As probably one of the most well-known health supplements today, probiotics have certainly paved the way for the public’s understanding that they are beneficial for more reasons than one.
Foods of today which impart the healthiest probiotic bacteria to the human digestive tract are; Yogurt, Kefir, Kimchi, Sauerkraut, Miso, Tempeh, Kombucha, Natto, Kvass, Pickles, Buttermilk, Sourdough bread, Cheese, Olives and Apple Cider Vinegar. For those with specific food allergies, it’s best to consult with your nutrition practitioner on which ones are safer to take than others.
With the knowledge that a reputable probiotic brand can impart necessary bacteria to the intestinal tract, it’s a win-win in the minds of those who take their health seriously. But is there a time when probiotics shouldn’t be taken?
With a virus like the stomach flu, taking probiotics may not be effective and could be harmful in some cases, which could worsen symptoms like diarrhea or nausea. This is because the stomach flu is not caused by an imbalance of gut bacteria. Introducing new bacteria via probiotics to a gut that is already inflamed and/or irritated can aggravate symptoms further.
It’s best to wait until symptoms subside and gradually return to your scheduled dosing since the stomach will still be sensitive due to important acids and enzymes requiring slow and steady return.
If you’re still in the dark about how and what to look for in a reputable probiotic brand, here is your guide on what to look for:
1. CFU (Colony Forming Units) is a measure of the number of live bacteria in each dose of the supplement. Look for a supplement with a high CFU count to ensure that you are getting a potent dose of beneficial bacteria.
2. Strain specificity: Look for a supplement that contains specific strains of bacteria which have been shown to have health benefits for the condition you are trying to address. Different strains of bacteria have different benefits, so it’s important to choose a supplement with the strains that are most appropriate for your needs.
3. Purity and Allergen Free: Ensure that strict quality control procedures are taken to ensure that the product is free from contaminants and is of high purity. If you have food allergies or sensitivities, look for one that’s free from common allergens such as dairy, gluten, and soy.
4. Viability: The bacteria need to be alive in order to be effective. Look for a supplement that is labelled as “shelf-stable” or “refrigeration-free” to ensure that the bacteria will remain viable and active at room temperature.
5. Expiry: Check the expiration date to make sure that the supplement will remain effective until the date listed.
As a reminder that although probiotics are full of friendly bacteria, my top nutrition principle is to remember that healthy eating comes first and supplementation second.
Ensure you’re making the right choices with every meal and your supplement regime will be as effective as intended.
Story by Shana Daniel, RHN