Probiotics benefit whole body: new study

August 25th, 2008 - 2:40 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 25 (IANS) Gastrointestinal benefits of probiotic food supplements have been well documented. New research indicates it also benefits the whole body. Probiotics are dietary supplements containing potentially beneficial bacteria or yeasts. For example, lactobacillus (found in curd) is intended to assist the body’s naturally occurring intestinal flora to re-establish themselves.

They are recommended by doctors and nutritionists, after a course of antibiotics, or as part of the treatment for gut related candidiasis, a fungal infection.

There have been claims that probiotics strengthen the immune system to combat allergies, excessive alcohol intake, stress, exposure to toxic substances and other diseases.

The immune system’s normal response to infection is rapid and effective. However, it may occasionally cause inflammation and damage to healthy tissue.

“Inflammation is a major factor in a number of chronic diseases affecting millions of people and can cause an unwanted impact on healthy tissue,” said Liam O’Mahony of University College, Cork (Ireland) and lead investigator of the new study.

“Past research has shown that the probiotic Bifidobacterium infantis (BI) 35624 can positively impact the body’s immune defence, and this most recent data suggests that its benefits are not restricted to the gastrointestinal tract.”

Inflammation is associated with a wide range of conditions, such as bowel disease, arthritis, bacterial-induced colitis, type I diabetes and organ transplantation.

The study - whose report appeared in the August issue of the Public Library of Science (PLoS) Pathogens - examined the effect of BI-35624 on immunity to Salmonella, harmful bacteria that can cause intestinal infections and trigger the body’s inflammatory response.

BI-35624, a probiotic strain isolated from healthy human gastrointestinal tract, was administered to mice in freeze-dried powder at least three weeks prior to salmonella infection.

They showed dramatically increased numbers of certain immune cells that control the immune system response to harmful pathogens, in this case Salmonella.

Additionally, data show increased numbers of T-regulatory (Treg) cells, or cells that suppress inflammatory disease in a wide range of autoimmune diseases.

Administration of BI-35624 resulted in the induction of these Treg cells, which protected the host from excessive inflammation during the course of infection.

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