Saturday, September 22, 2012

Now That You Know a Little About Probiotics, How Do You Select the Best?

In earlier blogs, I defined the word ‘probiotic: the prefix ‘pro’ means ‘for’ – and the word ‘biotic’ means ‘life’, so probiotics are for life. Often called the ‘friendly bacteria’, scientists believe that probiotics are as important in this century as antibiotics were in the last. And I go along with the scientists’ belief. Again, my feeling is that probiotics are the unsung hero of wellness, but they have to be good, high functioning probiotics.

In previous blogs about probiotics (check them out below if you’re ‘new’ to my postings), I’ve listed functions performed by probiotics, both our own natural ones and those helped with high quality supplements,  along with explanations; a list of conditions attributed to Dysbiosis (the causes of an imbalance between the harmful and good bacteria), and a listing of the symptoms and/or warning signs of Dysbiosis; and in my most recent blog, a list of factors that can upset the balance of good and bad intestinal flora.

Now, as promised, I’ll address factors to look for when choosing the most effective probiotic product:

·         Must deliver the flora alive. First and foremost, you should expect the produce to be shelf-stable without refrigeration for up to three years. (With a refrigerated product, you have no real idea how carefully it has been handled along its delivery route or how effective it will be when you take it in and out of the refrigerator which attracts moisture. Blister packs are best.

·         The best bacteria are the ‘alive’ ones. The strength of the bacteria is more important than the total count of them. You want ‘critters’ that will thrive (i.e., alive) and that will, in most cases, adhere to the digestive tract. (A product with freeze-dried type that doesn’t arrive alive, or can’t be reawakened or are weak, cannot do the job that live bacteria can do.)

·         The species you use must be proven useful and natural to humans. If the species produced by a probiotic company does not meet this test, no amount of marketing hype will make up for this lack. There are products, for instance those made from organisms in the soil, which create a big effect, but they often cause diarrhea. (This isn’t surprising given that this is how the body gets rid of things it doesn’t like – it flushes them.) See next bullet.

·         Look for a blend of a number of beneficial lactic acid bacteria strains. Each strain has its own unique and distinct benefits. Ideally, you’ll want to look for organisms that fight deadly smart bugs which would serve to protect the body against antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA, H. pylori, E. coli and the other bacteria that can cause food poisoning. (Check my next blog for a list of examples of friendly bacterial strains, along with some of their roles.)

·         The form of the product should be able to protect the bacteria until they reach the lower intestine. I recommend and ‘enteric coating’ to help keep digestive juices from destroying the bacteria before they get to the intended place.

·         Product should be milk-free and hypoallergenic.

·         Product should guarantee the inclusion of colony-forming units (CFU) of at least 1 to 1.5 billion per gram.

·         The safety and efficacy of the product should be known to be well-researched with both in-vivo (human) and in-vitro (laboratory) scientific studies (not just stories, but actual scientific tests).

·         The product should contain robust, naturally-occurring organic acids. These are necessary to correct and maintain the proper “acidic” pH environment in the colon. (Consider this: the good guys are called “lactic acid bacteria”, and a pH level of 5.2 – 6.5 is essential for their proper proliferation and adhesion.

·         A probiotic product is best if supported with natural-occurring fructooligocaccharides (FOS). This prebiotic nutrient is important to the health and long life of lactobaccilus (LAB).

·         A few quality-assurance factors you should insist on include a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility with the highest standards of quality as analyzed by third-party authorities.

·         Other important qualities to look for include: non-GMO; free of chemicals, preservative, and artificial additives. The product should be totally vegan, including the capsule material.

·         Check for the product’s inclusion of naturally-developed micronutrient by-products such as amino acids, hydrogen peroxide, enzymes and bacteriocins, and anti-fungals – one way to fight the bad guys.

·         For the best results, the product should contain the nutritional medium in which the culture was actually grown. This will assure a stable growth base, remembering that the bacteria may not like what you ate for dinner.

If you want more information on a very safe and effective product, contact me either by e-mail at, and on my website at Remember, most importantly, the product you use MUST WORK!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

What do you know about probiotics? Part 3

“What Do You Know About Probiotics?”

In earlier blogs, I defined the word ‘probiotic: the prefix ‘pro’ means ‘for’ – and the word ‘biotic’ means ‘life’, so probiotics are for life. Often called the ‘friendly bacteria’, scientists believe that probiotics are as important in this century as antibiotics were in the last. And I go along with the scientists’ belief. My feeling is that probiotics are the unsung hero of wellness.

In my last two blogs, I posted a list of functions performed by probiotics, both our own natural ones and those helped with high quality supplements (NOTE: Not all probiotics are created equally… I’ll address that in more detail in a subsequent blog.). My last blog had two lists along with explanations: Dysbiosis, meaning the causes of an imbalance between the harmful and good bacteria (the bad being detrimental if more than a 15/85% ratio), and then a list with the warning signs of Dysbiosis.

As evidenced in my earlier blogs, there is much at stake in assuring that friendly bacteria are in control in our bodies. Hence, in this posting, I thought I would give you a list of the factors that can upset the balance of intestinal flora, thus causing Dysbiosis:

·         Antibiotic medications and antibiotic residues often in our meat and dairy products – note that this is not only first alphabetically, but a strong first as far as a cause of Dysbiosis*

·         Chlorinated / fluoridated water (chlorine put in water to kill bacteria is also not selective)

·         Constipation (a condition which creates a toxic environment for the good ‘bugs’)

·         Diets high in sugar and other simple carbohydrates…junk foods strengthen and feed an undesirable element in our guts

·         Estrogen replacement therapy (this is an example of a treatment intended to remedy one situation which can exacerbate another)

·         Excessive fiber (yes, you can ingest too much fiber, too…and it strips the colon of micro flora)

·         Excessive exposure to radiation (CT scan, and excessive dental and/or medical X-rays)

·         Heavy or excessive use of (even natural) antiseptic agents such as echinacea, barberry, goldenseal, colloidal silver

·         Oral contraceptives (birth control pills contain hormones which are damaging to good bacteria)

·         Parasites, usually gotten from traveling to third-world countries, but also contracted by eating foods that are either not washed properly or cooked thoroughly

·         Poor digestion – possibly now thought to be caused, at least in part, by lengthy ingestion of acid blockers (more on this relatively new concept in future blogs) Chew your food throughly!

·         Steroids (and these include even the anti-inflammatory steroids prescribed by physicians)

·         Stress, the chronic type

·         Toxic chemical intake (and our everyday life has many – breathed in, ingested, etc.)

*Antibiotic drugs are not discriminating in selecting only harmful bacteria to kill, they kill them all, especially the broad-spectrum variety. It is especially important to replenish the good ‘bugs’ in your system with probiotics when taking an antibiotic well before the bad guys get too comfortable in our guts. (You can take probiotics while on an antibiotic by allowing two hours between taking each.) In a subsequent blog, I’ll discuss the importance of selecting a high quality probiotic, or you can contact me at or through my website at

Meanwhile, I’m posting a list of measures you can take if you think you may be suffering Dysbiosis – an imbalance of intestinal flora:

·         REST your GI tract by cutting out starches and sugars that yeasts love…

·         REPLACE carbohydrates with vegetables, in particular

·         DRINK large amounts of water

·         CLEANSE the colon with a quality oral colon cleanse product, or visit an experienced colon therapist for advice

·         REBALANCE bacteria in your system by flooding the colon with high quality probiotics during this whole process

·         CONTINUE TO USE a high quality probiotic which will help you maintain sufficient and healthy levels of good bacteria in your colon, enhancing the purpose of your immune system in finishing the job of eliminating and keeping away the ‘bad guys’

Always follow the instructions of your physician! Just be informed about side effects and how to manage them. 

As you can see, there is much information out there about the goodness of probiotics which I will delve more into in future editions. Check out my blog regularly for more information about probiotics and other nutritional data. I would be happy to advise you on the most effective probiotics available to help you toward a life of wellness. Again, you can contact me through my e-mail or website (noted above), and we’ll work together on getting you on a path to a healthy life.