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What's all the hype about taking a probiotic?

Last week, I blogged about low dose naltrexone, a drug that I truly feel will change the way we are currently treating so many autoimmune diseases, including Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Lyme Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia and many more. While this medication is revolutionary to say the least, I would be doing an injustice by not mentioning the importance of maintaining a healthy gut. With so much literature pointing towards gut health as the culprit behind so many autoimmune diseases and inflammatory conditions, it would only make sense to discuss probiotics and why they are so important for our overall health.

By now with all of the media hype, I am sure that we have all heard a thing or two about probiotics, right? Perhaps you’ve heard that they regulate bowel movements or that they are the good bacteria living in our bodies. You may have asked yourself, “what makes them the good guys?” or “how exactly do they work?”. I am hoping to clear up some of the confusion regarding probiotics and to give insight on the importance of a healthy gut on our overall health.

Did you know that more than 70% of our immune system is located in our gut? This would make sense since so many autoimmune disease sufferers often complain about gastrointestinal (GI) effects like bloating, stomach pain, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and acid reflux. This is often due to something called “leaky gut.” Our gut consists of a single cell layer that is reinforced by tight junctions that limit the passage of molecules and ions through the space between cells. Once tight junctions are open or areas of the cell layer are damaged, substances, such as food particles, can leak through or cross the gut barrier and enter the body. From here, our immune system is activated, and it goes into attack mode. Unfortunately, our immune system is not always very selective in what it attacks, and it can end up attacking our own tissues, organs and cells, ultimately leading to autoimmune diseases.

One of many reasons the gut may be more permeable is an imbalance of probiotic (good bacteria) and opportunistic (bad bacteria that only become a problem when the opportunity is just right) gut bacteria. This phenomenon is referred to as dysbiosis. People with autoimmune disorders have been found to have lower amounts of good bacteria and higher amounts of bad bacteria, making this an ideal opportunity for the opportunistic bacteria to take over.

I’m sure at this point you are thinking, “I don’t need probiotics. I eat plenty of yogurt.” Unfortunately, yogurt does not contain enough good bacteria to make a difference. This is why eating fermented foods and taking a QUALITY probiotic is so important. Again, I am stressing the word, quality, just like I did when choosing a quality multivitamin since there are many companies out there proclaiming to have the best product on the market and are falling short. Since we are obviously not getting enough probiotics from eating a serving of yogurt every day, it is important to take a supplement that will give you a substantial amount of probiotics. Keep in mind that most grocery stores and health food stores sell probiotics that contain only 10 billion colony forming units (CFUs) and of only one probiotic strain. I know 10 billion seems like a large number, but when compared to the one trillion bacteria in our gut, it is quite negligible. Custom Meds carries two probiotic products that exceed the CFUs found in these products. Custom Meds’ OrthoBiotic contains 22 billion CFUs, and OrthoBiotic 100 contains 100 billion CFUs, making it an elite choice. Furthermore, these amounts are guaranteed to be present up through the expiration date, whereas other companies do not even include an expiration date on their product labeling.

In addition to looking for a probiotic that contains super doses of CFUs, it is important to look for one that contains multiple strains of probiotics. There is new research showing that probiotic diversity is associated with improved gut function and greater health. Because each strain of probiotic bacteria has slightly different functions and is concentrated in various places along the digestive tract, a probiotic with a diverse blend of strains will facilitate in restoring the natural gut flora. Custom Meds’ OrthoBiotic contains seven probiotic strains and OrthoBiotic 100 contains six probiotic strains that are strategically chosen for their survivability and specific activity for optimal viability.

The delivery method is also important to consider when choosing a quality probiotic. By delivery method I mean the technology within the capsule itself that enables the probiotic strains to stay alive while on store shelves and then to reach the section of the gut where they will be the most effective. Obviously, a probiotic full of dead bacteria or bacteria that dies once it reaches the acidic environment of the stomach is a complete waste of money. Custom Meds’ OrthoBiotic and OrthoBiotic 100 use BioShield technology, an advanced encapsulation technology that ensures live cultures and delivers probiotics intact and on target for maximum benefit.

Taking a daily probiotic has numerous benefits. Not only can probiotics help improve our immune systems, they can also help increase metabolism, improve mood and even decrease food sensitivities.

If you have further questions regarding probiotics or just supplements in general, be sure to call Custom Meds 352-341-1212. We have the answers!

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