Foundational Five: Probiotics

Everyone wants to be healthy! Many of us don’t know where to begin to achieve good health.

Apple Wellness suggests you start at the beginning by building a firm foundation. We believe that involves including the power-packed nutrients that make up the Foundational Five… multi-vitamins, probiotics, omega-3 oils, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatories.

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What is a Probiotic?

Probiotics are living microorganisms that inhabit your gut. They are most often made up of bacteria, but they also include yeasts and other organisms. Did you know that more than 100 trillion microorganisms live in our GI tract. They actually outnumber our own cells! A third of these microbes, aka gut flora, are common to most people. The other two-thirds are specific to each of us, similar to a fingerprint. This community of microorganisms is called the gut microbiota.

Our unique gut “fingerprint” begins at birth. The womb is sterile. An infant acquires colonization of gut microbiota from its mother during birth. The process of colonizing the child’s gut is slow, and it takes about three years to fully develop. The ongoing health of our microbiota depends on many factors, but more and more research is discovering that gut health and overall health are linked. In fact, health experts feel that this complex gut microbiota has such a great impact on body function that they refer to it as “the second brain”.

What’s Their Job?

Although the combination and numbers of these flora are unique to each individual, their functions are the same and have a huge impact on our health.

The gut microbiota’s jobs include:

  • Managing Digestion
  • Metabolism
  • Elimination
  • Production of Some Vitamins
  • Healthy Immune Function
  • Combating Aggressive Microorganisms
  • Repair and Maintenance of Intestinal Walls

Who Needs a probiotic?

A balanced gut microbiota is essential for health. What does balanced mean? Think of it as a war with “good” and “bad” microbes battling for control. The side that is winning affects the state of your health, or lack of it. We can’t keep harmful bacteria out of our digestive system. What we want is to achieve an environment where there are enough beneficial bacteria to manage the population.

What can upset this balance?

  • Antibiotics: These are very destructive to our gut flora because they not only destroy the harmful pathogens, they also destroy our normal and healthy microbes. Research has shown that it can take up to four years for our gut to recover from antibiotic treatment. That is a long time and our health will suffer until the process is complete.
  • Diet:  A diet high in refined carbs, sugar and processed foods upsets the gut’s delicate balance by providing fuel for the harmful microbes.
  • Allergies:  Both food and environmental allergies can affect gut health by increasing inflammation in the body and causing poor digestion.
  • Chronic Stress and Infections
  • Contaminated Food Supply: This is caused by residue from antibiotics, herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and more.
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Prescription Drugs: Drugs known to have a detrimental effect on normal microbial balance are birth control pills, antacids, heartburn medication, oral steroids (including some asthma medications).
  • Alcohol Consumption:  While any alcohol can feed the bad bacteria in an already damaged gut, occasional consumption won’t affect a healthy microbiota.

Do any of these apply to you?

What Are The Health Benefits?

  • Gut Health:  As explained above, the gut works like a second brain in the body and its health has been found to be essential to the function of other body systems.
  • Immune Health:  Eighty percent of your immune system is controlled by gut flora. To achieve a strong immune system you must have a healthy, balanced gut.
  • Launch Enzyme Production: A healthy gut flora is the key to health digestion, unlocking nutrients from your food.
  • Strengthen Natural Vitamin Production:  Gut bacteria make four vitamins that are essential to your body’s health. Vitamin K is one of these, and essential for blood clotting. Biotin, one of the B vitamins, assists  enzymes in metabolizing fat and carbs, and helps to assimilate some amino acids. Folic acid, another B vitamin, is needed for the synthesis of RNA and DNA and for the formation of red blood cells. Lastly, vitamin B12 which matures red blood cells and works with folate to synthesize DNA.
  • Inflammation Control: Recent studies have found that probiotics can relieve intestinal inflammation, and work as an anti-inflammatory in the body.
  • Immune Health:  Eighty percent of your immune system is controlled by gut flora. To achieve a strong immune system you must have a healthy, balanced gut.
  • Mental Health: This includes relief from depression, anxiety, decreased ADHD symptoms, and increased mood health
  • Digestive Health: Relief from IBS and constipation, better digestion and absorption of nutrients. This includes decreased severity and shorter duration of gastrointestinal illnesses.
  • Urinary Health: Helps prevent recurring urinary tract infections.
  • Respiratory Health: Prevention of respiratory infections in children and elimination of nasal pathogens.
  • Women’s Health:  Prevents bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections, possibly reducing preterm labor.
  • Obesity:  Some early research is showing weight loss surgery patients are better able to maintain weight loss if using probiotics.
  • Allergic Reactions: Prevents and/or treats seasonal allergies, also includes atopic eczema and atopic dermatitis.
  • Dental Cavities:  Several studies have shown significant reductions in cavities in children.

Isn’t Food A Better Source?

Finding ways to incorporate probiotic rich foods into your diet is always a benefit. These include fermented foods, kefir, miso and naturally fermented yogurt (not what is typical in American homes).

In her book, The Compromised Generation: The Epidemic of Chronic Illness in America’s Children, authors Beth Lambert and Victoria Kobliner explain that the standard American diet does not contain good food sources of beneficial flora. Other cultures include probiotic rich foods in their daily meals. These foods are rarely found in our culture, and when they are, they have often been pasteurized, killing the beneficial microorganisms and making them of poor therapeutic value. Unfortunately the gut microbiota is assaulted in so many ways it is very difficult to meet the body’s needs through diet alone.

What To Look For In A Probiotic

It is important to choose a probiotic that meets these criteria:

  • Strains:  Contains multi-strains containing several of both “bifido” and “lacto” bacteria.
  • Specialized Delivery System: This enables the flora to reach the small intestine without being destroyed by stomach acid.
  • Potency: These levels vary depending on the condition of your health. The probiotic should be available in potencies between 15 to 150 billion.
  • Forms:  It should be available in multiple forms to meet the needs of all ages, from newborns to seniors
  • Refrigerated:  This is important because probiotics need refrigeration to protect the bacteria levels.

 

As you can see, oral probiotics are an important part of the Foundational Five, and an excellent way to ensure a healthy gut. The Apple Wellness team is available to provide more information on this important topic. Please contact us by phone or email. You can also stop at our store, located in Madison, Wisconsin. We are always happy to answer your questions.  Our goal is to help you “Find Your Healthy Place”!

 

This is written as an informational guide and is not meant to replace professional medical care. 

 

Sources

Lambert, Beth; Kobliner, Victoria, MS, RD.  A Compromised Generation:  The Epidemic of Chronic Illness in America’s Children. First Sentient Publications, Boulder, CO, 2010.

Low Dog, Tieraona, M.D. Healthy at Home. National Geographic, Washington, D.C., 2014.

http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/46/Supplement_2/S96.long

http://chriskresser.com/heal-your-gut-heal-your-brain/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/449603-do-probiotics-decrease-inflammation/

http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/6-healing-benefits-of-probiotics

http://www.gutmicrobiotawatch.org/gut-microbiota-info/

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