Why do I need probiotics?
Can you believe it’s August already? We hope you have had a fun summer thus far and the recent rains in Northern AZ haven’t kept you home too much. Many times on vacation, we tend to get off of our good eating routines, ingesting foods that maybe are not the best choices for our bodies. This may cause a multitude of symptoms, like heartburn, stomachaches, or perhaps even cause havoc upon your bowels. What is a person to do to get their digestion back on track? Besides going back to your usual healthy diet, you may need a good round of probiotics.
Why do I need to take probiotics?
Did you know that you have about 3-4 pounds of gut bugs (aka intestinal flora, gut bacteria or probiotics) in your intestinal tract? There are so many that some consider your intestinal flora another organ. In fact, researchers are not even sure how many live in your intestines or the different names of all of the species! What we do know however is that gut flora plays a vital role in your health and for this reason, it is very important to keep your levels healthy and happy.
The intestinal flora in your stomach, small and large intestines serves you in many, many different ways. For starters, it is a key player in your digestion. It helps you digest carbohydrates and proteins and stimulates intestinal motility so your food can be properly digested and wastes can be excreted. Flora also creates vitamins for you, such as vitamin K, biotin, some B vitamins and a milieu of antioxidants. It is also a very important part of your immune system; your gut flora is what screens out harmful bacteria and toxins that enter your body through your food.
Where did you get this gut flora? You got it on the day you were born. If you were born in a vaginal birth, you picked up a great amount traveling through mom’s vagina. You also got a large amount from mom on a daily basis if you were breast-fed. If you were born via Cesarean Section or were not breast fed however, you did not get a chance to get fully inoculated; you may still be feeling the impact today of having reduced intestinal flora.
There are many reasons why the flora in your gut may be out of whack. Flora naturally starts to decrease at age 50, leaving some people unable to digest the foods they love and with decreased immunity. Levels may also be disrupted from antibiotic use, stress, a diet high in animal fats, immune deficiency or rectal/colon surgery.
It is possible to get some good healthy flora back into your gut from fermented foods, such as yogurt, tempeh, saurkraut, and kimchee. The likelihood of the flora actually living through the processing of these foods however is slim. It is recommended that if you wish to increase your levels of good intestinal flora to either ferment those foods yourself or use a probiotic.
Are all probiotics the same? Absolutely not. In fact, a mentor of mine decided to do a study on his own and purchased some of the common named brands from local markets and sent them to a lab to be analyzed. In many of the products he sent, the amount of live flora in the product was zero. The companies may say that their product contains 5 billion flora but they always include a clause that says “before processing”.
In order to be sure that your product contains live flora, the company should be willing to show proof that their product has been tested (after processing) by an independent laboratory. We want to make sure you are getting all that you pay for, so please ask us for help if you are interested in introducing probiotics in your life. We are always happy to give a little love to your little flora friends.