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Putting the Oh! in Probiotics

Did you know there are more cells in your body than stars in the universe? So hard to fathom right?! Even more crazy is that there are 10 x more bacteria in and on your body than all of your cells combined!

Probiotics are the good bacteria that live in your body. They colonize your small and large intestine and determine the strength of your immune system. This ecosystem is so important to your health that without it you wouldn’t be alive.

When it comes to probiotics we talk in billions! BILLIONS! There are over 100,000 billion (that’s one hundred thousand billion!) bacteria in your GI tract alone!

What Are They Doing in There?

80% of your immunity comes from your gut! Your immunity is actually determined in the first few days of your birth. If you’re like me and were born via C section, you’re already starting off with a lowered diversity of probiotic health. Couple that with not being breastfed and it may not be hard to see why you feel like your immunity isn’t the best.

Probiotics are also making sure your GI tract is functioning properly. They keep the bad bacteria in check. Having a balanced microbiome also helps keep you mentally and emotionally balanced as well. That’s right…it could be a bacterial imbalance that’s keeping you down. I bet you never considered that the health of your gut can affect how you feel emotionally!

Pre and Probiotics

Lately there has been a lot of talk about prebiotics. What exactly are prebiotics? Prebiotics are undigestible carbohydrates, like fibre, that “feed” the probiotics. There are two main types of prebiotics – GOS and FOS. GOS stands for Galacto-oligosaccharides and are found in fermented milk products like yogurt and kefir. FOS stands for Fructo-oligosaccharides, the most famous FOS is Inulin. Inulin is found in vegetables like garlic, onions, tomatoes and asparagus, fruit like bananas and grains like barley and rye. A lot of food and supplement companies have started adding prebiotics to their products because they realize how important it is to keep those good bacteria healthy.

You’re On Antibiotics…Now What?

I’m sure at some point in your life you have been on antibiotics to fight off an infection. Antibiotics are just that, bacterial killers. While antibiotics are necessary to help the body fight off infection quickly, they do a number on your digestive tract and the good bacteria that are living there. When taking antibiotics it is best to supplement with probiotics along side so your microbiome remains strong. Probiotics should not be taken at the exact same time as the antibiotics but rather a few hours apart. This ensures the antibiotics don’t kill the good bacteria in the probiotics.

But You Eat Yogurt…

I’m sure you’ve all heard that eating yogurt is a great way to get your probiotics. This is partially true. While yogurt does contain good bacteria these bacteria are considered “transient”. This means that if you eat yogurt every day you can experience the good effects of probiotics, but when you stop eating yogurt those benefits go away. This is because the good bacteria found in yogurt doesn’t actually help to recolonize your microbiome. “Transient” probiotics are just that, transient.

How Long Do You Supplement for?

I believe that most supplements are for short term use, in order to help bring your body back into balance. Probiotics are a different story though. If you weren’t born with certain strains, due to being a C section baby, or not being breast fed for very long, then lifetime supplementation may be required. Since your body didn’t have certain strains from the beginning those strains won’t colonize your gut and therefore act as transient probiotics, requiring constant supplementation.

With Food or Without Food…That is the Question

Always take your probiotics after a meal. For years there has been some debate on this. I side with one of the leading probiotic doctors and researches who says the best time to take them is with food.

Refrigerator or Shelf Storage

When it comes to storing your probiotics, always consult the label. Most probiotics require refrigeration. There are a few shelf stable probiotics out there, which are a much better choice for people who travel regularly or forget to take them because they’re in the fridge.

One Last Thing

Trying to figure out what probiotics you need isn’t as easy as it may seem. One of those little capsules can have upwards of 50 billion little bacteria in it. Most people only require about 10 – 25 billion probiotics a day to maintain a healthy microbiome. Certain diseases can require over 500 billion a day!

When it comes to probiotics, too much of a good thing can also be detrimental to your health. I always suggest you consult a health care professional, like a nutritionist (nudge nudge) to ensure that your hard earned money is being put towards supplements that will get you feeling in tip top shape.

Don’t cheap out on supplements. Drugstore and big box store brands, like those found at Walmart, are often packed full of fillers, so even though they are cheaper, you’re getting less of the actual supplement. Always buy supplements, especially probiotics, from reputable health stores.

Need Help?

Have you been feeling off lately? Do you feel like you need a helping hand to kickstart your health? Do you feel like you’re doing all the right things but you still aren’t seeing results? Do you have a cupboard full of supplements that you aren’t sure when to take or if you even need to be taking them?

As a nutritionist I can give you diet and supplement recommendations to address any areas where you’re health may need a helping hand. There is a lot of misinformation out there. When it comes to your health, take the guess work out and book a consultation with me!

CRYSTAL MCINTYRE

CERTIFIED HOLISTIC NUTRITIONIST / CERTIFIED IRIDOLOGIST

Crystal believes that proper nutrition is an important factor in overall health. She uses a holistic approach to promote a balanced lifestyle based on the individual. Holistic health encompasses not only the body’s physical needs but also mental, emotional and spiritual needs as well.  Crystal loves to travel and spends her spare time working on her art health blog, Artfully Healthy! She is available at RPM Physiotherapy every Tuesday afternoon and can be reached directly at crystal@rpmstudio.ca.

 

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