Probiotics greatly benefit digestive health of children, seniors, research says
WASHINGTON New research on the benefits of probiotics in children and seniors was presented at The American College of Nutrition Annual Meeting in a symposium Monday. Scientific experts in the fields of pediatrics, aging, and nutrition discussed the potential uses for probiotics in children as well as the elderly, and for health conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
“Infants don’t have all of their gut bacteria at birth as they acquire it up until about 2 years of age,” stated Allan Walker, professor of Nutrition and Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, as part of a panel of speakers in summarizing the role of probiotics in pediatrics.
Mary Ellen Sanders, a consultant specializing in probiotics, provided an overview of the studies showing the benefits of probiotics and health. She said, “compelling new studies are showing how probiotics can help keep healthy people healthy. One study showed a decreased incidence of common infectious diseases among kids in day care.” She stressed the fact that each individual strain of probiotic can act differently, so a probiotic that helps with digestion may be different from one that supports the immune system.
Stefano Guandalini, professor of Pediatrics and director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center shared the newest research on probiotics and inflammatory bowel disease. “Inflammatory bowel disease is a condition that affects approximately 1 million adults and 150,000 children in the U.S. Emerging studies are showing promise in children and will continue to help determine how we can be using probiotics practically for such serious conditions.”
About 70 percent of our body’s immune system is located in the digestive tract and as we age, our immune function weakens, added Simin Meydani, associate director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. “The idea is that taking in certain probiotics on a regular basis might positively change the bacterial populations in the gut in older people,” she said.
Under normal circumstances in our gastrointestinal systems, there are many more “friendly” bacteria than “bad” bacteria. If this balance shifts, however, the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract may be affected. Research suggests that adding probiotics to the diet can help optimize the functioning of the intestinal lining, as well as, the immune system, researchers noted.
A Webcast of the symposium will be made available at http://nutrition.med.harvard.edu/, www.usprobiotics.org, and www.americancollegeofnutrition.org.
Data shows use of Alli could also impact household members’ habits
PHOENIX and PITTSBURGH New data released during proceedings at this year’s Scientific Meeting of The Obesity Society said that people taking FDA-approved weight-loss pill Alli also tend to make healthier grocery shopping decisions, a trend that is positively influencing families.
A 26-week study reviewed the shopping habits of 15,156 households in which one or more members were taking Alli. The study showed that shoppers in these households were also purchasing items such as cereals, diet control bars, multi-vitamins and yogurt, among other “healthy” options.
Study co-author, Rebecca Reeves, of Baylor College of Medicine, said, “What is so unique and exciting about the data in this abstract is the evidence that people taking Alli made changes in their purchase patterns toward healthier foods. These data show that households purchasing Alli more than once increased their buying of healthier products compared to the previous year.”
The National Institutes of Health have reported that about 65 percent of U.S. adults are obese or overweight. Persons dealing with too much weight are more likely to face health problems such as heart disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes, the National Institutes said.
Taking Alli, combined with a low-calorie, encourages healthy, modest weight-loss, maker GlaxoSmithKline has said.
Nicotine gum helps pregnant women decrease amount of smoking, research says
WASHINGTON Although nicotine gum does not necessarily increase quit rates among pregnant women, the non-prescription smoking cessation product does help reduce the amount of smoking to the point that use of nicotine gum increased birth weight and gestational age, two key parameters in predicting neonatal wellbeing, new research published last week in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology has found.
The study tracked pregnant women who smoked daily and received individualized behavioral counseling and random assignment to a 6-week treatment with 2-mg nicotine gum or placebo followed by a 6-week taper period. Women who did not quit smoking were instructed to reduce the number of cigarettes smoked by substituting with gum.
Using a completer analysis, nicotine gum significantly reduced the number of cigarettes smoked per day and cotinine concentration. Birth weights were significantly greater with nicotine gum compared with placebo. Gestational age was also greater with nicotine-replacement therapy than with placebo, the research found.