The skinny on probiotics
Greetings, Green Country!
Just little old me with a quick heads up; take your probiotics, they’re good for you. Probiotics is a term that is gaining popularity these days — not dissimilar to how vitamin D3 is taking the nation by storm. As always, there are some things you should know about this genre of supplements.
What the heck is a probiotic?
Definition: pro·bi·ot·ic ˌprōbīˈädik/
1. denoting a substance that stimulates the growth of microorganisms, especially those with beneficial properties (such as those of the intestinal flora).
1. a probiotic substance or preparation.
According to Web MD, probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. We usually think of bacteria as something that causes diseases. But your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called "good" or "helpful" bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.
Good bacteria versus evil bacteria
Okay, let’s examine this. We have a collection of bacteria in our bodies that helps us be healthy. This collection is our set of probiotics. Probiotics are helpful because they keep our G.I. tract healthy. How this actually works is still being researched. What we do know is that if there is a low amount of the good bacteria, then we suffer from infections. So, we can reasonably conclude that there is a correlation between your gut and your body’s immune system. Of course, this makes sense to me because in order for your immune system to be at its best, you have to have everything working together.
So, start with good nutrition. We really are what we eat because what we eat allows the body to generate the infection-killing cells we need. What we eat goes into the digestive system and the good bacteria there helps it move through your gut. Some people will understand this as regulating the digestive flow. Again, this makes sense because you don’t want food lingering too long in your intestines. That would be bad. . . very bad. . . and too gross to talk about.
Some conditions like Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome/Disease (IBS and IBD), antibiotic related diarrhea and infectious diarrhea are treated with probiotics. Additionally, relief from non digestive issues, like allergies and colds, is also being credited to the consumption of probiotics. This is a big win for me because of my sinus issues. So much so, that I take a probiotic that is specific for allergies and sinus. Skin disorders like eczema and some forms of acne seem to respond favorably when sufferers are on a regimen of probiotics.
What are probiotics comprised of?
There are two common types of bacteria that are called probiotics. Lactobacillus is the most common probiotic. It’s the one you’ll find in yogurt and other fermented foods. Different strains can help with diarrhea and may help with people who can’t digest lactose, the sugar in milk.
Bifidobacteriumis is the second type of bacteria commonly found in probiotics. It is also found in some dairy products, and may help ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Some manufacturers make a blend of these. For example I take Lactobacillus paracasei and Lactobacillus plantarum in a 50/50 blend that is made by Metagenics. This is the blend designed to help with allergies, sinus and respiratory health. I take this during the cold and flu season as part of an entire immune system boosting program that I talked about in a previous blog.
Do I need probiotics?
It appears that if you have more of the good stuff in your gut than the bad stuff the least that will happen is you will have a more regulated digestive flow. Additionally, your overall immune system sees improvement. If you jump on this band wagon, make sure you have a source for high quality, ultra potent supplements. Low quality probiotics will do you no good.
That said, the FDA has deemed probiotics safe, with no horrible side effects. This means anybody can make them, but it doesn’t mean you, the consumer, are always buying a quality product. I have the entire Metagenics line of probiotics and I can say without pause that they have the highest quality products I’ve come across. Call me if you are curious as to what your specific needs may be. I’m here to help.
peace and love,