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To Probiotic or not Probiotic?

  03/22/2022 at 20:13 pm

When people come into Healthy Appetites complaining of bloating, gas, diarrhea or constipation issues I always ask them if they are taking a probiotic.  I feel everyone should take a daily probiotic as most people in this country don’t eat enough fermented foods containing beneficial live cultures.  

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What are probiotics?  Simply put, probiotics are made of good live bacteria and/or yeasts that naturally live in your body. You constantly have both good and bad bacteria in your body. When you get an infection, there’s more bad bacteria knocking your system out of balance. Good bacteria helps eliminate extra bad bacteria, returning the balance.  Probiotic supplements are a way to add good bacteria to your body.

The most common question I am asked is which one should I take as there are hundreds of probiotics on the market.  To understand what you need, let’s take a closer look at what’s in it. Probiotics are a combination of live beneficial bacteria and/or yeasts that naturally live in your body. Bacteria is usually viewed in a negative light as something that makes you sick. However, you have two kinds of bacteria constantly in and on your body — good bacteria and bad bacteria. Probiotics are made up of good bacteria that help keep your body healthy and working well. This good bacteria helps you in many ways, including fighting off bad bacteria when you have too much of it, helping you feel better.  When you are sick, bad bacteria enter your body and increase in number. This knocks your body out of balance. Good bacteria work to fight off the bad bacteria and restore the balance within your body, making you feel better.

Good bacteria keep you healthy by supporting your immune function and controlling inflammation. Certain types of good bacteria can also:
•    Help your body digest food.
•    Keep bad bacteria from getting out of control and making you sick.
•    Create vitamins.
•    Help support the cells that line your gut to prevent bad bacteria that you may have consumed from entering your blood.
•    Breakdown and absorb medications.

This balancing act is naturally happening in your body all of the time. Common probiotic bacteria can include lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium and the most common yeast found in probiotics is saccharomyces boulardii.

-    Lactobacillus species are probiotics normally found in the human digestive and urinary tracts. They can be used for diarrhea and "gut health." 
-    Bifidobacteria species are probiotics that live in the intestines. They may help with diarrhea, constipation, and other intestinal disorders. 
-    Saccharomyces boulardii is a yeast and is most commonly used for treating and preventing diarrhea, especially when taking an antibiotic.

Trillions of bacteria live in your body, especially your large intestine. This colonic community of bacteria, known as the gut microbiota, is involved in immune health, digestion and other functions.  Research has shown that some medical conditions that might be helped by increasing the number of probiotics in your body (through food or supplements) include:

•    Diarrhea (both diarrhea caused by antibiotics and from Clostridioides difficile (C. diff) infection.
•    Constipation.
•    Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
•    Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
•    Yeast infections.
•    Urinary tract infections.
•    Gum disease.
•    Lactose intolerance.
•    Eczema (atopic dermatitis).

When looking for a probiotic, you want to look for strains of at least Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium or Saccharomyces boulardii, and make sure is to choose probiotic products with at least 5 billion colony forming units.  It may take some trial and error to find the probiotic that works for you. If you notice no benefits from one product after a few weeks, try a different one with a different strain of bacteria.  Everyone’s microbiome is unique. No two people have the same microbial cells — even twins are different.

As for my recommendation, when it comes to a good, effective and daily probiotic, the Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics are my first choice.  It is one capsule, can be taken anytime with or without food and it is shelf-stable meaning that it doesn’t need to be refrigerated.   If you would like more information for your specific problem, stop in the store and we’d be happy to find the right probiotic for you.


By Michelle Guy