Common wisdom says that probotics are a useful supplement for anyone who takes regular antibiotics as they help support intestinal function and gut repair. There is a significant amount of research however to suggest that probiotic supplements are especially important for CFers. In particular, LGG [the lactobacillus GG strain]. Whilst we know that probiotics affect intestinal inflammation research suggests that a relationship exists between intestinal and pulmonary inflammation.
So what are Probiotics?
Our bodies are full of bacteria. Some bacteria make us sick, some help keep us well. Probiotics are foods or nutrition supplements that contain the good bacteria. Most of these organisms are ones that are already present in our bodies, but not always in sufficient quantity to be of the most benefit.
How Can Probiotics Help People with Cystic Fibrosis?
Several studies have been done about the benefits of probiotics. Two recent Italian studies have shown that the probiotic organism, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), can benefit cystic fibrosis patients in a couple of ways.
In the first study, the researchers just looked at the benefits to the intestines. They found that cystic fibrosis patients who take LGG may have a reduction in the intestinal inflammation that often causes them pain
A few years later, the same researchers decided to take it one step further and see how LGG affects the lungs of CF patients. They found that cystic fibrosis patients who took LGG regularly had less bouts with respiratory infections than those that didn’t take LGG.
Where Can I Find LGG?
Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG is available over the counter at many health food stores and pharmacies in capsule form. It is also available in some brands of yogurt. There are many products, including most yogurts with active cultures, that contain Lactobacillus acidophilus. While Lactobacillus acidophilus is a beneficial probiotic, it is not the same as LGG. Read the label carefully to be sure you’re a getting a product that contains LGG.
Sources: Bruzzese, E., Raia, V., Gaudiello, G., Polito, G., Buccigrossi, V., & Formicola, V. (2004). Intestinal inflammation is a frequent feature of cystic fibrosis and is reduced by probiotic administration. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 20, 813-819
Bruzzese, E., Raia, V., Spagnuolo, M.I., Volpicelli, M., De Marco, G., Maiuri, L. (2007). Effect of Lactobacillus GG supplementation on pulmonary exacerbations in patients with cystic fibrosis: A pilot study. Clinical Nutrition. 26, 322-328.
Another study: Effect of Lactobacillus GG supplementation on pulmonary exacerbations in patients with cystic fibrosis: A pilot study
A prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, cross-over study was performed. Nineteen children received LGG for 6 months and then shifted to oral rehydration solution (ORS) for 6 months. In parallel nineteen received ORS and then shifted to LGG. Main outcome parameters were: incidence of pulmonary exacerbations and of hospital admissions, forced expiratory volume (FEV1), and modifications of body weight.
Patients treated with LGG showed a reduction of pulmonary exacerbations (Median 1 vs. 2 , range 4 vs. 4, median difference 1, CI 95% 0.5–1.5; p=0.0035) and of hospital admissions (Median 0 vs. 1, range 3 vs. 2, median difference 1, CI95% 1.0–1.5; p=0.001) compared to patients treated with ORS. LGG resulted in a greater increase in FEV1 (3.6%±5.2 vs. 0.9%±5; p=0.02) and body weight (1.5kg±1.8 vs. 0.7kg±1.8; p=0.02).
LGG reduces pulmonary exacerbations and hospital admissions in patients with CF. These suggest that probiotics may delay respiratory impairment and that a relationship exists between intestinal and pulmonary inflammation.
Source: Clinical Nutrition Journal
The take-away >
Eating yoghurt, even healthy looking yoghurt like Valia may not give you a viable dose of probiotic. It’s certainly good for you but it may help to have an added boost. Experts suggest we need to be giving our kids a viable dose of a strong probiotic to support the gut. According to our clinical dietitian at the hospital, the Metagenics brand [ a natural offshoot of a pharma co.] is one of the stronger more viable “active” doses. And don’t bother with Yakult, experts says that a lot of sugar and the strain of probiotic it offers is not the most effective for their gut health.
Metagenics makes an LGG supplement if you’re interested.