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Friendly bacteria is the name given to the bacteria that live in and on our bodies and are considered to be a part of us (commensal) and to support the healthy function of our bodies.
Friendly bacteria are also referred to as good bacteria, probiotics, probiotic bacteria and live cultures.
Each of us has around 100,000 billion viable microbes (bacteria) living in our intestines, comprising over 1,000 different species and more than 5,000 strains. These microbes weigh around 1.5 kg in total and are referred to collectively as the microbiome. Not all of the bacteria in the microbiome are considered to be friendly and a healthy microbiome is estimated to contain aa minimum of 85% friendly bacteria, with the remaining 15% comprising species considered to be pathogenic if they are able to overgrow and colonise the intestines.
There are thousands of different strains of friendly bacteria naturally present throughout the human body – on our skin, in our mouths, in the vaginal canal and in our gut. Together these bacteria are known as the microbiome and each person’s microbiome is unique to them. The gut microbiome is the focus of much research currently and the area at which ProVen Probiotics are primarily focused.
The strains used in the Lab4 blend of friendly bacteria in ProVen Probiotics have been specifically chosen from the most researched families of bacteria (Lactobacili and Bifidobacteria) and offer a synergistic effect which cannot be gained from a single strain.
Lactobacillus strains tend to provide benefits to the upper intestine (duodenum, jejunum and ileum), whereas Bifidobacteria provide benefits in the large intestine (caecum and colon).
The European Consensus, taken in 2004, outlines a number of criteria to help people distinguish good quality probiotics as follows:
• Have clinically proven health benefits demonstrated using rigorous scientific trials (randomised, double blind, and placebo controlled designed trials).
• Are alive and reach the gut in sufficient number, surviving gastric and bile acid and digestive enzymes during the gastro-intestinal transit until they reach the gut.
• Are clearly defined using modern biological detection methods.
• Are clearly labeled, including the genus (eg. Lactobacillus), the strain e.g acidophilus Cul -21) and amount e.g 10 billion.
• Are shelf stable, thus guaranteeing delivery of the quantity of probiotic until the date of expiry.
You may also want to look for:
– No need for refrigeration
– Manufactured to current Good Manufacturing Practices standard
– Positive independent reviews
– Evidence of safety
ProVen Probiotics satisfy all of these criteria and you can find further information here.
The side effects of friendly bacteria are usually mild and temporary and can include gas and bloating along with mild changes in stool consistency.
This is often a sign that the live bacteria are working as the symptoms are generally the effect of the ‘die-off’ of the pathogenic strains of bacteria, which then produce gas as a side effect of being ‘crowded out’ by the probiotic strains.
No, it is virtually impossible to overdose on probiotics, although taking very large amounts may mildly increase frequency of bowel movements
We all have billions (some estimates say trillions) of friendly bacteria in our body and these are constantly being replaced – around half of our faecal matter is comprised of bacteria.
Prebiotics are completely different from probiotics – they are a type of fibre that cannot be digested directly by humans, but are used as food by the probiotics (friendly bacteria) to help them to multiply and colonise the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract.
Some foods contain prebiotics and if eaten alongside probiotics, they can help to support the multiplication of the probiotic bacteria. These prebiotic foods include raw garlic, raw or cooked onion, raw leeks, raw asparagus, artichoke, dandelion greens and under-ripe bananas.
Some of the products in the ProVen Probiotics range also contain prebiotic fibres FOS (fructooligosaccharides) and GOS (galactooligosaccharides) to support the colonisation of the Lab4 bacteria.
CFU means colony forming units, which are the number of viable bacteria or probiotic cells in the product, which are able to multiply and form colonies of bacteria. They are also referred to as viable cells and this is how we refer to them on our ProVen Probiotics packaging.
Probiotic supplements include varying numbers of friendly bacteria – from 1 billion CFUs to 500 billion or more.
ProVen Probiotics are backed by research at a variety of CFU numbers – ranging from 10 billion to 50 billion.
There is no definitive number of bacteria that has been shown to be ‘best’ and friendly bacteria supplements are available at widely differing doses from millions of CFUs to 100s of billions.
The right dose for you will depend upon the reason you are taking the friendly bacteria supplements and it is important to identify a product that is supported by research for the specific numbers of bacteria it contains.
As well as supplements, friendly bacteria are often added to certain foods such as yoghurt and yoghurt drinks, milk, cheese and now even cereals.
The effectiveness of the friendly bacteria in the body will depend on the strains and numbers of bacteria and it may be useful to check out the evidence supporting these products and the strains of bacteria they contain.
These products also usually contain dairy and may contain a high amount of sugar.