Smoking and Gut Health
Cigarette smoking causes varieties of life-threatening diseases including heart disease, cancer, and emphysema. Despite the vast amount of data pointing to the dangers of smoking, little was known about how smoking can affect the composition of the microorganism in the GI tract.
According to studies:
- Smoking has a direct impact on the composition of microorganisms in the GI tract.
- Smoking can alter every part of the body, including the digestive system. This can have serious effects because the digestive system is responsible for turning foods into nutrients the body needs to live.
- Smoking can interfere with vital processes of the GI tract, making it unable to function properly.
The dangers associated with smoking
Smoking is one of the most preventable causes of disease and death. Despite growing awareness of smoking hazards, smoking prevalence appears to be declining very slowly. It’s harmful not only because it suppresses the immune system but because of its adverse health effects.
Smoking can harm your digestive system in several ways:
- Smoking increases your risk of gallstone and Crohn’s disease.
- Smoking can make your pancreatitis worse
- Smoking can cause peptic ulcers and heartburn.
- Smoking is associated with cancer of the digestive organs, including the colon, pancreas, head, and neck.
The role of probiotics in the prevention of smoking-related diseases
- Restoring the natural killer cell activity
Giving up smoking is obviously the best option to improve health. However, a study suggests that smokers may also benefit from the daily intake of probiotic supplements. Probiotics can boost the activity of natural killer (NK) cells.
Natural killer cells are key components of the immune system. They are the key mediator of anti-tumor immunity. The natural killer cells activity of obese patients and smokers are found to be compromised. Smokers have significantly lower natural killer cell activity. With low natural killer cells, they are more susceptible to viral infections and inflammatory diseases.
Probiotics may help restore the natural killer cell activity among smokers. Natural killer cells play an important role in eliminating aberrant cells and in controlling infections.
- Detoxify the function of kidney and liver among smokers
The gut plays a role in maintaining good health. If there is a disturbance in the gut, there are more bad bacteria than good bacteria which results in the production of uremic toxins. Uremic toxins are filtered and excreted by the kidney. The use of probiotics in removing uremic toxins from the colon could provide benefits to kidney health.
Probiotics could remove several uremic toxins that accumulate in the blood as a result of kidney and liver problems among smokers. The reduction of uremic toxins leads to a normal gut flora; thus, the quality of life is improved.
- Prevent cardiovascular diseases in smokers
Evidence shows that regular consumption of certain strains of probiotics can reduce:
- Blood pressure
Probiotic supplements such as:
- L. reuteri- a well-studied lactic acid-producing bacterium have cholesterol-lowering properties and anti-inflammatory effects
- L. acidophilus- along with prebiotics can help lower the total LDL cholesterol