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Your Gut is your Guardian

Woman eating yoghurt

Studies have shown that 70-80% of the body’s immune cells live in the gastrointestinal tract1

The immune system is key to helping the human body stay well and feel good. It therefore corresponds that a simple way to support the immune system is to support gut health. 

 

The human body is home to around 100 trillion bacteria and keeping them in balance is essential to health and wellbeing. With many more microbial cells than human cells it is estimated that for every human cell there are 10 microorganisms. Most of these microorganisms are bacteria and up to 95% live in your gut. With clinical research in the area burgeoning, the gut microbiome has been linked to a wide  range of conditions, including anxiety,2 diabetes,3 autism,3 and obesity.3

The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”4 Probiotics can support good gut health, but it is important to note

Not all probiotics are created equal.

For a probiotic to support gut health there needs to be clinical research to support the findings and the more clinical studies supporting these findings the better.

 

What to look for in food products?

Some products in Australia and New Zealand have begun calling out the word “probiotic” on the packaging label. For a product to call out the words “probiotic” there is the assurance that the product contains these good and beneficial bacteria in the right amounts to support health as this is a requirements to meet consumer law on using the words “probiotic”.

 

What may not be clear is the benefit, or which probiotic is actually in the product

Here are three extra things to look for:

1. A health benefit or claim on the pack outlining exactly the benefit the probiotic in the product has been associated with. Words like “Supports Immunity”, “Supports Digestion” are examples of notified claims used in Australia.

Examples

Highlighted below are some companies and brands using these probiotics, with on-pack messaging specific for supporting gut-health.

products with probiotics

2. The specific strain of probiotic may be listed. This can be recognized in different ways.

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LGG

Lactobacillus rhamnosus,

BB-12

Bifidobacterium, 

L.CASEI

Lactobacillus paracasei,

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Examples

These products contain probiotics using the recognisable logo’s only. To-date, no notified health claim on probiotics have been made to FSANZ in these products

Probiotics products

3. The amount of probiotic per serving may also be written on pack. It may simply be Billions of Probiotics, or it may be written in the nutritional panel and call out the number of probiotics per serve. Most probiotics require a content of 1 billion cfu per serve to provide a health benefit and this will be based on the evidence found in the clinical studies.

Example

This example of a nutritional panel highlights the quantity of serve of probiotics contained in the product

nutrition fact

What about Supplements?

It is a personal choice between consuming probiotics through food or through a supplement. Probiotics found in supplements have the same scientific and clinical results behind them as the ones found in food. 

If consuming probiotics through a supplement is preferred, look for the specific strain listed on the pack, the health benefit, that will have been registered with the TGA and the quantity per serve.  

Example

products with probiotics

References

  1. Vighi G, Marcucci F, Sensi L et al., Clin Exp Immunol 2008; 153(Supp 1):3-6
  2. Durack J, Lynch SV. The gut microbiome: Relationships with disease and opportunities for therapy. The Journal of experimental medicine. 2019;216(1):20-40.
  3. Clapp M, et al. Gut microbiota's effect on mental health: the gut-brain axis. Clinics and practice. 2017;7(4)
  4. Hill C, et al. The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics consensus statement on the scope and appropriate use of the term probiotic. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014;11:506