Can We Protect Ourselves from a Toxic Environment?

Polluted food, water pollution, air pollution, noise pollution, electromagnetic pollution — it appears that toxins are everywhere in our environment. These days, one also hears about toxic people and relationships.

The Essentials: Food, Water, and Air

Food is a major area of concern with regard to toxicities. In addition to residues from pesticides and chemical fertilizers used in modern agriculture, prepared foods often contain added sugars, hydrogenated fats, and questionable additives. Even organically grown fruit and vegetables contain their own naturally occurring mildly toxic compounds that have evolved to protect these plants from predators. Researcher Bruce N. Ames, Ph.D., once remarked that pesticide residues present in non-organically grown produce are far less toxic than these ubiquitous plant “pesticides.”

The water that comes out of your tap may also be contaminated. Insufficiently purified water may contain toxic residues and disease-carrying microorganisms. Even seemingly pristine wilderness springs can be contaminated. Pipes can add lead or copper to the water they carry. Lead has no place in the human body and copper, while an essential mineral, can build up in the body to toxic levels. Compounds in some plastic containers can also leach into otherwise pure water.

There’s no doubt that the air we breathe is altered by a number of factors. Automobile exhaust and power plant emissions contain carbon dioxide (CO2) that can reach higher than normal levels in the atmosphere. In addition to CO2, auto exhaust releases hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and other compounds. Sulfur dioxide is also released by industrial sources and has a natural source in volcanic eruptions. Volcanoes, forest fires, dust storms, and hurricanes can increase fine particle air pollution, which is associated with cardiovascular disease and asthma.

Other Environmental Concerns

Exposure to loud noise, such as that emitted by machinery or gunfire, or by listening to loud music through headphones, can result in hearing loss that can in many cases be permanent. Chronic exposure to traffic noise has been associated with immune dysfunction and type 2 diabetes.1,2

Low frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs), a type of radiation that emanates from power lines, have been linked with childhood acute leukemia.3 Higher-frequency radiation such as that which comes from X-rays is far more damaging. This type of radiation is also present in the ultraviolet light that comes from the sun.

Cigarette smoke, flame retardants, household cleaning supplies, prescription and nonprescription drugs, mercury-containing dental fillings, ozone, BPA . . . the list goes on and on. And what about toxic family members, coworkers or political leaders, or so-called toxic thoughts?

While there a few things people can do to reduce environmental toxins, much is beyond our control. One can, however, make changes to the body’s microenvironment to minimize the effects of pollution.

What Can We Do To Protect Ourselves?

Not to be confused with residential drug or alcohol detoxification center programs, “detoxes” or “cleanses” involve short periods during which modified fasting is employed. Cleanses often involve the consumption of fresh-squeezed (preferably organic) juices along with nutritional supplementation to help make up for any deficiencies associated with this regimen. While short term cleanses may give the body a break from the constant onslaught of toxins ingested with modern diets, it is questionable how much of the body’s toxic burden will be reduced. Lipid-soluble compounds can lodge in the body’s fat stores for many years.

More intensive detoxing can involve vigorous exercise and supplementation with niacin to improve blood circulation, as well as saunas to increase the elimination of toxins through the skin via perspiration. The addition of cold-pressed oils may also help. In a study involving mice that were genetically engineered so that they would not make new fatty acids in the liver, the addition of fat to the diet helped burn pre-existing fat deposits.4 Senior researcher Clay F. Semenkovich, M.D., from Washington University School of Medicine, suggested that people who want to lose fat stored in peripheral tissues could consume small amounts of fats, such as fish oils, that might activate fat-burning pathways through the liver. Reduction of stored fats could help increase the loss of fat-soluble toxins.

A human trial conducted by researchers at Columbia University in collaboration with several other institutions found an association between B vitamin supplementation and protection against fine particulate matter’s effect on the immune and cardiovascular system. This study showed that a two-hour exposure to concentrated ambient PM2.5 had a substantial impact on heart rate, heart rate variability, and white blood counts. “We demonstrated that these effects are nearly abolished with four-week B-vitamin supplementation", concluded Andrea Baccarelli, M.D., Ph.D., who coauthored the report of the findings.5

B vitamins have been shown to reduce the effects of fine particulate matter on the human epigenome, which helps determine the genes that are active and inactive in a cell. In a study on healthy adults, a two-hour exposure to concentrated ambient PM2.5 affected the epigenetic landscape of circulating CD4+ T helper cells. It was possible to prevent these effects with B-vitamin supplementation (i.e., folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12).”6

Alpha tocopherol (vitamin E) is another vitamin that could help protect the body from the effects of air pollution. In a study involving 5,519 participants, alpha-tocopherol and a vitamin C metabolite known as threonate were among 8 metabolites that were significantly decreased in association with exposure to small particulate matter and low forced expiratory volume, a measure of lung function.7 The strongest association with particles smaller than 2.5 microns and low forced expiratory volume was observed with alpha-tocopherol, which suggests that the mechanism utilized by particulate matter to damage the lungs could be oxidative attack, which vitamin E helps protect against.

A controlled trial conducted in a heavily industrialized region of China found that a beverage that contained freeze-dried broccoli sprout powder experienced a 61% increase in urinary excretion of conjugates of the carcinogen benzene and a 23% increase in the excretion of the lung irritant acrolein increased over a 12-week period. The study revealed a simple and safe means that can be taken by individuals to reduce the levels of some chemicals associated with air pollution.8

For those exposed to noise pollution, the herb rhodiola may help. A study in which rats were exposed to noise levels greater than 95 decibels found adverse liver effects among control animals, while these changes did not occur in the livers of animals treated with rhodiola.9 Rhodiola may also help people handle the effects of mental stressors.

The Bottom Line

From the above data, you have probably gathered that toxins cannot be avoided altogether. Though modern civilization is a significant contributor, many pollutants also have natural sources. Although one can attempt to implement environmental modifications, the best course of action is to strengthen and protect oneself to resist the potential adverse effects of our environment.

References

  1. Kim A et al. PLoS One. 2017 Oct 30;12(10):e0187084.
  2. Sorensen M et al. Environ Health Perspect. 2013;121:217–22.
  3. Sermage-Faure C et al. Br J Cancer. 2013 May 14;108(9):1899-906.
  4. Chakravarthy MV et al. Cell Metab. 2005 May;1(5):309-22.
  5. Zhong J et al. Sci Rep. 2017 Apr 3;7:45322.
  6. Zhong J et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Mar 28;114(13):3503-3508.
  7. Menni C et al. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2015 May 15;191(10):1203-7
  8. Egner PA et al. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2014 Aug;7(8):813-823.
  9. Zhu BW et al. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2003 Sep;67(9):1930-6.

Healthy Living After 40: Tips for Hormone Balance & Weight Management

Carrie Forrest

Turning 40 years old doesn’t have the same negative connotation it had when I was growing up. Or, maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part as I settle into my fourth decade! Still, turning 40 can be a transition for both men and women as our metabolism starts to slow down and our hormones begin to shift. Stressors from jobs, relationships, raising kids, and managing finances can also cause changes in how we sleep and perform.

Therefore, here is how we can stay feeling healthy and strong when we’re 40 and beyond!

8 tips for managing hormone balance and weight management 

1. Be aware of which stressors are taking a toll and learn how to manage stress better. Now is the time to get a handle on stress, so it doesn’t contribute to chronic health conditions. Life will almost certainly have its challenges, but learning how to manage the associated stress is vitally important. Learn about nutrients in the Life Extension® Protocol for Stress Management.

2. Choose a variety of real, whole foods to support healthy digestion and hormone balance. You don’t have to cut out all processed foods, but try to make most of your diet filled with a variety of real foods -- with an emphasis on eating vegetables. The diversity will support a healthy gut microbiome and more plant fiber will ensure that hormones get excreted to maintain proper balance in the body. Check out my clean eating recipe index.

3. Make sure you’re getting 8 hours of sleep. We’re learning more about the dangers of sleep deprivation and its impact on weight control. Studies show that getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep is absolutely essential to everything from immunity to weight management. If you aren’t sleeping well, consider nutrients that support a normal sleep cycle.

4. Surround yourself with people who make you feel your best. There’s no better time to let go of relationships that are toxic. This can include family members or people who you’ve known for decades. Change and growth is natural, but it’s up to you to decide when you’re ready to move on from a relationship. A good indicator if a relationship is healthy for you is to ask yourself if you generally feel good after talking or spending time with an individual. If you can’t say yes, then it’s time to reconsider that relationship.

5. Take care of your thyroid and adrenal glands, especially if you’re always feeling run-down. There are supplements to help with fatigue, and many doctors or alternative health practitioners have protocols that actually support the thyroid and adrenal glands. Managing stress and getting enough sleep are two key lifestyle factors that can help.

6. Choose “clean,” unprocessed foods. For some, too much calorie restriction can lead to frustration, versus putting an emphasis on eating more foods that energize and nourish. A sample ideal meal includes filling half of a dinner plate with cooked vegetables, one quarter of the plate with a complex carbohydrate, and one quarter of the plate with a quality protein source.

7. Watch out for food allergies and sensitivities. These can manifest as skin issues or a change in bowel habits. A functional health practitioner or nutritionist can help you with an elimination diet or food sensitivity test to help determine which foods aren’t working for you. The top 8 allergens include: soy, eggs, shellfish, dairy, gluten, nuts, peanuts, and fish.

8. Join a Clean Eating Challenge! I host a 3-week challenge that helps introduce people to a clean eating approach, or to recommit to a real food diet. It’s less about calorie restriction and more about choosing healthy, whole foods that work for you. Read more and join here.

About: Carrie Forrest holds master’s degrees in business and in public health nutrition. She is the creator of the popular blog, Clean Eating Kitchen to inspire healthy eating with her delicious gluten- and dairy-free recipes and tips. She is also host of the Clean Eating for Women podcast, available on Apple podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, or wherever podcasts are found.






References:

  1. Gu J, Strauss C, Bond R, Cavanagh K. How do mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction improve mental health and wellbeing? A systematic review and meta-analysis of mediation studies. Clin Psychol Rev. 2015 Apr;37:1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2015.01.006. Epub 2015 Jan 31. Review. PubMed PMID: 25689576.
  2. Bifulco M. Mediterranean diet: the missing link between gut microbiota and inflammatory diseases. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2015 Sep;69(9):1078. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2015.81. Epub 2015 May 27. PubMed PMID: 26014263.
  3. Riemann D. Sleep hygiene, insomnia and mental health. J Sleep Res. 2018 Feb;27(1):3. doi: 10.1111/jsr.12661. PubMed PMID: 29336095.
  4. Féart C, Samieri C, Allès B, Barberger-Gateau P. Potential benefits of adherence to the Mediterranean diet on cognitive health. Proc Nutr Soc. 2013 Feb;72(1):140-52. doi: 1017/S0029665112002959. Epub 2012 Dec 11. Review. PubMed PMID: 23228285.
  5. Singh R, Salem A, Nanavati J, Mullin GE. The Role of Diet in the Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Systematic Review. Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2018 Mar;47(1):107-137. doi: 10.1016/j.gtc.2017.10.003. Review. PubMed PMID: 29413008.

The Impact of Falling Down and How to Prevent Falls

In 1973, Erica Jong’s ground-breaking novel Fear of Flying, which documented a 29-year-old woman’s journey of self-discovery, became a national bestseller. Fast-forward to the present day, and a likelier concern for the book’s aging heroine might be her fear of falling.

The Physical and Psychological Impact of Falls

Falls come at a significant cost to the individual and society. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the number one cause of injuries and injury-related mortality among older men and women. One out of four people aged 65 and over in the US fall every year, and 2.8 million older individuals are treated each year in emergency facilities for fall-related injuries.

Approximately 800,000 of these falls result in hospitalization. Traumatic brain injury, which is most commonly the result of falling, is a major cause of disability among older individuals.

In addition to their physical impact, falls can have significant psychological effects. Many people who have experienced a fall develop a strong fear of falling again. This can lead to reduced activity levels and can cause people to hesitate to venture from their homes. Less activity leads to less strength and worsened balance, which increase the risk of another fall. By seeking to reduce their risk of falling by limiting their activities, fall victims can actually bring about the event they fear, resulting in a vicious cycle of diminished activity levels and additional falls.

Populations at Risk of Falling

Advanced age, decreased physical strength, having fallen during the previous year, and pain were associated with a fear of falling in a study of individuals aged 60 to 92 years.1 In this study, 26.9% of the men and 43.3% of the women reported a fear of falling. As the authors report, the prevalence of being afraid of falling among community dwellers is 29% in the USA, ~58% in Japan, and ~77% in Korea. The authors also note that a fear of falling is associated with comorbidities such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Why do older people fall more often than younger adults? According to the CDC, muscle weakness (sarcopenia), impaired balance, challenges with walking, poor vision, home hazards, prescription and over-the-counter medication side effects, foot disorders and poor footwear, decreased vitamin D levels, and other factors can all increase the risk of falls. Osteoporosis has been linked to falling, when fracture of a weak, brittle bone is the cause, rather than the effect of a fall.

While many medications are essential for the treatment of a variety of conditions, a number of prescription drugs have been associated with the risk of falls. Opioids, sedatives, hypnotics, tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors have been associated with an increased risk of falls. There is evidence that drugs used to treat high blood pressure, including calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, and angiotensin system blockers may also increase the risk of falls. If these drugs are deemed necessary, care should be taken to minimize other fall risks.

Reducing the Risk of Falling

Supplementation with a protein-enriched diet, calcium, and vitamin D was associated with less than half the risk of falling in comparison with usual care in a study that included a group of malnourished older adults.2 Consuming an optimal amount of protein on a daily basis is critical for the maintenance of muscles that strengthen and stabilize the body.

A review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that calcium and vitamin D supplementation combined with clinic-level quality improvement strategies and multifactorial assessment and treatment was associated with an 88% lower risk of injurious falls compared with usual care.3 Combined osteoporosis treatment, which included bisphosphonate, calcium supplementation, and vitamin D supplementation, was associated with a 78% lower risk of fractures.

How Vitamin D Protects Against Falls

In a review of vitamin D’s effects on strength, frailty, and falls, M. Halfon and colleagues observe that vitamin D supplementation is associated with improved muscle strength and gait and that, despite the interpretation of some meta-analyses, a lower risk of falls has been attributed to supplementing with vitamin D due to direct effects on muscle cells.4 They add that insufficient vitamin D levels have also been associated with frailty, which increases fall risk. Vitamin D supplementation has also been associated with improved postural balance.5 It has additionally been suggested that vitamin D’s protection against falling could also be the result of a cognitive benefit associated with the vitamin. People who are cognitively impaired can experience impaired foresight, planning, and reactions, which may lead to falls.

Due to the high level of vitamin D deficiency among older individuals, routine treatment with vitamin D supplements has been recommended to prevent falls and associated disability and mortality. A consensus statement from the American Geriatrics Society concluded, based on clinical trials of older community-dwelling and institutionalized persons and meta-analyses, that a serum 25 hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentration of 30 ng/mL (75 nmol/L) should be a minimum goal to achieve in older adults, particularly in frail adults, who are at higher risk of falls, injuries, and fractures. The workgroup concluded that the goal to reduce fall injuries related to low vitamin D status could be achieved safely, and would not require practitioners to measure serum 25(OH)D concentrations in older adults in the absence of underlying conditions that increase the risk of hypercalcemia, such as advanced renal disease, certain malignancies, or sarcoidosis.

“Vitamin D supplementation is emerging as an easy, safe and well-tolerated fall reduction/prevention strategy due to the beneficial effects on the musculoskeletal system with improvements in strength, function and navigational abilities,” write F. D. Shuler and colleagues. The authors conclude that, based on data from meta-analyses, a maximal fall reduction benefit in seniors could be achieved when correcting vitamin D deficiencies and when performing calcium supplementation.6

The Bottom Line

Exercise remains one of the most important therapies for fall prevention, as well as protection against a number of other diseases and age-related conditions. However, some individuals are unable or unwilling to devote the time and energy to this important facet of health. Supplementation with proteins, calcium, and vitamin D is a simple and inexpensive way for older men and women to maintain optimal health and help conquer their fear of falling.

References

  1. Tomita Y et al. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018 Jan;97(4):e9721.
  2. Neelemaat F et al. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2012 Apr;60(4):691-9.
  3. Tricco AC et al. JAMA. 2017 Nov 7;318(17):1687-1699.
  4. Halfon M et al. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:953241.
  5. Cangussu LM et al. Menopause. 2016 Mar;23(3):267-74.
  6. Shuler FD et al. W V Med J. 2014 May-Jun;110(3):10-2.

6 Ways to Harmonize Your Home and Health with Feng Shui

Kathryn Weber

In Feng shui, which is often called the “Chinese Art of Placement,” the focus is on creating a living space that promotes happy relationships, vibrant health, growth, and prosperity. The greatest of Feng shui’s aspirations? Good health. A home with good Feng shui is one in which health is enhanced for everyone who lives there. Likewise, in Feng shui, problems in the home can sometimes show up as health issues.

A foundational concept of Feng shui is that there are unseen rivers of energy that move through every space. These rivers are called qi or chi. If energy is blocked, it can create a variety of problems ranging from stress -- to depression and fatigue.

More than just being an esoteric or new age philosophy, there’s real science behind Feng shui’s premise that the way your home functions and looks affects your life and health. In Feng shui, there is one room that counts toward health and wellbeing more than any other … the bedroom. A study by the National Sleep Foundation found that people who made their bed in the morning, or almost every morning, reported sleeping better by 19% than those who do this less often; 75% of people reported that they slept better when they had fresh, clean sheets on their bed.1

While most of the emphasis in Feng shui is usually on clutter and furniture placement, a frequently overlooked area is simple cleanliness. Research from Indiana University found that people in cleaner homes were healthier than those in messier ones, possibly as a result of the increased physical activity that is needed to maintain a cleaner home.2 Clutter can be a source of stress; the link between stress and health has been widely established. A recent study showed that a home’s state of repair and appearance had a strong effect on the residents’ wellbeing, including anxiety. 3,4

Here are six easy ways in which you can improve your home and health with Feng Shui:

1. Make your bedroom a priority.

For optimal rest, make sure your bed is against a solid wall from which you can easily see the door. Keep your bed and mattress clean and in a good shape. Avoid computers, desks, and exercise equipment in the bedroom to keep it restful. Make your bed daily and change sheets weekly to help you sleep well.

2. Keep your kitchen clean and organized.

Your kitchen is a source of wealth and health in Feng shui. A dirty kitchen and old food represent declining health and finances. Keep the fridge and pantry stocked with healthy foods, and scrupulously clean including tossing out any food that is past its “Use By” date.

3. Schedule regular house cleaning.

The Chinese say that a clean house is a lucky house. When your house is dirty, it makes you feel bad. Conversely, there’s no denying how wonderful and relaxing you feel when it’s been freshly cleaned. Schedule time to clean weekly. If the time is tight, hire a housekeeping service.

4. What you see is what you get.

In Feng shui, the eyes and the heart are connected. When your home appears restful and attractive, it can lower cortisol levels, which can make people feel less stressed. 4 Studies have shown that women who see clutter in their homes often have more fatigue and depression. For good Feng shui and good health, take steps to keep your home neat, organized, and visually appealing.

5. Good health starts from the outside.

Beneficial energy and good Feng shui practice begins outside and works inward. Realtors know this -- they call it “curb appeal”. In particular, plants are representative of good health. When your home is attractive and nicely landscaped outside, it lifts the quality of energy that enters your home. Keep your home’s exterior looking good and you will feel good.

6. Keep up regular home maintenance.

In Feng shui practice, deferred maintenance is deferred health. When you’re kept awake by a running toilet, or a dripping faucet, not only are you wasting water but Feng shui principles view this as synonymous with your health and wealth dripping away drop-by-drop. Preserving your home’s appearance and function with regular updates and maintenance keeps you, and your house, in peak condition.

About: Kathryn Weber has over 23 years classical Chinese Feng shui practice and writes the Red Lotus Letter Feng Shui e-Zine for wealth and an award-winning Feng shui blog. She lives in Austin, Texas and helps homeowners and businesses employ the eastern practice of Feng shui with a western practicality. Kathryn's been featured in publications such as Seventeen, First for Women, Faces, Realtor.com, Conceive, and Natural Health. Sign up for her free program, 28 Days to Prosperity, a 4-week e-course that helps you get unstuck and create financial flow in your life. 

Visit her website at www.redlotusletter.com or on social media at Facebook.com/Fengshuikatie 

References:

  1. National Sleep Foundation sleep study. https://sleepfoundation.org/sites/default/files/bedroompoll/NSF_Bedroom_Poll_Report.pdf
  2. Cleanliness promotes cardiovascular health. Indiana University. http://newsinfo.iu.edu/web/page/normal/14627.html
  3. Home stress: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/22/home-organization-stress-survey_n_3308575.html
  4. Society for Personality and Social Psychology. No Place Like Home: Home Tours Correlate With Daily Patterns of Mood and Cortisol. https://undecidedthebook.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/saxbe-repetti-pspb-2010.pdf

Probiotic Strain Lactobacillus Reuteri (L. Reuteri) Improves Intestinal Health and Fights Bad Bacteria

Lactobacillus reuteri is a probiotic whose benefits have only recently come to light. Originally classified as a strain of Lactobacillus fermentum, it wasn’t until 1980 that L. reuteri was identified as a distinct species of lactic acid bacteria subsequent to research conducted in the 1960s by Gerhard Reuter, for whom L. reuteri was named.

In an article titled “The Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium microflora of the human intestine: composition and succession,” it was observed by Dr. Reuter that L. reuteri and L. gasseri were the predominant indigenous Lactobacillus species in infants as well as in adults and that the microflora of these bacteria remains stable lifelong.1

L. reuteri Helps Reduce Diarrhea of Varying Causes

Healthy bacteria colonize the gut to help lower the risk of infection, and L. reuteri is no exception. In 40 children aged 6 to 36 months who were hospitalized with acute diarrhea caused mainly by rotavirus infection, daily administration of L. reuteri decreased the mean duration of watery diarrhea compared to a placebo.2 As soon as the second day of treatment, watery diarrhea was present in just 26% of those who received the probiotic compared with 81% of the placebo group. Stool sample cultures revealed L. reuteri as constituting more than three-fourths of total lactobacilli.

In another study involving children hospitalized with acute diarrhea, early treatment with a combination of L. reuteri and Lactobacillus rhamnosus given twice daily for 5 days was associated with a 48% reduction in length of hospitalization in comparison with a placebo.3 At the end of the study, rotavirus was detected in 46% of children who received a placebo and 12% of those treated with lactobacilli.

In a randomized trial involving 201 infants who were given L. reuteri, Bifidobacterium lactis, or no probiotics for 12 weeks, the control group had more episodes of fever and more frequent and longer diarrhea episodes than either treatment group.4 Compared to infants who received B. lactis or no probiotics, those who received L. reuteri experienced fewer clinic visits, child care absences, days with fever, and antibiotic prescriptions.

A meta-analysis of 8 trials that evaluated the effects of L. reuteri in diarrheal diseases in children concluded that the probiotic reduces the duration of diarrhea, increases the likelihood of cure, and, in preventive settings, lowers the risk of community-acquired diarrhea in healthy children.5

In adults, L. reuteri given twice daily for 4 weeks significantly lowered the incidence of antibiotic-associated diarrhea compared to a placebo.6 While half of the placebo group developed diarrhea during the treatment period plus 2 weeks of follow-up, just 7.7% of those who received L. reuteri developed the condition.

Probiotic Bacteria L. reuteri May Improve Constipation

And in adults with chronic constipation, a randomized, double-blind trial that evaluated the effects of 4 weeks of L. reuteri supplementation resulted in an average of 2.6 more bowel movements per week among those who received the probiotic compared to 1 additional bowel movement in the placebo group.7 Another investigation of L. reuteri in constipated adults revealed a decrease in the production of methane, which can slow intestinal transit, explaining the increased bowel movement frequency seen in previous studies.8

Beneficial Effects of L. reuteri on Harmful Microorganisms

Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium largely responsible for stomach ulcers and gastric cancer. In a randomized, double-blind trial involving 100 patients who were positive for H. pylori infection, L. reuteri administered alone inhibited H. pylori growth and, when administered with H. pylori eradication therapy, lowered antibiotic-associated side effects.9

When tested against Streptococcus mutans, one of the main dental caries–causing bacteria, yogurt that contained L. reuteri significantly inhibited growth, while yogurt that contained other lactobacilli failed to have an effect.10 In a double-blind trial, the yogurt made with L. reuteri significantly reduced oral Streptococcus mutans compared to a placebo. In a randomized, double-blind trial involving subjects with chronic periodontitis, Lactobacillus reuteri Prodentis orally administered for one month was associated with a significant reduction in plaque index, bleeding on probing, and probing pocket depths, while the placebo group failed to show a statistically significant improvement.11

Frequent urinary tract infection is a challenge faced by many women worldwide. A review of the effectiveness of probiotics for this condition found L. reuteri to be among two lactobacilli that had the greatest protective effect.12

Lactobacillus reuteri could have a place in promoting workplace wellness. A double-blind trial of 262 healthy workers who received a daily dose of L. reuteri or a placebo for 80 days resulted in a significant protective effect against respiratory or gastrointestinal illnesses requiring work absences among probiotic-treated participants.13 While 26.4% of the placebo group reported taking sick leave during the study, sick leave was taken by just 10.6% of the L. reuteri group. Among 53 shift workers, 33% in the placebo group reported being sick during the study compared to none among those who received L. reuteri.

Effects on Cholesterol and Beyond

A randomized trial that compared the L. reuteri strain NCIMB 30242 to a placebo among 127 subjects with high cholesterol levels resulted in a 9.14% decrease in total cholesterol, an 11.64% reduction in low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol, and an 11.3% reduction in non-HDL cholesterol in probiotic-treated participants compared to the placebo group.14 High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) and fibrinogen were also decreased among those who received the probiotic compared to the placebo. Interestingly, in another randomized trial, supplementation with L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 was associated with an increase in serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels after 9 weeks compared to a placebo.15

New findings concerning L. reuteri indicate that the lactobacillus upregulates the hormone oxytocin, associated with mood and human bonding.16

“It is now understood that gut bacteria exert effects beyond the local boundaries of the gastrointestinal tract to include distant tissues and overall health,” write S. E. Erdman and T. Poutahidis in the International Review of Neurobiology. The authors mention that Lactobacillus reuteri upregulates the hormone oxytocin and systemic immune responses, providing many health benefits. Some of these include wound healing, mental health, metabolism, and muscular and skeletal health.

Future research will reveal more concerning the mechanisms and effects of the living organisms that constitute L. reuteri, whose beneficial coexistence with humans has truly earned them the oft-heard moniker of “friendly bacteria.”

References

  1. Reuter G. Curr Issues Intest Microbiol. 2001 Sep;2(2):43-53.
  2. Shomikova AV et al. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1997 Apr;24(4):399-404.
  3. Rosenfeldt V et al. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2002 May;21(5):411-6.
  4. Weizman Z et al. Pediatrics. 2005 Jan;115(1):5-9.
  5. Urbańska M et al. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2016 May;43(10):1025-34.
  6. Cimperman L et al. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2011 Oct;45(9):785-9.
  7. Ojetti V et al. J Gastrointestin Liver Dis. 2014 Dec;23(4):387-91.
  8. Ojetti V et al. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2017 Apr;21(7):1702-1708.
  9. Francavilla R. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2014 May-Jun;48(5):407-13.
  10. Nikawa H et al. Int J Food Microbiol. 2004 Sep 1;95(2):219-23.
  11. Vicario M et al. Acta Odontol Scand. 2013 May-Jul;71(3-4):813-9.
  12. Falagas ME et al. Drugs. 2006;66(9):1253-61.
  13. Tubelius P et al. Environ Health. 2005 Nov 7;4:25.
  14. Jones ML et al. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2012 Nov;66(11):1234-41.
  15. Jones ML et al. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Jul;98(7):2944-51.
  16. Erdman SE et al. Int Rev Neurobiol. 2016;131:91-126.

All Contents Copyright © 1995-2016 Life Extension® All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. You should not stop taking any medication without first consulting your physician.