Category Archives: Digestion

Benefits of Taking Bacillus species Probiotics

digestive-holistic-acupunctureCurrent research shows that probiotics can benefit digestion in a variety of different ways.  They can improve nutrient absorption, reduce bloating, stop acid reflux and be targeted to almost any digestive ailment.  But what is really happening when you take a probiotic supplement? How do we know if a bacteria is beneficial or harmful in the body? This article will explain the different mechanisms by which probiotics can help digestive and immune health.

Humans have developed a symbiotic relationships bacteria over the past 2 million years. This mutually beneficial relationship happens with bacterial species and, of course, many bacterial species are not beneficial for humans and can cause disease.  The most important beneficial bacteria are:

  • Bacillus species
  • Lactobacillus species
  • Bifidobacterium species

Most of us have heard about Lactobacillus, specifically Lactobacillus acidophilus, which is found in many supplements and also in cultured dairy products. However, this article will focus mostly on Bacillus probiotics which are are perhaps the most uniquely beneficial class of bacteria that inhabit the human GI tract. They have developed a special ability to survive through our harsh gastric system and to thrive both inside and outside the human body.  This species is generally taken in a spore form, which means it becomes activated only after it is placed in the human digestive tract.  Because they are in spore form, Bacillus probiotics are very resilient and do not need to be refrigerated.

In the Digestive System, Bacillus species support the following functions:

1.) Modulate and Train Our Immune System:
Bacillus species stimulate an important structure called the gut associated lymphoid tissue.  By doing so, these bacteria improve T-cell and B-cell (immune) function as well as tune the function of the adaptive immune system. They also reduce inflammation and help the body move through the immune cascade. In addition, by tuning the immune response, Bacillus species improve pattern recognition and can help suppressing unwanted responses (like allergies).

2.) Assist in Digestion:
Probiotics help digest food by producing a whole range of digestive Enzymes including: protease, peptidase, lipase, cellulase, amylase, lipase, lactase and pectinase. In addition, they directly digest incoming starches and non-starch polysaccharides.  By aiding with the breakdown of these fibers and polysaccharides probiotics reduce the production of gas and bloating.

SIBO-Small-Intestine-Bacterial-Overgrowth3.) Help Control other Microbes and Yeast:
Bacillus can target and kill other harmful bacteria in the human gut.  Perhaps surprisingly, these “good bacteria” can produce antibiotics that help kill off the “bad bacteria”.  This is especially important where conditions of bacterial overgrowth (like SIBO) are thought to cause up to 80% of IBS cases.  It should be noted that probiotics are also one of the best ways to reduce a fungal/candida overgrowth.

4.) Produce Nutrients in the Gut:
Lastly, probiotics produce the whole array of nutrients that are essential for human life.  This includes B-vitamins, quinols, vitamin K2, and short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs are critical to the health of the large intestine and the gut as whole. They also control inflammation, regulate colon function, improve metabolism, and contribute to detox activities. Low levels of SCFA production can leads to leaky gut and chronic pathogenic bacterial overgrowth.

No other strain of probiotics is known to provide such a wide array of beneficial functions for human health as Bacillus does. This bacterial-human symbiotic relationship results from millions of years of co-evolution between Bacillus and humans. Modern super-clean human living spaces and super-clean food minimizes the natural exposure to Bacillus bacteria as nature intended.  Because of this, many people can benefit from a supplement that contains a range of Bacillus species probiotics.

 

Digestive Problems (including IBS) may be caused by Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

digestive-holistic-acupunctureMost people know that acute digestive problems (like food poisoning) can be caused by “bad bacteria”.  However, what many people don’t know is that chronic digestive symptoms can also be caused by bacteria. In fact, it is estimated that over half of the cases of “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” (IBS) are caused by bacterial overgrowth condition called SIBO. Multiple studies of IBS patients has shown that eliminating the bacterial overgrowth leads to a 75% or greater reduction in IBS symptoms.  Some experts even say that SIBO may be the root cause for up to 80% of IBS cases.

Common digestive symptoms caused by bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) include:

Gas, bloating (increasing through the day), abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, anemia, steatorrhea, rosacea, undigested food in the stool, and possibly GERD (esophageal reflux with belching). * One especially telling symptom combination of SIBO is: unremitting bloating with a tendency to diarrhea.

 

SIBO is short for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. This condition occurs when large numbers of bacteria have colonized the small intestine.  Normally, a variety of bacteria are present in the large intestine, but not in the small intestine.  Some bacteria would normally pass through the small intestine, but they should not colonize or stay for very long in this part of the digestive tract.

Why does SIBO occur?

digestive-healthSometimes SIBO can be caused by low stomach acid. Stomach acid is protective in the digestive tract and our main defense against bacterial invasion from food. This means that people on stomach acid blocking medications are actually more likely to develop SIBO.  Another common cause of SIBO is acute food poisoning (called gastroenteritis) that is never completely cleared.  Often times an episode of food poisoning will mostly resolve but the person’s digestion will never be quite the same for months or years afterwards.   This history is a sign that some of the initial bacterial infection still remains and needs to be addressed to fully repair the small intestine.

Testing Options:

Lab tests should be used to confirm the diagnosis of SIBO.  The best test to make an accurate diagnosis is the Lactulose Breath Test (LBT).  For this test, the hydrogen and methane gas  produced by bacteria is measured over time.  Hydrogen and methane are gas are only produced by bacteria, not by humans, so the amount expelled over time will give an indication of bacterial growth.

Treatment Options:

The good news is that SIBO can be treated effectively with both natural anti-bacterial herbs or with prescription antibiotics.  Treatment can last between 2 weeks and 2 months, depending on the severity of the case.  Generally, treatments work best when antibacterial supplements are combined with dietary changes.

>> Learn more: Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth