Probiotic Supplements: Do You Need Them?
Choosing supplements can be overwhelming. Vitamin stores are loaded with dozens of “miracle pills,” so it’s no wonder that many people tend to steer clear of supplements altogether. Yet, our diets alone are typically insufficient for providing enough sources of probiotics, so if there’s anything you’re going to take in terms of supplements, these should be your main focus.
Probiotics have the potential to fortify the intestinal wall, thereby reducing permeability. They can also reduce LPS, an inflammatory molecule known for creating dangerous conditions within the bloodstream. In addition, probiotics enhance the production of BDNF, which again, is the brain’s growth hormone. Probiotics can also help achieve balance in the microbiome, assisting in the efforts to get rid of rogue bacteria. Most importantly, they regulate the gut bacteria which, by now, we know is crucial to our health.
There are five main types of probiotics that you may want to consider taking regularly.
You can talk to your healthcare provider to determine proper dosages, but before doing so, it’s best to have an understanding of each.
Firstly, lactobacillus plantarum, which is found naturally in kimchi, sauerkraut, and cultured vegetables, is responsible for controlling immunity and inflammation in the intestines. In addition, it helps to prevent leaky gut syndrome by fortifying the intestinal lining. This is a crucial aspect to your health - a weakened intestinal lining could allow potentially harmful invaders to seep into your bloodstream. Because the risk associated with a leaky gut are so severe - including brain disorders - it’s imperative to keep the intestinal lining healthy as possible. L. plantarum also has the ability to rapidly digest protein, and may also aid in the prevention of food allergies. Research conducted on mice using the probiotic L. plantarum has also suggested that it may be able to protect against multiple sclerosis. Not only does it ward off harmful bacteria, but L. plantarum also aids in the absorption of crucial nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids.
Lactobacillus acidophilus is another common type of probiotic. It’s found in fermented dairy products such as yogurt, and it helps keep the immune system healthy by balancing good and bad bacteria. It also prevents the growth of Candida albicans, the fungus responsible for causing yeast infections. Recently, L. acidophilus has been hailed for its ability to help control cholesterol levels. Finally, it helps to digest milk and aids in the development of vitamin K, a necessary component for blood coagulation.
Next, there’s lactobacillus brevis, a probiotic that finds its home in pickles and sauerkraut. This probiotic facilitates immune system functionality by enhancing cellular immunity and boosting killer T cell activity. It can also be used to ward off bacterial vaginosis, and is used in pharmaceuticals to treat the condition. Most importantly, L. brevis can increase BDNF, the crucial brain growth hormone that humans drastically need.
Bifidobacterium lactis (also sometimes referred to as B. animalis) can also be found in yogurt, as well as other fermented milk products. Studies have shown that B. lactis can improve digestive comfort, and it can also help to fight harmful foodborne pathogens such as salmonella. Research has also indicated that B. lactis is a superb immunity booster. Patients who were given a B. lactis probiotic had higher levels of antibodies after receiving a flu shot versus other participants who also had the flu shot but were not given any probiotics.
Bifidobacterium longum, another crucial probiotic, is unique in the fact that it colonizes within our body at birth. It can prevent diarrhea and enhance lactose tolerance. B. longum also plays a role in fighting food allergies and pathogens. Similar to L. acidophilus, B. longum can regulate cholesterol levels as well. This particular probiotic also has powerful antioxidant properties, and can assist in scavenging free radicals to protect the body. Like L. brevis, B. longum may be able to enhance BDNF, according to results found through animal studies. Most remarkably, B. longum has the potential to suppress cancerous growths within the colon, thanks to its ability to lower the intestinal pH balance.
One of the quickest and most efficient ways to boost your probiotic intake is through the use of an enema. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re willing to give it a try, it’s wildly effective. Instead of ingesting probiotics, you’re targeting the bowels directly. Enemas have been used for centuries and have been hailed as a successful remedy for all kinds of afflictions. Before using an enema, be sure to receive clearance from your doctor, and follow the procedure carefully.
To prepare your own at-home enema, you can mix 12 ounces of filtered, chlorine-free water with 3-6 probiotic capsules, or 1/8 teaspoon of powdered probiotics. Be sure to include bifidobacteria in the mix, as it’s a crucial component for the colon. Fill an enema bag with the probiotic mixture and follow the directions provided with the enema.
If possible, holding the enema for a period of 30 minutes will allow your body to experience optimal results. The frequency of this procedure should be determined by your personal needs; you can ask your physician for a recommendation. If you’ve recently undergone antibiotic therapy, you may need to perform a probiotic enema more frequently.
Because antibiotics are sometimes necessary in order to treat an infection, you should be extra diligent about your probiotic supplements when taking prescription antibiotics. You should always follow your physician’s directions when it comes to taking your antibiotic, but you can also offset some of the harmful effects by simultaneously taking probiotics. Halfway in between doses of your antibiotics, take your probiotics, and be sure to include L. brevis. Also, if possible, be sure to ask your physician whether or not your condition calls for a “broad-spectrum” antibiotic. In many cases, using an antibiotic that’s targeted specifically for your infection will have less of a disruptive impact on the microbiome than a broad-spectrum prescription.
Although all of this information may sound overwhelming, you’ll soon find that managing a healthy microbiome and incorporating probiotics into your daily life is quite easy to manage. It will become second nature to you, and the benefits you experience in the long run will make the extra effort entirely worthwhile. We’ll go over some ideas for staying on track in the upcoming chapter.