Every few years, there's a hot nutritional supplement or ingredient. Multi-grain and omega-3 fats were hot label ingredients in the past. Now it's probiotics, so let's examine this topic below.
If you look at medical news and trending topics on health, you'll find that a lot of what's being discussed today has to do with our immune systems. People in Western countries such as Canada and the US are walking around with compromised immune systems, which is why we're seeing so many cases of things like food allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue, Lupus and other problems related to immunity and inflammation.
Why is Immunity Such an Issue for Westerners?
Amongst the most popular reasons, researchers say this is because most Westerners eat unhealthy diets that damage the delicate balance in our gut flora. The gut flora are basically the body's security guards; they keep bacteria from sneaking out of our digestive tracts and into our bloodstreams where they can do real damage.
80% of our immunity takes place in our intestines, in specialized lymph tissue. The gut flora is the main protection for that immune tissue, so if our gut flora are compromised, 80% of our immunity is, too.
The problem is that Westerners eat so much of processed food containing genetically modified ingredients and ingredients that have been injected with tons of antibiotics. We also take far too many antibiotics by prescription, for everything from a cold to an ear infection. Antibiotics aren't bad, but they don't just kill bad bacteria; they kill all the bacteria in our digestive systems. This means they kill the good bacteria that keeps our immune system safe.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are whole colonies of living, good bacteria. They make their way to your digestive tract, where they multiply and fight the bad bacteria.
You can get probiotics in some foods, like live culture yogurt and kefir. Unfortunately, the beneficial bacteria has to go through your stomach before it can get to your digestive tract and your stomach acid will kill off huge numbers of those bacteria before they ever get where they're supposed to go. Also, there are many kinds of good bacteria and not every food contains every one of them. This is important to know because different types help different parts of your body.
What Can Probiotics do for You?
There's quite a bit of research that proves probiotics can delay or prevent some types of cancer. Probiotics also have a lot of other important benefits, some of them especially important to those who workout. Intense workouts create a great deal of oxidative stress and oxidative stress uses up a lot of the antioxidants present in our systems. Some of the recent research shows that probiotics can increase our antioxidant levels and minimize the effects of oxidative stresses from intense workouts.
Probiotics can also be a huge help in losing belly fat. In 2010, researchers gave overweight men either a supplement containing the probiotic lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 or a placebo. The men who took the probiotic lost an average of 5% abdominal fat over the course of twelve weeks.
How to Get Your Probiotics
Because probiotics in foods usually come in small numbers and in limited types, supplementation is really the way to go. But not all supplements are created equal.
The best supplements should include several different kinds of good bacteria and list each one on the label so you know what you're getting. There are seven types of important bacteria that you can take:
Lactobacillus Acidophilus: for digestive health and cholesterol levels
Lactobacillus Rhamnosis: for stress and weight loss
Lactobacillus Bulgaricus: for lactose intolerance
Lactobacillus Plantarum: for digestion and cardiovascular health
Lactobacillus casei: for leaky gut and heart health
Bifidobacterium Longum: for weight loss and cancer-fighting
Bifidobacterium Breve: for supporting all the other good bacteria
Make sure that the label tells you the number of live colony forming units (CFUs) and if the number on the label is the number it contained at the time the probiotic was bottled, or if that's the number it will contain up until the expiration date. Different companies use different stabilizers to keep the good bacteria alive after they're packaged and some of those stabilizers are better than others.
You also want a probiotic that is microencapsulated. This is like buying coated aspirin; the capsules actually protect the bacteria from your stomach acid so that more of them survive to make it to your digestive tract.
How much you need to supplement and what types of bacteria you need most, will depend on your own health circumstances. You'll need to look at any current health issues, such as stress and digestive disorders and research the right types and quantities for your situation. Some researchers suggest taking a minimum of 10-billion CFUs of a regular probiotic or 4-billion CFUs if you're taking a microencapsulated product.
Taken correctly, probiotics can be a huge help in building your immune system and reducing inflammation and those benefits can have a huge impact on your results. You can check out what I personally take below:
To your results,