09 Jun Everything You Need to Know About Taking A ProBiotic Supplement
Hailed as the new vitamin, probiotics are getting a lot of attention these days. Recent studies are showing that good gut health can help with immunity and even obesity. The root of the word probiotic comes from the Greek word pro, meaning “promoting” and biotic, meaning “life.” That’s a pretty strong statement in itself.
Probiotics are actually live microbes. These little guys, about 100 trillion of them actually, are the beneficial bacteria that live in our large intestine and keep our systems healthy. They process indigestible fibers and help keep bowel function regular. They produce a number of vitamins, including B6, B12, and K2, and aid in the absorption of minerals such as iron, calcium, and magnesium. Equally important, they help fend off bad bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli. The benefits as I’ve suggested extend well past your gut. In a Swedish study of 262 workers, those who took probiotics for 80 days were 42% less likely to take a sick day for an upper respiratory infection or gastrointestinal disease. A well balanced gut will reduce vaginal and urinary tract infections. If you’re prone to allergies or eczema, probiotics may even help tamp down an overactive immune system. They accomplish all this by producing their own form of antibiotics, blocking pathogens from adhering to the gut, and spurring production of chemical messengers called cytokines, which communicate with the immune system throughout the body. Probiotics may even enhance your mood, thanks to a similar cross talk with the central nervous system.
The Health Benefits of Probiotics
The following health benefits are associated with the intake of daily servings of probiotics:
- Enhanced immune system response
- Alleviates negative affects of taking many types of antibiotics
- Calms colon irritation following surgery
- Helps to support healthy skin in youth
- Increased ability to digest food
- Therapeutic for upper respiratory complaints
- Reduces lactose intolerance
- Reduces incidence of yeast infections, vaginitis and candidiasis
- Increases ability to assimilate the nutrients from food
- Alleviates many common digestive disorders such as constipation, diarrhea and IBS
- Acts as a remedy for bad breath (halitosis)
- Increases ability to synthesize vitamin B
- Increases ability to absorb calcium
But as with everything in our dual world, balance between the good and the bad guys is key. Things like synthetic medications, diet, diseases, stress, poor sleep and your environment can upset that balance. Given that research has shown that the network of neurons lining our guts is so extensive that is has now been nicknamed our “second brain” one can understand how stress can effect this sensitive and key area too. This gut “brain” doesn’t think for us, but it does play a key role in certain diseases and communicates with the brain in managing our whole digestive system and all the organs involved in it.
There are several different kinds of probiotics, and their health benefits are determined by the job that they do in your gut. Probiotics must be identified by their genus, species, and strain level. Here is the key probiotics to look out for in your supplements:
There are more than 50 species of lactobacilli. They are naturally found in the digestive, urinary, and genital systems. Foods that are fermented, like yogurt, and dietary supplements also contain these bacteria. Studies have shown some benefits linked to Lactobacillus and treating and/or preventing yeast infections, urinary tract infection, IBS, lactose intolerance, skin disorders and respiratory infections.
There are approximately 30 species of bifidobacteria. The make up approximately 90% of the healthy bacteria in the colon. They appear in the intestinal tract within days of birth, especially in breastfed infants. Studies have shown that bifidobacteria can help with IBS, dental cavities improved blood lipids, and glucose intolerance.
This is also known as S. boulardii and is the only yeast probiotic. Some studies have shown that it is effective in preventing and treating diarrhea associated with the use of antibiotics and traveler’s diarrhea. It has also been reported to prevent the reoccurrence of Clostridium difficile, to treat acne, and to reduce side effects of treatment for Helicobacter pylori.
How To Choose a Good Probiotic Supplement
- You can buy probiotics with anything from 1bn to 100bn or more bacteria per capsule. Generally the more the better
- There are probiotics that contain a single strain, and others that contain 15 different strains or more. Many naturopaths believe that more strains are better
- Ensure it contains a few of the most potent strains (including L. Acidophilus or B. Bifidum), and at least 5 individual strains
- Look for probiotics that contain prebiotics too. These are non-digestible foods that feed the probiotics.
- Supplements that contain probiotics in a wholefood form are likely to have a much more authentic probiotic count
- Avoid supplements with binders/additives fillers
- Avoid any supplements that make contain GMO ingredients
- Ensure that the probiotics are “Viable through end of shelf life” ensures the living microbes are in fact still living. Pass on the probiotic if the label says “viable at time of manufacture,” which means everything in it could be dead by the time it reaches your mouth.
- If the supplements have been certified by a third party, you can be confident that they contain the levels of bacteria in that they claim too.
A Glance At Some Of The Probiotics We Stock
Top Selling Points:
- Contains whole foods
- Contains actual fermented ingredients
- The only probiotic formula that contains a unique whole food blend with Homeostatic® Soil Organisms (HSOs). The HSOs in Primal Defense are important probiotics you would get in abundance if your food came from soil untouched by pesticides, herbicides and other widely used chemicals.
- Contains Mineral Based Pre-biotics
- Contains 12 strains of beneficial probiotics and their food sources
- Select ingredients in Primal Defense are produced through the Garden of Life proprietary Poten-Zyme® fermentation process to make nutrients more available to the body.
- Many probiotic products measure their potency in colony-forming units (CFUs), whereas in Garden of Life’s Primal Defense, it’s not the quantity of probiotics that counts; it’s the quality. The hardy probiotic strains in Primal Defense are resistant to heat, cold, stomach acid, chlorine, fluorine, ascorbic acid and bile. The efficacy of a probiotic should be based upon its ability to thrive in the digestive tract, whatever the conditions.
- Garden of Life no longer lists the CFU’s (colony forming units) of micororganisms on its label. Instead, they include the milligram amount of the ingredient blends as amore accurate reflection of what can be guaranteed in the finished product. As with other products containing beneficial organisms such as yogurt and kefir, the actual CFU count in the finished product will vary from lot to lot. This variance can be found in all probiotics in the marketplace. Garden of Life’s Primal Defense is formulated to include 8.6 billion micro-organisms at the time of manufacture and Garden of Life guarantee the presence of viable organisms in the finished product.
Top Selling Points:
- Contains 20-billion colony forming units of 10 probiotic bacteria and yeast per dose
- Contains pre-biotics
- All production and preparation is done according to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) standards. Plus the prebiotic is also extracted from chicory root using hot water and a gentleextraction process that’s optimised for safety.
- No binders, fillers, colourants, flavourants, preservatives, tableting aids or additives of any kind.
3. Sfera Biotic High Strength Probiotic Complex
Top Selling Points:
- Comes in a spray so very easy to give to kids – can just spray into their bottles or sippy cups or on their food. Can also be sprayed directly into the mouth
- Contains 3 billion CFU (colony forming units)