I’m sure you are hearing about probiotics in the media but is there a good reason for them? Do you really need them, and how do you know what to take?

I know! Some brands have 30 million colony forming units (CFUs), some have 6 billion, and some have 500 billion! Some have one or two different strains of bacteria, some have 20 different strains. This was fun to study and get clarity on for me.

I was already pretty convinced that most of us need probiotics most of the time but continue to be more convinced since our diets, stress, medications, and food additives seem to decrease our level of good bacteria (or our microbiome) in our gut. In all the stool tests that I’ve run, there have been a scant few without a need for assistance in balancing the intestinal bacteria.

My own fun experience with probiotics was several years ago when I started taking two a day of my favorite probiotic, Orthobiotic. At the time, I was in a daily chocolate phase. I happened to have a bar of Chocolaterie Stam’s chocolate on my kitchen counter when I started taking the probiotics. When three weeks had gone by I noticed that chocolate still intact on the counter which hadn’t spoken to me that whole time! Now I only occasionally think of chocolate but at the time of my chocolate phase, it seems I had some candida in my system. The candida was suppressed by the probiotic and no longer had the power to send “Feed Me with Sugar!” signals to my brain.

Did you know that we have more microbes keeping us healthy than any other cells in our bodies? We are 90% microbes! A variety of healing bacteria help us build the protective lining of the intestines and make up much of the immune system. We get to decide whether genes are “expressed” largely by how healthy our microbiome is. 1700 of these genes are involved in our immune system and are supported with probiotics! This immune system affects how sick we get but also the amount of inflammation in our body and the risk of some cancers. They also produce some of our vitamins and help with production of neurotransmitters which also are secreted and live in the gut and affect our mental function and clarity and moods. Some studies have shown anxiety to decrease with the use of probiotics!

Other benefits of probiotics are:

  • Boosting energy
  • Promoting an ideal body weight
  • Healthier bones and joints and skin
  • Aiding digestion and bowel regularity

The probiotic products that I look for have 6-8 different strains of bacteria which are each from a different part of the intestine so that they don’t compete for food with each other. Another good component is saccharomyces boulardii, a prebiotic yeast that is great for healing inflammation and is used by itself to treat C-Difficile as well as urinary tract infections.

To survive the acidic environment of the stomach, it’s important that the bacteria in probiotics be alive in a good number. The number needed depends on the individual but if they are tested by an independent lab for live strains over the year after manufacturing date, that is a good sign. Orthomolecular has their probiotic strains tested five times over the year, with 61 billion CFU at manufacturing date, and 39 billion at expiration date so I feel confident with that product.

I love those good bacteria!