Digestive Health: Part 2: Probiotics

Probiotics are living microorganisms that when ingested can promote positive health effects to your colon and beyond.

Some Health Benefits of Probiotics

  • Restores the integrity of the bowel’s mucosal barrier
  • Prevents microbial translocation
  • Eliminates toxins
  • Produces bacteriocins that inhibit growth of microbial pathogens
  • Modulates intestinal immune system and pH level
  • Enhances the synthesis and bioavailability of micronutrients, especially vitamin B12 and folate
  • Reduces symptoms and risks associated with IBS, IBD, food intolerance, and autoimmunity

In order to be classified as a probiotic, a microorganism must fulfill defined criteria. They must be natural, non-pathogenic, remain unchanged during their passage through the colon, and lastly have the ability to multiply in the bowel. The most widely used probiotics include Lactobacilli spp, Bifidobacteria spp, Streptococci thermophilus or salivarius, Bacilli spp, yeast Saccharomyces boulardii, and E. coli Nissle 1917 (in some special cases). It is known through extensive research that gut health favors a diverse microbial environment. Whether a combination of different microbes is superior to a single probiotic agent cannot easily be determined due to the diversity of human colonic conditions. As a result, advanced stool testing has been generated to uncover specific features of colon health per individual.

Altered gut bacterial composition, also known as dysbiosis, has been associated with the pathogenesis of many inflammatory diseases and infections. Under certain conditions, probiotics may be successfully used for preventing recurrence in Ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s, and pouchitis. Recent literature suggests taking probiotics may have a negative effect on health. This statement holds true under the assumption that an individual’s microbiome was not fully evaluated to help determine which specific strains one needs versus those one can tolerate. Gut health is all about balance, and if you suffer from GI stress, irritable bowel, or inflammatory bowel conditions, I strongly recommend taking a closer look with advanced stool analysis to help uncover the correct probiotic formula for you.

A final note regarding probiotic products. For many products marketed as probiotics, some of the most fundamental issues relating to quality control, such as characterization, formulation, viability, and safety are scarcely addressed. Therefore, speaking to a naturopathic physician or acquiring company’s quality report can help reassure consumer of product decision and safe usage.


Ravinder Nagpal et al. (2012) Probiotics, their health benefits and applications for developing healthier foods: a reviewFEMS Microbiology Letters, Volume 334, Issue 1.

Quigley, Eamonn M.M. (2019) Prebiotics and Probiotics in Digestive Health. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology , Volume 17 , Issue 2.


Thursby E, Juge N. (2017) Introduction to the human gut microbiotaBiochem J. 2017;474(11):1823–1836.

Ríos-Covián D, Ruas-Madiedo P, Margolles A, Gueimonde M, de Los Reyes-Gavilán CG, Salazar N. Intestinal Short Chain Fatty Acids and their Link with Diet and Human Health. Front Microbiol. 2016;7:185. Published 2016 Feb 17. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2016.00185

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