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Lipid Disorders and Acidophilus and Other Probiotics

Some studies suggest that "friendly" bacteria (probiotics) might be able to improve cholesterol profile. Prebiotics, substances that enhance the growth of friendly bacteria, way also be beneficial.

Effect of Acidophilus and Other Probiotics on Lipid Disorders

Probiotics help populate the gut with "good bacteria." These bacteria play a role in the break-down of bile and the removal of cholesterol, ultimately helping reduce the amount of cholesterol in your blood.

Read more details about Acidophilus and Other Probiotics.

Research Evidence on Acidophilus and Other Probiotics

Some but not all studies suggest that probiotics might be able to improve cholesterol profile.123-128,213,250 Prebiotics, substances that enhance the growth of friendly bacteria, have shown inconsistent benefit in studies as well.214-221 One study found that any improvement, if it does occur, is short-lived.262

An 8-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 70 overweight people found that a probiotic treatment containing S. thermophilus and Enterococcus faecium could reduce LDL ("bad") cholesterol by about 8%.45 Similarly positive results were seen in other short-term trials of various probiotics.44,46,73,74,100-101 However, a 6-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial found no long-term benefit.72 Researchers speculate that participants stopped using the product regularly toward the end of the study.

How to Use Acidophilus and Other Probiotics

Probiotics

Cultured dairy products such as yogurt and kefir are good sources of acidophilus and other probiotic bacteria.

Probiotic supplements are also widely available in powder, liquid, capsule, or tablet form. Because probiotics are not drugs, but rather living organisms that you are trying to transplant to your digestive tract, it is necessary to take them regularly. Each time you do, you reinforce the beneficial bacterial colonies in your body, which may gradually push out harmful bacteria and yeasts growing there.

The downside of using a living organism is that probiotics may die on the shelf. Look for products that guarantee living organisms at the time of purchase, not just at the time of manufacture. Another approach is to eat acidophilus-rich foods such as yogurt and kefir, in which the bacteria are most likely still alive.

In addition to increasing your intake of probiotics, you can take fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) supplements that can promote thriving colonies of helpful bacteria in the digestive tract. (Fructo-oligosaccharides are carbohydrates found in fruit. Fructo means "fruit," and an oligosaccharide is a type of carbohydrate.) Taking FOS is like putting manure in a garden; it is thought to foster a healthy environment for the bacteria you want to have inside you. The typical daily dose of fructo-oligosaccharides is between 2 g and 8 g. Note: FOS can also nourish "bad bacteria," so it is probably best to re-balance your intestinal flora with "good bacteria" before introducing FOS.

Prebiotics (FOS and others)

In addition to being available in supplement form, often combined with probiotics, FOS and other prebiotics are found in asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke, leeks, onions, and soybeans, among other foods.

When taken simply for promoting healthy bacteria, FOS are often taken at a dose of 4-6 g daily. When used for therapeutic purposes, the typical dose of FOS is 10-20 g daily, divided into three doses and taken with meals. Side effects such as bloating, flatulence, and intestinal discomfort are common at a daily intake 15 g or more.

Types of Professionals That Would Be Involved with This Treatment

A number of health practitioners, including physicians, naturopathic doctors and nutritionists, might be knowledgeable about using probiotics to help improve your cholesterol levels.

Safety Issues

Probiotics may occasionally cause a temporary increase in digestive gas. But, beyond that, they do not present any known risks for most people. In one trial of 140 healthy infants, formula supplemented with long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and probiotics appeared as safe as standard formula, and did not have any effect on infant growth by the end of the 7-month trial. 1 However, individuals who are immunosuppressed could conceivably be at risk for developing a dangerous infection with the probiotic organism itself; at least one person taking immunosuppressive medications has died in this manner. 2 In a detailed review of four studies, researchers concluded that the use probiotics did not benefit patients with severe acute pancreatitis. 3 Furthermore, according to one study, the use of probiotics led to an increased risk of mortality in patients with severe acute pancreatitis, and should, therefore, be avoided under these circumstances. 4

A Note About Prebiotics (FOS and others)

Some probiotic supplements also contain prebiotics like FOS to "feed" the good bacteria. FOS appear to be generally safe. However, they can cause bloating, flatulence, and intestinal discomfort, especially when taken at doses of 15 g or higher daily. People with lactose intolerance may particularly suffer from these side effects.

Interactions You Should Know About

  • If you are taking antibiotics : It may be beneficial to take probiotic supplements at the same time, and to continue them for a couple of weeks after you have finished the course of drug treatment. This will help restore the balance of natural bacteria in your digestive tract.

References

  1. Gibson RA, Barclay D, Marshall H, Moulin J, Maire JC, Makrides M. Safety of supplementing infant formula with long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and Bifidobacterium lactis in term infants: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Nutr. 101(11):1706-13.
  2. MacGregor G, Smith AJ, Thakker B, Kinsella J. Yoghurt biotherapy: contraindicated in immunosuppressed patients? Postgrad Med J. 78(920):366-7.
  3. Sun S, Yang K, He X, Tian J, Ma B, Jiang L. Probiotics in patients with severe acute pancreatitis: a meta-analysis. Langenbecks Arch Surg. 394(1):171-7.
  4. Besselink MG, van Santvoort HC, Buskens E, Boermeester MA, van Goor H, Timmerman HM, Nieuwenhuijs VB, Bollen TL, van Ramshorst B, Witteman BJ, Rosman C, Ploeg RJ, Brink MA, Schaapherder AF, Dejong CH, Wahab PJ, van Laarhoven CJ, van der Harst E, van Eijck CH, Cuesta MA, Akkermans LM, Gooszen HG, Dutch Acute Pancreatitis Study Group. Probiotic prophylaxis in predicted severe acute pancreatitis: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet. 371(9613):651-9.
  1. Anderson JW, Gilliland SE. Effect of fermented milk (yogurt) containing Lactobacillus acidophilus L1 on serum cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic humans. J Am Coll Nutr. 1999;18:43-50.
  2. Agerholm-Larsen L, Raben A, Haulrik N, et al. Effect of 8 week intake of probiotic milk products on risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2000;54:288-297.
  3. Agerholm-Larsen L, Bell ML, Grunwald GK, et al. The effect of a probiotic milk product on plasma cholesterol: a meta-analysis of short-term intervention studies. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2000;54:856-860.
  4. Richelsen B, Kristensen K, Pedersen SB. Long-term (6 months) effect of a new fermented milk product on the level of plasma lipoproteins—a placebo-controlled and double blind study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1996;50:811-815.
  5. Bertolami MC, Faludi AA, Batlouni M. Evaluation of the effects of a new fermented milk product (Gaio) on primary hypercholesterolemia. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1999;53:97-101.
  6. Agerbaek M, Gerdes LU, Richelsen B. Hypocholesterolaemic effect of a new fermented milk product in healthy middle-aged men. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1995;49:346-352.
  7. Agerholm-Larsen L, Raben A, Haulrik N, et al. Effect of 8 week intake of probiotic milk products on risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2000;54:288-297.
  8. Lewis SJ, Burmeister S. A double-blind placebo-controlled study of the effects of Lactobacillus acidophilus on plasma lipids. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005 Apr 20. [Epub ahead of print]
  9. Hlivak P, Odraska J, Ferencik M, et al. One-year application of probiotic strain Enterococcus faecium M-74 decreases serum cholesterol levels. Bratisl Lek Listy. 2005;106:67-72.
  10. Agerbaek M, Gerdes LU, Richelsen B. Hypocholesterolaemic effect of a new fermented milk product in healthy middle-aged men. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1995;49:346-352.
  11. Bertolami MC, Faludi AA, Batlouni M. Evaluation of the effects of a new fermented milk product (Gaio) on primary hypercholesterolemia. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1999;53:97-101.
  12. Richelsen B, Kristensen K, Pedersen SB. Long-term (6 months) effect of a new fermented milk product on the level of plasma lipoproteins—a placebo-controlled and double blind study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1996;50:811-815.
  13. Anderson JW, Gilliland SE. Effect of fermented milk (yogurt) containing Lactobacillus acidophilus L1 on serum cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic humans. J Am Coll Nutr. 1999;18:43-50.
  14. Agerholm-Larsen L, Bell ML, Grunwald GK, et al. The effect of a probiotic milk product on plasma cholesterol: a meta-analysis of short-term intervention studies. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2000;54:856-860.
  15. Hlivak P, Odraska J, Ferencik M, et al. One-year application of probiotic strain Enterococcus faecium M-74 decreases serum cholesterol levels. Bratisl Lek Listy. 2005;106:67-72.
  16. Williams CM, Jackson KG. Inulin and oligofructose: effects on lipid metabolism from human studies. Br J Nutr. 2002;87(suppl 2):S261-S264.
  17. van Dokkum W, Wezendonk B, Srikumar TS, van den Heuvel EG. Effect of nondigestible oligosaccharides on large-bowel functions, blood lipid concentrations and glucose absorption in young healthy male subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1999;53:1-7.
  18. Giacco R, Clemente G, Luongo D, et al. Effects of short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides on glucose and lipid metabolism in mild hypercholesterolaemic individuals. Clin Nutr. 2004;23:331-340.
  19. Davidson MH, Synecki C, Maki KC, Drennen KB. Effects of dietary inulin in serum lipids in men and women with hypercholesterolaemia. Nutr Res. 1998;3:503-517.
  20. Schaafsma G, Meuling WJ, van Dokkum W, Bouley C. Effects of a milk product, fermented by Lactobacillus acidophilus and with fructo-oligosaccharides added, on blood lipids in male volunteers. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1998;52:436-40.
  21. Jackson KG, Taylor GRJ, Clohessy AM, Wlliams CM. The effect of the daily intake of inulin on fasting lipid, insulin and glucose concentrations in middle-aged men and women. Br J Nutr. 1999;82:23-30.
  22. Pedersen A, Sandstrom B, van Amelsvoort JMM. The effect of ingestion of inulin on blood lipids and gastrointestinal symptoms in healthy females. Br J Nutr. 1997;78:215-222.
  23. Lewis SJ, Burmeister S. A double-blind placebo-controlled study of the effects of Lactobacillus acidophilus on plasma lipids. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005 Apr 20. [Epub ahead of print]
  24. Greany KA, Bonorden MJ, Hamilton-Reeves JM, et al. Probiotic capsules do not lower plasma lipids in young women and men. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007 Mar 14. [Epub ahead of print]
  25. Forcheron F, Beylot M. Long-term administration of inulin-type fructans has no significant lipid-lowering effect in normolipidemic humans. Metabolism. 2007;56:1093-1098.

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