The Most Important Principles for Staying Young: Two More Reasons to Take a Daily Probiotic!

9 Aug

Our basic premise is that your body is amazing.  You get a do over. It doesn’t take that long, and it isn’t that hard if you know what to do.  In these notes, we give you a short course in what to do so it becomes easy for you and for you to teach others. We want you to know how much control you have over both the quality and length of your life.

From your passage through the birth canal to your first taste of breast milk, encounter with your pet dog or cat, and handful of not-so-tasty dirt in the backyard, you built your gut biome—that super-dense world of trillions of microbes that live in your gastrointestinal system (as well as on your skin and in your mouth). And you want them in and on there!

If you don’t already take a daily probiotic, a new study just came out that gives even more data to encourage you to do so because, as it turns out, a daily probiotic can also help strengthen your bones. Thicker bones help prevent hip fractures and decrease low back pain (especially when combined with spongier discs that often are part of the same process).

Swedish researchers looked at the impact of giving a daily dose of the lactobacillus bacteria as a probiotic for one year to 90 women age 76 or older and found it reduced their bone loss by 50 percent! And unlike medications given for osteoporosis (brittle bone disease), the probiotics had no undesirable side effects.

It is estimated that around 8.2 million women and 2 million men in the United States have osteoporosis, and an additional 27.3 million women and 16.1 million men have low bone mass (osteopenia). Fractures of the hip are a common result of osteopenia and osteoporosis when a fall occurs. Hip fractures severely compromise independent living and increase risk of premature death.

So take note: If these data prove relevant to all of us (not just older men and women), then to strengthen our bones, we should all consider starting a daily regimen of probiotic supplements (we like Culturelle—which has lactobacillus as was the species in the study—I am on the company’s scientific advisory board—and Digestive Advantage—both are designed to survive the trip through corrosive stomach acids) and enjoy fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, and kombucha. Plus, eat lots of prebiotic foods that nurture theour gut bacteria. That includes garlic, onions, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, bananas, walnuts, wheat bran, asparagus, and all high-fiber 100 percent whole grains, veggies, and fruits.

There are other substantial benefits of the specific strain of bacteria used in the study mentioned above.  Lactobacillus is one of the bacteria charged with keeping a proper balance between competing microbes in your gastrointestinal system, so you can maintain good digestion, steady blood glucose levels, a healthy immune system, and avoid over-the-top, body-wide inflammation.  If you’re short on lactobacillus, you may trigger or worsen ulcerative colitis and other gastro-inflammatory problems.

New research has also revealed that lactobacillus may play a role in maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Writing in the journal Nature, the researchers explain that lactobacillus can restore the proper balance of salt in your system. When these researchers fed certain lab rodents a high-salt diet, it raised their blood pressure to hypertension levels. But when the researchers gave the animals lactobacillus, low and behold, their blood pressure dropped. So if you’re combating HBP and are feeling frustrated with your efforts to get it under 120 over 70, or fighting low bone mass, or osteopenia, that’s another reason to give a regimen of lactobacillus supplements a try.  As we stated, you can also get smaller lactobacillus doses from yogurt and kefir, but you have to eat more than several quarts a day of those to get the same number of Lactobacillus colonies.

There are other choices you make that help or hurt your gut biome; those choices not only influence you gut and whether it acts up, and your blood pressure and bone mass, but also they’re essential for everything from a healthy immune system, to controlling your weight and glucose levels, to helping prevent acne, and for helping maintain a positive mood. When they’re out of whack because of an unhealthy diet, chronic stress, overuse of antibiotics, or chronic infection and inflammation, lack of physical activity, you’re at risk for some cancers, heart disease, depression, obesity, and autoimmune conditions such as Crohn’s or irritable bowel disease (IBD).

Next month, we’ll tell you of five choices to avoid and five to make to keep your microbes keeping you younger.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to send questions to:

Dr. Mike Roizen

PS: Please continue to order the new book by Jean Chatzky and myself, AgeProof: Living Longer Without Running Out of Money or Breaking a Hip.


NOTE: You should NOT take this as medical advice.
This article is of the opinion of its author.
Before you do anything, please consult with your doctor.


You can follow Dr Roizen on twitter @YoungDrMike (and get updates on the latest and most important medical stories of the week).  The YOU docs have two newly revised books: The patron saint “book” of this column YOU Staying Young—revised and YOU: The Owner’s Manual…revised —yes a revision of the book that started Dr Oz to being Dr OzThese makes great gifts—so do YOU: ON a Diet and YOU: The Owner’s Manual for teens.  
Michael F. Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. His radio show streams live on Saturdays from 5-7 p.m. He is the co-author of 4 #1 NY Times Best Sellers including: YOU Staying Young.

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