PROBIOTICS AND RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME: Part One – Definitions

Probiotics1There is a TIDAL WAVE of information coming out these days about “probiotics” and the importance of having a healthy gut.

Science has proven time and time again that fully functional digestive system is the key to good health.

Those people in the know have been aware of its importance for years, but only recently have probiotics found their way into the mainstream.

So, what do “microbes” and “gut bacteria” have to do with RLS?

Endless studies have shown that an unhealthy gut is a breeding ground for inflammation. If you believe that your RLS may be caused by inflammation, as I and others claim, then it is crucial that you ensure that all is healthy in the world of your digestive system. If it’s not functioning properly, then any attempt you make to try and free yourself from RLS will be severely limited in its effectiveness.

For those of you like myself that are not versed in scientific things, I’m going to present a series of posts that will hopefully present the facts you need to know in a clear and simple manner.

This first post is a collection of key definitions that will make the rest of the information less confusing.

DEFINITIONS

Probiotic: A food or a dietary supplement containing live bacteria that replace or add to the probioticsbeneficial bacteria normally present in the gastrointestinal tract (from Greek: pro – advancing or projecting forward or outward  biotic – pertaining to life).

Microbe: An extremely small living thing that can only be seen with a microscope (from Greek mīkro- small + bíos – life).

Microbiome: The totality of microbes, their genetic elements, and environmental interactions in a particular environment. The term “microbiome” was coined by Joshua Lederberg, who argued that microorganisms inhabiting the human body should be included as part of the human genome, because of their influence on human physiology. The human body contains over 10 times more microbial cells than human cells  (from Greek: Micro – of reduced or restricted size: Biome – a large naturally occurring community of flora and fauna occupying a major habitat, e.g. forest or tundra).

Flora: the bacteria and fungi, both normally occurring and pathological, found in or on an organ.

Gut Microbiota (formerly called Gut Flora) The word microbiota represents an ensemble of microorganisms that resides in a previously established environment. Human beings have clusters of bacteria in different parts of the body, such as in the surface or deep layers of skin (skin microbiota), the mouth (oral microbiota), and so on.

Gut microbiota is the name given today to the microbe population living in our intestine. It contains tens of trillions of microorganisms, including at least 1000 different species of known bacteria with more than 3 million genes (150 times more than human genes). Microbiota can, in total, weigh up to 2 kg. One third of our gut microbiota is common to most people, while two thirds are specific to each one of us. In other words, the microbiota in your intestine is like an individual identity card.

As its name states, gut microbiota is harbored in the intestine, one of the main areas in our bodies that comes into contact with the external environment (other examples are the skin and the lungs).

proal2009ica.003While each of us has a unique microbiota, it always fulfills the same physiological functions and they have a direct impact on our health:

     – It helps the body to digest certain foods that the stomach and small intestine have not been able to digest.
     – It helps with the production of some vitamins (B and K).
     – It helps us combat aggressions from other microorganisms, maintaining the wholeness of the intestinal mucosa.
     – It plays an important role in the immune system, performing a barrier effect.
     – A healthy and balanced gut microbiota is key to ensuring proper digestive functioning.

REFERENCES
http://www.gutmicrobiotawatch.org/gut-microbiota-info/
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/probiotic

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