More people learned of the importance of the microbes that live in our gut has become an active and flouring research topic. The latest research from Emory University shows that probiotics can improve not only the health of our gut but your liver health.
Probiotics’ benefit is not limited to our gut
Researchers who conducted the research said, “this study provides evidence that it extends the effects of probiotics on the gastrointestinal tract. What makes this study unique is that it suggests a discreet molecular mechanism by which these effects are elicited."
Probiotics can improve the health of our liver
Researchers focused their study on the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (known as LGG), a species common in many over-the-counter probiotic formulations. They gave mice food laced with LGG for two weeks and then examined how they responded to a high dose of acetaminophen.
Taking too much acetaminophen can cause serious liver damage and even death. However, the researchers found that mice receiving the probiotic treatment suffered less liver damage when presented with an overdose of acetaminophen compared with mice that did not receive probiotics.
"Administration of the probiotic LGG to mice improves the antioxidant response of the liver, protecting it from oxidative damage produced by drugs such as acetaminophen," explained Researchers.
The liver is a hub for removing toxins from the blood and plays an important role in the body's processes for converting food into energy. Since it is "downstream" of the gastrointestinal tract in the digestive process, it makes sense that the composition of bacteria in the gut could affect the functioning of the liver.
Previous research by Saeedi's colleagues has traced the molecular process by which LGG appears to protect against oxidative liver injury. That research points to the role of a protein called Nrf2, which regulates the expression of genes involved in fighting free radicals.
Other studies in mice have previously shown that LGG can protect against alcoholic liver disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Saeedi said studies in human volunteers would be needed to definitively test the potential clinical benefits of LGG in humans.