Today we are navigating the world of Probiotics!
Understanding their basic function ensures that we make the right choices and avoid a cupboard full of expired, expensive products that may be of poor quality. When this happens, what do we do? With a heavy burden of guilt, many of us simply discard the half empty bottles into the trash! (more on that later). We forget to take them (guilty!) and convince ourselves that they failed to achieve our desired result and purchase a different brand only to repeat the never ending cycle. Supplement companies love this!
The US supplement industry alone currently exceeds $12 billion per year!
Adding a supplement to your diet should always be discussed with your doctor. Probiotics are not a replacement for eating a healthy diet. A diet containing good amounts of fruit and vegetables, a healthy protein source and fish eg: Salmon, Cod and Herring are preferred. Very little red meat, wholegrain and low fat dairy products are recommended. Yes, we are allowed to treat ourselves sometimes! A Birthday wouldn’t be the same without the cake!
Let’s get started!
Natural probiotics are live, viable microorganisms often referred to as “good bacteria and yeasts” (our individual microbiome). We need to keep our microbiome balanced to maintain good gut health. Our intestines contain 70% of our immune systems. Probiotics help fortify our systems against foreign pathogens. When the scales are tipped in favor of bad bacteria our microbiome balance is in trouble and we are at serious risk of disease. The function of probiotics is simply to support our immune and GI tract health. Their metabolic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are crucial to our holistic wellness.
What happens if we do have a microbiome imbalance?
We may experience:
- Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, constipation, IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome), Deficiencies in vitamins and essential minerals eg: Vit D, Vit K, Vit B12, B7 and Magnesium.
- Mental Health issues such as depression have been reported.
- Skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis and eczema.
Probiotics offer us support and prevention including prevention/reduction of antibiotic associated diarrhea | Normalization of stool and stool consistency in those suffering from severe or complete constipation (Obstipation) | Reduction of the concentration of cancer promoting enzymes and more. ✓
Should we take a probiotic with an antibiotic?
This important question has generated much discussion especially among women. While new clinical trials are continually being published, it appears that the general opinion, as it stands today, is that “Yes” taking a probiotic with a prescribed antibiotic is good practice…
While antibiotics are prescribed to treat infections, they also kill our own natural bacteria creating an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in our gut. (Dysbiosis). Probiotics reduce the damage that antibiotics do to our native probiotics.
Vaginal bacterial yeast infections and chronic vaginal inflammation commonly occur in women taking antibiotics. This happens as the antibiotic…
- Significantly reduces the good bacteria like Lactobacillus. Without enough Lactobacillus our vaginal environment becomes conducive for an increase in yeasts such as Candida albicans, resulting in bacterial yeast infections.
- Probiotics correct this temporary imbalance. ✓
- Like many women I was susceptible to yeast infections while taking antibiotics. Following advice from my doctor, I always take a quality probiotic during a course of antibiotics and have had no recurrence of yeast infections. My personal preference is the probiotic Acidophilus. This is a bacteria that exists naturally, primarily in our intestine and vagina. The probiotic Acidophilus helps to maintain the acid environment in our body which prevents growth of harmful bacteria that cause vaginal yeast infections. ✓
Getting a little more serious now! When our native bacteria are severely imbalanced something called C-difficile may occur, releasing toxins and resulting in inflammation of our colon. Symptoms include upset stomach, abdominal discomfort (which may be moderate to severe), constipation and diarrhea.
Repeated use of antibiotics can result in the thinning of our mucous membrane in our gut putting us at risk of “Leaky Gut”.
Summing up the pros of taking a Probiotic with Antibiotics:
- Reduces Yeast overgrowth
- Relieves diarrhea
- Maintains our own holistic balance of good and bad bacteria (microbiome balance)
- Always consult with your doctor before taking a probiotic. Different probiotics have different benefits. Our age, current health, medications and the prescribed antibiotic are determining factors…
What else should we know…
- These are Non-digestible compounds. Resistant to breakdown by stomach acid in our GI Tract.
- Selectively fermented by our own natural intestinal microorganisms. Prebiotics selectively target and stimulate growth and activity of good bacteria in our intestines. ✓
Endogenous: Source of prebiotics is breast milk. Derived internally, originating within a system such as an organism, tissue or cell.
Exogenous: Ingestible carbohydrate compounds classified as prebiotics are a type of fermentable fibre and thus can be largely, although not solely, classified a dietary fibre.
Examples include Raw Oats, Unrefined Barley, Raw Dry Chicory Root, Artichoke, Dandelion Greens, Leek, Onion, Asparagus, Wheat Bran, Whole Wheat flour cooked, Banana. ✓
Synbiotics: Food ingredients or dietary supplements combining probiotics and prebiotics in a form of synergism hence the term synbiotic. Due to their concentrated combination of both probiotics and prebiotics, Synbiotics can be useful in optimizing gut health to reduce levels of inflammation.
When purchasing synbiotics as with probiotics and prebiotics it is crucial to select a brand with a high CFU (colony forming unit) count in addition to a probiotic strain diversity of at least 9.
Plastic bottles are permeable. Harmful elements can enter during shipping and storage. This can destroy the probiotics. Look for dark amber glass bottles. These keep out moisture and light.
CFU is the measurement of good bacteria and yeasts inside. Products should also contain nutritious plant-based sources of fibre (this provides the necessary source of prebiotic fibre)
As always, it is recommended that you consult with your doctor or dietary specialist to determine the correct regime for you. If taken in large amounts too soon, diarrhea and abdominal pain may occur. Synbiotics are not a quick fix to a healthy gut so increase the amount gradually for optimal benefits. Trials suggest that to achieve the best survival rate of the bacteria in the product it is best to take your probiotic with a meal or 30 minutes before. Cooked oatmeal with milk is an excellent food source. Survival rate with 1% milk and oatmeal-milk gruel were significantly better than apple juice or water.
Safe ways to discard expired supplements:
Drug drop off days | Return to store where they can be disposed of safely | If discarding at home the EPA and FDA recommends mixing the supplement with coffee grounds or cat litter prior to placing in a tightly sealed container. This makes them less recognizable and desirable. Never flush supplements or drugs down the toilet, this can be hazardous to both our water supply and ecosystem. Never give expired supplements or drugs to someone else.
I hope this post has answered many of the questions you may have had associated with Probiotics.
Together we have successfully navigated the world of Probiotics! Congratulations!
Quote for this post: We worry about our skin and not our cells within. Nurture your cells and your skin will radiate (BloomsInHealth)
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