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Tag: microbiome

How to Choose a Probiotic

 Probiotics can improve the health of your all-important microbiome but choosing one can be mystifying.  There are hundreds of probiotics on the shelves at your favorite health food store.  Equipped with the right information, you won’t need a degree in biology to choose the best product to get great results without doing harm to your community of friendly bacteria.

Who should take a probiotic?

Probably everyone.  Certainly, everyone with digestive symptoms should take a probiotic reflective of their individual condition.  Even healthy people can benefit from a probiotic to protect against daily assaults and expand diversity to the microbiome.

Contemporary life delivers daily environmental injury; nutrient deficient foods and medications  to challenge our gut balance.  Adding a probiotic to a diet that includes a variety of fermented foods within a fresh, whole food diet creates a solid foundation of diverse organisms. Diversity is key and relying on one food source, such like yogurt with live and active cultures does not provide enough variety of organisms. (http://www.wellbelly.net/blog/page/2/).

How to choose the right dosage and the right match for me?

The dosage of probiotics varies from 1 to 10 billion CFUs (colony forming units). One billion meets the needs of a healthy digestive tract.  Think closer to 10 billion if you are taking antibiotics or showing signs of an imbalanced microbiome (http://www.wellbelly.net ). Pricing and marketing claims can be tricky so it’s important to read the label to determine how many capsules it will take to get the dosage you need.  A less expensive product may be misleading as it may take several capsules to reach an adequate dosage or not contain human strains.

How to take an oral probiotic. 

Avoid taking an oral probiotic at the same time as taking an antibiotic.  Mixed together the antibiotic will destroy many of the CFU’s in the probiotic.

Best to take the probiotic away from a meal so less harm is done to the CFU’s by gastric acid and digestive enzymes.  Right before bed can be ideal.

Storage has become more convenient.  Extreme heat and light exposure can damage the organisms but most products, today, are safe at room temperature if packaged in a dark container.  Requiring refrigeration does not make a probiotic more effective, but following the directions on the package does preserve the efficacy.

What bacterial strains should be contained in my probiotic?

The best products contain a minimum of seven, varied bacteria strains most common to humans.

Many probiotics will be derived from soil-based organisms (SBOs).  SBOs are generally less expensive but are not naturally found in the human digestive tract and have never been part of the symbiotic relationship.  SBOs are in the form of spores which can compete with the normal residential community of organisms.  This competition  can be detrimental to the microbiome that is out of balance.  Once established, the SBO spores can be difficult to get rid as they  occupy precious space that human strains need to flourish. Ask the store personnel to direct you to the human strain probiotics.

The research surrounding the microbiome is evolving on a daily basis.  Current thinking indicates that there are at least 500 species of bacteria and yeast that comprise the average 2.2 pounds of microbiome.

Two dominate families of friendly bacteria organisms comprise human strain probiotics, lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.  The following describes the strengths of the most common strains.

Lactobacillus

Lacto Bulgaricus, Acidophilus and Casei assist with lactose intolerance.  In addition, Acidophilus may be helpful at reducing cholesterol and Casei supports brain function. Lacto Plantarum can reduce inflammation and Rhamnosus supports the immune system, GI health and eczema.

Bifiodobacterium

Bifido Lactis and Bifidum support immunity, Longum supports brain function and constipation and Beve supports GI health and has anti-aging properties.

Others:

Streptoccus thermophilus which is not related to strep throat is a friendly bacteria that assists lactobacillus bulgar by making nutrients that assist with growth.

Saccharomyces boulardii is a yeast that competes with candida albican (an opportunistic yeast), supports immunity, GI health and reduces diarrhea.

Pre-biotics

Some products contain pre-biotics which are nutrients to foster growth of friendly bacteria.  More information on pre-biotics  can be found in the blog dated:

Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to select a perfect match.  The science continues to evolve at this time but is not positioned to offer products with an exact match for every individual need.

Use this information as an engaged consumer in evaluating the multitude of probiotic products and can make an informed purchase that will contribute to your overall health.

Keep it simple: Consider the primary reason you are considering probiotics and select a product that has dominate numbers of CFUs which reflect your general condition.  Probiotics are good for you and should be considered an important tool for maintaining health.

Surprisingly, Heartburn Relief has Serious Health Risks

Nearly 20% of Americans suffer from chronic indigestion sometimes called heartburn, acid reflux or GERD.  Widely used remedies can cause even more problems for your health.

The uncomfortable burning of “ I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” can lead to real damage to the esophagus and throat making acid-reducing remedies such as Prilosec one of the most widely used medications.

Common theory is that heartburn is caused by too much stomach acid and the solution is to simply reduce or bind the gastric acid.  Heartburn medications fall into a category of proton pump inhibitors (proton/potassium pump inhibitors) which inhibits the function of the parietal cells in the stomach and thereby suppress the production of stomach acid.

If only the solution was as simple as taking a pill.

However, serious complications to the regular use of proton pump inhibitors (PPI) include:

(1) proton pumps are not  limited to the stomach but found in all energy producing cells in the body.  The function of the proton pumps is essential in the ATP cycle to produce energy. Regular use of PPIs can lead to fatigue of cell function.

(2)  the highly acidic pH created by gastric acid is required for the absorption of minerals such as iron, calcium and magnesium as well as vitamins B12 and C.  Gastric acid sets the stage for the an effective process of digestion through the remaining digestive tract.

(3) Gastric acid is the first line of defense against ingestion of opportunistic pathogens and harmful bacterias. SIBO (small intestine bacteria overgrowth) and an infection of colostridium difficle  (CDI) is common among PPI users. CDI disrupts the normal function of digestion with symptoms of diarrhea, nausea and fever causing colitis perforation of the colon and sepsis.

(4) Fifty percent of the people using proton pump inhibitors actually produce too little gastric acid which shows up with the same acid reflux symptoms as too much gastric acid. Too little gastric acid prevents normal digestion and nutrient absorption leading to a wide range of poor health conditions.

Interference with natural production of gastric acid has been linked to increased risk for heart attacks, dementia, osteoporosis, kidney disease,  decreased diversity of the microbiome community, malabosroption and deficiency of essential nutrients.  Too little gastric acid can cause an acid rebound effect causing even more acid to be produced as your body tries to make up for the missing gastric.

Recent research at the Veterans Administration identified a link between the use of Prilosec and kidney disease.  Kidney disease is particularly worrisome as it develops without warning signs until it is too late to reverse.

TUMS, although not a PPI creates other health risks.  TUMS contributes to the acid rebound effect as it binds the acid your body needs to secrete for digestion and your body responds by increasing production.  In addition TUMS contains aluminum, a metal ,that has been associated with risk for dementia.

Home remedies like baking soda in water can provide temporary relief but does not resolve the cause of the condition that interferes with proper digestion and nourishment of the body.

No-risk freedom from heartburn

Fixing the cause of heartburn is the solution for both the dangers of heartburn, acid-reflux or GERD and the dangers of using heartburn medications.  Triggers for heartburn include reactions to specific foods and alcohol, insufficient digestive enzymes and/or gastric acid, use of other medications such as antibiotics, SIBO, infectious pathogens and emotional stress.

Healthcare professionals who practice integrative or functional medicine are experts at identifying and reversing the underlying cause digestive problems.  Working with a healthcare professional can  help you determine if your symptoms are the result of too much or too little gastric acid.  Then they can expedite your discovery of the triggers for heartburn that are specific to you. Institute for Functional Medicine, www.IFM.org and the  National Association of Nutrition Professionals, www.NANP.org, are good resources to locate a healthcare professional in your locale.

SIX WAYS TO KICK-START YOUR CHILD’S LIFETIME HEALTH

New research shows that children who have developed a diverse micro biome are resistant to developing asthma, food allergies, eczema and other immune-related conditions.

Children acquire their micro biome at birth, optimally as they travel down the birth-canal and drink breast milk.  No mater the circumstances of birth, however, a healthy micro biome can be developed at any stage of life.  Here are six ways:

  1. Plan meals with lots of fiber and vegetables.  Picky eaters?  Disguise vegetable in a fruit smoothie.
  2. Use antibiotics only when necessary.  Explore herbs and homeopathic alternatives to treat colds and flu. These natural remedies can be powerful and shorten the duration of symptoms.
  3. Get a dog.  This one will make you a hero in your house.  Contact with dogs increases a child’s friendly-bacteria diversity.
  4. 4 Encourage outdoor play.  Again, increased exposure to diverse bacterias.
  5. Wash hands with plain soap and water, not antibacterial.  Antibacterial soap destroys the natural micro biome that lives on the skin and often contain unwanted chemicals.
  6. Don’t fear dirt.  But still wash produce before eating.

 

Tending Your Gut-Garden with Fibre

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Fibre plays an all-star role in the mini-ecosystem within our body known as the gut microbiota (gut- garden flora).  Discover the evolving science surrounding your personal gut microbiota and the ten foods to tenderly cultivate your gut-garden.

Importance of the Gut Microbiota

Science is just uncovering the benefits produced by your gut microbiota garden of primarily bacteria with some fungus and virus and a bit of non-threatening free-loaders.  So far we know that the gut microbiota is fundamental to our immune defenses as it shields against opportunistic pathogens; synthesizes vitamins B and K; aids in the absorption of calcium; makes our food digestible; impacts mental and emotional health as well as metabolic functions of energy production and calorie storage.

Comprised of 40 trillion cells, (it only takes 30 trillion cells to make the human body) from 30-40 different microbe species, the gut microbiota was designed to be self-regulating to maintain balance among the microbes of bacteria, fungi and viruses.

However, maintaining balance in this ecosystem has become a challenge for all these little guys in today’s world.  The gut-garden flora we humans inherited from a single ancestor some 15 million years ago is essential for sustaining life.   Since then, these microbes have evolved for better or worse as a consequence of our environment resulting in unique personal gut-garden microbiota.

Your individual gut-garden got its start in the birth canal and has been altered in numbers and specific microbes ever since by mother’s milk, diet; ingested chemicals, medications and medical treatments involving radiation.

Environmentally-altered imbalances in the gut garden are associated with chronic inflammatory disease, auto-immune conditions, obesity and psychological well-being.

Tending your Gut Garden

The gut-garden flora is dynamic and imbalance can be restored to this delicate ecosystem.  Much like tending a garden, discouraging weeds of environmental assaults that destroy the flora and fertilizing growth of healthy flora will allow your gut microbiota to flourish.

A diet of whole, organic foods vegetables and fruit provides the fiber required to fertilize your gut-garden.  This necessary fibre is soluble having both simple (fructooligosaccharides) and complex (inulin) features. Plant sources of these two types of fiber include:  blue agave extract, bananas, onions, garlic, asparagus, jicama, leeks, chicory root, wild yam and whole grain wheat.

New bacteria microbes can be added to your garden with fermented foods that contain live bacteria such as cow-milk-based kefir and yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, pickled fruit and vegetables and fermented meat, fish and eggs.

Two types of supplements are available to complement your diet to both fertilize and add new microbe flora.  Pre-biotics containing both fructooligosaccharides and inulin can fertilize your garden.  Probiotics containing a wide variety of strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium common to human guts can add new microbes to your gut garden.

Tending your gut garden with both all-star fibre and fermented foods remain the most natural, effective and least expensive path to a thriving gut-garden microbiota.

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