probiotic supplements

  1. These immune system boosters can protect you against winter’s worst germs

    Think your digestion has nothing to do with how well you fight off a cold? Well, think again. A new study finds that natural digestive aids may be immune system boosters and your ticket to a healthier winter with fewer colds.

    In the Guide to Good Health, I‘ve talked often about the "good bacteria" (also known as intestinal flora) in your gut. These tiny microorganisms help you digest food. They also defend against toxins and germs. In fact, your digestive tract is your first line of defense against disease and the common cold.

    Normally, billions of these good bacteria line your digestive tract. But a poor diet, antibiotics, and other drugs can wipe out these healthy bugs. Also, as you get older, your body‘s supply of good bacteria falls off.

    The good news is, you can replenish your body‘s supply of these natural immune systems boosters with probiotic supplements. These supplements contain billions of units of good bacteria. (As a comparison, yogurt only contains a few million active bacteria by the time you eat it. And that‘s hardly enough protection against today‘s resilient germs.)

    Boost your immunity this winter with probiotics

    Scientists recently put probiotics to the test against the common cold. They recruited 272 healthy volunteers to take part in this double-blind placebo- controlled study (the gold standard in scientific circles). They gave half of the volunteers a daily probiotic that contained billions of units of healthy bacteria. The other volunteers received a placebo.

    After 12 weeks, the volunteers who took probiotics had a clear edge. In fact:

    • The probiotic group got 12 percent fewer colds.
    • The probiotic group also got over their colds 30 percent FASTER than the placebo group.
    • Lastly, the probiotic group‘s symptoms were LESS SEVERE than the placebo group.

    Not bad for a digestive aid that you‘re hopefully already taking! Plus, while we‘re talking about cold and flu season, don‘t forget about vitamin D.

    Tiny vitamin packs a wallop against flu...

    In addition to probiotics being natural immune system boosters, Vitamin D also helps to boost your natural defense. It kicks your T cells into action. And these cells track down and kill foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses.

    Plus, a recent study showed that vitamin D also packs a wallop against the flu. For this study, scientists divided healthy patients into two groups. One group received 1200 IU of D3 (the most active form of D) each day for four months. The other group received a placebo.

    During the four-month period, 40 percent fewer participants taking D3 got the flu compared to the placebo group. Plus, the patients going into the study with the lowest levels of D got the biggest protection. These patients experienced a 74 percent reduction in the incidence of the flu.

    And these results only stem from a period of four months! I have a feeling that these results would have been even greater had the participants taken vitamin D supplements all year long. You see, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that gets absorbed into your body through your intestinal tract. Plus, your body can store it for up to 60 days.

    So even though it‘s not quite flu and cold season, now‘s the time to kick your immune system into high gear and protect yourself with these natural immune system boosters. I recommend taking up to 5,000 IU of D3 a day, especially if you live in the northern part of the country. In addition, load up on the probiotics. Look for a capsule that contains billions of units from many different strains of bacteria.

  2. When yogurt’s not enough

    How does anyone who’s got ulcerative colitis go fishing on a friend’s boat in the summertime…backpack along the foot hills of the Smokey Mountains with grandkids…sit through an important three-hour lunch meeting?

    The answer is, they probably don’t. For anyone with full-blown ulcerative colitis (or UC), life is tied to the bathroom. A UC patient spends much of the day managing symptoms like chronic diarrhea (with bloody stools sometimes up to 10-20 times a day), bloating, intestinal pain, and even fever.

    That’s why new research out of Japan this week caught my eye. It showed that by restoring the gut’s “natural balance” of good bacteria, UC sufferers significantly improve their quality of life.

    Going from bad to worse

    A form of “irritable bowel disease,” UC often first appears in early adulthood. Patients go through periods of flare-ups, searching everywhere for answers. Over time, the symptoms can get worse and more serious. Because their body doesn’t properly digest food, the UC patient doesn’t get the nutrients needed to fight off disease. As the years pass with no cure, UC patients become increasingly at risk for developing anemia, autoimmune disorders, and even colon cancer.

    Many family doctors just don’t know how to help their patients live with—much less overcome—this insufferable disease. While it’s common to prescribe drugs to help relieve the symptoms, these provide little relief (not to mention serious side effects).

    But the new Japanese study has shown there is a possible natural solution. It’s really nothing new…but now there’s more hard scientific data to back up what nutritionists have been preaching for years.

    Start getting more “good bacteria”

    In the Guide to Good Health, I’ve talked often about maintaining “good bacteria” (also known as intestinal flora) in your gut. These tiny microorganisms help you digest food. They also defend against toxins and keep your digestive tract running smoothly. It’s also your first line of defense against disease.

    Normally, your digestive tract is lined with billions of good bacteria. But antibiotics or diarrhea (experienced chronically by UC patients) can wipe out these healthy bugs. The good news is, you can replenish your body’s natural supply with probiotic supplements.

    Why not just eat yogurt?

    Probiotic supplements contain billions of units of good bacteria. Two common types are called acidophilus or bifidobacterium longum (known as BIFI).

    There’s also a lesser-known microorganism—called a prebiotic—that helps the probiotic work better. Prebiotics (such as fructo-oligo-saccharides and psyllium) are carbohydrates that support the growth and activity of probiotics. When you take probiotics and prebiotics together, it’s called “synbiotics.”

    Some people think eating “active culture” yogurt like Activia gives you all that you need. But unfortunately, these products only contain a fraction of the good bacteria your body needs on a daily basis. Plus—they usually contain so much sugar, it’s not worth the bother.

    Divide and conquer

    Japanese researchers wanted to see if supplementing with these beneficial microorganisms would improve symptoms for about 120 UC sufferers. Patients were divided into three groups and given:

    1. prebiotic psyllium (8 grams)
    2. probiotic bifidobacterium longum (2 billion colony forming units)
    3. synbiotic (meaning the patients got both the prebiotic and probiotic)

    Each patient followed the regiment for four weeks. Researchers found that patients taking just a prebiotic or probiotic alone did not significantly improve their quality of life.

    On the other hand, patients following the synbiotic approach (meaning they received both types of microorganisms) experienced a significant boost in quality of life. Their bowel function improved and their emotional health improved as well. Interestingly, the researchers also noted decreases in the levels of a protein associated with inflammation called C-reactive protein (CRP) in the synbiotic group.

    If you try it, keep me posted

    Now—this study certainly has its short-comings. For instance, there was no group receiving a placebo (or sugar pill) to compare against. Also, the researchers based their findings on patient questionnaires rather than an endoscopy (which would have measured the actual physical outcome in the colon and intestine). Questionnaires can be unreliable for obvious reasons.

    But overall, there is definitely hope that anyone suffering from UC can find relief by naturally restoring more “good bacteria” in their digestive tract. If you want to try a probiotic for yourself, I would recommend L. acidophilus in a capsule or powder. You can even find these in Walmart nowadays. Get the strongest dosage possible (in the billions of units or CFSs).

    You’ll also want to make sure to take these supplements before meals and at bedtime. And don’t worry…you can’t overdose of probiotics. Any unused amounts are just flushed out of your system. For a prebiotic, go for 8 grams of psyllium daily (just like in the Japanese study).

    Lastly, I would also recommend taking aloe juice, as it has a long history of calming bowel problems. Give yourself at least 2-4 weeks to notice a difference. And if you do get results—good or bad—make sure to e-mail me and let me know how it’s going.

2 Item(s)