We often hear the benefits of probiotics and how it can reduce gas and bloating, eliminate constipation, and improve bowel movement. But what the heck are probiotics and does it really provide digestive relief?!
The definition of probiotics are…
live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria that helps to regulate proper digestive function.
(source: webmd.com / www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/what-are-probiotics)
In fact, there are 10x more human bacteria than human cells. Many of which reside in our gut. More often than not, “good” bacteria is outnumbered by “bad” bacteria because of poor diet and lifestyle choices on top of environmental toxins like pollution, allergens, etc.
This often results in a syndrome called ‘dysbiosis‘, meaning an imbalance in gut flora.
In digestive healing, we look to balance gut flora as one of the critical steps in restoring the digestive tract/gastrointestinal tract. By consuming certain types of probiotics foods and supplements you can help bring ratios of good to bad bacteria back into balance.
Symptoms of Low Probiotics
The major symptom it causes is bloating, or a feeling of fullness after meals. What causes this bloating? The overproduction of gas by the bacteria as they have lunch on your lunch!
Small bowel bacterial overgrowth can be diagnosed by a breath test, which measures gas production by the bacteria, or by a urine test that measures the byproducts of the bacteria after they are absorbed into your system.
Bacterial overgrowth is a real syndrome and was recently described in a review paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.(i) The condition can be treated. In fact, a major paper was recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine that showed using a non-absorbed antibiotic called rifaximin for 10 days resulted in a dramatic improvement in bloating and overall symptoms of IBS by clearing out the overgrowth of bacteria.(ii) This medication is now under FDA review for approval as a new treatment for irritable bowel syndrome
The Rise of Antibiotics. The Demise of Probiotics.
Caught the flu? Take antibiotics.
Got a cut on your arm? Take antibiotics.
Every single time you take antibiotics, you’re not only removing bad bacteria from your body that can cause infection, you’re also removing good bacteria that provides nutrients for the gut.
In addition to increased consumption of chlorinated/ fluoridated water, conventional meats filled with antibiotic residues, over time, these antibiotics will slowly cause damage to your digestive tract.
- Prescription Antibiotics
- Tap Water (chlorine/fluoride)
- GMO Foods
- Emotional Stress
- Chemicals and medications
To rebalance gut flora, make sure to avoid probiotic killers. When this is ignored, your gut micro-organisms become imbalanced and your system can become a breeding ground for bad bacteria, yeast, viruses, fungi and parasites.
There are billions and billions of different probiotic strains.
Which strain is the most effective? This is dependent on your individual bacterial undergrowth/overgrowth profile.
How to Buy Probiotics – What You Should Look For
1. Buy refrigerated probiotics.
Many probiotic bacteria are naturally sensitive to heat and moisture. Heat can kill organisms and moisture can activate them within pills, only to die due to lack of nutrients and a proper environment. These products should ideally be refrigerated and kept out of humidity.
2. Find probiotics with at least 10 Billion C.F.U for maintenance dosages.
3. Look for multi-strained probiotics that cover a range of different bacterial strains.
*Based on your individual bacterial overgrowth situation, different strains of bacteria will be helpful for you. For example, a strain called saccharomyces boulardi is known to help combat yeast overgrowth – great for those with candida.
Therefore, it is recommended to consult a professional to choose a probiotic most effective for you.
What are some naturally probiotics foods?
Supplementing with probiotics is very helpful in balancing the gut flora, but it is not ideal to rely on supplements forever. Once your gut has naturally restored its ratio of good to bad bacteria, consuming foods that are high in probiotics will help maintain gut flora balance.
These are the top 10 probiotic-rich foods to include in your diet.
4. Coconut Kefir
7. Kvass *Will be providing a recipe on this soon!*
10. Amazake (Japanese probiotic drink made from fermented rice) *Recipe coming soon!*