The Dirt on Healthy Bacteria: Why Probiotics are Nature's Antibiotics
Chelan Wilkins, RHN
By now we have all heard about “probiotics” or “probiotic rich" foods as our digestive tract and its health is becoming a big topic in our overall health. Probiotics are becoming more and more critical as research continuously shows how beneficial these healthy bacteria strains are to our health.
– Chelan Wilkins, RHN – National Education Trainer
WHAT ARE PROBIOTICS?So what exactly are probiotics and why do they get so much hype? Well for starters, let us get right into the name! The word “Pro" is a Greek word for promoting and “biotic” is the meaning for life. Probiotics, when you research it or read about them online, are known as live organisms that are essential for promoting a healthy balance of “ good “ bacteria in our digestive tract. They are what is known as “ healthy”, “good”, “friendly “ bacterial strains that are known to increase optimal digestive health and increase and support our immunity. Excellent or healthy bacteria have an essential role in our digestive tracts – they are our bodies defence against the viruses and harmful bacteria that we encounter.
WHAT DOES OUR DIGESTIVE TRACT DO?Our digestive tract houses thousands of microbiota (our microbiome) responsible for the functioning of our digestive health. It is essential for us to have a balance of both good and bad bacteria in our digestive tract otherwise symptoms of dysbiosis can occur ( think IBD, Crohns, Colitis, Celiacs disease ). So how do we get imbalances of healthy bacteria in our digestive tract and why do we need to supplement? Multiple factors play a role in our digestive health and bacteria. When we have dysbiosis as mentioned above, our intestinal flora can be off track. A few contributing factors to dysbiosis can be the following:
- Antibiotic Use ( they kill both the good and bad bacteria )
- A diet high in sugar
- Candida / SIBO
- Not enough Prebiotic-rich foods ( essential for building up healthy bacteria in our digestive tract )
- High amounts of Caffeine
- Food sensitivities
- Intestinal regulation
- Skin conditions (eczema, psoriasis, acne )
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENTS?Now, this is a vast subject, to understand the dynamics of our digestive tract and how the many different strains of bacteria’s out there play a role (There are over 400 different types of strains). When you go to purchase probiotics, it can be overwhelming. I often get asked, "How do you choose?" and "Which brand do you choose?" That is an excellent question! I usually suggest to my clients to look for a probiotic with more than 3 different strains! Each strain of bacteria that you find in probiotics is beneficial to various health benefits! The most common strains that you see in probiotics are:
- Bifidobacterium animalis.
- Lactobacillus acidophilus.
PROBIOTIC FOODS TO CONSUME:Another critical factor to point out as well when discussing probiotics are “ probiotic-rich foods”. I hear lots of my clients tell me how they eat lots of probiotic-rich foods; therefore they don’t need to supplement with a probiotic. Probiotic-rich foods are foods that have gone through a fermentation process ( kombucha, yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi). Although they are probiotic-rich foods – they aren’t probiotic strains. They are essential in building up the good, healthy bacteria flora in our digestive tract ( similar to the role of prebiotics). They, however, do not add in essential bacterias like a probiotic supplement does. I generally suggest doing both for increased digestive health and a good healthy digestive tract flora.
CONCLUSION:When we think of Probiotics – I like to acknowledge the power of them and their overall health benefits. I want to nickname them “ natures anti-biotics” as they play the same role in our body as anti-biotics do without destroying the balance of good and bad bacteria. Probiotics help increase the stability of intestinal flora, help strengthen our immunity, assist with nutrient absorption, prevent diseases, toxins and harmful parasites from affecting our health as well as play a beneficial role in our skin health. Paired with foods rich in prebiotics ( foods rich in inulin – asparagus, garlic, onions, leeks, dandelion root), probiotics can flourish in our digestive tract with supplementation and a healthy lifestyle. Often within two weeks of supplementing with probiotics people will notice a significant reduction in their gastrointestinal symptoms, a change in their skin health as well as their overall daily health. I generally like to recommend to my clients to supplement with probiotics daily. Over time and due to our lifestyles the imbalance in our intestinal flora can change, and we don’t have the same amount of beneficial flora as we did as babies. I like to recommend taking a probiotic daily and at bedtime. Organika carries two different types of probiotics that are both enteric coated and have the essential strains for healthy intestinal flora.
|Active Acidophilus||Super Active Multi-Dophilus|
|Probiotic that forms part of a natural, healthy gut flora.||A comprehensive blend of probiotics that promote healthy microbial balance and supports the function of the digestive tract.|