Probiotics For Your Health
Our understanding of health has greatly changed over the years. We used to believe that avoiding germs, eating a balanced diet and regular exercise were enough to protect us from sickness and common health conditions. However, we soon realized that there is much more involved in achieving optimal health. In fact, it has become clear that the gut which is home to trillions of microbes has one of the largest impacts on human health.
Regardless of what doctors are treating (digestive disorders, allergies, skin conditions, or poor immunity), many now recognize that treatment ought to begin by colonizing the gut with friendly gut bacteria called probiotics. Recent research has shown us that specific probiotic strains influence our absorption of vitamins and minerals, inflammatory responses, and the ability to fight foreign invaders. It has even been shown that mood, weight, and behaviour can be affected by gut bacteria.
With these magnificent findings, it’s fair to say that optimal health begins with optimal bacteria.
Unfortunately, most Canadians do not have adequate ‘good’ gut bacteria and instead are host to many harmful microorganisms, such as viruses, parasites, fungi and ‘bad’ bacteria. Increased levels of stress, the overuse of medication, and poor nutrition destroy friendly gut bacteria and provide an ideal breeding ground for pathogenic bugs. This imbalance is often referred to as dysbiosis.
Restoring the ideal ratio of ‘good’ to ‘bad’ gut bacteria can be accomplished by supplementing with a daily probiotic. I understand that shopping for probiotics can sometimes be overwhelming. So today I would like to help you understand probiotics a little better, in order for you make an informed decision. Below I have provided 3 of the most important features to look for in a good quality probiotic:
The potency or culture count refers to the total amount of live, friendly bacterial cultures per dose. I recommend my patients take a ‘one-a-day’ capsule with a daily dose of 50 billion active bacteria.
2. Multiple Strains
A variety of bacterial strains is important. While some strains are better for increasing your immunity such as Bifidobacterium bifidum, others can help with digestion by decreasing flatulence like Bifidobacterium longum. There are even probiotics like Lactobacillus rhamnosus that can fight against bad bacteria you may have accidentally ingested by eating spoiled food. Be sure to choose a multi-strain probiotic supplement that contains both Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium.
3. Protected Capsules
Friendly bacteria have to survive the harsh acidic environment of the stomach as they make their way to the intestines. A protective enteric coating will ensure the bacteria arrive alive where they are needed the most.
Even though probiotics are an emerging area of research, there are exciting new breakthroughs occurring daily. Current research has provided strong evidence that gut microbes reduce inflammation, boost immunity, and improve digestion. Certainly, these friendly bacteria are our friends.