Probiotics for Crohn's Patients: A Possible Treatment?
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Crohn’s Disease and Probiotic Yogurt

Overview

Crohn’s is an autoimmune disease with no known cure. Crohn’s affects your immune system, causing inflammation in your bowels and damage to your intestines and digestive tract. It is characterized by episodes of flare-ups and remission.

Crohn’s treatment aims to help you manage your symptoms. Supplying nutrients directly into your stomach or intestines via a tube can bring on remission. This process is often used to treat Crohn’s in children.

Other methods include using anti-inflammatory drugs. Surgery may be recommended to remove or repair damaged areas of the digestive tract. Also, taking probiotics, which are “good” bacteria, can help your gut.

Not all bacteria are bad

Bacteria tend to get a bad rap. When we think of bacteria, we likely think of infection. However, not all bacteria are bad.

Many bacteria have evolved along with humans in a mutually beneficial relationship, such as the bacteria living in your digestive system. Scientists are beginning to understand how complex these partnerships are among healthy humans and the bacteria inside their guts.

In a healthy gut, there is a delicate balance between different bacteria. Healthy gut bacteria, called intestinal microflora, play an important role in immunity and digestion. These bacteria also have several implications for Crohn’s disease.

What happens when something disturbs this balance? Modern antibiotics can kill off infection, but they can also kill off good bacteria. This can set the stage for other, less friendly microbes to set up shop in your gut.

Probiotics: Nature’s health food

Probiotics can help encourage the growth of good bacteria in your gut, providing health benefits. Good bacteria called probiotics are found in yogurt. Other fermented foods such as beer, wine, bread, kefir, and cheese have also been used for nutritional and therapeutic purposes for a long time.

Most yogurts typically contain four to six beneficial strains of good bacteria. These strains take up residence in your gut and push out less beneficial bacteria. This process will help the lining of your gut stay healthy and keep your immune system strong.

Yogurt is often well tolerated even for people who are lactose intolerant, because friendly bacteria that ferment milk digest most of the lactose.

Investigating the benefits of probiotics

Consuming yogurt with active cultures is beneficial for most people. It provides needed calcium and calories.

There has been research conducted on the benefits of probiotics in treating Crohn’s symptoms. However, more research is needed to identify the role of probiotics in relation to Crohn’s.

Also, more evidence is needed to understand how probiotics may help in treating Crohn’s symptoms.

Side effects of probiotics

Side effects from probiotics are typically mild and may include:

  • diarrhea
  • gas
  • bloating
  • cramps
  • rashes
  • acne

Be sure to stay hydrated when taking probiotics. It may take some time for your body to get adjusted to them. Also, if the side effects become severe, see your doctor immediately.

Outlook

Most studies show some promise for probiotics in helping to relieve Crohn’s symptoms.

If lactose intolerance is an issue, even with yogurt, a concentrated probiotic supplement is a good option.

In general, yogurt is good for you. It provides you with protein, calcium, calories, and potassium. It may also help you maintain a healthy gut and live a healthy life. 

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Achieving Remission with Crohn's: Q&A with a GI
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