North Texas

Can Probiotics Help Leaky Gut?

Is your daily probiotic really helping you like you think it is?

A research lab at the University of North Texas is setting out to separate fact from fiction when it comes to probiotics. 

Brian McFarlin, a professor in the University of North Texas Departments of Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation and Biological Sciences, says that consumers might want to do a little research before paying for a product that may do little or nothing to improve their health. 

“The current efforts to use over-the-counter probiotics, typically Lactobacilllus and Bifidobacterium, to improve gut health don’t give us consistent results,” McFarlin said. “Most traditional probiotics are destroyed by our stomach acid and don’t make it to the intestine to do any good. Plus, unless you have excessive endotoxins moving from your gut into your body or you have a compromised gut biome, probiotics offer limited to no benefit.”

For his research, McFarlin gave high calorie, fatty foods that may cause leaky gut in trial participants.

A “leaky gut” is the result of an unhealthy intestinal lining caused by the lack of beneficial bacteria. 

Gaps can develop in the lining that allow bacterial endotoxins to escape into the bloodstream resulting in dietary endotoxemia. 


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The participants received either two placebos or two capsules of spore-forming or ground-based probiotic strains.

He said spore-forming or ground-based probiotic strains are more effective because the endospores that encapsulate the strains are highly resistant to stomach acid, potentially resulting in the delivery of more viable probiotics to the small intestine. 

Participants maintained their normal diets and lifestyle habits during the study. 

The results showed symptoms associated with dietary endotoxemia were significantly reduced in the probiotic test group including a 42 percent reduction in the amount of serum endotoxins, a 24 percent reduction in serum triglycerides and improved hunger/satiety signals. 

McFarlin’s first study was published in the “World Journal of Gastrointestinal Pathophysiology” in 2017. 

You can learn more about probiotics here.

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