If you are in my Wellness Tribe as a Wellness Warrior, then you know that Probiotics are a MUST!
Why take probiotics? The friendly bacteria in our gut is a hot topic in the wellness world, but you may still be wondering exactly what these supplements can do for you. The World Health Organization defines probiotics as, “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.” So what are the health benefits? How can probiotics support our health? More and more, research is exploring how the bacteria in our gut can explain our moods, and how the health of our intestinal flora is connected to the quality of our digestion and immune system. Today, maintaining a proper balance of healthy gut flora can be difficult due to our exposure to antibiotics, chlorinated water, pesticides, chemicals used in food preservation, and chronic stress. If the delicate balance of our inner ecosystem is upset, opportunistic bad bacteria and organisms like yeast, fungus, and parasites are more likely to take up residence. Balancing your intestinal flora is a powerful way to combat these threats and support your health. When we take probiotics, we help fight invaders, improve our nutrient absorption, increase our ability to detoxify, and reduce the negative effects of antibiotic use.
#1 Probiotics help fight invaders
Our gut is filled with hundreds of different species of good bacteria. A truly healthy gut will contain more good bacteria than cells in the entire body. This healthy gut flora is the first thing other organisms encounter in the digestive tube as they fight to protect their territory and prevent other organisms from taking hold. Another reason why you should take supportive probiotics — they have important positive effects on immunity by helping the immune system fight invaders.
#2 Probiotics help Improve nutrient absorption
A healthy gut acts like a fermentation tank inside your body and it’s our intestinal flora that do the fermenting. Because they have different digestive systems from ours, beneficial bacteria can perform certain chemical tricks with food that our bodies can’t, alone.
One of their most important functions in the body is the production of crucial b-vitamins, specifically folate (B9), biotin (B7), and B12. These nutrients have to be pre-digested by bacteria before the body can absorb them. When we are not getting these nutrients, we can experience a variety of symptoms that seem to appear out of nowhere like low energy, brain fog and skin issues. Another simple reason why you should take probiotics is to ensure that you are getting all of the nutrients in your food that you need to thrive.
#3 Probiotics improve daily detoxification
The intestinal flora is arguably the largest detoxification component of the body and it’s something that can continually be replenished. In this sense, our flora serves as a satellite to our main elimination organ — the liver. To put it another way — if the gut didn’t have a well-balanced intestinal flora, the liver would have to work almost twice as hard.
Supporting our intestinal flora with supplemental probiotics can help to rid the body of toxins entering our air, food, and water. Probiotics, like lactobacillus, look promising in helping to detoxify heavy metals, and to prevent their absorption into the body. This is why probiotics are a key component of your path towards wellness!
#4 Probiotics improve symptoms during and after antibiotic usage
Antibiotics are a major destroyer of our bodies’ bacteria — bad and good. While our culture is beginning to become aware of the regular over-prescribing of antibiotics, children and adults are still regularly and frequently prescribed antibiotics for every kind of infection or potential infection.
Because this antibiotic regime starts early, far too many of us have always lived with compromised intestinal flora for years or even decades and have never been truly healthy.
Dr. Junger writes in Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself, “I see more and more of this in my practice every year. It is my experience that chronically ill people, who often present with an elusive diagnosis, have a long history of consuming antibiotics. The earlier they started, the more complicated their symptoms are later in their lives and the harder it is for doctors to find a diagnosis.”
Research suggests taking probiotics during antibiotic therapies is effective in preventing and treating antibiotic associated diarrhea as well as reducing the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The Big Picture: Why Take Probiotics?
Our understanding of the bacteria in our gut and the environment they live in is still evolving. Our understanding of how to properly re-populate the gut with good bacteria is even less complete. So, why take probiotics?
Taking probiotics has shown promising evidence that they can be very beneficial for our health. Their support in reducing the toxins we inevitably encounter day to day, modulating the immune system, improving digestion and nutrient absorption, and their ability to decrease typical symptoms of antibiotics are a few benefits we don’t want you to miss out on.
Now Which Ones Do You Take?
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Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut,” more than 2,000 years ago, but we’re only now coming to understand just how right he was. Your DAILY probiotic supplement needs to have a significant strength or potency, for this you look at the culture count. The culture count refers to the total amount of live, friendly bacterial cultures in a single serving, also known as CFU’s. At W.E.L.L. we believe you need at least 25 billion cultures (for children) and 50 billion cultures (for adults) to begin to make an impact on your health—often more, depending upon your age or health-related concern. Research is showing that more is better, so keep an eye on the number of cultures or CFUs (colony forming units) for best results, and quality brands really make the commitment to ensuring you that you get what you are paying for, and what your body really needs. Total CFUs or culture count will often be determined at time of manufacture, but very few remain at full strength through their expiration date, again the right brands will make a HUGE difference. Look for a high quality probiotic that displays potency on the label at time of expiration, not manufacture.
When choosing a probiotic it’s also important to pay attention to the number of strains, at least five different should be a part of your daily probiotic, but most of the brands above more like 10-15 strains, which will optimize their effect on you! The strains, or specific types of bacteria, plus the culture count of each should be listed on the label. Over 1,000 strains of beneficial bacteria can be found in the human gut, so it makes sense to choose a probiotic supplement that reflects this natural diversity, and the more effective strains can be the merrier.
Wellness Fact & Tip: When you scan the label of a good probiotic you’ll see strains that begin with Ls and Bs, like Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. A good trick to differentiate these is that the L strains are more native to the little (small) intestine and the B strains are generally found in the big (large) intestine or colon. Look for lots of Ls and Bs because each person’s body utilizes certain bacterial strains better than others.
While probiotics are also utilized in the upper digestive tract, the majority of bacterial populations exist in the lower small and large intestines. So how do the good bacteria get all the way down there? Probiotics must travel through the harsh stomach environment and be delivered to the intestines to colonize. Delayed-release capsules are engineered to remain intact through the stomach and begin dissolving in the intestine, where they are needed most.
Still wanting to know more about how probiotics will keep you on your path? Connect with Meg at Whole Energy Lifestyle Living.