If the United States National Security Agency had the power of priobiotics, Edward Snowden would probably still be another anonymous geek. A review of clinical studies investigating the effect of probiotics on the intestinal barrier in human trials reveals that the friendly bugs help stop leaks.
The study, entitled “Clinical Studies Evaluating Effects of Probiotics on Parameters of Intestinal Barrier Function,” has been published in Advances in Microbiology.
The intestinal barrier is critical in preventing bacteria, toxins and antigens from escaping the inside of the gut into the rest of the body. Enhanced permeability, also called leaky gut, has been associated with the development of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Researchers from Wincove Probiotics of Amsterdam performed a systematic literature search of studies of probiotics on the intestinal barrier. They believe it's the first overview of these types of studies conducted in humans.
Wincove researchers looked at 29 studies. “About half of the studies showed positive results of probiotics on the epithelial barrier function, indicating a clear potential of probiotics in this field,” they wrote. Additionally, “in a case series of 14 patients using Ecologic 825, a probiotic food supplement with known effect on epithelial barrier function, different makers of intestinal integrity improved significantly,” according to the article.
In addition to the potential for preventing leaking guts, recent research suggests probiotics may also be able to play a role in treating anxiety.