Have you seen them? All the commercials touting PROBIOTICS? Do you wonder if you need them and then do you wonder if they actually work? The probiotics industry has exploded over the past decade and just like other health promoting products to hit the shelves, it’s got its good and not so great sides. For me, the time when I realized that not so great side, was when I saw a brand of chocolate bars for sale, that were advertising, “now contains 1 million CFU probiotics”. See, not all probiotics are created equal, and with a plethora of claims, it’s no surprise people can be skeptical. In this newsletter, I will guide you and hope to empower you to make good decisions. What I want you to remember is:
Adding probiotics to your daily diet can boost your immune system and support your body’s motility. Every culture has its own version of probiotics – It’s that important!
Seven Ways To Boost Your Immune System. Here is a recap of the Seven. Keep up the good work - especially with the holidays coming up and all the added intensity related to this time.
1. Fill your plate with fruits, vegetables and other plant products to get your disease fighting Antioxidants and Polyphenols.
2. Focus on healthy fats to protect your cell membranes.
3. Choose lean protein sources to stimulate B-cell production.
4. Make time for tea and get the benefit of catechins – a disease-fighting flavonoid and antioxidant.
5. Get going with fiber.
6. Rest that body by giving it the gift of a good nights’ sleep.
7. Populate with probiotics
Below, I will break down the most popular blends of probiotics, the brands to look for, and if you don’t like taking pills, how you can EAT your probiotics!
So What Are Probiotics?
Essential to basic human nutrition, probiotics are live microorganisms (in most cases, bacteria) that are similar to the beneficial microorganisms naturally found in the human gut. Your body uses these “good bacteria” to prevent and alleviate many different conditions, but particularly those that affect the gastrointestinal tract.
Probiotics can provide multiple benefits for your immune system. When probiotics are abundant in your body, it’s harder for bacteria that cause illness to get a foothold. Some also keep you healthy by making bacteriocins, which suppress the growth of harmful bacteria. Our gut is home to over 500 bacterial species – in fact, we have more bacteria in our bodies than we have cells! Our intestinal bacteria facilitates digestion, provides nutrients, and helps form the immune system. Some important nutrients made include several B vitamins, vitamin K, folate, and some short-chain fatty acids. Up to 10% of an individual’s daily energy needs can be derived from the byproducts of the good bacteria in your gut.
Here are some of the most common bacteria found in our gut, and below I identify some off the shelf products you can purchase that contain these species, to help you repopulate.
- Bifidobacteria is a family of bacteria that has been studied for its ability to prevent and treat various gastrointestinal disorders, including infections, irritable bowel syndrome and constipation. In addition to making lactic acid, it also makes some important short-chain fatty acids that are then absorbed and metabolized by the body. There is also some experimental evidence that certain bifidobacteria may actually protect the host from carcinogenic activity of other intestinal flora.
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus can be found in many yogurts and soft cheeses. It was discovered by the Bulgarian doctor Stamen Grigorov, hence the name bulgaricus. It helps to convert lactose and other sugars into lactic acid, which may be particularly helpful for those who are lactose intolerant.
- Streptococcus thermophilus has nothing to do with strep throat, which is caused by a completely different bug. These friendly bacteria are also used to make yogurts and cheeses, and they even assist Lactobacillus bulgaricus by making nutrients that assist with growth.
- Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei both convert lactose into lactic acid – also helping the lactose intolerant. Research has indicated that L. Acidophilus may also be helpful at reducing cholesterol levels.
Eat Your Probiotics – FoodsTo Feed A Healthy Gut: