What is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and chronic illness that causes inflammation within the colon, and may even give rise to painful ulcers and sores. Trillions of bacteria adhere to the wall of your intestines. In general, these bacteria thrive naturally and do no harm to your overall well being. Some friendly bacterial strains actually serve to help your digestive process along and enable your body to eliminate bad, infection-causing bacteria from colonizing in your intestines.
Ulcerative Colitis may be caused by genetic mutations that lead to overgrowth of bad bacteria in your intestines. These bacteria irritate the walls of your intestine and cause UC flare-ups. Sadly, there is no known cure for this condition. Symptoms can be similar to other digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s Disease, so it’s important to get a proper diagnosis. Symptoms of UC can include: (1)
- abdominal pain
- cramping in the stomach
- rectal bleeding and discomfort
- urgency to pass stools
Though medications and sometimes even surgery is used to alleviate Ulcerative Colitis, they are at best short-term solutions and you will find that flare-ups soon follow. Medications like prednisone corticosteroids are standard treatments for active UC flare-ups as well as to help alleviate future episodes.
Another common way to manage UC is by adding a daily probiotic supplement to your diet. But do they work, and if so, how? Here is everything you need to know about how probiotics can help in the management of Ulcerative Colitis symptoms.
What Are Probiotics?
Your intestines contain more bacteria than the total number of cells in the body. A balanced gut microbiome has plenty of good probiotic bacteria. However, when there is an imbalance, your gut health plummets and this generally causes a number of digestive conditions such as diarrhea, constipation, and weight gain. Increasing the good bacterial content in your body is likely to help balance your gut health. This is why good or friendly bacteria called probiotics help to reduce gut inflammation and manage digestive health issues.
Gut-friendly bacteria are found in some fermented food items such as yogurt, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi. They are also available in the form of supplemental tablets or capsules that can be ingested daily. Not all probiotics work in the same way. Different probiotic strains offer specific benefits, and it is important to use probiotics that are high-quality and contain strains suited to your health requirements.
Probiotics and UC
In order to manage Ulcerative Colitis, the goal is to find an option that stops flare-ups, prevents more episodes, and deals with the very cause of the illness. While probiotics have not been shown successful in inducing remission or shortening the duration of a UC flare-up, clinical trials studies show that UC patients reported fewer symptoms and decreased severity when taking probiotics and a clinical study showed VSL#3 to be effective at decreasing the occurrence of UC relapse. (2)(3)(4) In other words, probiotics may be of limited use during an ongoing flare-up, but they help minimize the symptoms.
When it comes to preventing a UC flare-up from happening in the first place, research on probiotics is much more promising. Several studies show that probiotics improve the average time spent without flare-ups as well as the overall quality of gut health during remission. (2)
Probiotics are perhaps most helpful in zeroing in on the actual cause of ulcerative colitis and helping to manage gut bacteria. In people suffering from UC, the balance of good and bad bacteria in the large intestine is skewed which activates the immune system response against this perceived threat. Probiotics help solve this issue by restoring the gut bacterial balance, and thereby, eradicating the issue that activated the immune system in the first place.
Effect of Probiotics for Ulcerative Flare-ups
The benefits of adding a daily probiotic dose to your diet outweigh any negatives when facing UC flare-ups. While probiotics are not likely to stop an existing flare-up you may be experiencing, they can provide other benefits. Here are some of the positive effects of probiotics on Ulcerative Colitis.
- There is some evidence that the right probiotics are can help decrease the likelihood of future ulcerative colitis flare-ups. (7)
- Studies show that the symptoms experienced during UC flare-ups are reportedly smaller in number, and less severe, with the use of probiotics.
- According to current research, there are no serious side effects linked to using probiotics for Ulcerative Colitis. The efficacy of using probiotics is reportedly similar to that of mesalazine, the go-to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug for UC. (2)
- Probiotics offer a whole host of benefits to your digestive system, immunity, mental health, and overall well being.
- Research shows that probiotics may be helpful in easing other digestive ailments such as diarrhea and Clostridium Difficile Colitis.
What You Need to Consider While Taking Probiotics for Ulcerative Colitis
Quality probiotic supplements contain billions of colony-forming units (CFUs). However, your stomach acid presents a formidable barrier to both good and bad bacteria. In order to repopulate and balance your gut microbiome, it is important that you continue taking your probiotic supplement daily, and not skip doses. This will ensure that enough CFUs get to the target area and repopulate your gut.
Standard capsules rarely have the wherewithal to make it past the stomach acid barrier properly. Choose a probiotic supplement that is designed to survive the acids in your gut so enough of them reach your intestines and colonize. Some studies show that probiotics taken in the form of or along with milk and other dairy products have a better chance of surviving the effects of stomach acid. Certain bacterial species are naturally resistant to these acids. Strains such as Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium animalis, and Lactobacillus plantarum are considered resilient strains. (5)(6)
Get the LoveBug Advantage
LoveBug Probiotics’ supplements are created with a specialized blend of targeted strains to meet your specific needs. A probiotic supplement designed for better digestive health, Here’s the Skinny contains repopulators like L. fermentum, L. gasseri, L. plantarum, L. acidophilus, L. reuteri, B. bifidum, B. lactis, and L. rhamnosus GG, which support digestive health, alleviate the pressure on sensitive stomachs, and aid in better nutrient absorption.
LoveBug supplements are available in a sturdy tablet form that needs no refrigeration. Equipped with the patented BIO-tract delivery technology, these probiotics are protected against stomach acids and secretions from the pancreas. This trademarked technology gives the probiotic tablets 15x more survivability as compared to standard capsules. This ensures that the maximum number of bacteria cross the acid barrier and reach the intestines to perform their designated tasks.
Ulcerative Colitis is a condition that can greatly impact your day-to-day lifestyle. In addition to adding probiotics in your dietary arsenal, eat a low-fat high-fiber diet, consume prebiotics, and find ways to de-stress. There are great steps that can help minimize UC flare-ups and for the maintenance of remission.
- “Signs and Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis.” Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Accessed June 2019. https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/what-is-ulcerative-colitis/symptoms.
- Mallon, Peter T., Damian McKay, Steven J. Kirk, and Keith Gardiner. “Probiotics for induction of remission in ulcerative colitis.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews – Intervention, (2007). doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD005573.pub2.
- Kruis, W., P. Frič, J. Pokrotnieks, M. Lukáš, B. Fixa, M. Kaščák, M. A. Kamm, et al. “Maintaining remission of ulcerative colitis with the probiotic Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 is as effective as with standard mesalazine.” Gut 53, no. 11 (2004): 1617-1623.
- Derwa, Y., D. J. Gracie, P. J. Hamlin, and A. C. Ford. “Systematic review with meta‐analysis: the efficacy of probiotics in inflammatory bowel disease.” Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics 46, no. 4 (2017): 389-400. doi: 10.1111/apt.14203.
- Derrien, Muriel, and Johan ET van Hylckama Vlieg. “Fate, activity, and impact of ingested bacteria within the human gut microbiota.” Trends in Microbiology 23, no. 6 (2015): 354-366. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2015.03.002.
- van Bokhorst-van de Veen, Hermien, I-Chiao Lee, Maria L. Marco, Michiel Wels, Peter A. Bron, and Michiel Kleerebezem. “Modulation of Lactobacillus plantarum Gastrointestinal Robustness by Fermentation Conditions Enables Identification of Bacterial Robustness Markers.” PLos One 7, no. 7 (2012): e39053. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039053.
- Cui, Hai-Hong, Cun-Long Chen, Ji-De Wang, Yu-Jie Yang, Yong Cun, Jin-Bao Wu, Yu-Hu Liu, Han-Lei Dan, Yan-Ting Jian, and Xue-Qing Chen. “Effects of probiotic on intestinal mucosa of patients with ulcerative colitis.” World Journal of Gastroenterology 10, no. 10 (2004): 1521-5. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v10.i10.1521.