Heal Your Belly – Why Women Need Probiotics

Countless women, men and children have taken probiotics following antibiotics, or a bad stomach bug in order to equalize the gut flora, which regulates the digestive system.  Why is it so important for women to take probiotics and what kind should they be taking?

Probiotics means “for life,” a perfect indicator why these living microorganisms should be taken seriously.  Found in cultured food like yogurt or fermented foods like miso, probiotics may help with the following:

 

  • Improve digestion
  • Regulate gut flora
  • Prevent infection
  • Improve immune system

 

There are many strains of probiotics from Lactobacillus acidophilus to Bifidobacterium bifidum, to name just a few.  Research is still in progress to see if the probiotics in food outweighs the benefits of a dry probiotic. In order for a probiotic to be affective, it is important to contact a doctor or a dietician, to ensure the correct strain is administered to the individual.

Probiotics can help many health issues and for women they can be particularly helpful in the prevention of or suffering from the following:

 

  • Vaginal Infections
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Hormone imbalance

PREGNANCY

There are a number of trials to study the influence of probiotics on pregnant women and their unborn child. Analyses suggests the benefits probiotics, due to the microbiota changes during pregnancy, some of which include:

 

 

It is also suggested that taking a probiotic may prevent asthma, food allergies, preterm birth, and AAD in children.  These studies are not conclusive, so it’s not advised to rush out and buy them.  It’s best to discuss with a dietician or doctor if this could be a beneficial health option.

 

VAGINAL HEALTH

The vagina is a complicated balance of microbiomes and like the gut, the balance has to be right to prevent infections like bacterial vaginosis.  Probiotics may help with keeping the vaginal tract acidic, thus making the bad bacteria unwelcome in the environment.  The balance in the vagina can get thrown out of synch by antibiotics, sickness, birth control pills, tampons, perfumes, menopause, stress, and even sexual intercourse.  Researchers have recommended the benefits of probiotics for women to regulate hormones such as estrogen and progesterone (particularly beneficial during menopause), as well as benefit breast and bone health.  The thyroid is also thought to be affected by ingesting probiotics with the suggestion that the metabolism could potentially speed up and therefore aid weight loss.  Although there is currently no irrefutable evidence between probiotic and the cure for hormone imbalance and bacterial infections, there is a consensus it can only help, not harm.

 

SUGGESTED PROBIOTIC FOODS

If increasing the intake of probiotic foods is desired, the following may help:

 

  • Kombucha
  • Miso Soup
  • Yogurt with live cultures
  • Cottage cheese
  • Dark chocolate
  • Kefir
  • Olives
  • Apple cider vinegar

 

Not Your Average Probiotic
Not Your Average Probiotic

 

TOP FIVE PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENTS FOR WOMEN

  1. Garden of Life: Raw Probiotics for Women. 85 million CFU’s and 32 probiotic strains, with no added fillers.
  2. Hyperbiotics PRO-Women. 5 Billion CFU’s, cranberry extract, which is good for urinary health.
  3. Complete Probiotics Platinum. 50 billion live cultures, NutraFlora, and Prebiotic (non digestible segment of food) Fiber
  4. Ultimate Flora Probiotic. With 50 billion cultures and a powerful Lactobacillus formula to support vaginal care.
  5. Based on germinated barley, this solution does not activate the digestive system, which is essential because that means acid isn’t released and can’t destroy the beneficial bacteria. Research by University College London (UCL) shows that Symprove is able to survive, thrive and colonize the gut.

 

When looking for the best probiotic, it’s best to:

 

  • Consult a doctor
  • Look for the highest CFU count, which has a superior influence on the growth of helpful bacteria within the gut flora. Anything over 40 billion CFUs will be beneficial.
  • Prebiotics supports probiotics, whilst performing well in the gut.

 

RESOURCES

Movie on probiotics

Science Direct

How To Choose The Best Probiotic

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are living bacteria and yeasts that happen to be great for the digestive system.  There are millions of good and bad bacteria, named microbiota or more commonly, gut flora, living in the digestive system.  Digestive health needs to be balanced and that’s when probiotics can help.  Sounding like something from a 1970’s horror movie like ‘The Andromeda Strain’, probiotics are a health boosting microorganism, living inside of the body’s digestion tract.  In recent years, the public have invested in the industry, which was worth a whopping 46 billion in 2017.

 

Probiotics have the potential to assist the immune system, improve digestion and possibly aid weight loss.  Dr. Francois-Pierre Martin, Jeremy Nicholson, and colleagues from the Imperial College London, Nestlé Research Centre in Switzerland, and Uppsala University in Sweden were fascinated by the response of the body’s metabolism, once probiotic food was ingested.  Using two groups of mice, one group ingested probiotics and the other did not.  The doctors discovered that the mice who had been given the probiotic were metabolically different to those who had not been treated because of the breakdown product found in the probiotic mice’s urine, liver, and feces.  They experienced changes of bacteria in the gut that had an effect on the way their liver processed fat, suggesting that probiotic may help with weight loss.  Microbiotas are also thought to be the link between health and sickness, with researchers suggesting that cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and the immune system may all be affected and possibly controlled my these organisms.

Where To Find Probiotics

Probiotics can be found in supplements or in food that has bacterial fermentation with lactic acid.  An obvious example of this would be yogurt which contains live bacteria.  If recently prescribed antibiotics, a doctor may suggest these kinds of yogurts, to replace the good bacteria (Lactobacillus Acidophilus) in the gut, decreasing the side effects from taking the medicines.  The good probiotics help with various ailments, some of which include, yeast infections, diabetes and bad cholesterol.  There are many probiotic yogurts and drinks availablle in local stores, here are just a few:

 

  • Kefir
  • Kombucha (fermented tea combined with a culture of yeast and bacteria)
  • Activia yogurt
  • Emergen-C
  • DanActive Probiotic Dallies
  • Miso
  • Pickles

 

What Are The Types Of Probiotics?

Out of the many types of probiotic, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the most common.  There are also numerous combinations of probiotics in supplements, called multi-probiotics. The choice of priobiotic depends heavily on which illness or health problem being treated.  If the issue is a little more complex, for example a digestive problem, visiting a doctor and obtaining a prescription would be beneficial.  There are many on the market, but plenty of research is available online, to give some ideas of which provide the most benefits.  Some suggestions include:

 

  • VSL (labeled Probiotic Medical Food): the highest available concentration of good bacteria.  Depending on the amount required, the box is labeled #1-3, with #3 being the highest, and it is commonly prescribed to treat IBS or severe digestive issues.  Refrigeration is essential because many probiotics are heat sensitive, which can kill the active ingredients
  • Multibionta: helps digestive tract and the immune system.
  • Prescript-Assist: used to help with allergies, gas, constipation.  Replenishes healthy GI Microflora and refrigeration is not required.
  • Hyper biotics PRO-15: time release tablets ideal for digestive health and to support a healthy immune system.
Not Your Average Probiotic
Not Your Average Probiotic

 

Doctors advise that many products don’t contain a high enough count of probiotic, with 99% of the product being killed off by stomach acids, before progressing through the gut.  Knowing the products and getting advice by a professional could save a lot of money.  Probiotics should not be taken by people who have late stage cancer, are undergoing chemotherapy, or have a compromised immune system.

So after the next health assessment, consider probiotics, it may just help keep that good bacteria in check.

 

Resources:

Science Daily

Consumers

British Medical Journal

Can Probiotics and Fermented Foods Relieve Anxiety?

If you suffer from anxiety, you’re one the 40 million adults in the U.S. afflicted with the disorder. Prescription medication along with cognitive behavior therapy may help, but what about changing up your diet? Many studies are linking the intake of fermented foods and probiotics with successfully relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Gut and Brain Linkage

As GetThrive.com has shared in previous articles, our digestive system absolutely has an impact on our brain. Over 100 trillion microorganisms live in our intestinal tract and affects brain elements such as memory and mood, to name just a couple. Improving balance in the gut microbiome has shown to “change how people experience emotions”—for the better!

How to Get “Better”

Anxiety and depression do not come on suddenly, nor do they disappear overnight. However, making alterations such as adding probiotics (as supplements) have demonstrated reduced feelings of angst and stress. Probiotics are live bacteria. They provide digestive aid and gut health. It’s also no secret that probiotics assist in taking care of the immune system as well as neurological function. Probiotics rock.

One study focused on the combination of two specific probiotics: Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum. The cocktail of the duo was developed purposefully with improving mental health as a goal.  Results from various studies utilizing these probiotics revealed an approximate 50% decrease in depression amongst its participants. Additionally, there proved to be a large reduction in anxiety-promoting hormones and overall stress.

A very recent study explored using fermented foods as a tool to re-establish proper gut flora—the concept meant to address the link between digestive balance and social anxiety. The author, Dr. Matthew Hilmire and his associates were interested in the effects of probiotics (derived from fermented foods) on personal behavior, feelings, and levels of stress.

Professors and psychologists involved in the study at the College of William & Mary were intrigued by how the gut can influence the mind. Participants who ate sauerkraut, for example, experienced fewer bouts of fear and worry than before they began eating fermented foods. Moods pervasively elevated in participants involved in the fermented food study.

If we examine the correlation of serotonin and other feel-good hormones in our gut to how we feel, it makes sense that re-balancing gut flora would make us “feel” better.

How to Shop and What To Take or Eat

Probiotic supplements can be purchased at health food stores and online. A few things to check out before buying are: the bacteria strains; expiration dates; how they will make it all the way down into your intestines; and, do they offer a refund?

Experts will have their favorite/most-essential strains list, but from what we’ve researched, here are 3 of the most common: L. Acidphilus, B. Bifidum, and B. Longhum. It’s still unclear how many billion CF units are most beneficial. Just make sure to get a pure product, preferentially manufactured in the U.S.

Make sure your product has not expired, especially since probiotic bacteria is live. That being said, read the label to see how your pill, capsule, or caplet will be delivered to your intestines. Stomach acids are strong and could kill your probiotic before it even makes it way to your lower digestive tract.

A company that offers a refund is telling you that they stand by their product.

Natural sources of probiotics are fermented foods. Some of these include:

  • Kombucha- a sparkling fermented tea that comes in several flavors. Beware of sugar content. A ginger version is especially nice on the tummy. You can buy kombucha at many markets or you can even make it at home.
  • Kefir – a dairy drink that tastes a little like yogurt. It’s made from rubbery pieces of kefir grain that’s fermented.
  • Kimchi – Korean in origin. It’s fermented cucumbers, cabbage, or other veggies mixed with a variety of seasonings.
  • Sauerkraut – a sour tasting fermented cabbage side-dish. The veggie is pickled, salted, and becomes fermented by airborne bacteria.
  • Pickles – A cucumber that has been soaked in a brine or vinegar and left to ferment for some time.

Regardless if you experience anxiety, depression, or mood swings, your body and mind can always benefit from a probiotic boost. Choose your supplement and/or your fermented food, and get happy!

Sources:

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-anxiety-disorder-among-adults.shtml

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system

http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2016/3/safely-reduce-anxiety-and-mood-disorders/page-01

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/10/probiotics-gut-bacteria-a_n_7545942.html

 

Why Your Gut Microbiome Should Be a Priority

Your gut communicates with your brain. It’s true. In fact, your gut is your brain’s executive assistant, constantly taking and sending important messages. It’s for this reason, that for optimum health, you must make maintenance of your gut microbiome a priority.

What is My Gut Microbiome?

A microbiome is the place where microorganisms live and hopefully thrive. It’s like a mini-ecosystem. Your gut is an environment where microbes can either flourish along with each other—or duke it out. Balance is crucial.

Gut bacteria, which is an essential part of your microbiome, can either increase your well-being or, conversely, play a significant role in the development of poor health. A fine balance of good bacteria can boost your immune system. It also promotes serotonin production, which we know regulates our moods and can affect social behavior, appetite, sleep, and sexual function.

What Happens When My Gut Microbiome is Unhealthy?

First off, an “unhealthy” gut microbiome would be one that was moderately to severely imbalanced. Bad bacteria would outnumber and overpower good bacteria, for example. Unfortunately, this happens quite frequently. Think about when you take antibiotic medicines.

Antibiotics kill the bad bacteria, relieving you of your infection or illness—but, they also eradicate the good guys. If the good ones aren’t replenished, balance will not be restored. Bacteria take no prisoners and their competitive nature will strive to kill off rival bacteria.

When the result is that your gastrointestinal tract has more bad microorganisms than good, you wind up with fewer allies to communicate with your DNA. This leaves you more susceptible to physical AND mental disease. A dysfunctional gut microbiome participates in the creation of many diseases including: obesity, depression, MS, and (recently discovered) Parkinson’s, among others.

Studies and Linking

Medical News Today reported that, “…eating a plant-rich diet nourishes bacteria that helps protect against disease.” It’s actually the good gut-bacteria that communicate with our DNA. That communication (from plant-based food ingestion) goes to our brain and to the rest of our body!

A recent study utilized mice as participants. Researchers raised half of the subjects on a Western diet (high in sugar and bad fats), and the other group on a diet rich in vegetables and fruits. The plant-based fed mice had amazing gut biomes. Existing gut bacteria fed on plant fiber and the DNA became phenomenal communicators, enriching overall health. Additionally, there was an abundance of good bacteria that helped the mice protect themselves from developing or acquiring the disease.

The mice that lived on a Western diet lost out to pathogenic bacteria. Gut bacteria was malnourished and starved for nutrients. The low fiber consumption also didn’t help with digestion as a whole.

Gut Woes Linked to Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s disease can be identified by an accumulation of proteins in the brain. (The alpha-synuclein proteins cluster and forms fibers. It’s the fibers that damage brain nerves, which eventually cause the physical behavior, “twitching”, and tremors we see in Parkinson patients.)

In a newer study, a particular type of gut bacteria has been identified in those diagnosed with the onset of Parkinson’s disease. Evidently, a chemical produced by said bacteria increases those proteins in the brain. It is possible that those proteins (implicated in Parkinson’s) traveled all the way from the imbalanced gut.

Some medical experts are advocating the use of probiotics and other gut-balancing treatments to prevent and assist with the disease.

Sources:

www.pdf.org/winter16_asynuclein

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/12/14/feed-gut-microbes.aspx

www.medicalnewstoday.com/kc/serotonin-facts-232248

Keep your Belly Balanced with Probiotics

Does your stomach talk to you after you’ve eaten? Overeating, poor food choices, and definitely stress can give you a bad tummy. Incorporating a few simple, probiotic-rich foods can help restore your belly’s balance and have you digesting more efficiently.

Gut Check

You’ve probably heard it a million times: You are what you eat.  That’s only partially true—you are also what you absorb. If you’re not digesting and processing your food properly, you are not getting the most out of the food you consume.  Your gut, or your digestive system, is the foundation of your body and it has a huge effect on your overall health and wellbeing.

The term “gut feeling” is not just an expression, it turns out to be based in fact.

Immune Check

Your immune system is also a key component of your gut. Everything you eat or drink contains some form of bacteria or pathogen, which sounds creepy, but it’s true. So, your gut is the first line of defense.

It’s a self-contained ecosystem of “gut flora, ” which is comprised of bacteria, yeast, and acids, and more. It’s designed to process both beneficial and harmful cells of all types.  These micro-organisms in your gut get out of balance. They can become overwhelmed by antibiotics, toxins, drugs, chemicals, and/or other hard-to-digest things like preservatives and additives. The result is poor digestion.

Poor Digestion = Poor Nutrition = Inflammation = Disease

Not digesting food properly is just one pitfall or poor gut health.  Aside from cheating yourself nutritionally, you could be setting yourself up for an array of problems.  If your gut is out of balance, it will likely lead to chronic inflammation, and that’s something you want to avoid at all costs.

Inflammation anywhere in the body has been targeted as a key factor in all types of disease ranging from Crohn’s, IBS, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.

Signs of poor digestion can include the following chronic symptoms:

  • Constipation
  • Bloating or excess gas
  • Heartburn
  • Cramps or abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea or loose stool
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Headaches and Fatigue

Get the Balance Right…

Keeping your gut happy involves two key factors: eating right and consuming foods rich in natural probiotics.  Avoiding processed foods, caffeine, sugar, refined carbs, and trans fats is ideal. In a perfect world, we would eat right every day and not have to worry about supplements. But alas, we can only do our best.

Probiotic Foods to Keep Your Gut In Check

  • Yogurt looks for plain, live-cultured, Greek, and handmade or artisanal varieties.  Goat’s milk is especially high in probiotics. Avoid sugar, artificial sweeteners, and flavors or colors.
  • Kefir- a fermented dairy product similar to yogurt, but more liquid.
  • Kombucha- very popular, a fermented black or green tea drink. It comes in a variety of flavors.
  • Sauerkraut- made from cabbage
  • Kimchi- Korean spicy veggie
  • Miso- Japanese soybean paste good for seasoning and soup.
  • Tempeh- similar to tofu, but fermented.
  • Buttermilk- only the traditional (not cultured) variety
  • Aged and soft cheeses- Gouda, Mozzarella, Cheddar, Cottage, Bleu, and Roquefort all have probiotics in abundance

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, is quoted as saying, “All disease begins in the gut.” So if you want to stay healthy and disease-free look no further than your belly.  When you are done navel-gazing, make sure you eat well, incorporate probiotic foods into your diet, and search www.GetThrive.com for more helpful information.