Probiotics Ease Indigestion in New Research Study

What is indigestion?

Indigestion, medically called functional dyspepsia, is a chronic disorder identified by the feeling of movement in the upper digestive tract. Movement is normal in this region as a person swallows and food begins to digest. For people with functional dyspepsia, the sensation continues even after the patient is finished eating. It is what most people call an upset stomach.

Functional dyspepsia is not related to a disease process, like an ulcer or even heartburn – hence the use of the word functional. The abdominal pain and feeling of fullness starts soon after eating and may recur with each meal.

The symptoms of functional dyspepsia include:

  • Early fullness while eating
  • Uncomfortable feeling of fullness after the meal
  • Mild to severe pain near the breastbone
  • Bloating
  • Nausea

It often accompanies heartburn, even though these are two separate problems. Dyspepsia can be a symptom of a more serious digestive issue like gastritis or Celiac disease in some cases but often happens for no apparent reason.

The Tokai Study

A recent study conducted by the Tokai University School of Medicine looked at 24 patients diagnosed with functional dyspepsia and compared them to age and gender-matched controls with no health problems. The goal was to see how probiotics might affect this chronic stomach condition. The unique study provided some interesting insight into how probiotics work for those with indigestion.

The patients with indigestion took Lactobacillus-based probiotics each day for 12 weeks. At the end of the cycle, they fasted overnight and then the researchers sampled their gastric fluid to compare it to the gut fluid of healthy controls.

Through bacterial composition analysis, the Tokai scientists found that the fluid microbiota in the study participants with indigestion was different than that of the healthy controls at the beginning of the study. Those with indigestion had a different ratio of bacterial species compared to the healthy counterparts. After introducing Lactobacillus-based probiotic yogurt into the diets of the sufferers, the gastric fluid bacterial contents were more closely balanced.

Prior to beginning the study, researchers found patients with functional dyspepsia had higher concentrations of median bile acid then the healthy controls, as well. The increase of median bile acid is due to bile acid reflux, a problem associated with inadequate evacuation of bile acids from the stomach after eating.

After 12 weeks of ingesting Lactobacillus-based probiotics, there was no significant change in bile acid in those people with indigestion. This means that probiotics did not change the bile acid levels.

After analyzing the results, study authors determined that the right mix of probiotics might dampen the effect of indigestion by reducing the presence of potentially ‘bad bacteria’ like Escherichia and Shigella in the upper gastrointestinal tract. Escherichia and Shigella are both known sources of toxic lipopolysaccharides. It also might help restore gastric microbiota to help reduce incidents of indigestion. More studies and larger scale studies will be necessary to prove this benefit.

What Does This Mean For Indigestion-Prone Consumers?

What consumers can take away from this critical study is that taking the Lactobacillus-based probiotic could help tone down indigestion. Certain Natren products contain Lactobacillus bulgaricus LB-51 super strain, proven to be a transient beneficial bacteria that goes through the digestive tract with food during digestion.

Natren, the pioneer in probiotic supplements, offers Lactobacillus bulgaricus LB-51 super strain in a number of natural and healthy products. It is available as a single strain in Digesta-Lac, Gastro-pH strawberry wafers and the Healthy Tummy French vanilla ice-cream flavored wafers, a treat for those watching their calories.

Digesta-Lac is also the third step in Natren’s Healthy Start System. Healthy Start offers a three-step probiotic approach to better digestive health that includes this Lactobacillus-based product.

Are probiotics the answer to curing indigestion? It is hard to say, but this study does seem to indicate that the right combination of probiotics might have an impact for those suffering from functional dyspepsia. The study isn’t entirely conclusive, though, and it’s important to remember that indigestion may indicate a more serious gastrointestinal condition, so people with chronic problems should see a doctor. For 5 Tips to help control Indigestion check out our past blog here: