An analysis of 37 studies on probiotics and physician review of the results led to agreement that specific probiotics may help reduce some irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, even though most of the doctors said gas or diarrhea were not among them. The study from Durham University in England found there was moderate agreement probiotics could relieve bloating and help normalize bowel function, and all physicians agreed probiotics may help prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea or reduce its duration.
A National Center for Health Statistics survey found an increase in the percentage of U.S. adults who took dietary supplements -- from 42% in the 1988-to-1994 period to 50% in the 2003-to-2006 period -- with 40% of respondents in the latest poll reporting they took vitamins and minerals. Data also indicate that calcium intake among women 60 and older increased from 28% to 61%, while folic acid intake among women 20 to 39 remained steady at 34%.
Experts say that sensitivities around discussing a patient's weight, a lack of training and time constraints can prevent physicians from effectively diagnosing and discussing obesity with patients. Some doctors wait to address obesity and weight loss until a patient has a "co-morbid" condition, such as diabetes, high cholesterol or hypertension, that requires treatment.
Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic found that obese people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease had an 84% improvement in insulin sensitivity and the liver polyunsaturated lipid index after one-hour daily sessions on treadmills for one week. Researchers said the findings might be because of a rise in levels of the hormone adiponectin, which contains anti-inflammatory properties and is involved in insulin resistance.
Most people who use probiotics are hoping to improve their digestive system, for conditions ranging from lactose intolerance and antibiotics-related diarrhea to irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. More companies are launching pills, foods and other products that claim health benefits from probiotics.