Probiotics Supplement No.1
Supplementation in context
A single supplement will never be a magic bullet for our health as the human body requires a synergy of multiple nutriments (50 Essential bioavailable nutrients). These nutrients are required in individually quantities determined by our genetics and our lifestyle conditions. Supplements should always play a secondary supportive role in optimising health. A wholefoods diet, regular exercise, appropriate rest & optimal sleep should be our main focuses. Certain supplements are recommended for probable modern day nutrient deficiencies (a blood test will testify this) and increased nutrient demands when training. Typical modern lifestyles of high stress, high environmental pollution and processed nutrient deprived foods increase our needs for supplementation. Supplements are not compensators for an enduring poor diet.
‘All disease begins in the gut’ Hippocates
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are co-evolved beneficial microbes e.g. bacteria and yeast. They are not detrimental but fundamental to the processes of life interacting with our own DNA. The ratio of bacteria to human cells is 10:1, with around 100 trillion bacterial cells inhabiting the human body predominantly in the intestines (≈ 3-4 lbs worth).
Our bacterial community or Microbiome is considered an organ in its own right. They have a direct/indirect effect on organ function contributing to physiological processes:
- Immune function (the gut is the biggest immune organ)
- Reduce inflammation and inflammatory-related disease
- Prevent/reverse allergies & autoimmunity diseases
- detoxification – prevents infection from toxins & metabolise toxins. Reduction in probiotics increases liver workload & blood toxaemia
- Create a physical barrier to pathogenic bacteria, viruses and parasites
- Produce neurotransmitters, vitamins (B12 is synthesised primarily in the gut) & enzymes
- Increase nutrient absorption
- Signal hunger satiety therefore regulate appetite/metabolism and our weight
- Regulate carbohydrate and Fat absorption
- Increase our adaptability to stress (80-90% of serotonin secretion is produced in the gut)
- Assist in sleep stimulating cytokines
They therefore contribute majorly to our health and performance. Damaging the micrombiome causes a negative bodily cascade effect. Modern high carb diets, urbanisation/pollution, sanitization, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, and stress negatively impact our microbiome.
Probiotics and the brain
There exists a gut brain bidirectional connection. The Enteric nervous system regulates muscle contractions, immune cells & hormones. Probiotics are more effective than anti-depressants states neurologist Dr Perlmutte. Probiotics increase brain chemicals Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), Glutamate, B12, neutransmitters & polyphenols. About 90% of all mental illness is caused by an unhealthy gut. Brain disease is chronic inflammation which our probiotics can diminish.
‘The digestive system is ultimately linked to what goes on in the brain [its health or disease]’ Dr Permutter
Dysbiosis is where our beneficial probiotics are being outnumbered by pathogenic bacteria. Pathogenic bacteria as well as some medications, environmental toxins, allergies, refined carbs/sugar (pathogen food) & gluten can increase our gut permeability (aka Leaky gut syndrome) this allows pathogens and undigested foods to cross into blood stream, taxing the immune system and increasing systemic inflammation, stress hormones & pain sensitivity.
3 major factors that create a gut Dysbiosis:
1) Antibacterial substances i.e. environmental pollution, food ingredients (additives), chlorinated water & antibiotic drugs.
2) Lack of nutrients (modern processed/low fibre diets). Fibre is fuel for probiotics that metabolise and ferment it.
3) Excessive physical and psychological stress. Appropriate exercise promotes the right microbiome balance not just burning calories, bringing our microbiome into a beneficial ratio and increasing its diversity.
‘The most significant factor related to the health and diversity of our microbiome is the food we eat.’ Dr Alessio Fasano
I give this supplement first place out of all other supplements for 3 main reasons:
1) Gut Dysbiosis is a modern day epidemic
2) Probiotics help the absorption of other beneficial vitamins and minerals in the intestines
3) Probiotics produce their own essential nutrients that we can utilise
Practical Probiotic Supplement Guidelines
- Take a least 8 billion live units per day
- Make sure your probiotics provides lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains (the most abundant strains found in the human gut)
- Opt for a brand that has as many strains of bacteria as possible to fulfil as many biological niches within the body
- Best taken first thing in the morning or between meals (when stomach acidity is low)
- Don’t take with hot drinks as this will kill the probiotics – reducing potency
- Seek a doctor’s advice if pregnant or breastfeeding
- keep refrigerated – the live cultures survive best when chilled
- Anti-biotics indiscriminately wipe out are beneficial gut flora. Take Saccharomyces Boulardii (non-pathogenic antibiotic-resistant yeast) up to 5 days afterward an antibiotic prescription to help restore your gut microbiome. Saccharomyces Boulardii is also useful against yeast infections (candida), viral infections & prevents travellers’ diarrhoea.
A wholefoods alternative to the convenience of taking probiotic supplement is consuming unpasteurised fermented foods. Take 2-3 servings/day e.g. natto, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut/pickled veg, kimchi, tempeh, apple cider vinegar (with the mother). Fermented foods are often salty so be mindful of this.