Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Probiotics - They Actually Work


Bacteria in your GUT- Aren't they pretty?
Probiotics are live bacteria and eating or drinking them can have a profound beneficial effect on your health.  Before you say "ewww", let's look at the science and why the right bacteria is essential for our well-being.

The human gastrointestinal (GI) tract is filled with millions of microbes known as microbiota.  Your microbiota is specific only to you and was started at birth when you acquired the bacteria from your mother.  Over the years it continued to evolve depending upon your gender, geography, health and diet.  If you took antibiotics, it probably knocked out your good intestinal microbial environment for at least a month.  Some strong antibiotics affect the gut for up to 4 years.

Probiotics are bacteria found in foods and a number of digestive illnesses are helped by taking them.  They prevent the growth of bad bacteria, they lower intestinal pH (thereby preventing  bad bacterial growth) and they increase the production of mucin which acts as a blockade and prevents bacteria from adhering to the intestinal wall.

Here are some ways Probiotics can help:
  • Can reduce crying time in breastfed babies with colic.
  • Can prevent travelers diarrhea
  • Can help with infectious diarrhea symptoms
  • Can reduce the risk of antibiotic associated diarrhea
  • Can reduce diarrhea in patients receiving pelvic radiation
  • Can reduce atopic eczema and asthma in children
  • Can improve atopic dermatitis in adults
But all probiotics are not the same and different strains and strengths  exist.  They are alive so it is important to know the manufacturer and what bacteria it contains.  Here are some brands I recommend and Whole Foods Market also carries fresh yoghurt and dairy products that are filled with good probiotics.

DanActive or Florastor:  Good to take along with antibiotics (if you MUST take an antibiotic) to prevent diarrhea in 60% of cases.  Start it with the antibiotic and continue for at least a week afterward.  Take it two hours apart from the antibiotic dose.

Activa: 1-2 servings a day for two weeks can help regulate the digestive system

Culturelle : 2 capsules a day treat infectious diarrhea and can be taken during a trip

Align: Good for IBS symptoms of pain, bloating and flatulence.  1 capsule a day

Remember, your GI tract should be in perfect homeostasis with your natural microbiome if you eat healthy.  If it gets thrown off, restoring the bacteria with Probiotics can help.
Read more about your microbiome here!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Healthy New Year

You only need three resolutions for 2015 to become healthier.  Only three!  And research shows that these three are the most important for healthy aging, longer life and feeling better overall.
Are you ready?  (Insert drum roll here)

1.  Quit smoking.  No more excuses. Throw those packs and ashtrays away and become a non-smoker.  Need help?  Go here. 
I don't need to tell you why or coax you more.  You already know it.  If you don't smoke, yippee...you only need two resolutions.

2.  Plan your meals and eat more plants.  I didn't want to say the diet word because it is loaded with meaning for everyone.  We've all tried diets that fail.  We are told confusing things about what to eat and what is a healthy diet.  But planning meals and eating more plants at every meal will automatically mean we are eating healthier.  The worst way to eat is on the fly, eating quick fast food or grabbing what's most convenient.  Because without planning, what is most convenient is processed food like chips, pizza slices, fries and sweets.  If each of us committed to preparing more foods at home, grocery shopping on the edges and not the middle aisles and eating an apple when hungry we would automatically be eating a healthier diet.  Try it and stick to it.

3. Walk 10,000 steps a day.  If you already exercise you can keep doing what you are doing.  But if you have become less active as the years have gone by, this is the time to change.  Walking is something that most everyone can do.  It requires no equipment and only a good pair of shoes.  The step trackers can help.  Park further away from your destination.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Walk your neighborhood and see things you could never see from the car. 

If these resolutions seem elementary to you  because you are already a vegetarian mountain climber or elite athlete, your year can just be doing more of what you already do.  Your resolution might be "be nicer".   For the rest of us, keeping it simple is the way to start.

Probiotics - What and When?

Probiotics contain microorganisms that are similar to the beneficial bacterial that occur naturally in our intestinal tract.  There is so...