So let’s start at the beginning: Our gut. Our intestines are known as our second brain. It contains neurotransmitters, like serotonin, just like the brain, and is very reactive to our emotions. Our gut also controls what goes in and out of our bodies. This means that our intestines not only control the nutrition entering into our body and eliminates waste, but also acts as a gatekeeper for bacteria and viruses, thus being an active participator in our immune system. Our gut controls so many aspects of our health that it is imperative to keep it healthy. This is why exercise (to keep the intestines moving) and proper nutrition (to feed our body, but also the good bacteria in our intestines) are so important. But what role to probiotics play and what good can they do?
Antibiotics: Antibiotics aren’t very smart. Sure, they work great. A couple days on antibiotics and you start feeling normal again… oh yeah, except that you feel nauseous, your intestines are all in knots, and food isn’t exactly appetizing. This is because the antibiotics, on top of attacking your infection, have also attacked the bacteria that you need to digest. On top of that, if you’re a woman, the antibiotics have also destroyed your vaginal flora. This is where those fun yeast infections creep in. What to do? Probiotics!
Poor diet: If you’re trying to jump start that new diet or you’ve been naughty for a couple weeks because everyone’s birthday is in July you may be having difficulty digesting the healthier foods. You’ve, basically, starved the bacteria in your gut avoiding the healthy foods (MURDERER!) and so now there aren’t enough good bacteria to digest these new healthier foods. What to do? Probiotics!
Diarrhea: I’ll be honest… this is the discussion in my job that I hate the most. I sometimes get weekly reports on my family, friends, and patient’s bowel movements. Diarrhea is the most common complaint. Usually this is caused by something infective or questionable food (anything buffet style I file under questionable). When you have diarrhea you don’t have time to reabsorb the water in your large intestine or properly digest your food. Everything just moves out in as quickly as it moves in. This means you are also losing the good bacteria that should be helping you to digest. After the infection or disagreement is over you could still have diarrhea simply because you have no bacteria to help you digest your food properly. What to do? Probiotics!
GERD: Are you getting a lot of heartburn? Your stomach might be working overtime to try to digest the food that you are eating. This means more churning and more acid. Try taking some probiotics for a couple weeks and see what happens.
“Stomach Flu”: If you seem to be getting a lot of stomach bugs the bacteria that usually act as the Marines in your body may be depleted or weakened. Remember, your intestines house a pretty big part of your immune system. Part of your immune system, ironically, is bacteria. If your bacteria have been destroyed by a bug, bowel abnormalities, or poor eating habits your immune system is at risk. What to do? Probiotics!
Now here is the next problem. Which probiotic to choose from… Where do we even start!? There are foods that are more likely to contain probiotics, like yogurt, kefir, fermented vegetables (like kimchi and sauerkraut), kombucha, natto, kvass, raw cheese, apple cider vinegar, and tempeh. Typically you aren’t going to find a measurement of the quantity of probiotics because many times these food sources are from small food manufactures and even many of the large manufacturers claim they contain probiotics, but don’t provide any label information on how much. As far as yogurts go… grass fed animals that give milk that isn’t pasteurized is the best and the less sugar the better (This is why I hate Activia). But these foods are small potatoes if you are looking to really make a change. You can find lots of different strains to target specific areas of the body. The strengths are typically measured as Colony Forming Units (CFU) which can range from the millions to the billions. Be aware that if the label measures as milligrams (mg) they are probably in the hundreds or thousands, which in your gut isn’t very much.
But I tried probiotics and it made everything worse! You are one of the rare ones, but it does happen. Sometimes increased gas and bloating is a transitional stage that your body will pass through. This is where prebiotics come in. Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that nuture and feed the probiotics, this combination is called synbiotics. Fiber is one of the best sources of prebiotics! We like Acacia fiber, Inulin, and various vegetable fibers. We also like Fructooliogsaccharaides (FOS) which are short and medium chain non-digestible sugar molecules. They are slightly sweet (30-50% of the sweetness of sugar) and found in Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root, leeks, bananas, asparagus, onions and garlic. You can also take the short cut and buy FOS as a powder or capsule.
Where to use caution : If you have been diagnosed with Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO), have had previous intestinal or weight loss surgeries, have a weakened immune system, or are taking any immunosuppressant medications, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before adding probiotics to your health regimen.
Go with your gut!
Stop into the store and see the selection of Probiotics and Prebiotics. Our knowledgeable staff can assist you with your questions. Please present code GUT15 for 15% off the purchase of any of our Probiotic or Prebiotic products.