Nutrition 2002 (Sep); 18 (9): 786
EFA Sciences LLC,
Norwood, Massachusetts 02062, USA.
I investigated whether there is a common link between essential fatty acids and probiotics, which have similar actions and benefits in atopy. I made a critical review of the literature pertaining to the actions of essential fatty acids and probiotics on immune response and the interaction between them with particular reference to atopy. Colonization of the human gastrointestinal tract occurs in the first months and years of life. Probiotics are cultures of beneficial bacteria of healthy gut microflora, which reduce dietary antigen load and thus protect against atopy. A significant reduction in the risk of childhood asthma and other atopic conditions was reported in children who were exclusively breast-fed for at least 4 mo after birth. This beneficial action can be attributed to the immunomodulatory, nutritional, or other components of human milk Human breast milk is rich in long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs), which have immunomodulatory actions.
Probiotics and LCPUFAs modulate T-helper 1 and 2 responses, show antibioticlike actions, and alleviate changes related to allergic inflammation. LCPUFAs promote the adhesion of probiotics to mucosal surfaces, which augments the health-promoting effects of probiotics. In view of the similarity in their actions and because LCPUFAs promote the actions of probiotics, I believe that a combination of LCPUFAs and probiotics offer significant protection against atopy. It is likely that breast-feeding and probiotics are two naturally occurring, appropriate events in early human life that have significant health benefits.