GI health is connected to the health in the rest of your body.
If the digestive tract is compromised, so will the health of other parts of your body.
Our gastrointestinal systems are filled with trillions of microorganisms…and that’s a good, normal thing.
Did you know that the types of microbes or microbial “mix” that live in the GI tract are key to digestion and health?
We are learning that the mix or diversity of microbes in many Americans is out of balance. Some of the beneficial bacteria — strains like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium — are getting crowded out.
What you eat changes the bacteria in the GI tract. Yes, our diets (how much meat, vegetables, sugar, grains, etc.) influence the composition of the gut flora. The microbes in our gut receive nourishment from the foods we eat, just as our bodies do. Case in point: Candida (yeast) love sugar…sugar feeds candida.
Taking probiotics (live “good” bacteria), either as a dietary supplement or in food such as yogurt, is one way to help the gut environment get back into balance. Intake of probiotics increases the number of good bacteria that will colonize the intestines.
The Imbalance in the GI Microbiota Balance Plays a Large Role in Disease
More and more, scientists are becoming aware that dysbiosis (imbalance) may not only create uncomfortable GI symptoms, but it may play a role in:
Some environmental factors that promote loss of microbial diversity and overpopulation of certain microrganisms include:
How the Gut Microbial Ecosystem Can Affect Health and Disease
The gut microbial biome is an active area of research and new information is becoming available. Here are some highlights of what we’ve learned:
Click for more information about Probiotics.
Probiotics and GI Support – How to Replenish Your “Good” Bacteria
Replenishing beneficial bacterial strains such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium is a healthy everyday practice, like brushing your teeth.
You can replenish beneficial bacteria through your diet, nutritional supplements or a combination of both.
In the U.S. most people think of yogurt (with live cultures) when considering food sources of healthy microbes.
You can also get probiotics in your diet through kefir (a fermented milk drink).
Other fermented foods with live cultures include sauerkraut and kimchi (a traditional fermented Korean side dish that usually includes napa cabbage, radish, scallion or cucumber).
Using Dietary Supplements to Bolster Your Probiotic Intake
Taking a daily nutritional supplement with probiotics is a simple way to get large numbers of these beneficial microbes into your system.
What to consider when selecting a probiotic dietary supplement
Number of active cultures – The CFU’s or Colony Forming Units, is the number of viable microbes or live bacteria in a probiotic. A probiotic nutritional supplement might contain millions or even billions of CFU’s. Depending on your situation (preventive vs. addressing a GI issue) you may select a probiotic supplement with greater or fewer CFU’s.
Diversity – It is hard to specifically compare products as many companies have their own proprietary strains and may list them on their label as a “proprietary blend of….” However, look for probiotics that contain at least a few different strains of bacteria. They usually include forms of Lactobacillus such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium such as Bifidobacteria longum.
Delivery – Probiotics are fragile microbes that only have the potential to be beneficial if they reach the intestines alive and intact and ready to colonize the intestines. The dietary supplement needs to have an encapsulation that protects the probiotic so it can withstand stomach acids. In addition, the type of casing and packaging is key so there is no destruction or reduction of the count of these live organisms during storage, from heat, moisture or oxygen. (Some probiotic dietary supplements require refrigeration.)
Additives – Look to see that the supplement does not contain sugar, salt, artificial coloring, artificial flavoring or preservatives. According to your needs, you may want to check if it has yeast, wheat, gluten, or corn.