Probiotics…what, why, and how?

We’ve all seen enough yogurt commercials to know that probiotics are supposed to be good for us.  But what exactly are they?  Why do we need them?  And what’s the best way to get them?

I came across a facinating article by Carl Zimmer, an award winning science writer for the national geographic.  He describes how microscopic colonies of bacteria cover our entire bodies–inside and out.  We have several thousand unique species of bacteria, and tiny as they are, they can make up 3-5 pounds of our body weight.

A large portion of this beneficial bacteria lives in our intestines.  Half of our waste is comprised of bacteria–so since we continually dispose of some bacteria, we need to maintain the right environment for the good little guys to reproduce and thrive….because the good ones are very particular about the environment in which they live.  They do not fair well when conditions aren’t “just so”.

First, we should establish what we need this bacteria for.
The purpose of beneficial bacteria in our body:

  • Assists in digesting food in the small intestine
  • Detoxify poisons
  • Acts as a shield on our skin and internal linings to prevent infections
  • Nurtures and instructs our immune systems
  • Regulates bowel movements
  • Keeps “bad bacteria and fungi” in check
  • Produces vitamins which are absorbed through colon wall

Since they are so fragile, we need to be mindful of how we live and how that can impact their health.
Ways to protect our bacteria:

  • Avoid irritants such as sugar, food additives, carbonation
  • Eat raw, alkaline, nutrient dense food
  • Manage stress – chronic stress deprives the gut of oxygen
  • Limit exposure to chemicals and toxins
  • Avoid antibiotics – be extremely cautious about taking antibiotics!

Most people know that when they take an antibiotic, a pharmacist might recommend that you take probiotics afterward.  Antibiotics kill good and bad bacteria alike.  When the good ones are killed off, it leaves you susceptible to having the organisms that don’t die off with antibiotics, take over and thrive.  Such organisms are yeast and antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Yeast–consider how women become susceptible to vaginal yeast infections after an antibiotic.  When yeast infects your mouth, it’s called thrush.  Yeast in your gut, also known as Candida, can take over when the good bacteria dies off.  Candida can cause a host of unpleasant symptoms and is potentially debilitating.

Antibiotic resistant organisms–MRSA (Methicillan Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) is a deadly infection that is commonly found in hospitals.  This bacteria can reside happily basically anywhere on your body (usually somewhere moist and warm) without you knowing it and without it causing any problems.  The good bacteria keeps it in check, but when we take antibiotics, the MRSA is unaffected and takes over and causes sometimes life-threatening infection.  We used to know “staph infections” as being unique to hospitals.  However, MRSA is spreading outside of hosptial walls and is known as Community Acquired MRSA (CAMRSA).

Another serious bacteria that survives in the gut when antibiotics are ingested is Clostridium Difficile (C-diff).  It causes such extreme cases of watery diarrhea that it is often deadly.

Antibiotics are nothing to take lightly, in Carl Zimmer’s article he reports that one round of antibiotics is enough to change your flora for many months after treatment, possibly even permanently.  In mice, after 1 dose of clindamycin, 90% of the diversity was gone–4 weeks later, it was still gone!  That is a lot of time to leave your body susceptible to other infections. 

Long term effects of taking antibiotics:

  • Seattle Children’s Hospital reports that children who take antibiotics are at a greater risk for inflammatory bowel disease later in life – the more rounds of antibiotics, the greater the risk.
  • In the same way, Seattle Children’s Hospital reports a potential link between antibiotic use and asthma.
  • New York University performed a study showing that antibiotics lead to a higher body fat percentage due to signals they give our hormones — changing the way we store energy from our food.

Anyway, now it’s time to move on to the proactive part.
To nourish and replenish your stores of beneficial bacteria:

  • Make or buy fermented or cultured foods:
    • Plain yogurt – NO added sugar or artificial sweeteners!
    • Kefir, a fermented drink made from milk or sugar water
    • Sauerkraut – truly fermented cabbage and salt—no other ingredients
    • Kimchi – beware of MSG, vinegar, or artificial ingredients
  • Take quality supplements that contain at least two strains: lacto-bacillus acidophilus for small intestine and bifido bacteria for the large intestine

Probiotic supplements can be problematic.  1/10 of 1% of all probiotics that we consume will actually become viable in the intestinal tract due to the fact that:

    • Stomach acid kills 99% of unprotected bacteria
    • Shelf life is extremely short – bacteria is sensitive to heat, cold, moisture, light, and oxygen exposure.

My Recommendation:

PBAssistPlusThe PB Assist+ is an excellent choice for a probiotic as it has a time-release double-capsule delivery system.  The time-release capsule is not penetrated by stomach acid, protecting the bacteria inside.  Once in the small intestine the capsule is dissolved by alkaline substances secreted to neutralize the acid from the stomach.

The PB Assist+ contains FOS, or fructo-oligosaccharides.  FOS are indigestible fibers found in fruits and vegetables that have the ability to promote the adhesion and growth of friendly bacteria while discouraging the growth of the bad guys.

Inside this double capsule, PB Assist+ contains 5 billion CFU (colony forming units) of six active strains of lacto- and bifido- probiotic cultures.  This is safe for all ages and can be taken daily.  PB Assit+ retails for $46.  To order, click here.  To find out how you can save 25%, contact us.

I do not think everyone needs to supplement with probiotics every day.  I believe that with a healthy diet, a toxin-conscious lifestyle, and sufficient stress management anyone should be able to get to a point where they can take an excellent probiotic such as PB Assist+ to assist in colonizing the intestines.  After which, if your lifestyle continues to support those bacteria, you should be able to maintain a healthy environment in your intestines without added supplementation. 

*I make commissions on sales from doTerra.  I promote doTerra because I believe they are a company of integrity with quality products.  Their products have played a large part in my physical healing.  There are other companies that make quality products as well, I encourage you to make an educated decision.