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Tuesday, 18 December 2018
Of late, probiotics are never far from the headlines. These live strains of bacteria can help rebalance the bacterial flora naturally found in our gut, imparting a wealth of health benefits. With the vast array of health benefits, everyone should consider a good probiotic in their daily routine.
There is good evidence that probiotics can relieve acute infections, and there is growing evidence that they might even help reduce the symptoms of some psychiatric conditions, such as depression and obsessive compulsive disorders.
Probiotics and acute infections
Existing evidence suggests that probiotics can reduce the risk of developing certain respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. Probiotics can also reduce the length of time that an infection lasts.
The latest study, published in the European journal of Public Health takes these findings one step further. The scientists wanted to uncover whether consuming probiotics regularly might also reduce the need for antibiotics. Following analysis, the scientists concluded that infants and children who took a daily probiotic supplement were 29 percent less likely to be prescribed antibiotics. When they repeated the analysis using only the highest-quality studies, that figure jumped to 53 percent.
Reduce antibiotics with probiotics
Senior investigator Dr. Daniel Merenstein, from the Department of Family Medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington D.C., believes that the results could have wide-ranging implications.
This study only looked at acute infections in younger people — so, as lead study author Sarah King explains, "More studies are needed in all ages, and particularly in the elderly, to see if sustained probiotic use is connected to an overall reduction in antibiotic prescriptions."
If confirmed, the findings could be important. She goes on, "[T]his could potentially have a huge impact on the use of probiotics in general medicine and consumers in general."
Aside from further explorations that examine other age groups, the researchers also want to delve into the nuts and bolts of this relationship; Dr. Merenstein explains one such theory, saying, "We don't know all the mechanisms probiotic strains may leverage."
"But," he continues, "since most of the human immune system is found in the gastrointestinal tract, ingesting healthy bacteria may competitively exclude bacterial pathogens linked to gut infections and may prime the immune system to fight others."
There are around two million cases of antibiotic-resistant infections each year in the United States, resulting in 23,000 deaths. Finding ways to reduce antibiotic resistance is urgent; perhaps probiotics might offer some valuable assistance.
Source: Probiotics may help battle antibiotics resistance; Tim Newman for Medical News Today; 17th Sept 2018.