Probiotics for Women & Children
As we have seen in previous newsletters, (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) probiotics offer all of us a myriad of benefits throughout our bodies. In this newsletter, we will take a look at the specific benefits offered to women and children.
Although antibiotics have saved countless lives, they can wipe out our friendly flora as well. Anyone who has experienced a yeast infection after a round of antibiotics has first-hand knowledge of the importance of maintaining microbial symbiosis in the urogenital tract. Beneficial microbes help to maintain pH (acid/alkaline balance), they produce bacteriocins (natural antibiotics) and other beneficial substances such as lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide and butyrate and they inhibit colonization and adhesion of detrimental bacteria. If pathogenic organisms manage to get past these defenses, our probiotic defense force springs into action and specifically targets detrimental organisms with custom-made toxins much faster than our innate immunity can respond.
Lactos are a Girlís Best Friend!
Lactobacillus acidophilus inhabits and protects the vagina, cervix and uterus, as well as the small intestine where most nutrient absorption occurs. It fights nasty organisms like Gardnerella vaginalis and Trichomonas vaginalis. Alcohol can destroy L. acidophilus, so itís best not to indulge if treating a urogenital infection.
Both Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14 adhere to bladder, vaginal and intestinal cells while displacing and preventing adhesion by pathogenic organisms. They inhibit pathogenic bacteria, yeasts and viruses including HIV. L. rhamnosus GR-1prevents pathogens from forming biofilms, a dense layer of bacteria held together with a sticky mucilaginous coating. It also has anti-inflammatory activity and can be helpful to post-menopausal women with chronic UTIs. Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14 has immune modulating activity and it disarms toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus. Both of these Lactos can be found in Jarrow's Fem-Dophilus.
PMS: Probiotics are My Salvation!
Women who suffer from Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) may get relief with L. acidophilus and B. bifidum because they help tone down estrogen dominance in two ways. Constipation increases the liverís workload by allowing excess estrogens (as well as toxins) to be reabsorbed before they are excreted. Probiotics plus dietary fiber help increase bowel transit time moving harmful substances out of the body before they can be reabsorbed. In addition, our probiotic buddies protect us from detrimental bacteria that secrete Beta-glucuronidase, an enzyme that breaks the bond between estrogen and glucuronic acid. Once unfettered, estrogens can be reabsorbed thereby increasing estrogen load that contributes to mood swings associated with PMS and menopausal discomfort. (Beta-glucuronidase also unleashes other hormones and toxins, so men can receive benefits, too.)
Fire Down Below!
Women are particularly susceptible to UTIs due to the proximity of the perineal orifices ó the pathogens that most commonly cause UTIs are found in fecal matter. UTIs cause a painful burning sensation upon urination and, if left untreated, can become a serious kidney infection. Probiotic bacteria and beneficial yeasts (like Saccharomyces boulardii) can be very helpful for treating urinary tract infections (UTIs).
It is estimated that more than 30% of women of childbearing age have bacterial vaginosis (BV), a disruption in the natural vaginal microflora that causes burning and itching. Beneficial organisms can help defend against BV, which can make one vulnerable to other infections and sexually transmitted diseases including Herpes simplex and HIV. If untreated, BV can increase the risk of infertility, ectopic pregnancy and other pregnancy-related complications as well as preterm labor and low birth weight. L. acidophilus, L. reuteri and L. rhamnosus GR-1can vanquish G. vaginalis, one of the causes of BV.
Mothers & Babies & More, Oh My!
Yeast infections, caused by an overgrowth of Candida albicans, are a common result of dysbiosis and can afflict anyone: women, children, men and pets, too. They can occur within the body and on the skin ó Candida causes diaper rash, for example. When yeast infects the oral cavity it is called thrush and infants are especially vulnerable (due to immature immune systems) and they can pass it on to nursing moms making breastfeeding uncomfortable or even painful. Older children using steroid inhalers also have an increased risk of thrush. The good news is that there are several species of probiotics that can help both mother and baby. L. acidophilus and Bifidobacteria longum, for example, decrease the ability of C. albicans to thrive. It is also important to avoid refined sugar, the artificial sweetener sucralose and alcohol while fighting Candida, regardless of where the infection occurs.
Probiotics, such as L. rhamnosus and/or L. reuteri, can also help decrease the risk of eczema in infants. This is important not only for the childís comfort, but because children with eczema also have a greater risk of other immune-related conditions such as intestinal permeability, food allergies, allergic rhinitis and asthma. A study in Finland showed that the babies of women who took probiotics in the last two months of pregnancy and first two months of breastfeeding had 70% less risk of developing eczema. That statistic is even more impressive because the study was done on infants at high-risk for eczema.
Another reason why probiotics can benefit children is because something as common as diarrhea can be dangerous and even fatal for small children due to associated dehydration and loss of electrolytes. In addition, an important line of defense literally gets flushed away. Beneficial microbes can decrease the incidence of diarrhea and help restore symbiosis. Bonus benefit: If your baby is colicky, itís Bifidobacteria lactis to the rescue.
Cesarean deliveries save the lives of mothers and babies, but children born by C-section are not inoculated by their momís vaginal flora. Formula fed babies do not receive the living probiotic organisms or the antibody-rich colostrum contained in motherís milk. To assist babyís developing immune system parents may want to supplement with an age-appropriate probiotic. It is a good idea to add powdered probiotics to infant formula because formula-fed babies have a higher percentage of detrimental organisms in their poop. Some species especially beneficial for babies are L. rhamnosus, L. paracasei, and L. salivarius as well as Bifidobacterium infantis. Consult your pediatrician to see whatís best for your baby.
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The information provided here is for educational purposes only. None of the research or evidence presented here is intended as a substitute for consulting an appropriate healthcare professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products offered here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you believe that you may have a disease condition, please consult your healthcare practitioner before using this or any other dietary supplement.
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