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Image: Probiotics reduce the need for antibiotics, new review concludes

(Natural News) Probiotics are a certain type of “good” bacteria that offers various health benefits when consumed, and some people take probiotics as supplements with the goal of populating their gut with beneficial microorganisms. However, data from a review has determined that probiotics can also be used to reduce the need for antibiotics among infants and children.

Probiotics as a daily health supplement

The review, which was published in the European Journal of Public Health, involved researchers from England, the Netherlands, and the U.S. who examined data from several studies about the health benefits of probiotics.

The researchers said that once the results from twelve studies were collated, the data showed that “infants and children were 29 percent less likely to have been prescribed antibiotics if they received probiotics as a daily health supplement.” When the analysis was repeated using only the highest quality studies, the results revealed that the percentage increased to a whopping 53 percent.

Dr. Daniel Merenstein, the study’s senior investigator and a professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicineexplained that the finding implies that the regular consumption of probiotics may help reduce antibiotic use.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there are at least two million cases of antibiotic-resistant infections in the U.S. annually, which also results in 23,000 deaths. Experts believe that resistance to the drug can be prevented by curbing the use of antibiotics. (Related: Probiotics reduce allergic response in infants.)

Dr. Merenstein, who is also the director of research programs in the Department of Family Medicine, commented that existing data already proves how the consumption of probiotics can minimize the incidence, duration, and severity of specific types of common acute respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. He added, “the question is whether that reduction is solidly linked to declining use of antibiotics, and we see that there is an association.”

Dr. Sarah King, the study’s lead author from Cambridge, England, noted that further studies in people of all ages are required, especially among the elderly. Continued research can help determine if the regular use of probiotics is associated with an overall reduction in antibiotic prescriptions. Proving this crucial link can significantly affect the use of probiotics in general medicine and consumers in general.

It remains to be seen how exactly probiotics help fight infections, particularly those in the respiratory and lower digestive tract. But Dr. Merenstein believes that there are several potential mechanisms, like probiotic production of pathogen inhibitors and immune regulation.

Experts still haven’t identified all the mechanisms that probiotic strains can leverage, but the majority of the human immune system can be found in the gastrointestinal tract. According to Dr. Merenstein, this means that “ingesting healthy bacteria may competitively exclude bacterial pathogens linked to gut infections and may prime the immune system to fight others.”

The study was supported in part by the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics.

Fast facts on are probiotics

Probiotics refer to living microorganisms that, once ingested, offer different health benefits.

  • Most probiotics are bacteria, but some types of yeasts can also function as probiotics.
  • Probiotics come in the form of supplements and foods prepared by bacterial fermentation. Some examples of probiotic foods include kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, and yogurt.
  • Supplements called broad-spectrum probiotics or multi-probiotics combine different species in the same product.
  • Probiotics are different from prebiotics. The latter are dietary fibers that help nourish the friendly bacteria that already live in your gut.
  • There are at least dozens of different probiotic bacteria with health benefits. Two of the most common groups are Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. Each group is made up of different species that have many strains.
  • Different probiotics can address different health conditions.
  • Strains like Bifidobacterium bifidum, B. longum, Lactobacillus crispatus, L. gasseri, and Lactobacillus GG, can help increase your body’s defenses against allergies, infections, and even cancer.

Visit to read more articles about probiotics and other effective natural remedies for various illnesses.

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