Let’s talk about probiotics!
Probiotics are a new health craze in America that can seem like a fad. Why is everyone suddenly concerned about probiotics?
The truth is that the health of American has been in a dire state for a long time; diabetes and heart disease ruling the top of the charts for decades, with cancer being not far behind.
What do these threats have in common? They are all results of an unhealthy gut. New research shows that the health of your guts indicates the health of you in general – and the two important factors of gut health are diet and microbiome (the bugs in your guts). Dr. David Perlmutter, the famous author of “Grain Brain” and “ Brain Maker” illustrates this concept in his writings that has Americans looking to improve their health by understanding this relationship.
That’s why probiotics (the general name for lots and lots and lots of different supplements and food) are so common today. Probiotics are the little bugs in your guts. Another term we need to know is prebiotic. Prebiotics are the food that the little bugs eat to grow, and sustain a healthy biome. This biome digests your food.
The number one threat to the microbiome, that I know of, is candida albicans – but it is also necessary! Candida naturally exists in the gut. Things get problematic, however, when the candida OVERGROWS and pushes out other gut bacteria. Then, the candida fosters almost every symptom you have ever heard of and sets the stage for the top health concerns we talked about earlier. Even cancer!
To overgrow, candida eats sugar, vinegar, yeast, and anything fermented and releases acetaldehyde, which, at toxic levels, makes you feel drunk. I sometimes wonder if the suspect behavior we see in the public isn’t due to people being “drunk” on this inner fungus! It certainly makes sense with all the sugar that is pushed in the American diet (think large Dunkies with 4 sugars to get my drift or RedBull and coke, or just soda for that matter). Ingestion of antibiotics is another key factor here. Therefore it is always a good idea to cut sugar, yeast and other candida causing foods to avoid almost any health problem in the future.
Factors in choosing a probiotic:
1) How many strains?
There are hundreds of thousands of strains of gut bacteria. Modern probiotics are a mixture of a few to many different strains for different things. Different bacteria is found in the large intestine than the small intestine. Most people choose a probiotic with a high number of strains, between 5 and 12.
2) How many CFUs? (Colony Forming Units)
This number is how many units there are in each dose which hopefully will make colonies of bacteria in your guts. Usually, the higher the number seems like the better, but as usual be suspect and choose what seems right for you.
3) Refrigerated or not?
Some people say that it’s no longer necessary to refrigerate probiotics, but major brands always do this. It stands to reason that a living thing should be refrigerated. Even high quality probiotics can last a month, however, outside of the house, so don’t be afraid to keep them at work or put them in your lunchbox.
4) Empty stomach or not?
Usually people are recommended to use them on an empty stomach so that the probiotic doesn’t compete with food, and so that it can be in place for when you want to digest food at a meal.
5) What about probiotic foods? Are they ever a bad idea?
If there is an overgrowth of candida albicans, certain probiotic foods like kombucha, kim chi and vinegar can feed the fungus instead of balancing the gut flora. Care should be taken if you have symptoms of bloat, gas, burping, swollen stomach or indigestion. If so, stop these foods.
Benefits should include better digestion, reversal of symptoms of gastrointestinal distress like bloating, pain, aches, back and join pain, lowered immune system and many more things.
As always, remember, I’m not a doctor, so don’t take my word for it! Do your own research to understand what is right for you.