Probiotics: Eating some bacteria can make you stay healthy, here’s how

Researchers select live bacteria that are good for health and make patients eat them. These bacteria aid immune system in killing the harmful bacteria that might lead to colon cancer

pathogen bacteriasIn a new study, researchers have revealed that they can improve one’s health using probiotics or live bacteria and it can even be used to prevent colon cancer. Not only colon cancer, the new method can be applied to protect us from several other diseases.

Colorectal cancer (CRC), also known as bowel cancer, is the development of cancer from the colon or rectum (parts of the large intestine).  It is due to the abnormal growth of cells that have the ability to invade or spread to other parts of the body. Signs and symptoms may include blood in the stool, a change in bowel movements, weight loss, and feeling tired all the time.

Age and a person’s lifestyle play a major role in colon cancer and seldom is it caused due to genetic disorders. Lifestyle factors like smoking, excessive drinking, lack of physical activity and dietary factors like obesity increase the risk of colon cancer.

Previous studies suggest that bacteria leads to the development of colon cancer, but the new study suggests that consuming a few billion bacteria in a day might help in preventing the disease.

As the name suggests — Probiotic (meaning “for life”), researchers select live bacteria that are good for health and make patients eat them. Those bacteria go into the gut aid the immune system in killing the harmful bacteria that might lead to colon cancer.

The study was presented at the eighth India Probiotic Symposium held in Chennai on Saturday. Researchers present in the meet discussed on ‘emerging opportunities of Probiotics in Health’ and presented their latest findings. One thing that clearly came out of the meet is that we can harness the power of Probiotics to treat several diseases and it can make the immune system stronger to protect us from getting infected.


According to Prof. N.K. Ganguly, “The field has advanced rapidly in the last ten years and it has become clear that the intestinal microbiota and its associated metabolites are involved in obesity, autoimmune disorders, neurological diseases, cancer, childhood under nutrition, and immunity to both enteric and systemic infections.

Current advances indicate that the intestinal microbiota can influence brain development and behaviour of the host. Additionally, recent findings have proved that the lower respiratory tract is not sterile and there exists a core lung micro biome, all pointing to the importance of microbes in human health.”

According to Prof. B.S. Ramakrishna, “The gastrointestinal microbiota is a complex ecosystem that interacts with and majorly influences physiological function of the body, in particular the intestine. The gastrointestinal microbiota comprises both beneficial and potentially harmful organisms. Probiotics tilt the balance of the gut microbiota to a favourable profile, and have specific effects on the gastrointestinal immunity. Probiotics alter the expression and redistribution of tight junction proteins and reduce intestinal permeability limiting the absorption of noxious molecules from the gut lumen.

These effects may be important in limiting intestinal inflammation and preventing inflammatory bowel disease in susceptible hosts. Probiotics are therefore useful in the maintenance of intestinal health and prevention of a variety of gut disorders including antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, acute gastroenteritis, inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer, and irritable bowel syndrome.”

According to Prof. Bruno Pot, “The intestinal microbiota of pregnant women changes in the third trimester of pregnancy in order to deliver to the new born baby a microbiota that will help the neonate to develop its own immune system in an optimal way.  Moreover it has been shown that bacteria can be transferred from the mother to the child through breast milk. Even amniotic fluid and umbilical cord blood have been shown to contain selected maternal bacteria. While the vaginal microbiota in normal condition plays a significant role in preventing bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, sexually transmitted infections and urinary tract infections, the composition also changes naturally at the end of pregnancy, presumably to boost an optimal start of the microbiota, and therefore the immune development of the vaginally born baby.

It has been observed that babies born by caesarean section have a microbiota that is different from naturally delivered babies. It is therefore clear that microbiota and host have evolved together in a symbiotic relationship and that this co-evolution is continuing by a ‘programmed’ transfer from mother to child, generation after generation… Surely an important reason enough to care about the quality of our microbiota at all times!”

According to Dr Masanobu Nanno, Deputy Director of Yakult Central Institute at Tokyo in Japan, “A well-balanced gut microbiota with high diversity ensures good health. However owing to lifestyle disorders, gut microbiota can be affected by imbalanced diets, severe stress, unhygienic conditions, drugs, antibiotics or pathogenic infection. Our clinical studies confirm that probiotics are regarded as highly valuable to restore the desirable gut microbiota.

One of the better ways to maintain the health in the elderly is to keep the gut microbiota diverse using probiotics as it improves the gut microenvironment by recovering the well-balanced microbiota in the intestinal tract.  In the case of elderly, they suffer from infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases including cancer more frequently than in younger subjects.

It is also proven in clinical studies that some probiotic strains could reduce the risk of cancer, especially bladder and colorectal cancers. Recent cases have proved that incidence of breast cancer is reduced by regular consumption of fermented milk containing lactic acid bacteria and isoflavone since adolescence.”

Dr Raphael Moriez elaborated that “advances in research have described the importance of gut microbiota in influencing these gut-brain interactions. In clinical practice, evidence of bidirectional microbiota gut-brain interactions comes from the association of the imbalance of the intestinal microbiota with central nervous disorders (e.g. autism, anxiety-depressive behaviours) and functional gastrointestinal disorders. Rodent studies have provided evidence that probiotics (e.g. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria) can influence behaviour, by impacting on gut-brain interactions.”

Dr B Sesikeran said, “That one of the largest community based studies was conducted in India at the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (Kolkata), an ICMR institute. This study was conducted on 4000 children and revealed that consumption of a probiotic drink that contains Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota for 3 months can prevent the incidence of diarrhoea by 14%.Many other studies are being conducted in India to evaluate the benefits of probiotics”.

According to him it will be important to develop a strong regulatory framework for probiotic foods and he was happy to state that the Indian Council of Medical Research and the Department of Biotechnology have established guidelines for probiotic foods which have been adapted in the recently released “Standards of Health supplements, Neutraceutical, Food for Special Dietary Use, Food for Special Medical Purpose, Functional food and Novel Food”.  The same definition and criteria laid down in the guidelines are also part of the regulation.

Source: The Te Cake