Friendly Flora Boost Immunity, Reduce Inflammation & Offset Side Effects of Antibiotics

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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The friendly flora in your digestive tract are disturbed by high states of stress or trauma as well as by antibiotics used to treat infection. A number of new studies show that the administration of probiotics such as lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacteria can prevent infection by improving the immune response and reducing excess inflammation.

In one study with 52 patients who had traumatic brain injury (26 controls, 26 probiotic supplemented), the probiotic group boosted parameters of their overall infection-fighting immune response, reduced the overall inflammatory response, reduced the incidence of infection, and resulted in fewer days in intensive care.

Other researchers presented findings at the American College of Gastroenterology’s (ACG) 76th Annual Scientific meeting in Washington, DC. It is known that antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) and Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD) are complications of long-term antibiotic use and are associated with significant cost and morbidity. A review of 22 studies found that probiotics reduced the risk of AAD by 60%. “This analysis clearly demonstrates that probiotics offer protective benefit in the prevention of these diseases,” said principal investigator Rabin Rahmani, MD.

“These findings suggest that all patients who are at high-risk for these infections demonstrated by recent antibiotic usage, old age, recent hospitalization, low albumin, and immunosuppression should be considered for probiotic therapy,” said author Steven Shamah, MD.

Other researchers presented findings showing that probiotics could help lower the inflammation in patients with inflammatory health conditions such as chronic fatigue, psoriasis, ulcerative colitis. The probiotics were able to reduce the inflammatory signals TNFa, IL-6, and CRP.

Of particular interest is that these studies show an anti-inflammatory benefit that extends beyond the digestive tract to help a person cope with inflammatory issues in general. Additionally, protection from diarrhea induced by antibiotics is of immense importance, since other data shows that even one or two courses of antibiotics can have adverse effects on digestive health that can last for years.

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