With recent research suggesting a link between obesity and the overuse of antibiotics, we thought it might be a fitting time to discuss probiotics. When we take antibiotics, we alter our community of healthy intestinal bacteria. It may surprise you to learn that the bacteria in our bodies out number our human cells by a ratio of 10:1. This may sound like a massive amount of microorganisms, but let’s explore the ways in which these unseen creatures help us out (in a very necessary and healthy way).
- Healthy bacteria in the gut (also called Probiotics) help boost our immune system by taking up real estate and nutrients that would otherwise be vacant for invading bacteria (like Salmonella or E. coli).
- Probiotics interact with our immune systems locally in our intestines, at other mucus membranes in the body, and even systemically to help our immunity stay or become strong.
- They maintain and strengthen the intestinal barrier, making sure we only absorb nutrients and not other particles that may cause adverse reactions (a syndrome called “leaky gut”).
- They help regulate bowel motility, blood flow to the colon, and also produce essential nutrients that nourish the colon tissue.
- They help our bodies make Vitamin K and B Vitamins and help us absorb Calcium, Magnesium, and Zinc.
- They play an important role in the detoxification process.
- Some strains of these helpful microorganisms also produce enzymes that help us digest common allergens like gluten, dairy, and soy.
Many traditional diets have ample sources of these microorganisms…fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kefir, and miso to name a few. We can also get them from just simply eating unprocessed organic fruits, veggies, and grains. The typical modern diet however is very processed, pasteurized, irradiated, bleached, and medicated, so it is a good idea to add a quality probiotic to your daily routine, especially if you are struggling to eat whole organic unprocessed foods at every meal (which we of course suggest you strive to do).
In Chinese medicine having a healthy and strong digestive system is the best way to maintain a healthy weight. When we are digesting and absorbing nutrients efficiently, we are creating qi from our food easily and feel energized, focused and satisfied. When our digestion is weak, we feel sluggish, crave carbs, and often feel too tired to exercise. Our immune systems might also be weak, slowing us down with every cold or flu that comes along. Taking steps to improve the health of our digestive systems (as well as our dietary choices) will improve our quality of life on multiple levels. Adding a probiotic is one way to improve your digestive health.
A good quality probiotic should:
- Be purchased from a reputable source (quality health food store, Naturopathic Physician, Chiropractor, Nutritionist, Acupuncturist, or other distributor of pharmaceutical grade supplements).
- Have delivery technology that protects it from digestive juices in the stomach, so the live cultures can get to your intestines.
- Be either freeze-dried or refrigerated.
- Be free of common allergens (dairy, gluten, corn, soy), preservatives, binders, and fillers.
- Contain inulin (food for the good bacteria; also called “prebiotics”) to support and maintain the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.
- Have laboratory tested verification of purity, potency and stability.
Independent analysis of many brands of probiotics consistently reveals inactive strains. While buying a cheap probiotic may seem like it is saving you money, it can actually be a waste as you may be purchasing capsules filled with dead bacteria. Gross!
At the Yinova Center, we always look for ways for you to spend your health dollars wisely. In order to help simplify your choice of a good quality probiotic, we have spent many hours researching brands and have chosen to carry one at our center that we trust. Klaire Labs backs their products with rigorous testing to ensure efficacy, purity, potency, and stability. They also offer a diverse array of products to meet specific needs. We currently stock a very potent complete spectrum probiotic, a Women’s focused blend (targeted to prevent yeast infections and urinary bladder infections), a prebiotic blend, and a high potency digestive enzyme to assist our patients with known or suspected food allergies.