5. Feb, 2017

Probiotics in Australia

A post about effective probiotics available in Australia. Though there are some available in food, (eg yoghurt, Yakult, even a brand of chips) they contain just a couple of strains. The truth is that we don't know exactly how and what each sub-type of the identified beneficial strains do yet. They may actually work together as a team within the human body - there are so many of them (trillions)! So getting in more of the sub-types of the known beneficial strains is currently the best option. This is a young field and an enormous amount of research is happening, so we have to be patient and use the information we have.

One of the most studied and hence best known probiotics is an American brand known as VSL#3. Studies have shown that VSL#3 is a beneficial probiotic which positively influences inflammation (which leads to chronic diseases including cancer, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease etc), including in fatty livers due to NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) (Cani et al. 2012; Velayudham et al. 2009; Loguercio et al. 2005). This is great news, because it shows that probiotics really do work in the human body. However, that particular brand requires refrigeration and is very expensive.

So I set out to find if some brands available in Australia contained the same (proven to be effective) bacterial strains. VSL#3s claim to fame is that it contains approximately 15.5 billion CFU (colony-forming units) from 8 different bacterial strains. Though this was impressive several years ago, new technology (freeze-drying techniques) has provided a means of containing higher CFU and strain numbers without the need for refrigeration. Additionally, modified release capsules protect probiotics from the acidic stomach environment, ensuring greater numbers reach the intestine.

There are 2 brands available in Australia that between them will provide all the strains included in VSL#3, and then some. As usual, my pricing source is the Chemist Warehouse online website:

Wagner Probiotica P50 contains 11 strains in total, 6 of which are found in VSL#3, for a total of 50 billion CFUs. 60 capsules will set you back $35.99, which is 60c each. There is no gluten, wheat, dairy, egg, corn, soy, artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners, and it is vegan friendly. Wagner is a Vitaco brand, they also make Healtheries Rice Wheels, Aussie Bodies, Bodytrim and Musashi products. Based in Ryde, NSW, their manufacturing plant is in New Zealand.

Life Space Double Strength Probiotic 30 capsules are currently on special (1/2 price) at $19.99, which is 67c each. They contain a whopping 15 strains for a total of 64 billion CFUs. They have 7 strains in common with VSL#3, but are lacking Lactobacillus acidophilus and casei, which is why I decided to alternate between the Wagner and this product in order to get the full complement. There is no added dairy, gluten, yeast, egg, artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and it is vegetarian friendly. You don't need to take them with food. The brand is part of the Evolution Health group which is Aussie-owned, based in Victoria, and includes Elmore Oil.

If I had to choose just one product, it would be Life Space Double Strength. 4 more strains, 14 Billion more CFUs, at an additional cost of only 7c more per day atm, represents pretty good value imho. I can always get lactobacillus acidophilus & casei from yoghurt, albeit not in those quantities. However I have decided that taking one capsule of Wagner one day & one of Life Space the next is the way to go! :)

References

Cani, PD, Osto, M, Geurts, L & Everard, A 2012, 'Involvement of gut microbiota in the development of low-grade inflammation and type 2 diabetes associated with obesity', Gut Microbes, vol. 3, no. 4, pp, 279-288

Loguercio C, Federico A, Tuccillo C, Terracciano F,D’Auria MV, De Simone C, et al. 2005, 'Beneficial effects of a probiotic VSL#3 on parameters of liver dysfunction in chronic liver diseases', Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, vol. 39, pp. 540-543

Velayudham A, Dolganiuc A, Ellis M, Petrasek J, Kodys K, Mandrekar P, et al. 2009, 'VSL#3 probiotic treatment attenuates fibrosis without changes in steatohepatitis in a diet-induced non-alcoholic steatohepatitis model in mice', Hepatology, vol. 49, pp. 989-97