Have you ever been frustrated because you don’t have the fast metabolism, strong immune system or even the efficient digestion system similar to that of your friends? At the same time you are doing everything right, such as eating healthy, sleeping and exercising? We all know it’s not productive to compare ourselves to others, but it’s natural. Even though there are some things we cannot control, there are definitely ways we can get closer to reaching the optimal levels of health we are all striving for.
Depending on the flora of bacteria in your gut, you may or may not benefit from what you eat. In other words, you could be eating a diet rich in minerals and nutrients, yet are still deficient in those crucial nutrients you are consuming. Unfortunately, a poor diet with good gut bacteria, is better than a healthy diet with poor gut bacteria.According to a recent study on fecal transplants, for those struggling with chronic conditions it’s shockingly a more effective treatment strategy to alter the gut bacteria, than to alter your diet.
Okay, we are not necessarily saying you need to get a fecal transplant, but I am sure you have heard the buzz around “probiotics”? The probiotic market is now around $35 billion with no signs of slowing. However, are they really worth the hype and money?
Benefits of Probiotics
As mentioned earlier, your body is full of a vast ecosystem of microbial species, both good and bad. The good bacteria (probiotics) supports your immune system by fighting off disease and infection, and promoting the production of natural antibodies that help boost immune cells. According to a study at the Imperial College of London on Molecular System Biology, probiotics even have a tangible effect on metabolism.
If that isn’t enough to convince you, they also allow you to absorb vital nutrients, relieve allergies, support digestion, balance hormones, improve vaginal health, and treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). These far reaching benefits are attributed to both balancing the microflora of bacteria as well as having an anti-inflammatory impact.
Probiotics for You?
In our opinion, probiotics do in fact stand up to the hype, especially if you are someone who has depleted this flora of beneficial bacteria. Probiotics will be most impactful for someone who is experiencing this imbalance of bad bacteria, i.e. with some symptoms including thinning hair and nails, to allergies, sinus infections, gas/bloating, dental decay, and yeast infections.
Since we have over 100 trillion bacteria in our gut, it’s important we understand all of the ways to effectively consume probiotics in order to get the best results. The below pointers provide helpful guidance and considerations prior to adding probiotics to your diet.
- Probiotics are often most easily absorbed through the consumption of food.Yogurt, kombucha, coconut kefir, as well as fermented veggies (such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso) are all examples of items high in probiotics
- Prebiotic foods are also great additions as they fuel/feed the good bacteria, i.e. probiotics are the good bacteria, and pre-biotics ensure they are most effective. Some prebiotic filled foods asparagus, artichokes, leeks, onions, garlic, whole grains, legumes, and cruciferous vegetables.
- If you can find a liquid probiotic supplement these are beneficial because it doesn’t stimulate digestion, and hence likely to survive your hostile stomach environment and reach your gut.
- Some supplements only contain half a dozen species of probiotics. To ensure the beneficial bugs make their way all the way to gut, look for a minimum of 12 strains of probiotics.
- Ask your practitioner if there are specific strains isolated to address your particular issue, e.g. Bifidobacterium is best for IBS.
- The density and potency of a supplemental probiotic is determined by what is called a CFU (Colony-Forming Units), 40 billion is the recommended number.
In addition to ensuring you add probiotic rich food to your diet, or finding the right supplement. It is also crucial you understand what is detrimental to beneficial bacteria, such as processed foods and heavy toxins. Not to mention antibiotics that set off a “bomb” in your gut, killing the entire colony of flora (note *will address this in another blog post) .
In conclusion, we believe that probiotics are not all hype. It’s just about finding both the probiotic and prebiotic combination that is right for you.