GUIDE TO PROBIOTICS

What are probiotics?

A huge portion of our body’s immune system (70%!) lives within our gut. Healthy gut flora is made up of trillions of tiny microbes which help to keep bad bacteria from taking hold and growing out of control.

Probiotics are especially important if you are taking an antibiotic. Antibiotics wipe out the good bacteria along with the bad, leaving you open to a pathogenic bacterial infection known as C. difficile.

Here are some of the probiotics I use for myself and my family.

  • Bio-K
    Bio-K is my probiotic of choice. You can purchase Bio-K products at Whole Foods, Sprouts, Gelson’s, Mother’s Market and some specialty markets/specialty pharmacies and online. It is refrigerated and comes in an enteric-coated capsule (which ensures that the patented strains arrives at the large intestine) and in small packaged drinks that look like yogurt. My favorite is the Strawberry Bio-K drink, but I recently switched to the Blueberry flavored flavored fermented rice as I have cut most dairy from my diet. As a no frills kind of guy my husband prefers the capsule. Bio-K is based in Canada and is used in Canadian Hospitals as standard practice with antibiotics to ward of C. difficile infections and antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Bio-K was recently recognized as the #1 recommended Over-The-Counter probiotic by pharmacists. Bio-K has a great website with tons of valuable information on the human microbiome, studies, informative articles from various bloggers, nutritionists and health professionals. They also have a super helpful call-in help line with real live people who can answer any questions you might have about their product. Here is a link to the company website:  https://www.biokplus.com/en_ca
  • Culturelle
    Culturelle is one of the most widely recommended probiotics by general practitioners and pediatricians. It contains the bacteria strain Lactobacillus GG which is well studied and believed to help create a stronger barrier of healthy bacteria along the intestinal walls to keep bad bacteria from setting up shop. It does not have to be refrigerated and comes in a sealed foil packet which helps to maintain the viability of the bacteria. Culturelle is available in capsule forms, powders, and chewable tablets. Half the battle with probiotics (and vitamins) is finding a brand you and your child will take. My daughter still takes Culturelle every day and likes taking the chewable. Here is a link to the company website and $5 off coupons:  https://www.culturelle.com

 

  • VSL#3

    VSL#3 is a prescription probiotic medical food. It is extremely potent and ranges from 225 to 900 billion bacteria per serving (depending on your prescribed dose). It comes in both powder and capsule form. VSL#3 was recommended by my daughter’s infectious disease doctor and gastroenterologist. It is a refrigerated probiotic and is expensive, but may be partially covered by insurance. VSL#3 is a heavy duty probiotic with proven efficacy in treating conditions such as IBS, Ulcerative Colitis, and Ileal Pouch. Many people who have suffered C. difficile infections take VSL#3. Through the links below, find the company website and a link to a patient savings card:
    https://vsl3.com
    http://www.vsl3ds.com

 

  • Florastor
    My entire family takes Florastor every day. Florastor can be taken with antibiotics, without having to wait three hours to take the probiotic. It can also be taken with additional strains of probiotics (any of the probiotics listed above, or other high-quality brands). Florastor contains a yeast called Saccharomyces boulardii which is extracted from the lychee fruit; it helps to keep bad bacteria from adhering to the intestinal walls and has proven in trials to alleviate gastrointestinal problems. Florastor comes in capsule form and in a banana flavored powder packet for kids; it does not need to be refrigerated. Florastor was recommended to me by my infectious disease doctor (who also takes Florastor everyday), my GI, and my daughter’s physicians. Even our one-year-old takes Florastor 2x per day. Please find below a link to the company website and a link to Florastor coupons below:
    https://florastor.comhttps://florastor.com/coupons/    

 

  • Biogaia  Biogaia was highly recommended by our pediatrician and GI for our eleven-month old. Biogaia contains “patented lactic acid bacterium Lactobacillus reuteri Protectis”. Biogaia was started 26 years ago to reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock, in 2015 Biogaia launched a campaign to combat antibiotic resistance. Biogaia can be purchased in pharmacies and online, the drops are easy to administer and my little guy LOVES taking them, he constantly asks for them (so I have to make a mental note that I have already given them to him for the day!). I just ordered the chewable tabs for my big kids and am excited to give them a try! (I will let you know how it goes). Here is a link to the company website:
    https://www.biogaia.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are probiotics?

A huge portion of our body’s immune system (70%!) lives within our gut. Healthy gut flora is made up of trillions of tiny microbes which not only work to keep you healthy and digest your food, but also help to keep bad bacteria from taking hold and growing out of control.

Probiotic Foods

Probiotic foods have been shown to populate the gut with healthy bacteria to bolster your immune system, some great options are:

Yogurt – make sure it is labeled as having live & active cultures, and skip the brands that are loaded with sugar. There are also alternatives to regular dairy products: Forager Project’s Chashewgurt, it is a yogurt and also a drinkable smoothie that is loaded with probiotics, and is dairy free. My personal favorite is SO Delicious Coconut Yogurt, another great option is Cocoyo, both available at Whole Foods.

Kefir – I am taking a break from dairy (I am trying a low inflammation diet as I have recently developed psoriatic arthritis), but for the past year following my C. diff infection I drank Lifeway which contains “12 live and active cultures and 15 to 20 billion beneficial CFU (Colony Forming Units).” Trader Joe’s has a great selection of Kefir, including kefir made from goat milk. If you are looking for dairy-free kefir checkout Whole Foods for nut based kefir and coconut kefir.

Kombucha – is a fermented tea, I LOVE Revive Kombucha (my favorite flavor is Campfire) so far I have been able to find it at Whole Foods and some flavors are available on Amazon Fresh. I also like the Trilogy and Health-Ade brands. Always check the sugar content on your  kombucha some can contain more as much as a soda or more than a doughnut!

Sauerkraut – I eat Sauerkraut almost everyday, I like the Trader Joe’s brand, Bubbies Sauerkraut is also good. When I was growing up in Northern California my step-father used to make his own pickles and sauerkraut from our family garden, this year I have BIG plans to make my own sauerkraut, and to brew my own Kombucha!

Kimchi – my husband swears that SARS skipped Korea because of Kimchi and will eat a jar of “Mother-in-Law’s Kimchi” in one sitting. There is also now a Trader Joe’s brand of Kimchi.

Raw Honey – Raw honey contains L. kunkeei bacteria. Amazon has a great deal on raw honey and my entire family loves it.

                   

Green Olives – (or other brine cured varieties).

Miso Soup – which is made from fermented soybeans and grains.

Tempeh – made from fermented soybeans it is also a good source of protein.

Natto – (the only food on this list I don’t eat on a regular basis, if you try it let me know what you think, I’ve heard mixed reviews).

 

Prebiotic Foods

Prebiotics are also very important to gut health, as prebiotics supply the non-digestible fiber that the good bacteria in our guts use as their food source. Here is a list of some prebiotic foods:

 

Raw garlic

Oats

Barley

Jerusalem Artichokes

Apples

Raw Jicama

Seaweed (I like the snack packs at Trader Joes)

Aspargus

Bananas (slightly green).    

Onions (cooked and raw)

Raw Asparagus

Acacia gum

Leeks

Chicory Root

Raw dandelion greens

 

Probiotics are especially important if you are taking an antibiotic. Antibiotics wipe out the good bacteria along with the bad, leaving you open to a pathogenic bacterial infection known as C. difficile. It is important to practice antibiotic stewardship not only to fight antibiotic resistance and preserve the antibiotics that we have for those who truly need them, but it also important to be an antibiotic steward for our own bodies. Each time an antibiotic is used gut flora is  wiped out, it can take two years to repopulate and some species of gut flora may not be regained. 

What are probiotics?

A huge portion of our body’s immune system (70%!) lives within our gut. Healthy gut flora is made up of trillions of tiny microbes which help to keep bad bacteria from taking hold and growing out of control.

Probiotics are especially important if you are taking an antibiotic. Antibiotics wipe out the good bacteria along with the bad, leaving you open to a pathogenic bacterial infection known as C. difficile.