By Ross Pelton, RPh, PhD, CCN
Maintaining a healthy microbiome is now recognized as one of the most critical factors regarding overall health. Thus, whenever the microbiome is damaged or disrupted, steps should be takes as soon as possible to reestablish a healthy microbiome.
Until recently, commercial probiotic products were considered to be the best way to reestablish a healthy microbiome. Some microbiome scientists are now suggesting that directly delivering postbiotic metabolites is a faster and more effective method of accomplishing rapid microbiome restoration.i Postbiotic metabolites is the term that refers to the wide range of health-regulating compounds that bacteria produce and secrete in the intestinal tract when they digest and ferment the fiber content in the foods we eat.
Colonoscopies are universally recognized as the most accurate test for colorectal cancer and early detection saves lives. Colorectal cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. and it is estimated that over 50,000 Americans will die from colorectal cancer in 2018.ii It is generally recommend adults aged 50–75, should have a colonoscopy every 10 years and approximately 15 million colonoscopies are performed in the U.S. each year.
Colonoscopies are promoted as a safe procedure when performed by doctors who have experience performing the procedure. However, recent studies are reporting that side effects from colonoscopies are more common than previously reported. It is hypothesized that some of these symptoms are related to alterations in gut microbiome that result from the procedure used to clean out the bowel in preparation for a colonoscopy.
Colonoscopies Disrupt Your Microbiome
The most common side effects following a colonoscopy are pain and abdominal swelling or bloating. A study published in 2015 reported that 20% of patients experience pain for 2 or more days following a colonoscopy. In this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, patients who took probiotics after their colonoscopy had a 30% decrease in the number of post-colonoscopy days of pain.iii
Taking Probiotics Before Colonoscopy Help
In another double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 104 patients with constipation were given probiotics or a placebo daily for two weeks before their pre-colonoscopy bowel prep procedure. Pre-treatment with probiotics resulted in more effective bowel cleansing, improved colonic mucosa visualization during the colonoscopy and reduction of intestinal distress symptoms following the colonoscopy.iv
Long-Term Microbiome Disruption Following Colonoscopy Bowel Prep
Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is one of the most commonly used agents to clean out the bowel prior to a colonoscopy. Fecal samples for microbiome analysis were collected from a group of patients 1 week before, the day of the colonoscopy after completion of the PEG bowel prep procedure, and again 30-days later. The results revealed that PEG bowel cleansing resulted in long-lasting changes in the microbiome. One month later, the participants in the study were found to have a significant decrease in beneficial strains of Lactobacilli and a significant increase Proteobacteria, which can cause diarrhea.v
Post-Colonoscopy Infections 100 x Higher Than Previously Thought
Results of a study published in the May 18, 2018 issue of the medical journal GUT reported that the rates of infections following a colonoscopies that are performed at ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) were more than 100 times higher than expected.vi
ASCs are outpatient facilities where patients can have minor procedures performed without going into a hospital. ASCs have been around for several decades, but their popularity has increased greatly in recent years as patients have looked for less expensive and more convenient alternatives to traditional hospital settings.
70+% of Immune System Resides in GI Tract
Scientists estimate that between 70 – 80% of the body’s immune cells are located in the gastrointestinal tract.vii,viii This part of the immune system is a complex relationship and interaction between the lymphoid cells that reside in the lining of the GI tract, the bacteria in the intestinal tract and the postbiotic metabolites produced by the intestinal bacteria.
Dysbiosis = Immune Dysfunction
A healthy microbiome is generally thought to consist of approximately 85-90% beneficial bacteria and only 10-15% “bad” bacteria.ix,x Dysbiosis, or a pathogenic microbiome, causes immune dysfunction, which increases the risk of developing disease.xi Therefore, whenever the normal microbiome balance is upset or disturbed, quick action should be taken to reestablish the predominant abundance of beneficial probiotic bacteria and postbiotic metabolites.
Don’t Avoid Your Colonoscopy
Colonoscopies are important screening procedures that help physicians detect colorectal cancer early. Consequently, screening colonoscopies decrease the risk of developing as well as dying from colorectal cancer.xii
The purpose of this article is NOT to frighten or suggest that people should avoid a colonoscopy. Instead, the purpose of this article is to encourage gastroenterologists and the general public take steps to maintain and/or reestablish a healthy microbiome following a colonoscopy. The studies reviewed in this article indicate that taking probiotics before and/or following a colonoscopy will help to reduce the incidence of side effects and enhance the immune system to prevent post-colonoscopy infections.
The fastest and most effective method of reestablishing a healthy microbiome is to directly ingest a product that delivers a combination of probiotic bacteria and postbiotic metabolites, such as Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics.