Probiotics for a healthy digestion

1. ábra: (Forrás: WHO riport "Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases", Geneva 2003)

Figure 1: (Source: WHO report “Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases”, Geneva 2003)

The healthy lifestyle, including healthy diet, is getting more and more prominent in everyday life, their impact on health is beyond dispute (Figure 1). Experts say that it could prevent 30-35% of diseases.


A Hungarian survey has shown that 64% of the people have some sort of gastrointestinal problems: 57% of men and 71% of women. * -. Accordingly, about one third of Hungarian patients goes to the doctor with gastrointestinal complaints, and 30% of them are referred to a gastroenterologist. The leading problems are hyperacidity and tumorous diseases, subjective complaints with no underlying organic lesion are nevertheless also getting quite common. This may qualify as discomfort and mean a daily problem in the quality of life and might make the patient susceptible to diseases as well on the long run – they therefore require attention and a solution on the part of the experts.


One of the most typical examples of these could be perhaps the slow passage of food, or in other words: the long transit time. There is a logical theory that says that it is caused by the fact that the biliary acids turn into carcinogen (facilitating the development of tumors) agents irritating the mucous membrane of the colon and this and excreta, including any toxins taken or generated, not discharged in time may make the patients susceptible to the emergence of a carcinoma (especially in the colon) in the long run. This was the theory of Mechnikhov, who explained the long lives of Caucasian shepherds with the fact that the fermented dairy products consumed by them ensure the optimum secretion of these toxins from the body.


In the everyday life, the patient experiences the discomfort as a poor quality of life, as he or she regularly suffers from distension and complains of a sense of fullness. Many describe this state as “having a stone in the stomach” or “if everything had stopped in there” and the excretion of the hardened stool may also be difficult or painful.


2. ábra: A székrekedés okai

Figure 2: The causes of constipation

The long transit time or constipation can also be the cause of certain diseases (Figure 2) but one can often encounter it in an otherwise healthy population as well. It typically occurs ever more often and at the effect of ever more factors with the progression of age. Such causes can be the poor eating habits (less fiber and liquid consumption, irregular eating, monotonous diet, etc.) as a consequence of an irregular lifestyle, stress (e.g. exam anxiety, longer flights, “jet-lag”, being continuously under load) and the consumption of antibiotics or the changes in the intestinal flora as a result of these. Experience shows that this affects more among the ladies, and the pregnant and new mothers among them are even more pronouncedly affected.


There are more and more solutions to shorten the long transit time. The transit time can be controlled either with drugs or by rationalizing the diet. It has been known for a long time that fiber plays a significant role in this, but the latest representative survey in Hungary also showed that the fiber consumption of the Hungarian population (22.7 g/day) is less than the minimally required for disease prevention (25 g/day Public Health Nutrition 4, No 2(1) 267, 290, 2001), while the World Health Organization recommends an even higher intake, 27-40 g of fiber a day (WHO, 2003, Techn. Rep. Ser 916, WHO, Geneva).


The well-known solutions (e.g. consuming dried plum, plum jam and drinking warm water) are not popular and are regarded as a last solution. It is also not incidental that the consumption of coarse fiber is absolutely not recommended in certain cases, see: inflammatory bowel diseases.


Certain probiotic yoghurt products, the beneficial effect of which has been already proven with patients with irritable bowel syndrome, offer an excellent solution to normalize the transit time and to eliminate the associated discomfort. Their benefit lies within their special cultures, proper composition and high germ content, so they:



  • help to restore the damaged intestinal flora (which is particularly important if one takes antibiotics)
  • the temporarily colonizing probiotic bacteria provides surface protection to the bowel surface
  • are easier to digest than milk (it provides mild nutrition, which is particularly important when introducing milk/dairy products to the diet of children, and can be consumed even with a mild lactose intolerance)
  • can improve lactose intolerance
  • ensure the effect in a single dose portion, in case of scientifically proven products. It is to be mentioned that the Caucasian shepherds could have drunk half to one liter of the yoghurt of Mechnikhov. This might have meant an adequately high (germ) intake, but yoghurt consumption in such a high quantity is alien to today’s consumption patterns. It is important to know that according to food regulations, “probiotic” does not mean an absolute content but a minimum concentration requirement to be met.
  • The diary product loosens the consistency of the stool, so it alleviates the pain during excretion.
  • help make defecation regular and optimize its frequency.
  • We have seen promising results in the population with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), meaning that the consumption of probiotic dairy products reduced distension and increased certain parameters of the quality of life (pain index, stool consistency). It is to be noted that the test involved the consumption of two cups of probiotic fermented dairy product in a period of 6 weeks, which is recommended for supporting the sick body.


Figure 3: Comparison of “probiotic dairy products”, “probiotic dairy product with proven effect” and “dietary supplement probiotics”.

Due to the nature of probiotics, their regular (daily) consumption is indispensable for the effect, it is however not a problem due to their high enjoyment value. Because this ensures that the consumer can regain digestion comfort in a pleasant way. The comparison of “probiotic dairy products”, “probiotic dairy product with proven effect” and “dietary supplement probiotics” is shown in (Figure 3).







Dr. András LÁSZLÓ
Internist, gastroenterology consultant
Professional Orvosi Kft.

*Source: Danone research involving 1,002 persons, April 2007Az egészséges életvitel, ezen belül a helyes táplálkozás egyre nagyobb hangsúllyal van jelen a mindennapokban, kihatása az egészségre vitathatatlan (1. ábra). A szakemberek szerint ezzel a betegségek 30-35%-a lenne megelőzhető.

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