Focus On: Probiotics


WHAT IS IT? Probiotics support our body’s health through the digestive tract by restoring the healthy bacteria that are naturally present. Probiotic supplements, or foods that contain probiotics, are crucial to absorbing nutrients from our food and eliminating toxins.
 
[ Benefits ]
Probiotics play a major role in bolstering our immune systems. They aid in digestion and help you to have more regular bowel movements, in addition to helping treat Candida (yeast infections), colitis, and diarrhea. Having imbalanced gut ecology leaves us vulnerable to a wide range of infections from the urinary tract to the lungs and all the way up to the sinuses—and can cause ailments as transient as 24-hour diarrhea or as chronic as autoimmune diseases.
 
[ Supplementation ]
If you have a specific ailment, such as diarrhea or lactose intolerance, most experts would advise supplements over yogurt. Experts say there isn’t enough probiotics in food sources to serve as a therapeutic dosage. Supplements come in capsules, tablets, powder, and liquid form. However, experts generally recommend the refrigerated, enteric-coated capsules or tablets. The coating ensures that organisms will survive the acidy transit through the stomach to the intestines, and the refrigeration keeps organisms alive for as long as possible.
Read the Label Look for products that contain one billion bacteria in each daily serving. But don’t buy a product if the bottle guarantees the dose only at the time of manufacture, and check the expiration date.
Look for a Blend Some practitioners recommend particular strains of bacteria for different ailments, but not all strains are readily available. The simplest way to cover your bases is to buy a probiotic that contains a blend of several.
 
[ Natural Sources ]
You cannot eat the bacteria plain. It must be ingested through another food (or supplement) that contains probiotics. These foods include: yogurt, kefir, kimchi, tempeh or other fermented bean paste, and some pickled vegetables. Be sure to check the label for the probiotic contents, as it ranges from product to product.
 
[ Digging Deeper ]
Probiotics contain lactobacilli and/or bifidobacterium, which are specific strains of stagnant bacteria that aid in digestion. Many times, you may even see the term “lactobacillus bifidus” used on some packaging. Our intestines sport a steamy forest of bacteria, whose balance is essential to health. When the balance is upset by an external influence, mainly food-borne bacteria or antibiotics, our bodies become unhappy in any number of ways. The job of probiotics is to repopulate our gut with the bacteria that have been lost through your regular digestion habits, use of antibiotics, sicknesses, or chronic illness.
 
[ Warnings ]
Overuse of some supplements, particularly concentrated combinations, can cause some stomach discomfort. However, lower potencies and more fragile probiotics (such as L. acidophilus) must be taken on a regular basis to be effective. Though probiotics are not toxic, if you are considering taking a supplement continually it is best to discuss the benefits and dosages with your health practitioner.
 
PICKS:
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Nature’s Way Primadophilus Bifidus, 90 capsules, $22, naturesway.com
//Enzymatic Therapy Acidophilus Pearls, 30 capsules, $13, pearlslife.com
//Jarro Formulas Jarro-Dophilus + FOS 2.5 oz. powder, $25, jarrowprobiotics.com
//Enzymedica Digest Gold, 45 capsules, $30, enxymedica.com
//Dr. Ohhira’s //Probiotics 12 Plus, 60 capsules, $35 essentialformulas.com
//Nordic Naturals Omega Probiotic, 60 softgels, $35,nordicnaturals.com
//NOW Foods Berry Dophilus, 60 chewables, $10, nowfoods.com
//UAS Labs Cran-Gyn
//DDS, 60 capsuels, $30, uaslabs.com
//Wakunaga Kyo-Dophilus plus Fiber, 3.5 oz. powder, $8 kyolic.com