MMedSci (Neurology) MMedSci (Nutrition). I was actually hoping to cover a lot about probiotics in my dietetics degree. Unfortunately, it was only touched on briefly. There is heaps of scientific studies done surrounding this topic, so I have had to do my own research.

There are many sources of probiotics, but they are generally found in fermented foods of many varieties. I will post a blog on this soon!

I am so excited by the research that is being done on these amazing little guys! Probiotic research has uncovered some amazing health benefits, and just confirms to me that we need to treat our bodies as a whole, not unrelated parts. We have known that alcohol can affect our mental capacity when over-consumed, but to think that the microbes in our digestive system can also play a role in our mental state, is quite surprising.

For this post, I thought I would do a summary of what the scientific evidence is saying regarding probiotics. Some of the benefits of probiotics have been scientifically proven to be of use while others are still being examined to confirm or reject their use therapeutically. This is a growing area of discovery, which I am very interested in following.


Probiotics: “Live microorganisms which when adminstered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit to the host,” FDA & WHO [1]

Health benefits

Good evidence

Scientific research has good evidence for a Therapeutic Use of some probiotics for the following conditions [1][2][3]:

  • Prevention of diarrhoea

  • Prevention of constipation

  • Anti-inflammatory effects

  • Positive evidence for reducing antibiotic associated diarrhoea,

  • Reducing infectious childhood diarrhoea,

  • An effect on irritable Bowel Disease IBD (especially for maintenance of remissions in ulcerative colitis) and pouchitis;

  • Reduction of atopic eczema associated with cow’s milk allergy (LGG or B.lactis most effective)

  • Contributing to the production of nutrients & improvement of their absorption

  • Antioxidant effect

  • Alleviating symptoms of allergy

  • Alleviating symptoms of respiratory and urinary tract infections

Potential Benefits

Scientific research has shown potential benefits of probiotics, but with inconclusive evidence for the following conditions [1][2][4][5][7][8][9]:

  • Reducing symptoms of Irritable bowel syndrome (Bifidobacterium infantitis may reduce bloating, flatulence),

  • Prevention of atopic eczema for children with a family history (mothers given the probiotic L. rhamnosus GG or LGG prior to delivery of baby & while breastfeeding, or given to the infant for 6 months);

  • Benefits in reduction of IgE and non IgE associated eczema;

  • Reduces high LDL cholesterol;

  • Reduces bacterial Vaginosis;

  • Reduces risk of colorectal cancer;

  • Decreases risk of non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease;

  • Improves general good health

  • Aging benefits

  • Reduction of fatigue

  • Benefits in autism

  • Benefits in obesity

  • Benefits in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

  • Reduction of symptoms of Crohn’s Disease

No Benefits

No benefit of using probiotics has been found for:

  • Allergies once established;

  • Vulvovaginal candidiasis

[2] (Mizock, 2015)

Not Safe

Currently Probiotics are regarded as not safe for the following conditions[2]:

  • Seriously ill people

  • Chronically ill children

But wait there's more! My next post will be continuing the probiotic discussion by looking at how we can use probiotics.


[1] Pandey, K. R., Naik, S. R., & Vakil, B. V. (2015). Probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics- a review. Journal of Food Science and Technology, 52(12), 7577-7587. doi:10.1007/s13197-015-1921-1

[2] Mizock, B. A. (2015). probiotics. Disease-a-Month : DM, 61(7), 259-290. doi:10.1016/j.disamonth.2015.03.011

[3] Chiang, B. L., Sheih, Y. H., Wang, L. H., Liao, C. K., & Gill, H. S. (2000). Enhancing immunity by dietary consumption of a probiotic lactic acid bacterium (bifidobacterium lactis HN019): Optimization and definition of cellular immune responses.European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 54(11), 849-855. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601093

[4] Keightley, P. C., Koloski, N. A., & Talley, N. J. (2015). Pathways in gut-brain communication: Evidence for distinct gut-to-brain and brain-to-gut syndromes. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 49(3), 207-214. doi:10.1177/0004867415569801

[5] Harish, K. & Varghese, T. (2006). Probiotics in humans - evidence based review. Calicut Medical Journal 4(4):e3

[6] Jonkers, D., Penders, J., Masclee, A., & Pierik, M. (2012). Probiotics in the management of inflammatory bowel disease. Drugs 72(6), 803-823.

[7] Mekkes, M., Weenen, T., Brummer, R. and Claassen, E. "The development of probiotic treatment in obesity: a review.," Beneficial Microbes, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 19-28. doi: 10.3920/BM2012.0069., March 2014.

[8] Krajmalnik-Brown, R., Lozupone, C., Kang, D., & Adams, J. B. (2015). Gut bacteria in children with autism spectrum disorders: Challenges and promise of studying how a complex community influences a complex disease. Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease, 26, 1-8. doi:10.3402/mehd.v26.26914

[9] van De Sande, Marijke M H, van Buul, V. J., & Brouns, Fred J P H. (2014). Autism and nutrition: The role of the gut-brain axis.Nutrition Research Reviews, 27(2), 199-214. doi:10.1017/S0954422414000110

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