Take two yogurts and
call me in the morning
By Angela Pirisi
PROBIOTICS ARE “FRIENDLY” bacteria
that naturally inhabit the gut by the billions,
and they’re also found in some foods containing lactic acid, particularly yogurt and fermented dairy drinks, which can help boost the
body’s supply of these beneficial micro-organ-isms. It sounds counterintuitive to invite bacteria into one’s life, but these good bugs form a
neighbourhood watch system within that keeps
the bad bugs that cause pain and infection in
check, so they don’t organize a coup.
Scientific evidence supporting the health
benefits of probiotics has caused them to start
gaining the commonsense health status of “an
apple a day” and rivalling the popularity of
antioxidants. And international research
efforts are under way to see if probiotics could
be a viable alternative to antibiotics, or at least
bolster their ability to work.
Different types and strains of probiotics
tout specific benefits, many of which are only
starting to be explored and understood.
Research has shown that certain types can
help optimize the functioning of the body’s
immune system, while others improve bodily
functions, such as digestion.
“It’s essential that they be alive,” explains
Mary H. Perdue, Ph.D., a probiotics researcher
at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
“Many products, including yogurt, may have
used probiotics for fermentation, but they are
no longer alive. Look for evidence of living
microbes on the label.”
Scientists are examining the ben efits of
probiotics on several health issues, including:
Gastrointestinal (GI) stress. Mental stress
has long been linked to GI symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease and
ulcerative colitis. Now Perdue and her colleagues at McMaster University have found
that stress allows bacteria to escape the gut
through a weakened lining of the GI tract,
causing inflammation and alarming the
immune system. Using a powdered extract
combination of two Lactobacillus strains (L.
helveticus and L. rhamnosus) countered this
effect, helping to repair the lining and preventing bacterial trespassing.
Ear infections. A Swedish study published
in the British Medical Journal in 2001 found
that administering a probiotic (
alpha-strepto-coccus bacteria) in a nasal spray reduced the
incidence of common ear infections (otitis
media) in children by 42 per cent.
Diarrhea. One of the more well-touted
benefits of probiotics is to combat diarrhea
associated with antibiotic use or travel, but
scientific evidence is strongest for its efficacy
in treating children. Lactobacillus probiotic
therapy shortens the duration of acute diarrhea in children by approximately one day,
according to studies.
Yeast and bladder infections. Findings
from the University of Western Ontario,
London, suggest that two specific Lactobacillus
strains (L. rhamnosus GR- 1 and L. fermentum
RC- 14) can help stave off recurrent episodes
of yeast vaginitis, bacterial vaginosis and urinary tract infections.
Cholesterol. Preliminary findings from
Japanese researchers demonstrated that consuming a low-fat yogurt drink containing
Bifidobacterium longum strain BL1 for a
month reduced serum total cholesterol in
people with moderately high cholesterol.
Allergies. Finnish scientists have found that
babies who received L. rhamnosus GG from
birth to 6 months were less likely to develop
eczema, and that the probiotic’s protective
effects were long term. Other research has
shown that the same probiotic strain can reduce
the risk of allergy to cow’s milk in babies. C
Angela Pirisi is a Toronto-based writer who
regularly covers health and psychology issues
for a variety of publications.
The Costco Connection
Costco members will find CoQ10 and vitamins on costco.com, and these items, as
well as yogurt and spices, at their local
ber Dr. Michael B. Schachter, medical director
of the Schachter Center for Complementary
Medicine in Suffern, New York.
“A growing body of evidence suggests
that using coenzyme Q10 supplements alone,
or in combination with other drug therapies
and nutritional supplements, may help treat
high blood pressure, congestive heart failure,
cardiomyopathy and angina,” he says.
“Internationally, there have been at least
nine placebo controlled studies on the treatment of heart disease with CoQ10,” agrees
cardiologist Dr. Peter H. Langsjoen, a recognized expert on the subject of CoQ10. “Two
in Japan, two in the United States, two in Italy,
two in Germany and one in Sweden. All nine
of these studies have confirmed the effectiveness of CoQ10 as well as its safety. The majority of the clinical studies concerned the
treatment of heart disease and were remark-
ably consistent in their conclusions: that treatment with CoQ10 significantly improved heart
muscle function while producing no adverse
effects or drug interactions.”
According to Dr. Langsjoen, certain cho-lesterol-lowering drugs (statins) can rob cells
of CoQ10, reducing the body’s ability to naturally improve cholesterol. “Statin drugs,
which are widely prescribed to lower high
blood cholesterol, work by interfering with an
enzyme necessary for the body’s manufacture
of cholesterol, called HMG-CoA reductase,”
he says. “Unfortunately, statin drugs also
block the body’s production of CoQ10,
reducing CoQ10 blood levels by as much as
50 per cent within 30 days.”
Supplementing with sufficient amounts
of CoQ10 can prevent a CoQ10 deficiency
caused by statin drugs, without interfering
with the drugs’ therapeutic effects. Research
has shown that supplementation with CoQ10
could reverse statin-related side effects,
including statin cardiomyopathy. “
Statin-induced coenzyme Q10 depletion is pre-ventable if statin drug use is supplemented
with coenzyme Q10,” Langsjoen says.
The right amount
CoQ10 supplements come in a variety of
dosages, from 30 mg to 200 mg, with the higher-dose capsules specifically recommended for
those with heart conditions. Your age, health
status and medications determine which dosage
is right for you. Always consult your physician
before beginning any new regimen. C
Joyce Tellier Johnson, N.D., trains health-care
practitioners across North America.