The Benefits of Probiotics and How To Choose – When it comes to gut health, probiotics will forever be a hot topic, and with good reason. The right probiotics can help to nourish and support your gut bacteria.* The word probiotic actually means “for life” because these live microbial organisms provide both physical and mental health benefits, and experts have well researched the direct and indirect effects on the physiology of the body.
This post and video are sponsored by MegaFood®
Why a Healthy Gut Matters.
A healthy gut is paramount to a healthy body.* Our health begins in the gut! A large majority of the important cells, responsible for the regulation and efficacy of our immune system can be found in our gut 1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515351/ (some research estimates between possibly as much 60 and 80% of our immune cells can be found there)2https://www.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajpgi.1999.277.5.G922. Additionally, many of the chemicals responsible for regulating moods, neurotransmitters such as serotonin, are actually made in our gut 3https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5772764/. Some estimate that as much as 90% of the body’s serotonin, which influences both mood and GI activity, is produced by the gut bacteria in the digestive tract. From a properly functioning digestive system to maintaining a strong immune system and well functioning brain – our gut is the foundation of our vitality.*
Not only is it important to ensure our digestion is functioning properly so we can feel our very best, but healthy digestive function is also crucial as it allows us to be able to absorb and utilize all the amazing nutrients we consume in our nutrient-dense, whole foods focused diet.
Poor eating habits, stress, and antibiotic use can all throw off the balance of our gut microbiome. When you experience occasional digestive issues like gas, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation, you may need some extra digestive health support. To maintain optimal gut health, we want to strive for a symbiotic GI tract full of beneficial bacteria.
The Benefits of Probiotics // How Probiotics Can Help
When you take probiotics you are re-introducing good bacteria to your gut environment by populating your GI tract with as much of the beneficial stuff as possible. Studies have shown that probiotics may prevent adhesion and interaction of unwanted bacteria with our gut epithelial cells.* 4Gerritsen, J. et al., Intestinal microbiota in human health and disease: the impact of probiotics, Genes Nutr. 2011 August; 6(3): 209–240 Some research has also shown that administration of probiotics can have a direct effect on the tight junctions between enterocytes in the gut—resulting in decreased intestinal permeability 5Corridoni D, et al., Probiotic bacteria regulate intestinal epithelial permeability in experimental ileitis by a TNF-dependent mechanism, PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e42067. These are just some of the ways probiotics may help to restore gut health.*
Probiotics are present in unpasteurized fermented foods but you can also ingest them through supplementation. So how can we be sure which is the right method, how much and how often we should take probiotics and why should we want to?
One very important thing to note here is that for probiotics to do their job effectively, you must have optimal conditions for “good” bacteria to live and flourish. This starts with nourishing your microbiome with nutrient-dense real food and eliminating foods (temporarily or permanently) that can cause inflammation and microbiome imbalance.
To echo something else you probably hear from me very often: Food is medicine.
Unpasteurized fermented veggies like sauerkraut, lacto-fermented vegetables like kimchi, carrots, pickles, along with coconut kefir, non-dairy yogurt, kombucha or beet kvass are just some of my favorite food sources that contain broad strains of probiotics. However, sometimes food is not enough. Fermented, probiotic-rich foods can sometimes be limiting with only a couple different strains each and many of these strains are not always acid resistant (meaning they die off in big numbers when they hit the stomach). Additionally, some folks can’t tolerate fermented foods– for these reasons, supplementation is a great option.
If you are looking for a quality probiotic supplement, all of the products in the MegaFood® MegaFlora® line contains a number of different strains and, as you may have heard, diversity is key to optimally supporting the bacteria that lives in your gut.* Different strains of probiotics can have different effects, so best results are often seen when many varying probiotic strains are consumed.
I love MegaFood because they craft premium supplements made with real food and added nutrients. They work with trusted farm partners who share a commitment to organic and regenerative agriculture for a more sustainable future. They’re also the first supplement brand to have its entire line certified Glyphosate Residue Free by The Detox Project, an independent research and certification organization dedicated to bringing awareness to the public by testing consumer goods and food products for toxic chemicals. Glyphosate is a harmful herbicide that some research shows to disrupt and negatively affect gut bacteria. 6https://detoxproject.org/glyphosate/glyphosate-and-roundup-negatively-affect-gut-bacteria/
So, How Do you Know which Probiotic to Choose?
When you are looking at a probiotic supplement, the CFUs or colony forming units represent the number of active probiotics that the product offers. But, it should be said that more isn’t always better.
For the most part you want to look for a daily maintenance dose that’s between 5 and 20 billion active probiotics. I really love the original MegaFood MegaFlora® probiotic. This is their signature proprietary blend of 14 unique strains of probiotics providing 20 billion active bacteria that help restore and maintain the balance of healthy intestinal probiotics, and it’s designed to support intestinal health and immunity.* Think of this for additional preventative support and daily maintenance for an already healthy gut.*
For additional support, MegaFlora® Plus offers 50 billion active bacterial cultures across 14 unique strains. This formula is optimal for supporting intestinal and immune health, especially when traveling.*
Finally, MegaFlora® 200 – 7 Day intensive is the most intense support and is especially great after traveling abroad, after times of digestive stress or when you’ve needed to take a round of antibiotics.*
With this diverse line you can start by investigating what your microbiome currently needs and make the best choice to support your gut.*
A Few Final Things to Note:
For my nutritional therapy clients, I will first suggest a gut supportive protocol like my successful Four R’s Approach – including an elimination diet for at least several weeks before introducing fermented foods and probiotic supplementation. This helps to create an environment that is repaired and ready to be reinoculated and rebuilt with probiotics, so that the helpful bacteria can actually do their job: populating and rebalancing.*
For some folks it may also be advised to start with a low dose of probiotics and ease in, working their way up to the suggested dose.
Note from MegaFood: Whether you’re looking for a broad-spectrum probiotic to keep your digestive tract in balance, or have a specific health concern and are looking for targeted support, we’ve got great options to choose from, including our new shelf-stable probiotics.*Choose yours now.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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|4.||↑||Gerritsen, J. et al., Intestinal microbiota in human health and disease: the impact of probiotics, Genes Nutr. 2011 August; 6(3): 209–240|
|5.||↑||Corridoni D, et al., Probiotic bacteria regulate intestinal epithelial permeability in experimental ileitis by a TNF-dependent mechanism, PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e42067|