Probiotics have become one of the hottest supplements on the market and for good reason!
It seems like most health experts are calling probiotics the panacea for every ailment, that miracle supplement that helps with just about everything.
And actually…it’s kind of true.
While nothing will magically “fix” everything, our gut bacteria are the first line of defense for many of our body systems. Therefore, they’re connected to a surprisingly high number of health concerns.
I believe the root of our health is our digestive system. It’s where the building blocks for every cell in our body are created by digesting and absorbing the nutrients in our food.
When our gut bacteria are in balance they play a huge role in helping us with our digestion.
They make some enzymes to digest our food—including lactase to digest milk—they produce some vitamins like K & B12, and they keep our digestive system in tiptop shape by healing our gut walls.
They also play an important role in our immune system. They deliver the messages “this is okay” and “this is a problem.” Our small intestine is the main entry into our body, and we need a guard system to make sure only nutrients are absorbed. No bad bacteria or viruses, please!
You may still be asking, “Do I really need a probiotic supplement?” Here are five signs you just might.
1. Digestive irregularity
Ninety percent of the bacteria in our body live in our colon, so it makes sense that they may influence our colon’s activity. In fact, half of our poop is made up of live and dead bacteria.
A good quality, human-strain probiotic can be effective at regulating our bowel moments and may even reduce other annoying symptoms like gas and bloating.
2. Your sugar cravings are out of control
Different types of bacteria enjoy different kinds of food. Some like long-chain fiber, like the ones found in fruits, veggies, and other plant-based food. Others love love love simple sugars like white sugar and refined flour.
What you crave can depend on what types of bacteria you’re hosting.
Your gut bacteria need to eat and they’re entirely dependent on what you choose to munch on to get their nourishment. So they’ve developed some very creative ways to get what they want.
This is mostly done for good and not evil. Your gut bacteria want to eat and keep you healthy, because you’re the only home they’ve got.
Through the vagus nerve that runs between the gut and the brain, our microbiome will ask for the food it needs to survive.
Some strains will ask for more of their food so they can starve out their competitors who might eat something different. Some will even hijack your taste buds so you develop a taste for their favorite foods.
You may have been manipulated into eating that cookie.
Our diet has changed a lot in the last few generations. Low fiber/high sugar foods are now abundant in our diet, and some of these bacteria have developed a sweet tooth of their own.
But all is not lost! Research has found that a dietary change can change our gut bacteria in as little as seven days!
3. Your metabolism is a bit slow
Research from the Washington University School of Medicine looked at the gut bacteria of 154 people and found an interesting connection. They found that those who had the smallest variety of bacteria were more likely to be obese.
Bringing back diversity in your gut is a simple, two-step process: reseed your gut with a good quality probiotic and feed it with a variety of plant-based fiber.
4. You’ve taken an antibiotic, even if it was a long time ago
Antibiotics can be a lifesaving measure, but not without consequences. As they kill off whatever nasty invading bacteria are wreaking havoc in your body, they’re also killing off a large population of the good bacteria in your gut.
Research has found that there may be a connection between a change in one’s gut bacteria and age-related inflammation, making repopulating your gut extra important.
5. You’ve got some skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, and itchy rashes
Your skin and gut may seem like distant body systems, but they’re actually highly linked.
Research has found that the quality of your digestive system can show up directly on your skin! Digestive disturbances have been linked to skin issues, and it’s our gut microbiome that balances our “gut-skin axis”. Clear glowing skin is just one more side effect of a lovely microbiome.
Without question, our gut bacteria play a very important role in our health. Make your gut happy with a combo of a great human-strain probiotic supplement and a fiber-rich diet. Your whole body will thank you!
Lisa Kilgour is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN), founder of LisaKilgour.com, and a faculty member at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.
This might be one of the questions I get asked most often…how to choose the right probiotic.
With a growing awareness about the importance of these friendly bacteria and the enormous impact they have on our overall health, more and more people are seeking out probiotic supplements to address a myriad of health issues from IBS to inflammation to immunity. As we understand more about our internal ecosystem of microorganisms we better understand how to care for it. Think of it like cultivating your inner garden of microflora. Mmmmmm, that’s nice.
Excuse me while I nerd-out for a minute because I get seriously excited to talk about probiotics and gut health.
Did you know that we have 10 times more microbes in our bodies than cells (like, 100 trillion!)? Collectively, we call this our microbiome; our personal ecosystem of microbes. Most of these tiny superheroes live in our digestive tract.
When we’re healthy, we have a good balance between good and bad bacteria. But, when we aren’t treating ourselves nicely; we’re eating poorly, we’re highly stressed, or consuming antibiotics, we deplete the good guys and the bad guys start running amok (kinda like when you throw water on gremlins).
In an ideal situation, the good guys should outnumber the bad guys. Achieving the right balance of good bacteria in the gut has a positive effect on an overwhelming number of conditions throughout the body like:
Stress and anxiety reduction
Brain health and mood
Heart health and lowered cholesterol
Treating yeast infections
With the increase in awareness and demand, there’s no shortage of probiotic supplements out there to choose from. I know this can be confusing. So, I’m writing this post to help clarify a few things.
I have lost of info to share, but I’ll keep this post focused on a buyer’s guide to probiotic supplements.
First, let’s learn some new words!
Probiotic: Live, beneficial bacteria that support good health.
Prebiotic: Food for those good bacteria to keep them strong and promote their growth.
CFU: Colony Forming Units (basically, the number of viable/living bacteria) Living bacteria multiply and therefore colonize your gut. Make sense?
Microorganisms: All the little (micro) critters that inhabit the human body. Things like bacteria, fungi and viruses. (Probiotics are microorganisms.)
Microbiome: Our body’s entire ecosystem of microorganisms (including “good” and “bad” bacteria).
Strains: Genetic variants among microorganism. For instance, there are 2 main categories of probiotics (lactobacillus and bifidobacterium) and within those groups there are over 400 different sub-categories (strains) in our digestive tract alone.
Did you find that as fun as I did?
Now that we’ve got that down, I’m happy to report that you can easily get all sorts of different strains of probiotics from food. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, pickles, kefir, apple cider vinegar and miso are all chock-full of good bacteria due to the fermentation process. I love the tangy zing and delicious savoury bite that a lot of these foods offer up and add them to my diet whenever I can. But, I realize that not everyone shares my love for fermented foods and sometimes you just can’t get them in on a daily basis. So, that’s where supplements come in handy.
The right probiotic supplements can provide your gut with a reliably measured dose of those good guys when you can’t get enough from food sources.
But, not all probiotic supplements are created equally and there are a few key things I’d advise you to consider when you’re out shopping.
Dosage: While there isn’t a consensus on the minimum number of microorganisms that should be ingested to obtain a beneficial effect, typically you’ll want to look for CFU in the Billions. Having billions of viable bacteria delivered to the gut is more likely to provide adequate gut colonization. After all, your gut is home to about 100 TRILLION types of different microbes so it can handle billions of the good guys coming to the rescue. After a particularly stressful time, I’m dosing with the 50 billion CFUs for at least a month to help rebalance my own microbiota.
Processing and Packaging: First off, the bacteria in your probiotic supplement have to be alive or viable to do any good. If those good guys are dead on delivery, they won’t do you any good. Look for details on the company’s packaging or marketing materials that explain how the probiotics are processed to ensure viability. Packaging and storage are also very important since a variety of factors like heat, moisture and light can erode the quality or your probiotics. Look for packaging that minimizes exposure to these factors.
Many are kept in the fridge for this reason, though more and more companies are making shelf-stable products for convenience (Hallelujah)! Individual blister packs are a great layer of added protection from the elements.
Delivery method: Even if they’re packaged well, they need to stay alive long enough to reach the gut. Probiotics can’t survive the acidic environment of the stomach – it’s harsh in there! So, you’ll want to look for delayed-release or enteric-coated supplements which will survive the harrowing journey through the stomach until they can finally be released to the target organ; the intestines. That’s where they can work their recolonizing magic. For this reason, I also recommend taking your probiotic supplement with meals to take advantage of a more alkaline (less acidic) environment in the stomach.
Strains: Because our gut houses so many different strains of bacteria and they all do different “jobs” it’s best to look for a multi-strain probiotic to help ensure that you’re covering more bases. Studies have shown that probiotics containing more strains tend to be more effective than supplements with concentrated doses of just one or two strains. Very much like how nutrients in food work synergistically, so do bacteria. The whole effect is greater than the sum of its parts.
Stability: Many good quality probiotics are found in the fridge. Like I said, these little guys are alive and keeping them refrigerated used to be the best way to ensure they stayed fresh. Thankfully, more companies are creating shelf-stable probiotics, which are produced and packaged in a way that keeps them viable even on a shelf. But, beware: probiotics and moisture don’t mix well. So, while you may have a bottle of shelf-stable supplements on hand, if you’re opening over and over again in humid conditions, you can be reducing the viability of the microorganisms contained within.
Expiry Date: How on earth would you know if the bacteria were dead or alive without an expiration date? An expiry date should be clearly indicated somewhere on your probiotic’s package.
Here’s how advanced gut health probiotic fulfills all of the criteria I just outlined:
Multi-strained: These supplements include 15, carefully selected, strains that mimic a healthy human gut flora.
Dosage: Advanced Gut Health Probiotics offers two varieties of hearty, high-dose probiotics: you can choose between either 15 billion CFUs or a 50 billion CFUs, “extra strength” dose.
Processing and Packaging: Each of these strains is cleaned in small batches in a temperature and humidity controlled environment ensuring that only the most viable and potent strains are included in the final product.
Delivery: From there, the hearty and healthy strains are encapsulated in a vegan, delayed-release capsule with a fermented prebiotic to ensure they pass through the stomach acid and reach the gut where they can thrive (45 minutes later than standard capsules) and therefore can deliver up to ten times more bacteria to the gut.
Stability: On top of all of that, these little suckers are shelf-stable and kept in, individually sealed, blister packs to ensure that each one is at its optimal freshness when you pop it out. Makes traveling with these guys a breeze.
Oh, and of course they have a clearly marked expiry date. #NoBrainer
Infection Protection Starts in Your Mouth – Fill your Mouth with Friendly Bacteria! Introducing Canada’s 1st Probiotic Gum:
With just one piece of CulturedCare TM Probiotic Gum with BLIS K12 TM daily, we can populate our mouths with these infection-fighting probiotics that protect the throat, mouth, nose and ears.
About BLIS K12 – An advanced Oral Probiotic
BLIS K12 is a new, advanced probiotic discovered by Professor John Tagg from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Otago in New Zealand. BLIS stands for Bacteriocin-Like-Inhibitory-Substance and is the naturally occurring component of certain strains of micro-organisms (probiotics) which control undesirable and disease-causing bacteria. BLIS K12 is the special BLIS probiotic strain derived from the friendly bacteria Streptococcus salivarius. It has been shown to safely control the bacteria that frequently cause strep throat, earache, upper respiratory infections, sinus infections and halitosis (bad breath).
5 Good Reasons to Chew CulturedCare™ Probiotic Gum with BLIS K12™
Provides Infection Protection
Contains a therapeutic dose of BLIS K12, oral probiotic bacteria that fight sore throats, earaches and upper respiratory infections.
Stops Bad Breath
Halitosis (bad breath) is often caused by unfriendly bacteria “off-gassing” in the mouth. CulturedCare Probiotic Gum with BLIS K12 stops the growth of these bacteria and recolonizes the mouth and oral cavity with friendly probiotic bacteria.
Provides Optimal Probiotic Distribution
Chewing CulturedCare Probiotic Gum with BLIS K12 increases the probiotic bacteria release and activity time in the mouth, as compared to a chewable tablet for example, and provides more opportunity for colonization of the K12 bacteria.
CulturedCare Probiotic Gum with BLIS K12 is made with a superior gum-making technology. Through cold-pressed, direct compression, the active BLIS K12 probiotic remains alive, active and stable. No heat or moisture is used in the manufacture of BLIS K12 gum.
No Sugar or Artificial Sweeteners – Sweetened with Xylitol
Xylitol is a plant-based natural sweetener that is safe for diabetics and has been shown to prevent tooth decay and gun disease. Hundreds of published studies found xylitol promotes oral health.
Probiotic Protection for the Whole Family – A Delicious Approach to Probiotics
CulturedCareTM Probiotic Gum with BLIS K12 TM is the first probiotic gum in Canada. Made in Canada using a unique cold-pressed technology, CulturedCareTM Probiotic Gum delivers a deliciously fresh and powerful dose of BLIS K12 TM patented probiotic. It is based upon years of research in the labs of Professor John Tagg, a scientist in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Otago in New Zealand. Professor Tagg’s research supports his premise that “infection protection starts in the mouth.” CulturedCareTM Probiotic Gum with BLIS K12 TM:
Contains 500 million active bacteria at packaging
Supports immunity and oral health
Releases a daily therapeutic dose of BLIS K12 TMStreptococcus salivarius probiotic
Controls and destroys bacteria that cause bad breath, sore throats, ear infections, sinus problems, and upper respiratory infections
Infection Protection Starts in Your Mouth – Fill your Mouth with Friendly Bacteria
Did you know that your mouth is home to billions of bacteria? Some of these bacteria are friendly, protective probiotic bacteria that act as our first line of defense against the unfriendly bacteria and viruses that enter through our mouths and noses. By chewing just one piece of CulturedCare TM Probiotic Gum with BLIS K12 TM daily, we can populate our mouths with these infection-fighting probiotics that protect the throat, mouth, nose and ears.
CulturedCareTM is a new division of Prairie Naturals and is dedicated to working with accomplished scientists in the field of probiotics to develop safe and efficacious products that promote overall health, provide infection protection, and enhance quality of life.
About Professor John Tagg’s Probiotic Discovery
After years of research, Professor John Tagg, a scientist in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Otago in New Zealand discovered BLIS K12 TM a probiotic that resides in the mouth and protects against infections in the throat, mouth, nose and ears. His discovery has led to the creation of CulturedCareTM Probiotic Gum with BLIS K12TM.
About CulturedCareTM Probiotic Gum with BLIS K12TM
CulturedCareTM One-a-Day Probiotic Gum with BLIS K12TM is the chewing gum tablet dosage form of a patented oral probiotic strain – Streptococcus salivarius K12 – that naturally produces Bacteriocin-Like Inhibitory Substances (BLIS). It is the first Probiotic Gum in Canada. It is also the first patented BLIS product in Canada.
CulturedCare TM Probiotic Gum contains absolutely no sugar or artificial sweeteners. Sweetened with xylitol and stevia leaf extract, CulturedCare TM Probiotic Gum is safe for diabetics and does not contribute to tooth decay. In fact, xylitol is shown to improve the health of teeth and gums. Our long-lasting, organic flavours are:
Probiotics for Your Mouth
The word pro-biotic literally means “for life.” Probiotics are friendly, health-promoting bacteria that live virtually everywhere. They live in our soil, air, water and food. They even live in and on us, “colonizing” in various parts of the body including the mouth and intestinal tract. Restoring and keeping a healthy balance of friendly probiotic bacteria supports our natural immunity and resistance to disease-causing (pathogenic) bacteria. Probiotic supplements like lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidus have been growing in popularity for promoting gut and digestive health.
About Oral Probiotics
There are many kinds of probiotics, each with their own specific place of origin and job to do. Oral probiotics are the friendly bacteria that live in a healthy mouth. Oral probiotics prevent the overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria and act as our first line of defense against infections that enter through the mouth . Various factors, including the use of antibiotics and medicated mouthwash can reduce or destroy important oral probiotics.
Backed by Science
Based on more than 30 years of research by Professor John Tagg at the Department of Immunology and Microbiology, CulturedCare Probiotic Gum with BLIS K12 contains 20 mg and 500 million active bacteria at manufacturing. This is the exact amount of BLIS K12 recommended by Professor Tagg and his research.
Oral Probiotic Bacteria
The mouth is home to billions of bacteria – both good and bad. BLIS K12 is good oral probiotic bacteria that protects against infections where they most often enter the body – through the oral cavity (mouth).
Good for ear, nose and throat health
CulturedCare Probiotic Gum with BLIS K12 promotes ear, nose and throat health. Professor Tagg’s research has shown BLIS K12 to especially protect against infections that cause sore throats, earache, upper respiratory distress.
Chewing Gum Form
Because BLIS K12 is an oral-cavity probiotic, it needs to be delivered in a format that has prolonged contact with the mouth, making a chewing gum the perfect delivery system.
Although probiotics and enzymes appear to perform similar functions, and both are beneficial to the vitality of the body (actually they are vital to sustaining life!) – they are, in fact very different in their helpful actions!!!
One of the major differences between digestive enzymes and probiotics is that probiotics are living organisms. They are typically bacterial, but there are also some yeast species that function as probiotics. Probiotic functions are numerous and they bolster health all over the body.
Enzymes, on the other hand, aren’t living. Enzymes are proteins, meaning they’re large molecules made up of long chains of smaller molecules called amino acids. Their function is to facilitate chemical reactions within the body. Your body produces enzymes in the cells of several different organs, including the stomach and pancreas, and secretes them as needed into the digestive tract.
Digestive enzymes break large nutritional molecules, including protein, carbohydrates and fats, into smaller molecules that your intestine can then absorb. Probiotics, on the other hand, have a variety of functions that change with the species of organism. They can assist in vitamin and mineral absorption, alleviate lactose intolerance and produce vitamins (including K and B vitamins).
Probiotics do not, however, break down food molecules you eat.
When heading out to party this weekend – consider taking a few supplements along with you to ease the suffering later in the evening and the next morning:
Our Staff Fav isParty Smart by Himalaya. All of us who like to enjoy a drink or two have tried it (including at our staff Christmas Party) and we LOVE it! All you need is 1 – 2 pills during your festivities and you wake up feeling great! If you’re a smaller person (150lb or less) one pill is typically enough, however if you’re a bit larger, or you’re really enjoying your drinks – another pill at bedtime helps!
Party Smart is a blend of herbs that cause the by-product of alcohol metabolism to be easily flushed by the body, thus avoiding the awful hang over symptoms we’re all trying to avoid at this time of year! Perfectly safe and fine to take along with any medications. Plus – it’s totally affordable! Pop in a grab one for New Year’s – we’re open until 6:30 New Year’s Eve this year.
Digestive Enzymes are another life saver – none of us leave the house without them! If you plan on over indulging a basic digestive enzyme will help your body break down all that extra food! If you are vegetarian, there are enzyme specifically for you, too. If you are gluten intolerant – and you can’t be sure of the foods you’re going to be eating at a party GlutenEase is a staff favourite. And if you’re lactose intolerant, and you’re not positive what’s in that baked good, Lactase is a life saver!
Digestive enzymes help prevent bloating, discomfort, gas, and that awful heavy exhausted feeling you get from eating too much. They’re lifesavers at a party!
Probioticsare a great way to help digestion along as well – make sure you take a double dose at bedtime to prevent constipation and support strong digestion overnight (and even help with nausea if you’ve drunk a little too much!)
Magnesium is a great hangover cure too! Lisa always takes 2 New Roots Herbal Magnesium Bisglycinatepills before bed after drinking to prevent that awful pulsing headache that goes along with hang overs!
Formulated to promote health and longevity ofhealthy microflora in both the small and large intestines.
Includes greater concentrations of Bifidobacteria per serving than our Super Adult Probiotic.
Reasons to choose Udo’s Choice® Probiotics
• Right Formulation
No fermented foods, nutraceuticals, prebiotics, vitamins or minerals, no additives, no yeast and no Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) – only pure, concentrated living probiotic bacteria with guaranteed potency up to the date of expiry.
• Right Strains
We only use medicinal human, plant and dairy strains.
• Right Quantities
We can guarantee billions of live friendly bacteria at the printed expiration date because of our:
• Special moisture- and oxygen-resistant capsules.
• Independent (third-party) laboratory analysis for potency and purity.
• Premium packaging: recyclable, nitrogen-flushed glass bottles and metal caps that do not allow air or light to affect the contents.