Probiotics, What is Your Gut Telling You?
You walk into your local pharmacy and see shelves lined with probiotics and you wonder should I be taking this. Most likely, Yes you should. Today’s fast pace world can wreak havoc on the good bacteria in our intestines. High consumption of unhealthy foods, exposure to pollutants and chemicals from the environment and antibiotics used to fight diseases can kill off the beneficial bacteria in our bodies. By replenishing the good bacteria with probiotics, it increases the body’s ability to have a functioning digestive and immune system.
There are many claims about the benefits of probiotics. So much so that it seems like you would be an idiot if you didn’t take them. But do they really do what so many marketing campaigns claim they do? There are many different lines of thinking on probiotics and you can get as complicated as you want with the research. During my research, I found that even though probiotics have been around since 1907 many experts say that more studies need to be conducted to decide what probiotics can and cannot do. They all agree that they are safe for healthy individuals but people with compromised immune systems should consult their doctor before taking probiotics.
So, what claims are made about probiotics? Probiotics work with other microflora to support the immune system, aid in digestion, boost energy and improve cholesterol. They also can regulate hormone levels, reduce occurrence of yeast infection in women, supports healthy weight and improve oral health. Probiotics have been used in infants to help with digestive discomfort and also in pets. I came across research that talks about the stomach being a second brain because the stomach can continue working without the help of our “primary” brain. This research suggest that probiotics can help regulate mood as well.
What brand of probiotics should you take?
All probiotics are not treated equally, most are sold as a dietary supplement and therefore are not regulated by the FDA. When choosing, a probiotic try to choose one that list potency at time of expiration verse at time of manufacture. Good bacteria die overtime and it is not beneficial to you if the bacteria are dead. Next choose a probiotic that has multiple strands of probiotics. Bacteria work synergistically, having numerous organisms increases the chances of winning out over the bad bacteria. Also, look at potency. You need enough bacteria to make a difference. Last, choose a probiotic that doesn’t have a bunch of fillers. There isn’t much room in a tiny capsule so why waste any of it with artificial sweeteners. If it isn’t beneficial there isn’t any reason to have it included. When looking at the label stay away from magnesium steroid, titanium dioxide, Sucralose and Xylitol.
What is the best time to take a probiotic?
Most people would think in the morning on an empty stomach. But they would be wrong. The main concern with a probiotic is that the stomach acid will destroy any of the living bacteria. The best time to take your probiotic supplement is with food. Probiotics are living organism and need food and water to survive and multiply, by taking with food it increases the bacteria’s chance of survival and gives it an ideal environment to thrive.
When I decided to research probiotics, and revamp my selection in the pharmacy I got overwhelmed very quickly. Type into google “best probiotic” and numerous websites with “Top 8, 10 or 20 Probiotic Supplements” pop up. How do they decide which are the best, are they reviews put on by the manufacturer to make their product stand out above the rest? A couple of the websites I visited went into detail about each qualification which was educational and a lot better than just making a list. So, from my research I came up with a new company to add to my current probiotic selection; Garden of Life. I like this company because they have numerous options, they guarantee the number of probiotics at time of consumption and they have numerous strands. Their product Colon Care has thirty-three different strands, that’s pretty impressive.
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If you would like to read in more detail about probiotics. Below are some of the websites I visited and found pretty interesting.
Dr. Shannon Corkrean, PharmD