I have a lot of clients ask me about probiotics. Some unsure of what they are, when to take them, how much to take or how often. Below, I’ve simplified some important facts about probiotics.
What are probiotics?
- Probiotics are good bacteria that we want in our gut. They help balance the bad bacteria by preventing them from taking over the digestive tract.
- We can get a variety of healthy/friendly bacteria from food sources, however this is often not sufficient enough. Yogurt (plain and unflavoured), sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, miso and tempeh are fermented foods containing healthy bacteria. In order to get high therapeutic doses, it is sometimes beneficial/necessary to supplement.
- There are trillions of strands of bacteria in the body, however some of the most beneficial are lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium; so you’ll want to ensure those strands are in your probiotic supplement.
To clarify, we can ALL benefit from probiotics and here is why:
- With an increased amount of antibiotic use, our bodies are being wiped clean of all bacteria (both good and bad). It is necessary to repopulate the gut with good bacteria to fight off future infections.
- The standard American diet is often low in fiber and vegetables and high in meats, dairy and processed foods. Often people feel bloated or gassy – probiotics are fantastic for digestive problems and especially for people who have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
- It is not uncommon for women to suffer from urinary tract infections: whether it be bladder infections or reoccurring yeast infections – probiotics can prevent the bad bacteria from invading the urinary tract.
- It stimulates the immune system – which means fewer colds and infections. Which is especially helpful during the winter months.
How often? How many “billions of CFU”?
There are a wide range of probiotic supplements out on the market. Some have 10 billion, 25 billion and so on. This all depends on your specific health issues at the time. It is best to consult your nutritionist to determine if you could benefit from therapeutic supplement doses and if so, exactly how much. However, for general maintenance I would recommend about 10-25 billion CFU (Colony Forming Units).
For maintenance, I prefer probiotics that contain some greens and herbal supplements in them as well such as nutrient dense and vitamin rich chlorella, sea algae’s, wheat grass, kelp, burdock root, spirulina and Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) fibre such as chia and flax seeds.
Probiotics can be taken with meals either in the morning or in the evening. And remember to continue eating foods that are high in beneficial bacteria too, such as this awesome jar of homemade kimchi!
For people suffering from specific health problems, confirm which probiotic is best for you by consulting with your Nutritionist or Naturopathic Doctor. If you’re looking for a general maintenance probiotic, here is one of my favourites that I take daily.