Focus: The Source of Disease
When looking for ways to begin achieving optimal health, we believe the number one thing you need is a really good probiotic! Let’s explain why…
If you have ever been to a naturopathic doctor, they will tell you that almost all disease can be traced back to our gut. It is absolutely fascinating when you start looking into exactly what is going on in your body, in your digestive system to truly understand and believe this statement.
Adding a probiotic is like sending in the Calvary! Our intestines and colon are filled with so many types of bacteria that it’s impossible to know about them all (there is over 400 different species of bacteria) but we do know about how bad things can become when we don’t keep that army populated! The goal is to keep more good than bad bacteria living in us (gut flora balance). Our “good” bacteria can de destroyed by things like antibiotics, stress, alcohol/drugs and poor diet. Two of the most common types of bacteria that you can find in a probiotic are Acidophilus & Bifidus. Acidophilus has the job of keeping things clear for these little hairs called Microvilli that are along the wall of the small intestine, and are assist in moving the food along. Acidophilus bacteria is our number one defence of disease in the gastrointestinal tract, as well as the vagina. Bifidus has the job of re-populating the friendly bacteria, lowers the PH level (an acidic environment is necessary in this area otherwise it would be a breeding ground for bad bacteria). Bifidus will also prevent gas & bloating.
Now let’s get into which probiotic to choose.
Most people think they need to look at the total number of bacteria it shows on the bottle (for example: 10 billion active cells), but while that is important and something to consider, really we need to look at what the different strains of bacteria are included in the probiotic. Now remember I mentioned there are over 400 different species of bacteria, but we are going to want to look for the most important known strains and what we personally are in need of:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus – these guys colonize on the walls of the small intestine, support nutrient absorption and help digest dairy if that’s part of your diet.
- Bifidobacterium longum – Scavengers of toxins! Mostly found in adults digestive tract and have been said to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
- Bifidobacterium bifidum – As we age this one is important for breaking down complex carbs, fat & protein but their most important job is protecting us from germs.
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus – known as the travellers best friend because they help with the dreaded diarrhea that can otherwise ruin a trip! Also shown beneficial to women with urinary tract infections.
- Lactobacillus fermentum – Promotes healthy levels of bacteria in the gut, can help with lowering cholesterol and another good one for women in minting a healthy vaginal flora.
Another important thing to look at when you are selecting a probiotic is the expiry date. Remember these are live cultures you are ingesting and you want to be sure they stay that way! Some of those live bacteria won’t make the journey past your stomach acid but you can help by taking the probiotic with a meal. Food will temporally reduce the acidity level of your stomach giving better odds for survival. Also making sure you are ingesting a good amount of bacteria (called CFU’s or Colony Forming Unit) starting at 10 million and then you can increase as needed.
We really like the probiotic options available from Natural Factors, but another favourite that is fairly new on the market is Wholy Biosa 10+ Artisan Probiotic Drink from Innotech Nutrition. This triple fermented probiotic drink offers up 10 Billion bioactive cultures, and has a ph of 3.5 so it can survive stomach acid.
Another great habit to get into is adding in probiotic type foods like; cultured vegetables (think sauerkraut & kimchi), yogurt, kombucha (easy to make or a great Canadian brand we like is Tonica), kefir drinks and more!
So to sum up, our intestines have the huge job of not only assisting in breaking down the food but also absorbing the vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fats. Probiotic’s (our army) work at keeping the spaces clear to allow all those good things to pass through into our blood stream, which then carries off to our organs, tissues, brain, etc. Getting the picture here now?
In my next post, I am going to talk about dirty colon’s and how we can safely clean them out.