Posted by Dr. Lori Arnold
PROBIOTIC means “for life”, and are colony forming “good” bacteria. Your digestive tract is populated by “good” bacteria, like lactobacillus, but it is also occupied by “bad” bacteria like Candida, E. coli and Salmonella. More and more data supports that the key to good health is creating and maintaining an optimal balance of more “good” bacteria in your gut. According to Dr. Stephen Sinatra, the ideal ratio between the bacteria in your gut is 85% “good” and 15% “bad.” Many environmental and lifestyle habits contribute to the destruction of good bacteria like: Consumption of sugar/fructose, refined grains, processed foods, chemicals and pesticides, chlorinated and fluoridated water, antibacterial soaps and the overuse of antibiotics and stomach acid blockers. Probiotics produce lactic acid that makes the gut more “acidic” and stops the growth of bad bacteria. The website Green Med Info has assembled an impressive list of more than 200 studies, which together explore more than 170 diseases which can be helped or treated with probiotics.
Probiotics are ANTIVIRAL, ANTIBACTERIAL, and ANTIFUNGAL and daily supplementation can be a great source of energy for your body. Probiotics have been clinically proven to strengthen your immune system by fighting viruses, bacteria and infections – all energy drainers! Naturopathic and Integrative physicians promote probiotics to help control inflammation, which is the link to many degenerative diseases. You may have noticed that probiotics are now featured in health articles relating to all sorts of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, depression and heart disease. Probiotics protect the digestive tract, aid in appropriate digestion and improve absorption of critical nutrients that turn food into energy. These healthy bacteria can stop nearly any digestive complaint including gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and indigestion and top docs utilize probiotics for irritable bowel and “leaky gut”. They are essential for patients with yeast overgrowth of the vagina, mouth, or rectum and recurrent UTIs, and are helpful in treating food allergies and chronic fatigue. Probiotics have been clinically proven to be useful for allergic conditions, skin health maintenance, and dental health. Daily use supports healthy blood pressure levels, liver functions, and pain relief support.
Eating sugar nourishes the BAD BACTERIA in your gut, which in turn creates more distress and is the road to disease. The best way to ensure optimal gut flora is to regularly consume traditionally fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir and tempeh. Many patients assume they are getting enough probiotics by consuming yogurt. Actually, most “probiotic” yogurts found in grocery stores are NOT good choices because they are pasteurized. Pasteurization destroys many naturally occurring probiotics. In addition, manufactured yogurts typically contain added sugars, high fructose corn syrup, dyes, or artificial sweeteners. Yogurt also has to be acidic and contain “LIVE CULTURES” … “active cultures” are not the same thing. Look for the seal on the container that has the LAC seal (Live and Active Cultures), as this yogurt contains at least 100 million cultures per gram of yogurt after pasteurization. A lot of people do not like the taste of fermented foods. In this case, taking a high quality probiotic supplement is definitely advised. Experts, like Dr. Julian Whitaker, recommend that general probiotic replacement should include L. acidophilus and B. bifidum. Other strains like L. fermentum, release antioxidants right to the digestive tract, and are more readily available. Some people seem to respond more favorably to L. sporogenes or B. coagulans, so when in doubt, this may be a great place to start. The Whitaker Institute recommends taking at least 2 billion CFU of probiotics a day.
If you want to feel strong, energetic and decrease your risk of illness, probiotics are the right supplement!
Written by: Dr. Lori Arnold, Pharm.D., FAARM