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Posts Tagged ‘kefir’

probioticsBy now I’m sure most people are familiar with the term ‘probiotics’. It seems to be popping up everywhere, and it’s become a very popular ingredient being added to just about anything these days. Probiotics are crucial to good health, but sadly it has become a big money making business, and the quality in most products is questionable.

To start off, probiotics are the beneficial bacteria normally present in the digestive tract. They are vital for proper digestion and proper bowel function, they help prevent the overgrowth of yeast and other undesirable microorganisms and pathogens, they manufacture B-vitamins and vitamin K, and they enhance immune function. We all have billions of these bacteria in our guts, misoand they are found naturally in fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt, miso, tempeh, kimchi and sauerkraut. Most cultures eat some type of fermented food on a daily basis, thereby replenishing their stores. Sadly it is not common practice in our culture, and the products available to us are not always the ‘real deal’ – they do not contain actual live or active bacterial cells. It is important to consume probiotics because they get depleted easily. Probiotics can be negatively affected by the following:

  • Unhealthy diet, especially a diet that leads to regular indigestion.
  • Poor digestion of food from various causes and/or poor elimination of wastes.
  • Antibiotics
  • Chlorinated water
  • Stress, especially on-going stress negatively affects beneficial bacteria.
  • Other pharmaceuticals such as steroids and NSAIDS (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs)
  • Radiation (i.e., x-rays)

As mentioned, certain fermented foods contain probiotics, but it’s important that it is clearly labeled as ‘Live’ or ‘Active’ cells. Most yogurts found in grocery stores today contain so few, if any, actual live bacteria by the time you consume them. They are also usually filled with sugars, thickening agents, and other undesirable ingredients. Keep in mind that it’s all a marketing ploy. The only yogurts I’d recommend to anyone are the unsweetened, plain varieties. All those drinkable or 14-day guarantee ones are a waste of money.yogurt

It is extremely important to choose carefully when selecting a probiotic supplement.  Most of the supplements on the market run anywhere from worthless to slightly useful.  Spending the extra time looking for the right product and spending a little extra money purchasing the right product will pay off in the long run.

When it comes to choosing a probiotic supplement, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Buy a single-strain probiotic. It may sound good on the label that there are multiple strains of bacteria in the probiotic, but it is not. Often one strain overpowers the other, rendering one of the strains ineffective. For example, strains of L. acidophilus and L. bulgaricus should not be put together as the L. bulgaricus would take over.  Some double-strain products with both L. acidophilus and B. bifidum are okay to use.
  • Number of Organisms: product should say on the label a guarantee of the number of viable organisms in the product.  It should conatin at least 10 billion organisms for a therapeutic dosage.  The label should ideally give a guarantee of the number of viable organisms at the expiration date since it will be less than the manufacture date
  • The product should always be kept refrigerated
  • A milk base is an ideal base for the organisms in a probiotics supplement.  Since this is such a small part of the diet, I believe it is okay to use a milk base *if* you do not have a negative reaction from the product.  If a milk base is used it is preferable that the product contain the DDS-1 strain of L. acidophilus which produces plenty of lactose to help digestion of the dairy.
  • The product should specify that it can survive the stomach digestive acids and the bile acids – enteric coating can be useful for this purpose.probiotics

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