I help many educated people with their diets, yet, very few of my clients come to me already taking probiotics. The awareness on the importance of taking probiotics or eating a diet including fermented foods is low. More than half of our immune system is in our digestive (GI) tract, which encompasses healthy bugs preventing the overgrowth of bacteria and yeasts. So what does this mean, and who should be intrigued by this information?
For most of us, our diets are low in foods with live and active cultures (yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut) and these foods help to maintain optimal levels of beneficial bacteria in our digestive system. If the levels of good bacteria drop, so does our immune system and we are more likely to get sick. Besides the fact we can become more susceptible to a cold/flu, an optimal level of healthy bugs in our gut also allow us to be our healthiest person.
Circa 1990s, research established probiotics can help treat several gastrointestinal illnesses, delay the development of allergies in children, and help women treat and prevent vaginal and urinary infections.
Enhancing diets with fermented foods/probiotic supplements clients can:
- aid digestion
- strengthen immunity
- fight obesity (in post-par-tam women and patients who went through a weight loss surgery)
- treat diarrhea in infants and children, specifically antibiotic associated diarrhea (please note, you never want to take a probiotic while taking an antibiotic. You want to take a probiotic immediately after the antibiotic is finished)
- treat Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- enhance nutrient absorption
- manage allergies. One study, specifically, found a relationship that when pregnant women took an probiitoc their child was less likely to have ezcema by 30%.
A physician at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Mullin, suggests the future may lie in concocting specific probiotics for people based upon their individual needs and microbiomes.
Recommendations for maintaining a healthy gut:
- Avoid situations and events that are mentally stressful and overtly physically stressful
- Avoid the need for antibiotics, the best you can
- Maintain a healthy diet, and avoid irritant foods (for many this includes gluten containing grains, dairy and/or legumes)
- Take a daily probiotic (I recommend products from Standard Process including ProSynbiotic. I have been taking their supplements including ProSynbiotic and have noticed a remarkable difference. I overall feel better, sense more ease controlling my blood sugars and have more energy)
Overall, if you are interested in adding a probiotic to your diet, understand not all supplements are equal, including probiotics. Contact a health professional to understand what supplements are most appropriate for you.
Small changes to diet and lifestyle can completely change our quality of life. Advocate for your health and seek for results. It takes 66 days for something to become a habit and 100 days to sense the results. Be patient and enjoy the journey.
Cheers to you and good health,
The Harvard Medical School Family Guide
Dotterud K, et al. Probiotics to prevent allergic disease. Brit J Dermatol, 2010
Bailey M, Dowd S. Stressor Exposure Disrupts Commensal Microbial Populations. Inf and Immun April 2010; 78(4): 1509-19
Holdeman L. Good I. Human Fecal Flora: Variation and Possible Effect of Emotional Stress. App Env Microbiol Mar 1976;21(3):369-75.