How probiotics interact with the human body is still being discovered. However, a recent review examined the evidence and potential mechanisms in which probiotics may balance oxidative stress.
Increased oxidative stress has been associated with a variety of health conditions including atherosclerosis, diabetes, neurodegenerative disease and cardiovascular diseases.1 Oxidative stress is caused by excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS) that damage lipids, DNA, and proteins that can result in improper cellular function and apoptosis.1 This process is natural and can be utilized by the cell, however an increase in ROS species causes an imbalance that native antioxidant mechanisms cannot counter. ROS species increase from exposure to cigarettes, radiation, herbicides, metal exposure, etc.1
Decreasing oxidative stress may be important in disease prevention and progression. Research has indicated that probiotics may aid in reducing ROS’s.1 A recent review “Antioxidant Properties of Probiotic Bacteria” published in Nutrients by Yang Wang et al., appraised evidence for potential use of probiotics as antioxidants. Mechanisms of probiotics that reduce oxidative stress include chelating metals, up regulating antioxidase activity, producing and up regulating antioxidant metabolites, and regulating specific signal pathways.1
Probiotics also aid in reducing oxidative stress by maintaining healthy gut bacteria. There is strong evidence that probiotics may be useful as antioxidants, however further research in needed, especially in human trials.
Why is this Clinically Relevant?
Reducing oxidative stress may reduce development and progressions of diseases such as atherosclerosis and diabetes. Probiotics may be viable antioxidants because as they:
- Chelate metals
- Up-regulate antioxidase activity
- Produce and up-regulate antioxidant metabolites
1 Wang Y, Wu Y, Wang Y, et al. Antioxidant Properties of Probiotic Bacteria. Nutrients. 2017.