I recently met Jeff Thurston, who is the Senior Partner at Master Supplements. The company has a focus on digestive tract health. He educated me regarding probiotics which has led me to pay it forward to you all!
Your digestive tract contains trillions of bacteria, yeast, and various other microorganisms. Probiotic bacteria adhere to the lining of the intestinal tract. They work to keep the digestive tract healthy by providing a large dose of beneficial bacteria which colonize the intestinal walls and stimulate the growth of other beneficial microorganisms.
Lactobacillus (“lacto”) strains are most important to the health of the small intestine while Bifidobacterium (“bifido”) strains work best in the large intestine. A healthy intestinal wall allows optimum absorption of nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, which supports healthy digestion and elimination. A healthy digestive tract is not only protective to one’s health, but also to help boost immunity and production of neurotransmitters.
I have wondered what to look for when buying a probiotic. Patients always ask me which one to buy. Probiotics 101 has helped me to understand and learn key facts:
• Probiotics need to be in an amber colored glass bottle to protect the organisms from light because light, heat and moisture are damaging to probiotics.
• Probiotics need to be tested at low pH levels, consistent with the acidity of the stomach. The acidity of the stomach is protective against harmful bacteria, but probiotics need to withstand the low pH and pass through to the intestines in order to work. Delayed release capsules may not be enough.
• Read the bottle and look for the strain designations, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus. There are about 100 different strains. That is because different companies own patents on different types of L.acidophilus. A reputable company will use an ATCC #, (American Type Culture Collection) for each of the bacterium.
• CFU is the common measure for the strength of the probiotics. Between 10-50 billion is a good range. It should contain at least 3-7 strains. It is critical to replenish bacteria in the intestines when on any antibiotic treatment. Remember that antibiotics not only kill what’s making you sick but also the bacteria in the intestines that keep you well.
• Probiotics should be tested by a third party and guaranteed through the expiration date for potency, not the manufactured date. A good company will always offer a money back guarantee if not satisfied.
• Stay away from anything that says “proprietary blend.” This is an almost assurance that it is the cheapest strains and the most ineffective ones.
• Remember the “gut” is the center hub for immunity. Allowing the “gut” to become injured due to not only antibiotics but a whole host of other things, including stress, will cause an inflammatory response in the body. This is what many call leaky gut syndrome. Once this happens certain proteins will escape the damaged lining. They will leak into the blood stream and wreak havoc within the body. Thereby causing autoimmune issues, food sensitivities and truly lowering your ability to fight infections.
• Many probiotics are shelf stable unless you are getting a truckload and the ones not currently being used should be refrigerated.
• Never take probiotics with antibiotics. They must be separated by at least 2 hours.
Cheers to a happy Gastrointestinal Tract!!