Microbiome…Probiotics…Micro-flora – these have all become recent buzz words in the health world. But what are they and why are they so important to researchers and Holistic health practitioners and why should they be important to you? What is all the hype?
There are billions of bacteria that inhabit our gastrointestinal tract or genitourinary tract, our respiratory tract and our skin. This population is often called our microbiota (the actual bacteria) or our microbiome (the bacteria and their genes).
Our gut is home to 100,000 billion viable bacteria – the total number of cells in our body is 10,000 billion.
Probiotics (literally meaning 'Pro Life') are the ‘friendly’ bacteria in our microbiome - they are the microbial population that resides in every human – they are stable, persistent and do not elicit an acute immune response under normal conditions. They help keep our harmful bacteria in check and maintain a healthy intestinal balance. A healthy, normal microbiota is compulsory to good health - to life.
Our microbiome is our body and our brain's best friend and we need to support it. And how do we do that? Take a good quality probiotic!
Why are Probiotics important?
A healthy microbiome - all those friendly bacteria (probiotics) in our gut, skin, respiratory and genital tracts - help us digest food and absorb nutrients. It supports a strong immune system - 70% of your immune system depends on proper intestinal function - it supports the body's detox pathways, and helps you handle stress through its effects on your endocrine system. A healthy microbiome can improve skin health and boost energy and mood (gut bacteria manufactures 95% of the serotonin in the digestive tract).
Probiotics improve digestion by stimulating intestinal peristalsis and by hindering the growth – overgrowth – of harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses. They keep the balance in check. These friendly bacteria are involved in the manufacture of biotin (essential for the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates and proteins), B12 (blood cell formation and assists in neurotransmitter production), Vitamin K (normal blood clotting and development of healthy bones).
Some other benefits of probiotics:
- reduce inflammation
- aid in regulation of hormone production
- improve mineral absorption
- reduce formation of cancer-causing agents
They are beneficial if you deal with allergies, asthma, eczema, and respiratory illnesses .
This is easily why our inner ecology - our microbiome- is quickly becoming a very hot topic with researchers! And an important topic for Holistic Health Practitioners to discuss with clients. I think that you can agree - they are worth the hype!
Who Should Take Probiotics?
Probiotics are an important part of a good nutritional supplement plan and will be of benefit to women, pre and post pregnancy, infants (1yr+), children, adolescents, adults and seniors.
Some Reasons why your Beneficial Bacteria May be Reduced
1. Chemicals – antibiotics, steroids, birth control pills, artificial sweeteners and gluten from processed foods as well as chlorinated water
2. Dietary changes or poor diet, lifestyle
3. Unrelenting Stress
5. Infection or Illness
6. Digestive Disorders
One of the biggest offenders is antibiotic use as it directly kills off our good bacteria. If you have had a round of antibiotics within the last 3 years and are suffering from any of the symptoms listed below, you are probably in need of a good quality, human strain probiotic with a decent potency of 25 CFU (Colony Forming Unit - indicates the culture count - basically, how strong it is) to re-inoculate those friendly fauna that the antibiotics wiped out (an inoculation program should last at least 3 to 6 months with ).
Symptoms That you May Need Some More Good Bacteria in Your Life, Well at Least in Your Gut
- indigestion, bloating after meals
- intestinal gas; especially after sugary foods
- diarrhea or constipation
- urinary tract infections
- yeast infections, candidiasis (more on this important topic in the New Year!)
- cold sores, canker sores
Please note that this is not a cure for digestive upsets and there are many different factors that could be contributing to your tummy issues, but probiotics will be a good place to start. If you are interested in taking a deeper dive into your digestive health, let me know – the Healthy Start Plan might be a good place to start!
Digestion is SOOOO important. I can’t stress this enough. If you can’t digest your food and utilize the nutrients then it doesn’t matter how clean you eat or how great your supplements are. It all starts with good digestion!
What makes a Quality Probiotic?
This is a booming industry and many companies are jumping on the probiotic bandwagon, selling their many different formulations of probiotics. But are they just trying to cash in on the latest trend in this huge industry or are they a quality probiotic worth purchasing? It isn't easy to find that answer and the sad truth is, there are many companies out there making products that just don’t work. Whether they are using ineffective bacterial strains, non-human strains or are not putting enough of the actual good stuff (the bacteria) in their supplements, you don’t want to waste your money or your time and not get the results that you need.
The good news is that there are also many companies who are making great products - you just need to know how to pick the right ones.
You could look at the different strains that the product contains (L. acidophilus and Bifidobacterium are the most researched as effective), the potency (CFU) and what else is in the supplement – is it filled with unnecessary ingredients like binders, fillers, additives or preservatives?
But the best way to find the right probiotic product line is to find out if it has been validated scientifically and has demonstrated its safety and efficacy in human clinical research.
The Brand I Love - HMF Probiotics
While there are many great probiotics out there, I love and trust the HMF probiotic line from Genestra. This is the brand that I use myself, that I give to my family and that I recommend to all of my clients.
They are backed by over 20 years of clinical research – HMF probiotics has numerous randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled human studies on the exact formulas in their product line
Proprietary strains and use of most researched strains (Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum)
Condition-specific formulas (eg. Fit for School, HMF Immune, HMF IBS Relief, HMF Women’s Daily with support for UTIs)
Potency guaranteed through expiration
Designed for all ages and lifestyles
Their line is Non-GMO, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Soy-free
I love these products so much, I want you to try them! HMF Intensive is my favourite for my husband and me and we give the kids HMF Fit for school which has added vitamins C and D! For the month of December we are offering 15% off ALL of our HMF probiotics. Use the coupon code: HOLIDAY15 at checkout.
FOS or no FOS
Some probiotics have FOS and some do not; why? First, what even is FOS? Fructo-oligosaccharide or FOS is an indigestible, soluble fibre that acts as a food source for the bacteria in the gut, therefore increasing the bacteria numbers. This can definitely be of benefit, but if you are doing a specific protocol or have a diet that restricts sugars/disaccharides you will want to find a product with no FOS. For example, FOS will feed Candida and if you have an overgrowth of that, FOS may not be the way to go until your get your microbiome to a healthy, balanced state. Genestra has products with FOS and No FOS.
Probiotics in Food
You can get lactic bacteria (probiotics) from food as well as in prepared supplements. Adding foods with probiotics, naturally occurring or added, to your diet will no doubt be of benefit to your microbiome and will be yummy (if the foods are tolerated). However, direct probiotic supplementation provides the highest amount of beneficial live and active bacterial cultures.
Fermented Dairy – kefir, yogurt, cheese, buttermilk and sour cream (only consume if tolerated and make sure you use organic options)
Fermented Vegetables – sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented dill pickles
Fermented Soy – miso, tempeh, natto (soy is one of the most genetically modified crops around so again, organic!)
Tips for taking Probiotics
Whether your are taking them as part of a re-inoculation program (3 to 6 months) or a regular maintenance program (2-3 times per week), make sure to take them with food and away from (at least an hour before or after) any antibiotics or antivirals you may be taking. Unless you have a “shelf stable” formula, your probiotics should be kept in the fridge as heat will kill off the viable bacteria.
So, don’t forget our coupon code: HOLIDAY15 for 15% off any of the HMF Probiotics we offer at RestoredVitality.ca for the month of December (2021).
Happy Holidays and Happy Gut Health!