Probiotics can change your life

It may not be what’s trending on Twitter right now, but it is certainly coming to the forefront of more people’s nutritional conversations, as it should.

  • Jul. 24, 2014 1:11 p.m.

It may not be what’s trending on Twitter right now, but it is certainly coming to the forefront of more people’s nutritional conversations, as it should.

Truly, a missing link for many of our current ailments, such as bloating, fatigue, a weakened immune system, ridding the body of excess belly fat and one major symptom in particular: brain fog.

With the number of cells in our gut outweighing the cells in the rest of our body by 10 to one, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the health of our body really does start in the intestinal tract. Minimizing processed foods and sugars are necessary for gut health as well. But the best way to take care of that intestinal tract is to keep it populated with good bacteria, probiotics — a supplement that could just change your life.

Getting your probiotic dose goes much beyond yogurt. Unless making yogurt at home, you are likely consuming a pasteurized product from the grocery store that is infused with artificial preservatives and sweeteners — a recipe for gastrointestinal upset. So how to choose the best probiotic source for you?

According to Dr. Julie Chen, an integrative medicine physician, the type of probiotic you choose could relate to the symptom you are experiencing.

For example, if you have a weakened immune system and are experiencing a lot of colds, lactobacillus rhamnosus would be the most effective strain of probiotics as it shows best results against viral and bacterial infections.

If you are constantly in need of antacids after meals and feel you experience boating and gassiness, bifodobacterium intantis showed a 20 per cent reduction in these symptoms in a double blind study, including symptoms for those with irritable bowel syndrome. Look for one around the one billion cfu mark and take as directed to decrease inflammation in the gut lining.

And for those who would like to reduce inflammation, speed up metabolism and reduce belly fat by inhibiting the gene that helps with fat production and retention, lactobacillus gasseri is the probiotic for you. It is also shown to decrease overall body mass index when taken regularly. You want to look for a high potency probiotic, something around the 20 to 30 billion units per capsule. And don’t be too concerned whether it requires refrigeration or not. There are good sources of both.

The key is to watch out for the best before date and high manufacturing standards. They do lose their potency with time so it’s important to go with fresh. Purchase from a reputable health food store.

Be sure to ease into your supplementation regiment. Take about half the recommended dose for a couple of weeks to ease your body into the full dose.

And remember, an even better source of probiotics is fermented foods.

Fermented vegetables like kimchi or beverages like kombucha are two excellent sources, as well as kefir.

If these foods are unfamiliar to you and you would like to learn more check out www.somethingtochewon.ca for an upcoming free teleseminar on fermented foods and a recipe for fermented cashew cheese.

Kristin Fraser, BSc, is a holistic nutritionist and local freelance writer. Her column appears every second Thursday. She can be reached at kristin@somethingtochewon.ca.