Probiotics are one of the latest trends among the health and wellness-conscious. It’s no wonder, when you realize that diseases stemming from a compromised immune system or damaged digestive system are growing at a tremendous rate. You probably know someone with rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, Celiac disease or irritable bowel conditions. You also probably know at least one person with a serious, even life-threatening allergy.
These problems often track back to a compromised immune system. Scientists have found that the things we consume are causing this problem, but the good news is that there may be a solution.
Your Food Is Vital
Because of our diets, most Americans don’t have healthy gut flora. In your gut, you have good flora that creates a barrier between the gut and the blood stream. This blocks the bacteria and other harmful elements that you eat from entering your blood and the rest of your body. In fact, about 80 percent of the body’s immune function occurs in the gut-associated lymph tissue in the walls of the intestines. Gut flora is the first line of defense in this immune tissue, and if it’s out of balance, your immune system won’t be able to function properly.
Why is this imbalance a problem for Americans? The problem lies in the modern diet. The processed foods Americans eat, many of which contain genetically modified ingredients or antibiotics, damage the gut flora. The antibiotics that people take for their health also kill the good bacteria in the gut’s lymph tissue. Sadly, modern doctors prescribe antibiotics very easily, often when they’re not even needed, adding to this problem.
With this combination of diet problems and antibiotics, your gut flora is likely quite imbalanced. The only way to correct this problem is to give yourself a dose of that healthy bacteria, and then to let it thrive.
Probiotics Offer Hope
Probiotics are living, beneficial bacteria. When consumed, they enter the gut and start to multiply and help improve the immune system.
Probiotics come from a variety of sources. Fermented foods, like sauerkraut, and cultured yogurt, all add probiotics to your system. However, when you eat foods with probiotics in them, most of the bacteria are destroyed by your stomach acids. Also, no food can contain all of the strains of beneficial bacteria you need. That’s why many people are turning to probiotic supplements.
Probiotic Supplements Offer Several Benefits
Research into probiotics is still in its infancy. Some research has shown that probiotics can actually delay or prevent cancer. Bad bacteria in your gut produces nitrosamines, a carcinogen, but good bacteria will go to work to destroy these nitrosamines, and thus help slow or stop the growth of the cancer they can cause. Some probiotics can also stop the return of cancer once it has been successfully treated.
Yet cancer fighting is not the only benefit of probiotics. For bodybuilders, probiotics and their impact on antioxidant levels is of particular interest. When you push yourself through a hard physical workout, you put your body under oxidative stress. This lowers the number of antioxidants in your body. Probiotics can increase these levels and limit the amount of oxidative stress you suffer after a workout.
There has also been some research into the way probiotics can help limit belly fat storage. In 2010, one study gave a group of overweight men a probiotic or a placebo. Those who were given the probiotic reported a 5 percent belly fat loss in a period of 12 weeks.
These are just some of the probiotic benefits you can experience. Probiotics have also helped limit allergy problems, improve digestion and reduce inflammation.
However, not all probiotics are created equal. Yes, yogurt contains live cultures, but most will be killed by your stomach acids. Many supplements don’t contain a full range of probiotics. If you want to benefit from probiotics, you need to find the right product.
Spotting a Good Probiotic
So how can you tell if your probiotic is a good one? First, find one that contains many different strains of good bacteria. Then, list the ones you see so you can research them. Here are some worth looking for:
- Lactobacillus Acidophilus – improves cholesterol levels and digestive health
- Lactobacillus Rhamnosis – reduces diarrhea, supports weight loss and limits stress
- Lactobacillus Bulgaricus – improves problems with lactose intolerance
- Lactobacillus Plantarum – improves cardiovascular and digestive health
- Lactobacillus casei – improves leaky gut and cardiovascular health
- Bifidobacterium Longum – supports weight loss and fights cancer
- Bifidobacterium Breve – supports the growth of other healthy bacteria
Next, look at the number of live colony forming units (CFUs) in the product, and the various dates connected with the CFU numbers. You want one that will keep all the bacteria alive at least until the expiration date.
Also, find one that protects the bacteria from stomach acid. Microencapsulation is the best option, as it gives each bacteria cell a small protective layer of lipids that will stand up to stomach acid. This means that your digestive system will get more of the bacteria it needs for better health.
The Right Amount of Probiotics
Once you find a good probiotic, you need the right amount. Now, this gets tricky, because there is no cut-and-dried dosage for probiotics. Everyone’s gut flora needs a different level. Take some time to research the probiotics you are considering and your overall health conditions to find the right amount. In general, researchers advocate a minimum of 10 billion CFUs of regular probiotics or 4 billion CFUs if the probiotic is microencapsulated.
I recommend Pro X-10 from BioTrust. This probiotic is microencapsulated, so you will get more surviving probiotic in your gut. Also, it contains all seven of the most helpful strains of bacteria listed above. Finally, it’s one of the more affordable quality probiotics on the market. This makes it a product I can wholeheartedly recommend.
Regardless of the one you choose, you need to get on a probiotic quickly to maximize your immune health. You’re working hard to maintain a nutritious diet. Don’t let a damaged immune system get in the way. A probiotic can put it in top shape. This means you’ll look and feel good at the same time. That, in the end, is worth any price.
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