What are friendly bacteria?

Friendly bacteria, often referred to as probiotics, are live microbial food ingredients that have a beneficial effect on health when taken in the right amounts. It is not clear yet exactly how these probiotic friendly bacteria have these effects, but research shows that they play an important role in improving digestion and intestinal health as well as the helping to regulate and stimulate the immune system.

I have heard that friendly bacteria should be kept in the fridge. Is this true?

Friendly bacteria, often referred to as probiotics, are live microbial food ingredients that have a beneficial effect on health when taken in the right amounts. It is not clear yet exactly how these probiotic friendly bacteria have these effects, but research shows that they play an important role in improving digestion and intestinal health as well as the helping to regulate and stimulate the immune system.

Can you take too much friendly bacteria?

No, it is virtually impossible to overdose on probiotics. We all have billions (some estimates say trillions) of ‘friendly’ bacteria in our body and these are constantly being replaced. ProVen Probiotics containing Lab4 strains of friendly bacteria can help this replacement process and support a balanced microflora. Taking very large amounts may mildly increase frequency of bowel movement.

Why is it important to take ProVen Probiotics with food?

When the stomach is empty it is typically very acidic and this can be damaging to the friendly probiotic bacteria. When the stomach has food in it, it is much less acidic and so the friendly bacteria can pass through the stomach to the intestines where they are required to support a balanced microflora.

Why do we need to take friendly bacteria in supplement form?

Supplementing probiotic friendly bacteria can help to restore and then maintain the beneficial microflora balance, reducing symptoms such as bloating. There are a number of specific reasons for supplementing these friendly bacteria, including periods of high stress, which can impact upon the balance of the microflora, when we have digestive upsets, such as travellers diarrhea and when we have taken antibiotics, which can kill the beneficial flora along with the bad bacteria they are targeting.

Do we need to take friendly bacteria every day?

There is increasing evidence that the daily supplementation of probiotics helps to improve both intestinal and immune health.

Previous generations had higher intakes of probiotic organisms as fermentation was used to preserve foods and these fermented vegetables and dairy foods contained high levels of bacteria. Consumption of fermented foods is far less prevalent today as refrigeration is now used as the means of food preservation and it can therefore be useful to support the friendly bacteria with daily supplementation.

Can probiotic friendly bacteria help combat allergies?

Breakthrough clinical evidence published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in 2012 demonstrates that supplementing with friendly bacteria can significantly reduce the risk of allergy in children. In a large trial in Swansea, Lab4 Probiotics were taken by mothers during the latter part of pregnancy and given daily to their babies in the first six months following birth. The mother and baby pairs supplementing the friendly bacteria via Lab4 Probiotics halved the risk of allergic sensitization in infants up to two years of age. Remarkably, the risk of atopic eczema was also reduced by over 50% and this is likely to significantly reduce asthma and rhinitis into older childhood and as adults.

The aim of the Swansea study was to confirm that early supplementation of friendly bacteria can help to prevent children from becoming allergic in the first place. It was specifically related to supplementation of friendly bacteria in infants and shows that this can provide benefit to children up to two years of age. Other studies have shown that probiotic supplementation can be effective when provided to older children who already have allergies.

What is Lab4?

Lab4 is the name given to the bacteria strains developed by Cultech Ltd, the nutraceutical and bioscience company based in south Wales. As well as producing dietary supplements such as multivitamins and omega-3 products, for major household brands, the researchers and scientists at Cultech have specialised for more than 20 years in the development and clinical testing of the most effective probiotic strains.

There are two groups of Lab4 bacteria - Lab4 for adults and Lab4b for pregnancy and infants from birth to four years. Both groups of bacteria have substantial independent evidence supporting the benefits they can provide for health.

The Lab4 consortium of friendly bacteria contains Lactobacillus acidophilus – strain 1, Lactobacillus acidophilus – strain 2, Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis and Bifidobacterium bifidum.

The Lab4b consortium contains Lactobacillus salivarius; Lactobacillus paracasei, Bifidobacterium animalis subs. lactis and Bifidobacterium bifidum.

Where can I get Lab4?

The unique Lab4 blend of probiotics can be found in the ProVen Probiotics range of supplements developed with different formulations to suit all ages and lifestyles from pregnancy to 50+.

How are ProVen Probiotics different?

ProVen Probiotics contain the unique Lab4 probiotic strains. These are one of the very few probiotic cultures, which have been rigourously studied over the past 15 years to demonstrate consistent health benefits ranging from allergy prevention in infants to reduction of all symptoms (bloating, pain, discomfort) in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Other studies conducted at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge have shown that Lab4 can reduce the levels of ‘bad bacteria’ following antibiotic treatment, as well as reducing the incidence of diarrhoea caused by the ‘superbug’ Clostridium difficile.

Most of the ProVen Probiotic range uses exactly the same product as has been used in the above medical studies. In addition the Cultech scientists have identified a way to add other nutrients, such as vitamins and immune enhancing ingredients such as elderberry, to the supplements without destabilising the Lab4 bacteria.

What about yoghurt and yoghurt drinks?

As well as supplements, friendly bacteria are often added to certain foods such as yoghurt and yoghurt drinks, milk, cheese and now even cereals. The effectiveness of the friendly bacteria in the body will depend on the strains and numbers of bacteria and it may be useful to check out the evidence supporting these products and the strains of bacteria they contain.

When do the benefits of ProVen Probiotics start taking place?

This is very individual. However from our clinical studies with the Lab4 probiotic ingredient we found that many IBS sufferers found relief within two weeks. Similarly, with the Clostridium difficile study the effect was apparent within 2-3 weeks. The latest clinical study was amongst new born babies and is therefore preventative, but results showed that the effects were established within the supplementation window of six months following birth.

How can you identify a good friendly bacteria supplement?

The European Consensus, taken in 2004, outlines a number of criteria to help people distinguish good quality probiotics as follows:

  • Have clinically proven health benefits demonstrated using rigorous scientific trials (randomised, double blind, and placebo controlled designed trials)
  • Are alive and reach the gut in sufficient number, surviving gastric and bile acid and digestive enzymes during the gastro-intestinal transit until they reach the gut
  • Are clearly defined using modern biological detection methods
  • Are clearly labeled, including the genus (eg. Lactobacillus), the strain e.g acidophilus Cul -21) and amount e.g 10 billion
  • Are shelf stable, thus guaranteeing delivery of the quantity of probiotic until the date of expiry

ProVen Probiotics containing Lab4 probiotic strains satisfy all these criteria.

Are the probiotics in ProVen Probiotics natural?

Yes, the friendly bacteria used in all ProVen Probiotics products are naturally sourced and cultured.

How many different friendly bacteria are there?

There are many different strains of friendly bacteria naturally present in the human body, which can have different benefits.

The strains used in the Lab4 blend of friendly bacteria in ProVen Probiotics have been specifically chosen from the most researched families of bacteria and offer a synergistic effect which cannot be gained from a single strain. For example, Lactobacillus acidophilus tends to provide benefits to the upper intestine (duodenum, jejunum and ileum), whereas the Bifidobacteria provide benefits in the large intestine (caecum and colon).

Who should take ProVen Probiotics?

As friendly bacteria are used by the body to support everyday intestinal, immune and general health, we would suggest that most people could benefit from taking them.

More specifically, friendly bacteria supplementation should be considered essential for anyone currently taking or recently having taken antibiotics. Similarly, individuals with any type of intestinal condition, from mild bloating to inflammatory bowel disease might benefit from the addition of friendly bacteria into their daily schedule.

Finally, as newborns, those travelling overseas, people facing high levels of stress and older individuals could also benefit from friendly bacteria supplementation, we believe that they can prove beneficial to people of all ages.

How are prebiotics different?

Prebiotics are completely different from probiotics. Prebiotics are a type of fibre that cannot be digested directly by humans, but aid the growth of the probiotic friendly bacteria. Prebiotics are present in some foods such as bananas, artichoke, asparagus, onions and leeks. Some of the products in the ProVen Probiotics range also contain important prebiotics to help the probiotics work to their best effect.