Probiotics are “good” bacteria that are beneficial to the body. They’re often used to treat an unhealthy gut, as well as a number of other health issues.
This is even more important among aging adults, with probiotics used as an effective means to maintain a healthy gut and preserve a strong immune system.
This is done by fighting off a range of harmful bacteria such as Bacteroides and Clostridia – both of which are more common with age.
As people grow older, the diversity and amount of bacterial species in the gut decreases, and this reduced diversity means that certain bodily functions aren’t quite as efficient.
Over the past couple of years, scientists have tried to understand the connection between reduced bacterial diversity and age-related health problems, with a number of studies finding a correlation between negative changes in gut microbiome and illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and type 2 diabetes.
This demonstrates why probiotics are so important for seniors. In addition to restoring the natural, balanced diversity of our gut bacteria, they also positively impact cognition and mood, and strengthen the immune system.
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With this in mind, our guide will take an in-depth look at some of the best probiotic supplements for seniors, including all the information you need to know about the nature of probiotics, as well as their effect on senior health goals. We’ll also look to answer some of the frequently asked questions.
Are Probiotics Effective For Seniors?
The simple answer is yes, probiotics are one of the most important dietary supplements for seniors to consider as they aim for a long and healthy life.
The human gut is home to an abundance of “good bacteria” which helps the body perform a number of essential functions such as digestion, nutrient absorption, immune regulation and more.
However, when the healthy balance is disrupted, digestive issues like diarrhea, constipation, and bloating can occur.
These issues are just the early warning signs because if left unresolved, an imbalance in the gut can lead to more serious problems such as allergies, a weakened immune system, and mood changes.
It’s no surprise that the diversity and amount of gut bacteria decreases with age, with many of the body’s helpful bacteria rapidly declining.
What’s more, at the same time, harmful bacteria such as Clostridia and Bacteroides considerably increase with age.
In one study, scientists looked to investigate the amount of bifidobacteria (a “good” bacteria) present in people of different age groups.
Bifidobacteria contribute to many important tasks in the body, including gut barrier support, immune function, and the production of short-chain fatty acids.
The study found that bifidobacteria made up at least 60-70% of bacteria in the typical gut of a young person, while this dramatically drops to 5% by the time the person reaches old age. The scientists argued that this provides evidence of why many diseases occur in old age.
Seniors are also much more susceptible to digestive health issues such as diarrhea and constipation, or more serious conditions like gastrointestinal cancers.
Fortunately, there are specific probiotic supplements that can support the digestive system of older people, helping them deal with any problems of constipation, bloating, or diarrhea.
Another troubling issue that many elderly face is a weakened immune system. However, certain probiotic products again have the capacity to strengthen the immune system, thanks mainly to specific probiotic strains.
In another scientific study of probiotics and their influence on old-age health, probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus, L. casei, and L. plantarum have been proven to improve the common gut issues that seniors face.
Just keep in mind that not all probiotics are effective and work in the same way. For example, a probiotic designed for helping with diarrhea or inflammation in the gut contains different strains and acts differently than a probiotic that may help with constipation.
This is why it’s so important to do thorough research and select a high quality product that’s perfectly tailored to your individual needs.
Probiotics Effect On Senior Health Goals
There are a range of health issues that become more prevalent with age. These can arise from a number of factors, including the natural aging process, less physical activity, more medications, and a change in diet.
We’ll now take a look at five of the most common senior health goals that probiotics can help with.
This is defined as more than three loose or liquid bowel movements per 24 hours. The most common causes of diarrhea are medications such as antibiotics or the presence of harmful bacteria.
What’s more, in seniors especially, the overgrowth of harmful bacteria such as Clostridia is a common problem that leads to diarrhea.
High quality probiotic supplements have the potential to effectively restore the diversity of good bacteria in the gut, creating a much healthier and more effective gut.
Plenty of recent research has shown that some strains of probiotic bacteria have the potential to fight certain harmful bacteria and viruses.
This health issue is defined as fewer than three bowel movements per week or hard and lumpy stools.
In seniors more so than any other age, constipation often results from certain medications that have constipation as a side effect, reduced activity levels, and a diet low in fiber.
Low fluid intake is another common cause for constipation.
The use of probiotics for constipation has been a popular area of investigation over the years, with the general conclusion finding that probiotic supplements can be incredibly useful for those suffering from constipation.
Not only do they rebalance the gut, they also improve mucus production in the intestines and increase the consistency and frequency of bowel movements.
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Bloating is usually experienced as a feeling of extreme fullness, tightness and a distended belly. Women often feel like they look several months pregnant.
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When it’s at its most severe, there can be intense discomfort.
Bloating typically occurs when certain bacteria produce too much gas while food particles are digested in the intestines, and is often an indicator of an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the gut.
Another common reason why many seniors suffer from bloating and flatulence is food intolerances. Lactose intolerance can develop with aging.
- Related article: Probiotics for Lactose Intolerance
So, for those who are allergic to gluten, lactose, or other foods, this can show up as bloating, gas and diarrhea after consuming these items.
- Related article: What Foods Cause Gas
The best way to prevent this problematic bloating in the first place is to maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Learn more about how to prevent bloating.
As mentioned previously, a high-end probiotic supplement helps restore this balance if it ever becomes too full of “bad” bacteria.
- Related article: Can Taking Probiotics Cause Gas
This next one is hardly surprising considering that 80% of the immune system resides in the gut. Therefore, if your gut is weak, it’s highly likely that your immune system will also be weak.
Taking the right kind of probiotic can have a major impact on the immune system, blocking viruses and other harmful substances from entering and affecting the body.
The Omni-Biotic Balance is a great choice here and supports the immune system in three separate ways.
Firstly, the Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria strains in the product not only help to form a natural protective barrier in the gut, they also create an environment in the intestines that isn’t the most favorable for harmful viruses and bacteria to thrive.
Secondly, the Lactobacilli strains have the potential to inactivate the viruses before the virus can enter the intestinal wall where it replicates and causes damage.
And finally, the specific probiotic strains promote antiviral effects by thoroughly stimulating the immune system.
For seniors and their loved ones, the onset of conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are a big fear.
While you may think that there’s no correlation between the two brain diseases and gut health, the gut and brain stay in constant communication, and gut bacteria plays a vital role in this.
Imbalance of bacteria can lead to inflammation in the gut, and if this goes on for a prolonged period of time, harmful bacteria and other substances may leak into the bloodstream and eventually reach the brain.
This results in “neuroinflammation” (inflammation in the brain), with scientific literature continuing to draw a strong connection between inflammation in the gut and cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Probiotic supplements directly address the underlying problem of an imbalance in the gut, while specific strains can also strengthen the gut wall so fewer harmful molecules are able to leak into the bloodstream.
This in turn leads to less inflammation in the body.
Most significantly, specific bacterial strains can positively influence the gut-brain axis to help improve mood, memory, and cognitive processes.
If you’re looking for a product that contains these valuable bacterial strains, there’s no need to look further than the Omni-Biotic Stress Release.
A previous clinical study found that Alzheimer patients experienced improved bacterial diversity, a strengthened gut barrier, and reduced inflammation in the gut when taking the Stress Release once per day for a month.
Best Probiotics For Seniors
We’ve already mentioned the Omni-Biotic Balance and the Omni-Biotic Stress Release as excellent options depending on the health issue you’re trying to address.
In addition to these, there are plenty of other high quality probiotics that are suitable for seniors.
Probiotics are available as capsules, powders, and liquids. The wide selection of products can, however, make it difficult to determine exactly which ones offer the qualities you’re looking for.
To make things a little easier when scouring the market for the probiotic best-suited to your individual needs, it’s useful to take a look at some of the best probiotic strains for health.
Listed below are a few of the most common.
Lactobacillus casei/paracasei – this strain has the potential to ease irritable bowel syndrome, a common disorder with symptoms of bloating, gas, abdominal pain, and cramping.
Lactobacillus plantarum – this is excellent for stimulating your digestive system and helping your body to produce enough vitamins.
Lactobacillus reuteri – this strain supports heart health by balancing cholesterol levels. It also lowers ulcer-causing bacteria and notably improves vaginal health.
Bifidobacterium bifidum – this helps to effectively manage the digestive system, improve irritable bowel syndrome, and increase the efficiency of your immune system.
Lactobacillus fermentum – this strain works to strengthen your immune system and also helps prevent gastrointestinal and upper respiratory infections.
The Probiology Probiotics + Prebiotics product offers key strains in their formula and is a great option for relief.
In addition to dietary supplements, there are also some foods that can provide a good source of probiotics. Listed below are some of the easiest to find in your local store.
- Dried beans
- Green bananas
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Probiotics for Seniors FAQs
Should Probiotics Be Taken In The Morning Or At Night?
Irrespective of your age or gender, probiotics are most effective when taken on an empty stomach. This ensures that the helpful bacteria have an easy route to the gut and can start acting as soon as possible. With this in mind, the best time to take probiotics is either early in the morning before consuming breakfast or last thing at night before going to sleep.
How Can You Tell If Probiotics Are Working?
If you’ve taken a high quality probiotic supplement and it’s started to take effect, there are several positive changes in your body that you should be able to notice. These changes range from improved digestion and a better functioning immune system to improved mental health and healthier skin. For most people taking probiotics, the first and most immediate change you’ll recognize is more efficient levels of digestion.
What Probiotic Dosage Should Seniors Take?
Dosages vary from one product to the next, so no general, overarching recommendation can be made. However, a common dosage for an adult or senior ranges from 5 billion to 10 billion colony-forming units per day. Again, this may vary depending upon the probiotic you choose. Probiotics should be taken in one dose every 24 hours, just be wary that some people may experience gas or loose stools in the first few days of taking them.
Do Fillers In A Probiotic Supplement Cause Side Effects?
Just to be safe, it’s always worth checking any fillers that your supplement may contain, as it’s possible to have an adverse reaction to them. This is why, in general, opting for a filler-free probiotic supplement is the best option for most people.
What Are The Downsides Of Taking Probiotics?
There are a few side effects associated with taking probiotics, with some of the most common including a temporary increase in gas, constipation, bloating, and headaches. Some people can also react poorly to the ingredients that make up probiotic supplements. If this occurs, it’s best to stop using probiotics altogether.
How Long Do Side Effects Last For?
The side effects mentioned above shouldn’t persist for longer than a couple of weeks with consistent use of the probiotic. If any of your side effects last for longer than this period and are particularly troublesome, it may be a good idea to try a new supplement to see if your body tolerates it better. All things considered, probiotic strains all act differently, so there’s a chance that you may be better suited to one strain than another.
Can Probiotics And Digestive Enzymes Be Taken Together?
Yes, in fact, taking both probiotics and digestive enzymes together can create a best-case solution for your digestion. The digestive system is effectively protected from unfavorable gut bacteria, creating a balanced and healthy environment for digestion. The process of digestion is also improved to ensure food is broken down and absorbed correctly.
Furthermore, both supplements can be safely consumed at the same time in the vast majority of cases due to the fact that they have completely different functions. This means that there’s very little risk attached to how the two could interact with one another.
How Long Does It Take For Probiotics To Start Working?
When Will Probiotics Start Working? For the vast majority of people, including seniors, it takes between 2 to 3 weeks to experience any significant benefits from taking probiotics. This is due to the fact that it takes a bit of time for the probiotics to accomplish three of their main goals: to lower your “bad” bacteria count, increase your “good” bacteria count, and reduce any troubling inflammation in the body.