Of Guts & Glory
The benefits of probiotics & how they can change your health.
Every year people make out a list of resolutions that they hope to accomplish. One of the top listed resolutions is getting in shape, or getting healthy. Year after year, the same people vow that THIS YEAR will be different. THIS YEAR I will accomplish my goals.
So why is this so hard to actually put into practice?
The truthful answer is that it’s not that difficult. The biggest reason people don’t accomplish their goals is because it requires change. Change isn’t something that most people enjoy, thus they continue to get the same results year after year.
Getting healthier isn’t about fad diets and temporary calorie restrictions. Getting healthier is about making lifestyle changes. It just seems like too much work sometimes, but I can guarantee you, the change is worth it in the long run.
Take me, for example. I spent 10 years being tired, run down, sick. I got strep throat at least twice a year every year. To say that I was miserable would be an understatement, and I was too young to feel that way all the time. I had seen several doctors, each one dismissing my symptoms and telling me I was too young to have any real problems. Out of desperation, I finally reached out to a family friend, who was a naturopath, so that I could start getting some answers.
One of the things I learned was that antibiotics wipe out everything, both good and bad. The more you take antibiotics, the longer it takes for the gut to return to homeostasis. If you keep taking antibiotics without allowing your gut to return to homeostasis, you will actually be MORE prone to get sick again. That’s why I kept getting strep throat so often.
I realize that not everyone has the option to go see a naturopath, and many think they are a hoax anyway. Whatever your opinion, that’s ok. Here’s the basis of what I learned: Health begins in the gut.
If your digestive tract, where all of your food is digested and nutrients are absorbed, isn’t working correctly then you won’t ever fully get better. If you just start with this one concept, you WILL start seeing a difference in your health.
This is your starting point. I preach probiotics to every single person I talk to. Here’s why:
1. Probiotics balance the good bacteria in your gut. Everyone has good bacteria, or “flora”, in the gut. Good bacteria is important when it comes to your health for several reasons. Here are a few:
- The good bacteria aid in digestion
- They control the bad bacteria and organisms in the gut
- They produce Vitamin K, folate, and certain fatty acids the body needs
2. Probiotics can improve mental health. Your gut health is tied in some ways to mental health, so having a healthy gut can improve your mood. When taken for 1-3 months, many have reported great improvement in mental health. Disclaimer: when referring to mental health here, I am talking about overall mood, anxiety, and depression. This does not refer to serious mental health disorders.
- Improves/lessens anxiety
- Improves/lessens depression
- Helps to lessen some of the physical symptoms of autism
- Helps with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Helps to improve memory. Because probiotics help break down food and helps with food allergies, it can alleviate symptoms of brain fog.
3. Heart Health:
- According to the researchers at Johns Hopkins, the good bacteria in the gut release chemicals that are absorbed into the bloodstream. Once the chemicals are in the bloodstream, they activate receptors in the blood vessels. This then lowers blood pressure. So probiotics that balance and replace good bacteria can help lower blood pressure.
- Probiotics break down bile in the gut. Bile is made mostly of cholesterol and helps the body digest food. In some cases, bile can be reabsorbed into the gut and probiotics can prevent that. This means less cholesterol in the blood stream. Also, by aiding in digestion, the vitamins and minerals in the food we eat are more easily absorbed into the body.
4. Allergies: Studies, like the one that showed probiotics to have a treatment effect on allergic rhinitis are becoming more popular as we learn more and more about them. Here are some of the ways in which probiotics help with those who suffer from both environmental and food allergies:
- Probiotics boost the immune system by balancing the flora in your body.
- They promote antibodies to help you fight infection and allergens.
- Improves the function of the mucosal lining of the stomach and intestines.
- Reduces inflammation by reducing levels of C-reactive protein
5. Digestive Disorders:
- Diarrhea- probiotics can shorten bouts of diarrhea by restoring balance to the gut.
- When diarrhea is a result of antibiotics, probiotics are doubly useful. Antibiotics will wipe out not only the bad bacteria and organisms, but also the good stuff.
- Helps with diarrhea related to disorders such as IBS and food allergies.
- When diarrhea is the result of an illness, the probiotics boost the immune system and as a result can shorten the length of the diarrhea.
- True story- A friend of mine had an 18 month old son that suffered from continuous ear infections and constipation. Every couple of days she would give him warm prune juice to help regulate his bowel movements and was ready to schedule the surgery to have tubes put in his ears for the ear infections. As she was discussing this with me, I begged her to try putting her son on probiotics for 30 days. Just try it, I said. So, she did. For 30 days she gave her son the probiotics morning and evening. It didn’t take 30 days, it only took a week! In just seven days, her son had regular bowel movements and his double ear infection was cleared up (he was on antibiotics for that). The antibiotics did clear the ear infection, but the probiotics kept it from coming back.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease & Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- As mentioned earlier, probiotics reduce levels of C-reactive protein which in turn reduces inflammation
- Helps regulate bowel movements
- Probiotics help restore the mucosal lining of the digestive tract
Many well intentioned people, including doctors and nurses, will tell you to eat yogurt for it’s probiotic benefits. Here’s the problem with that: you would have to eat 200 cups of yogurt before you would start seeing any benefit from the probiotics. There just aren’t enough in yogurt. Another problem with yogurt is that it’s packed with sugar (unless you are one of the very few that would be willing to eat plain yogurt, but even then there is some sugar). Sugar feeds yeast and bad bacteria/microorganisms. So you are feeding the bad stuff food to survive while you are trying to consume enough probiotics to kill it. Anyone else see a problem here?
Choosing a quality probiotic
There are hundreds of brands to choose from when it comes to probiotics, but not all are created equal. If you want to find a good probiotic:
- Make sure you are choosing one with Colony Forming Units (CFUs) and live microorganisms.
Should contain multiple strands as there are multiple strands normally found in the gut
Look for a vegan option as you want to avoid any harmful fillers.
A few I recommend:
Plexus ProBio5 (this has probiotics, digestive enzymes, and an antifungal! Works best when paired with BioCleanse)- https://plexusworldwide.com/product/plexus-probio-5
Garden of Life Raw Probiotics- https://www.google.com/shopping/product/11050878709152096320?q=best+probiotics&rlz=1CAACAY_enUS802&biw=1366&bih=627&prds=paur:ClkAsKraX0iJmPTl2Y8tjgxSU61lS7LRk4t0i-OK30J4xOfGQpK3YKsRul27GMSfssdyb3GzY7c4nidkWcwcYZaEL4aM9siMYLypBU8MaGOvrnN91ypI_Oyo8BIZAFPVH73ZoWc4kb65qkKTvJ_hXI8GdSryRw&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjHiv_bg73cAhURTd8KHWSvCzUQ8wIIhQc
Complete Probiotics Platinum- https://1md.org/product/probiotics
Pro45 Clinical Grade Probiotics- https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01FV5PFS0/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=smarterreview-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B01FV5PFS0&linkId=f8e5dacd824a5e046f64c2a8e98aff58
Here is my challenge to you: Try this for yourself! It's ok if you are skeptical and don't believe me. It takes 30 days, what do you really have to lose?
Allergy statistics. http://www.aaaai.org/media/resources/media_kit/allergy_statistics.stm
Ouwehand, Arthur, "Antiallergic effects of probiotics," Journal of Nutrition, Mar 2007.