The human gut is a huge and complex ecosystem where trillions of microorganisms, nutrients and cells interact with each other to achieve optimal health and wellbeing. Our bodies rely on many different types of microorganisms for optimal health and wellbeing, and probiotics play an important part of this1, 2.
- What are probiotics?
- History of probiotics
- Benefits of probiotics
- What is probiotic SB?
- How does probiotic SB work in our gut?
- What are the benefits of probiotic SB?
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms that offer health benefits to the host organism, especially on the digestive system. The term ‘probiotic’ is actually derived from the Greek language meaning ‘for life1.’ Probiotics are strains of beneficial bacteria found in fermented foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and kombucha. They are also available as supplements, typically in capsule or powdered form1, 2.
History of probiotics
There is a long history of consuming fermented foods and beverages containing probiotic microorganisms to improve health. As far back as 1907, fermented milk was thought to be beneficial in altering the microflora of the gastrointestinal tract and that many diseases, including the ageing process, were caused by poor gut microflora and bowel health1.
Benefits of probiotics
With both traditional evidence and modern clinical research, we can confirm that probiotics offer several benefits on the body, including:
- Supporting digestive health and function
- Reducing symptoms of medically diagnosed Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Reducing the occurrence of diarrhoea and loose stools
- Helping restore beneficial gut flora during and after antibiotic use
- Supporting immune system function1, 3, 4
‘Dysbiosis’ is the term given to an imbalance or lack of beneficial bacteria in the gut, often caused by a variety of factors like diet, stress and antibiotic usage. Bloating, flatulence, constipation and/or diarrhoea and abdominal pain are some of the most common symptoms of dysbiosis1.
What is probiotic SB?
There are many different strains of probiotics, each with their own unique benefit on the human body. S. boulardii or SB, short for Saccharomyces boulardii, is a type of yeast that has gained a lot of attention over the last few years in the clinical research field, particularly due to its benefits on digestive system health and immune system function. Although it is a yeast, S. boulardii is still classified as a probiotic due to its benefits on the digestive system3, 6, 7.
This strain was first isolated from lychee and mangosteen fruits and was used to help relieve diarrhoea back in the 1950’s4, 5.
How does probiotic SB work in our gut?
S. boulardii supports healthy gastrointestinal function by increasing the production of IgA, an immunoglobulin (or immune protein) that plays an important role in the function of the mucous membranes of the intestines3. It helps to stop the proliferation of harmful pathogens in the gut until the time that the normal, beneficial microflora can be re-established. This is known as ‘colonisation resistance,’ allowing beneficial flora to protect against the unwanted establishment of pathogens5.
What are the benefits of probiotic SB?
This yeast strain has been shown to relieve diarrhoea which can sometimes occur after antibiotic use. It helps to reduce the occurrence of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea by preventing the colonisation of pathogenic, diarrhoea-causing microorganisms in the gut6.
Traveller’s diarrhoea affects as many as 40 million travellers worldwide; and a number of clinical trials have found strong evidence for S. boulardii reducing the occurrence of traveller’s diarrhoea by competing for the same intestinal space as the diarrhoea-causing microorganisms. This helps to eradicate these harmful microorganisms and therefore reduce the symptoms of traveller’s diarrhoea7.
- Braun, L., Cohen, M. (2015), Herbs and Natural Supplements Vol 2, Chapter: Probiotics, pp.771-796, Churchill Livingstone, Elsevier
- Carter, A. (2018), What’s the Connection Between Probiotics and Digestive Health? Healthline, cited 18/12/19, accessed <https://www.healthline.com/health/probiotics-and-digestive-health>
- Williams, N.T. (2010), Probiotics, American Journal of the Health-System Pharmacy, 15; 67(6): 449-458
- Buts, J, P. 2009. Twenty-Five Years of Research on Saccharomyces. boulardii Trophic Effects: Updates and Perspectives. Springer Science and Business Media
- Buts, J, P. 1999. Mechanisms of Action of Biotherapeutic Agents. Sponsor not listed. Date viewed: 14.11.19. Accessed from: http://www.pediatrie.be/BIOTHAGT.htm
- D'Souza, et al. 2002. Probiotics in prevention of antibiotic associated diarrhoea - meta-analysis. Sponsor not listed. Date viewed: 14.11.19. Accessed from: https://www.bmj.com/content/324/7350/1361.long
- Sniffen, J, C. et al. 2018. Choosing an appropriate probiotic product for your patient: An evidence-based practical guide. Plos One. Sponsor not listed. Date viewed: 14.11.19. Accessed from https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?type=printable&id=10.1371/journal.pone.0209205