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All probiotics are created equal, right?  We understand that within our digestive systems, is a bacterial flora that is responsible for breaking down the food we eat, into useable minerals and energy for our bodies.  But do you know how probiotics really work, and how to evaluate high-quality sources, both dietary and in supplements?

Without probiotics and a healthy, balanced bacterial ecosystem in your digestive tract, the body is actually incapable of absorbing all the nutrients from the foods you eat.  In fact, you could eat the healthiest diet on the planet, but without a balanced G.I. tract, your body would be wasting valuable fiber, minerals and essential nutrients.  When things are not working well in the gastrointestinal system, it can have broader impacts on our immune system, making us more susceptible to viral, bacterial and chronic infections.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about probiotics out there, and much of it online, encouraging people to buy more, and take more active probiotic supplements on a daily basis. Did you know that taking too many probiotics can actually harm you?   We will share five myths about probiotics that will help you better plan your own personal dietary and supplement needs.

  1. All Probiotics Are the Same

Just because it’s labeled a probiotic, doesn’t mean the supplement is the same as all other brands in the market.  There are literally hundreds of species of probiotics that the medical community is studying, and they haven’t all been evaluated.   Each probiotic capsule or drink contains live organisms that are beneficial for treating certain conditions, like inflammation.   

Different sources of probiotics can have different effects, depending on the individual, lifestyle, prescription medications and chronic health issues.  Some can even impact the efficacy of the prescription medications you may be taking, which is why it is important to talk to your doctor about all dietary supplements you plan to take daily.

  1. All Probiotics Are Live and Active

 Did you know that live probiotics have a limited shelf-life?  Food labels do a poor job of explaining in detail, the type of bacteria, or cultures that are being provided in a probiotic.  Labels on many retail supplements simply state ‘live bacterial culture” without microbe counts, and they can be a single type of bacteria, or multiple types in one bottle.

Look for a supplement that indicates it is ‘shelf-stable’ probiotic.  What that means is that your daily supplement won’t work less efficiently over time.   Shelf-stable probiotic supplements are typically in capsule or tablet form, and must have an expiration date (like all vitamin and nutritional products).

A company called ConsumerLab.com acts like a watch dog for consumer products, and in 2013 an independent test found that 5 out of 19 probiotic supplements on the market, contained less live microbes than were indicated on the packaging and through advertising.   The testing revealed 16-56% less live bacterial culture, than advertised.

  1. Probiotics That Have to Be Refrigerated Are More Potent and Effective

A marketing tactic used by brand manufacturers, has mislead the public into believing that fresh probiotics are the only live or activated microbes, and superior to shelf-stable alternatives.   Some probiotics (depending on the microbe strain) do have to refrigerated, but because the shelf-life of those products are so much lower than tablets, many consumers choose shelf stable probiotics instead.

Vitamin manufacturers use microencapsulation and cryoprotectants to stabilize active probiotic cultures.  Additional dietary sources can also help balance the gastrointestinal tract, including many types of cheese, and of course, high-quality yogurt.   Remember, not all yogurts contain active, probiotic benefits; read the label to learn more.

  1. You Can’t Combine Probiotics and Antibiotics

When the body is undergoing a course of prescription antibiotics, the natural balance of the gastrointestinal tract is disrupted.  In an attempt to eliminate a bacterial infection, frequently the good bacteria (the stuff your G.I. tract counts on for digestion) can be killed off, and discarded too.   What follows next is inflammation, bowel irritability, upset stomach and other signs that indicate that the chemical balance of your digestive tract has been temporarily derailed.

Certain strains of probiotics are clinically proven to help the body recover, after taking antibiotic medication.  Chronic conditions like psoriasis, ulcerative colitis, and chronic fatigue syndrome have been scientifically linked to damaged digestive tissues, but probiotics are proven to help.   Ask your doctor for advice about increasing your probiotics while being treated.

  1. You Can’t Feel Probiotics Working

It would be more than a little strange, if you could feel the impact of millions of bacterial working inside your body, right? The truth is that you can’t feel when the probiotic is promoting internal health, but if you have been taking a supplement on a daily basis and stop, a few things may happen.

First, you may notice that you experience more indigestion after eating certain foods.  Consumers who stop dietary and supplement consumption of probiotics also sometimes report a sudden drop in mood, and energy level.  

No, you may not be able to feel them working, but when your body does not have enough of them, it becomes very apparent quickly, and it impacts general health. Urinary health is also positively impacted by daily probiotic consumption, and women who stop taking a probiotic may find themselves more susceptible to bladder and reproductive bacterial infections.

 

While ‘bad’ bacteria represents a threat to health and wellness, allowing the body to become even more prone to infect, probiotics are ‘the good guys’, helping to ensure that the gastrointestinal system remains in good balance, to support a healthy immune system.  And that’s a pretty big job for millions of good bacteria you can only see under a microscope.

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Health, Life Balance
There are moments when you may feel as though you are running low on energy.  When you have had a busy day, or perhaps a fun-packed weekend full of physical activity, it’s easy to understand why you may feel tired.  But what if that tired feeling doesn’t go away?  And what if your lack of energy is having a noticeable impact on your mood, or irritability? There are many factors that can contribute to fatigue, but some of the most overlooked causes are frequently hydration and nutrition.  It is almost as though eating well, and getting enough water each day is “too simple” to be the root cause of any of our health concerns. Find out which vitamins and nutrient deficiencies may be contributing to changes in mood or energy, and discuss your nutritional needs with your physician for recommendations.

Calcium
Inside the body, calcium has a greater function than simply building and maintaining bones.  Did you know that calcium is a key component to building blood vessels, and is also important to reducing symptoms and risks for Type 2 diabetics? Not only is calcium required for internal health, chronic low levels of calcium in the body are linked to depression in women, and exacerbation of pre-menstrual syndrome irritability and moods.  Estrogen is related to calcium production, and some studies have shown improvement with diet and supplementation.  The average recommended amount of calcium for adults is approximately 1,000 mg. per day.

Target Foods:  Milk, kale, yogurt, bok choy, broccoli, okra, and almonds.

Iron
Without sufficient amounts of iron in your body, cells lose the ability to transport oxygen and build strong muscles.  Not only is iron a little more difficult to acquire from dietary sources (particularly for vegans or vegetarians), but there are certain health conditions that can actually impair the absorption of iron into the body, including thalassemia, sickle cell disease, and certain types of cancer.  Eating fruit with your iron supplement, or adding honey or molasses to high-iron foods can aid in absorption, according to the Iron Disorders Institute. Problems with iron deficiency are more prevalent in women than they are in men.   Symptoms of low iron can include depression, fatigue and lethargy.  The recommended amount of iron per day for women is 18 mg., and men should average 8 mg. per day.

Target Foods:  Spinach, seafood, beef, chicken, pork and legumes. A multivitamin like Advanced Immune Defense™ can help bridge the gap between daily dietary nutrition, and the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to help stay active, energetic and healthy.  

Next time you are at the doctor’s office, review your supplement needs with your primary care advisory, and share Advanced Immune Defense™ on our website, to see if our daily multivitamin is right for you.    
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