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A New View of the Role of Bacteria in Health

Bacteria

I recently watched a talk by Dr. Bonnie Bassler concerning how bacteria communicate with each other ("Discovering Bacteria's Amazing Communication System") on TED.com. I came away from her talk with a

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Exploring the Inner Ecosystem: A PolyDophilus Primer (Part 3 of 3)

DO YOU NEED PROBIOTICS?

Probiotics

Probiotics

It is questionable whether the level of friendly flora levels in the intestines (and thus the feces) and in the vaginal tract of most people are optimal. Several factors negatively impact flora levels:

1) POOR DIET — Diets low in calcium, fiber, lactose and other carbohydrates, yet high in meats, coffee, tea and alcohol will result in the predominance of coliforms and other non-lactic acid bacteria. The diet has a major influence on the profile of the flora: A high intake of vegetarian and fermented foods optimize the flora. However, few people consume such foods adequately. Also, a higher protein diet, especially meats, increases coliforms and pathogens.

2) ANTIBIOTIC TREATMENT — Certain antibiotics kill off the friendly flora that would otherwise control coliforms such as E. coli and other pathogens. Prolonged antibiotic treatment enhances proliferation of genetically adapted pathogens that have become resistant. Such resistance in E. coli can be passed on to other entero-bacteria species belonging to Shigella, Salmonella, Klebsiella, and Proteus. Certain antibiotics suppress the helpful flora, leaving the digestive system more open to Clostridium or Staphylococcus, or other pathogens that often cause diarrhea. Antibiotic treatment also often results in vaginitis by disturbing the balance of vaginal flora. Reimplantation of lactic acid bacteria during and after antibiotic treatment is essential and is a concept supported by numerous human studies. (Fernandes et. al. “Control of Diarrhea by Lactobacilli.” J Appl Nutr 40 (1): 32–43, 1988.)

3) FAILURE TO SUPPLEMENT — Paradoxically, even though certain strains of some species implant in the intestines after birth, supplementing with “implanting” strains later in life does not permanently alter microflora. Intestinal bacteria invariably return to their pre supplementation profile. That is, the ratio of probiotic organisms to non-lactic acid bacteria and intestinal pathogens reverts to its original status. This is due to many complex factors, including the little understood adaptation of the intestinal mucosa to the original, resident bacteria; complex interlaying of mucin (a mucus-like secretion); constant peristalsis (the smooth muscle contraction of the intestines); secretion of mucous and enzymes; and ongoing sloughing of the intestine’s own mucosal cells. Nevertheless, bacteria from the “implanting” strains can take up residence in the intestines longer than bacteria not typically resident. Thus, only regular supplementation will maintain high levels of friendly bacteria in the gut and vaginal tract (Fuller 374).

4) CONSTIPATION — Irregular bowel movements (less than one per day) favors the replication of putrefactive and pathogenic bacteria. Probiotics can displace and suppress these pathogens while softening the stool, increasing peristalsis and often improving regularity.

Combining Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) with PolyDophilus

Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are polymers (linked molecules) of fructose, but they do not have any blood sugar effects because they are indigestible except to the gut bacteria. The NutraFlora FOS contained in PolyDophilus is made by fermenting single sugar and water with the organism Aspergillus niger. An enzyme, fructosyltransferase, links additional fructose units into the ends of the fructose molecules. The result is fructose based saccharides of different lengths which can only be used by the friendly flora. No glycemic (blood sugar) effect is possible because there is only 1% glucose and 4% sucrose remaining. Out of one gram of FOS per day, the non-FOS sugars are insignificant. FOS cannot be used by harmful bacteria (E. coli and Clostridium), but FOS nourishes probiotics, especially Bifidobacteria, powerfully promoting their replication. Unlike soy oligosaccharides, the NutraFlora FOS contained in PolyDophilus is 95% FOS.

PolyDophilus with NutraFlora FOS is the perfect combination for increasing the intestinal probiotic population and enhancing health and well-being. Daily intake of this combination will result in reduced production of putrefactive substances such as ammonia, indole, skatol, cresol, phenol and amines. Combining FOS and PolyDophilus strongly promotes an increase in the beneficial flora while reducing the opportunity for pathogens and their toxic metabolites. FOS has been shown to enhance the growth of bifidobacteria and production of short chain fatty acids, lower pH, shorten transit time and slightly increase fecal bulk. (Tomomatsu H. “Health effects of oligosaccharides.” Food Tech: 61-65, Oct. 1994; Hidaka H. et al. “FOS enzymatic preparation and biofunctions.” Journal of Carbohydrate Chemistry 10 (4): 509-522, 1991.)

My company, Health Products Distributors, Inc. sells a highly effective probiotic supplement. POLYDOPHILUS with NutraFlora FOS is formulated with Institut Rosell’s own taxonomically defined strains from its culture collection developed over sixty years. After strain selection, quality control in production is critically important. Quality is assured at the Institut’s microbiology lab where species identification and production potency can be assured. The Institut is over 60 years old and is the most experienced producer of lactic-acid producing bacteria for food fermentation and probiotic supplementation in the world.

The type and potency of each organism contained in PolyDophilus is analyzed and certified upon production by advanced laboratory techniques used at Institut Rosell:

 

SPECIES % OF TOTAL No. OF ORGANISMS
L. rhamnosus R049 20% 672 Million
L. casei R256 20% 672 Million
L. plantarum R202 10% 336 Million
L. acidophilus R052 20% 672 Million
B. longum BB536 (Morinaga) 20% 672 Million
B. breve R070 10% 336 Million
TOTAL 100% 3.36 Billion

At the time of manufacture, 12–15 billion organisms per gram is guaranteed. One 280 mg capsule contains in excess of 3.36 billion organisms at time of manufacture. Manufacturer’s shelf-life data:

 

Room Temperature (to 75°F) 15% loss/month = 6 months
Refrigeration 5% loss/month = 18 months
Freezer 4% loss/month = 24 months

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Exploring The Inner Ecosystem: A PolyDophilus Primer (Part 2 of 3)

THE INNER ECOSYSTEM

ProbioticsPOLYDOPHILUS + FOS contains six species from a wide spectrum of all the important Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria genera. Dr. Brochu selected a synergistic group of strains that would not be in competition with each other. Mixed strain formulas are not only more economical but more convenient than single strain products. (Yasu Kawai, et al. found that supplying multiple genera of lactic acid bacteria together facilitates their implantation ( Microbiol Immun. 26 (5): 363-73, 1983).

Dr. Brochu has stated, quite simply, “It seems more logical to supply the intestinal tract and vagina with a mixture of specific lactic species rather than using a single species.” Claims that certain species cannot and should not be mixed are sometimes self-serving and always untrue.

POLYDOPHILUS + FOS alters the bacterial profile of the intestines by increasing their content of the following friendly flora:

1) L. Rhamnosus R049 This strain is superior in many ways: In the report of the Taxonomic Subcommittee, L. rhamnosus shows the greatest ability of all lactobacteria to survive stomach and bile acids next to L. plantarum. It can withstand 30-40% bile acids and provides over 10 times the survivability of L acidophilus. L. rhamnosus is also capable of manganese-catalyzed scavenging of superoxide. Other characteristics of L. rhamnosus as compared to L. acidophilus are:

  • 8-10 times as prolific
  • Ferments 23 carbohydrates (over twice as many as DDS-1 and NCFM)
  • Greater survival to freeze-drying process (75-80% vs. 30-35%)
  • Produces L+ lactic acid, which is the natural form in human metabolism and biologically superior to the DL lactic acid produced by L. acidophilus
  • Good resistance to antibiotics
  • Shows superior results in controlling diarrhea
  • Longer shelf life

For some 50 years, many products sold as “acidophilus” were actually rhamnosus. This error was not discovered until new methods of strain and species identification were developed. Rhamnosus was previously classified as a subspecies of L. casei, but has been reclassified as a separate species due to its own unique genetic makeup. Previous studies citing “L. casei” were often subspecies rhamnosus (for example, see Pardigon G. et al. “Systemic augmentation of the immune response in mice feeding fermented milks with Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus acidophilus” Immunology 63:17-23, 1988.)

2) L. Plantarum R202 This is a remarkable species. Being facultative, it survives aerobic (air) and anaerobic (without air) conditions. It ferments 25 carbohydrates, survives salt (10% solution), stomach pH, and bile acids better than any other lactic acid producing organism, and is capable of producing an antioxidant (catalase type) activity. L. plantarum ferments grains, grasses and vegetables and is a normal part of the diet (found in sauerkraut and all types of pickled vegetables.)

3) L. Acidophilus R052 – This proprietary culture of the Roselle Institute is of human origin and was selected by Dr. Brochu because of its ability to ferment 15 carbohydrates into lactic acid rather than 11 typical of this species. Being a hardier strain, L. acidophilus R052 displays superior production and survival than the neotype strain.

4) Bifidobacterium Longum BB536 (Morinaga) – The bifidobacteria are able to digest insoluble dietary fiber into short chain fatty acids which in turn are absorbed and used for energy by the colon cells.

  • Implants early in infancy and is found in humans throughout life cycle
  • Produces acetic acid along with lactic acid and small amounts of formic acid, which lowers the pH (increases acidity) of the bowel, making the region inhospitable to invading bacteria
  • Competes with pathogenic bacteria and yeasts for nutrients and attachment sites
  • Ferments over 20 carbohydrates and produces L+ lactic acid

5) Bifidobacterium Breve R070 – B. breve is probably the most common bifidobacteria found in infants, and it is a lifelong resident in the human intestines.

6) L. Casei R256 – L. casei is often used to make fermented milk products and cheeses. It is popular in Japan and has been the subject of research including minor immunological effects in the GI tract including inhibition of pathogens.

OTHER PROPERTIES OF LACTIC-ACID PRODUCING BACTERIA

Dr. Edward Brochu of the Institut Rosell has outlined various nutritional aspects of human intestinal flora:

1) Predigestion of foods by proteolysis, or breaking down proteins to peptides and amino acids.

2) In dairy, the sugar lactose is partially to totally converted to lactic acid. This hinders the proliferation of harmful bacteria: First by depriving the pathogens of the sugar as its food; and second, by presenting the pathogen with lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide and bacteriocins (neutral antibiotic compounds).

3) A slight liberation of fatty acids and solubilization of mineral salts, such as calcium, increasing bioavailability.

4) Probiotic cultures produce certain vitamins, including thiamin, riboflavin, pyridoxine, vitamin K, folic acid, and PABA.

5) In infants, weight gain is enhanced, probably due to predigestion enhancing assimilation.

6) Contribute to intestinal peristalsis (smooth muscle contractions), speeding up bowel evacuation time. The flora acidifies the stool by decreasing the pH from 7-8 to 5-6.

7) The flora coat the intestinal mucosa, protecting against invasion from harmful pathogens.

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Exploring The Inner Ecosystem: A PolyDophilus Primer (Part 1 of 3)

ProbioticsAcidophilus is the term generally applied to the body’s resident one-celled, lactic acid-producing bacteria. Lactic acid bacteria are also known as “friendly flora” or probiotics (meaning “in favor of life”). These bacteria are essential tenants of the digestive and vaginal tracts promoting mucosal immunity and better nutrition.

Probiotics are defined as “a live microbial supplement which beneficially affects the host animal by improving its intestinal microbial balance” (Fuller, J App Bacteriology 66: 365–78, 1989). Friendly flora produce lactic acid and other compounds, including natural antibiotics (also called bacteriocins). They help protect the intestinal and vaginal mucosal tissues from harmful fungus (e.g., yeasts) and displace putrefactive and pathogenic bacteria that can cause diarrhea, vaginitis, and other conditions associated with dysbiosis or flora imbalance.

While some species or strains (subspecies) of friendly flora “implant,” i.e., adhere to the intestinal and vaginal mucosa, others are transient. Transient flora may reproduce while moving through the large intestines, yet do not implant and so they  exit via the stool.

Multiple Probiotic Species in PolyDophilus

There are over 400 different probiotic species, and thousands of strains of organisms inhabiting the human gut (Moore and Holdman. App Microbiology 27: 961–79, 1974). The intestines harbor a complex ecology of probiotic-friendly flora (the lactic acid-producing bacteria) along with not so friendly coliforms, bactericides, yeasts, pathogens, etc.

Given this complex environment, PolyDophilus was formulated with guidance from microbiologist Edward Brochu, PhD, to provide representation from the two most important of the four genera (groups) of lactic acid-producing bacteria. The four genera are: 1) Lactobacilli, 2) Bifidobacteria, 3) group N Streptococci and 4) certain group D Streptococci (also called Enterococci). Bifidobacteria are the most numerous in overall count in the large intestine, while Lactobacilli and Streptococci are more numerous in the small intestines.

1) Lactobacilli: This genus includes species such as L. acidophilus*, L. rhamnosus*, L. plantarum*, L. casei*, L. bulgaricus and L. lactis. “L” stands for Lactobacillus, the genus name. L. bulgaricus (found in yogurt) along with L. lactis, are transient, non-implanting flora, while certain strains of L. acidophilus, L. rhamnosus, L. plantarum, and L. casei can implant.

2) Bifidobacteria: Over 30 bifidal species have been isolated. The species most often found in humans are B. longum*, B. breve*, B. bifidum*, B. adolescentis and B. infantis. They are strictly anaerobic (and therefore fragile) and require more complex sugars such as lactose and dextrins or fructooligosaccharides (FOS) to grow and multiply.

3) Group N Streptococci: Also called “lactococci,” this genus includes S. lactis and S. thermophilus. These species are commonly used in the fermentation of yogurt (S. thermophilus) and cheeses. They do not implant, but are found in the intestinal tract as long as they are ingested.

4) Group D Streptococci: This is a Streptococci subgroup known as Enterococci. E. faecium (previously named Streptococcus faecium) is a normal inhabitant of the human gut. It is found throughout nature and often in foods. E. faecium/S. faecium is prolific and produces high levels of lactic acid. It is, however, controversial and no longer favored for human supplementation.

Each probiotic species tends to colonize its own separate regional ecological niche in the intestines. These niches reflect differences in pH, nutrient availability, aeration (oxygen level), peristalsis (wave-like intestinal motions that move food through), sloughing of intestinal cells, and secretion of mucia (a mucous-like protective barrier from the large intestine’s goblet cells).

It may be seen that with respect to probiotics, your intestines support a complete ecosystem of lactobacteria. Keeping gut populations of probiotics healthy and strong is a major key to good health.

* strains included in PolyDophilus

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