A review, published in the European Journal of Public Health, determines the efficacy of probiotics over antibiotics. It states that probiotics can potentially be used to lessen the need for antibiotics among infants and children.
The review involved researchers from England, the Netherlands, and the United States of America. They observed data from a number of studies enumerating the health benefits of probiotics. Around twelve studies were brought under examination.
The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics assisted the study.
The researchers noted that findings of almost all the studies demonstrated that infants and children, receiving probiotics as a daily health supplement, were 29 percent less likely to have been prescribed antibiotics. Moreover, the analysis of the highest quality studies revealed that this percentage increased to around 53 percent.
Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that at least two million cases of antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the U.S. every year. This has resulted in 23,000 deaths. The only way to control the situation is to curb the use of antibiotics.
Dr. Daniel Merenstein, the study’s senior investigator and a professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine, stated that the respective research entails the regular consumption of probiotics as it helps to reduce the use of antibiotics.
He further commented that the consumption of probiotics can diminish the occurrence, extent, and severity of specific kinds of acute respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. However, it is still unknown whether the reduced rate of infections is linked to the lessened use of antibiotics or not?
Probiotics as health supplements
Probiotics are basically the good bacteria in your gut. They offer various health benefits when consumed. Some people take probiotics as supplements. These supplements intend to promote healthy gut flora with beneficial microorganisms. These microbes strengthen your Immune system aiding your body to fight infections and foreign invaders.
Most of the times, probiotics come in the form of supplements and foods prepared by fermentation employing bacteria. For example, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, and yogurt. There are broad-spectrum probiotics or multi-probiotics that combine different species in the same product.
The exact mechanism explaining how exactly does probiotics fight infections is still unknown. Dr. Merenstein believes that probiotics may adopt several potential mechanisms to serve the purpose. These may include probiotic production of pathogen inhibitors and immune regulation etc.
Another researcher Dr. Sarah King, the study’s lead author from Cambridge, England, also commented on her views. She encourages further studies in people of all ages, especially among the elders. According to her, continued research can possibly determine that if the regular use of probiotics is associated with an overall reduction in antibiotic prescriptions. This crucial link can definitely affect the use of probiotics in general medicine and consumers in general.
Fast facts on probiotics
Ingesting probiotics i.e. healthy bacteria competitively exclude the bacterial pathogens. These pathogens are the possible cause of gut infections.
Most probiotics are bacteria. However, some types of yeasts serve as probiotics as well. Probiotics and prebiotics are two different things. The former is healthy bacteria and the latter are dietary fibers feeding these friendly bacteria residing in your gut.
Two of the most common groups of probiotics are Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. Each group has different species with multiple strains. Different probiotics address different health conditions.
For example, Bifidobacterium bifidum, B. longum, Lactobacillus crispatus, L. gasseri, and Lactobacillus GG, increase your corporal defenses against allergies, infections, and even cancer.