So ever wondered if the probiotic capsules you diligently ingest daily are fulfilling the promise of ever-lasting gut health? Interesting that you ask! Let talk bugs 🙂
I come from a small town in Southern Illinois, and some of you may relate to small town U.S.A. where you have a local grocery store, hardware store, a post office and everyone knows your name!
Think of the colon as your home town. Some bacteria (Lactobacillis, Bifidobacterium, Streptococcus, Saccharomyces) were born in the colon, initially colonized through breastfeeding, vaginal birth or your surrounding environment as a newborn. They are here to stay. They own homes, own businesses, raising their families and have settled in your colon.
Bacteria from fermented food are like immigrants, moving into your town and bringing up the economy, diversity and buying up residence in your colon too. These are from fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, kambucha etc. These beneficial bacteria keep your gut a healthy place and fight off harmful invaders like yeast and bad bacteria. Regular intake of these live foods have positive effects on your overall health. Coincidentally, they feed on fiber that we cannot digest called pre-biotic foods found in garlic, onions, artichokes, asparagus, chicory, bananas, wheat, oats, soybeans, jicama, burdock, inulin . These foods provide nourishment for the beneficial bacteria and keeps them from eating your gut lining which can cause inflammation and leaky gut :). These gut bacteria communicate with each other and with our cells affecting our immune system, mood, energy, nutrition, digestion, heart health and much more. The gut bacteria can shape our physique, weight and metabolism by influencing gene expression.
Just like any small town, bad influences can destroy the community. Some common factors that can have a negative effect on them are poor eating habits, chronic physical and emotional stress, lack of exercise, insufficient rest, frequent exposure to antibiotics, antacids and pesticides/chemicals in our food. Proliferation of bad bacteria and yeast can take over the gut causing havoc and disease, inflammation and illness. Our only defense is a healthy lifestyle and trillions of good hard-working bacteria.
Now, the Probiotic pill industry is a billion dollar industry and not all supplements are viable or beneficial. Think of these bacteria as transient tourists. They come, they eat, they help the town and then they leave. They have long 3 day journey through rough terrains, acid and enzymes and don’t always make it or do you any good! That is why these are dosed in billions 🙂 One study of 14 brands found 93% were labeled incorrectly, 36% did not list all the strains, and 60% had contaminants. Another study tested 58 products and 62% did not have the dose it was supposed to and 29% did not contain the strains stated on the label.
Also, not all bugs are programmed to do the same job. Your town needs plumbers, electricians, doctors and you wouldn’t expect them all to do the same job? For example, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG is good for diarrhea from infection or antibiotics in kids, Bifidobacterium is good for IBS, Saccharomyces boulardii is good for Clostridium difficile infecton. They also all live in different parts of town, some live on the lining, some in the lumen and require different pH levels. Be careful of probiotic cocktails with multiple strains since there are few studies to verify efficacy. Also, cautionary use in patients with severe pancreatitis, immuno-compromised people and those with port/central venous access catheters.
Check reputable sources like consumerlab.com to verify your probiotic brand’s claims. Read the label and look for the USP and GMP seals. Look to see if the company participates in probiotic research.
Advice from a small town doc, eat fermented foods and grow your own produce so you get good bugs who plan to stay and foster a healthy, prosperous mind, body and spirit!
The light in me, bows to the light in you~ Namaste
Dr. Patel was named one of the TOP DOCS in Phoenix Magazine 2009, 2016, Healthcare Provider of the Year 2017 by the Fountain Hills Chamber of Commerce and Internist of the Year 2011 by the American College of Physicians Arizona Chapter. She is uniquely trained, board-certified and practices both Pediatrics and Internal Medicine in Fountain Hills, Arizona. She is additionally fellowship trained in Integrative Medicine.
She has a passion for teaching medicine and acts as a preceptor for both medical residents and providers in training. Dr. Patel has a special interest in Integrative Medicine, Women’s health, Pediatric & Adolescent care, Nutrition and Medical Cosmetics.