How important are probiotic bacteria? Well, without a balanced ecology of helpful bacteria in our gut, we won’t feel well, we’ll slow down, become “susceptible,” get ill, and just plain feel ‘crappy.’ If the ecology really comes undone, we can become quite ill even unto death. Yes, the presence of probiotic bacteria in our gut ecology is that essential to our very existence! It doesn’t matter if you’re a vegetarian eating only organic food or a biblical host eating manna from heaven, if you don’t have the bugs you need it won’t matter. Fortunately, the bugs we need have a symbiotic love affair with our GI tracts and so, with a little bit of help from probiotic supplements, we can help keep our digestive and immune systems humming along like a celestial choir.
When one thinks about the benefits that probiotics can provide, the first thing that comes to mind is regularity and a well-functioning digestive system, but it is important to note that probiotic bacteria can provide even more holistic benefits. About 80% of the immune system is centered in the gut, so a well-functioning gut not only keeps our stomachs settled, it also keeps us healthier overall, better able to ward off illness, and less susceptible to allergic reactions. The presence of good bacteria to counteract the bad bacteria in the gut reduces inflammation, which helps to desensitize overactive immune responses and decrease the severity of allergy symptoms. Some probiotic users have even experienced relief from eczema, an autoimmune condition that causes itchy, dry skin.
Probiotics can do a lot to keep us healthy and comfortable, but it’s important to remember that not all probiotic supplements are created equal.
First, not all probiotic supplements provide a therapeutic dosage of good bacteria. A therapeutic dosage is considered to be at least 1 billion CFU per day. If a supplement does not list the quantity of each strain per dosage, you may wind up getting bacteria, but not in large enough numbers to actually make a difference. Bacterial strains are also very difficult to keep alive and stable, so a product which has been independently tested for stability, (such as Vidazorb®) is more likely to be effective. It is also important to remember that while a high CFU is good, a large CFU count composed of many different strains is not necessarily better. Many strains are antagonistic toward other strains and, when combined in the same supplement with these strains, they can be quite destructive, overall, to the overall composition. Also, the more strains put into a supplement usually means a smaller dosage per strain, which decreases the likelihood of experiencing any therapeutic benefits from any particular strain.
Second, not all supplements are equally convenient. Because stability is so difficult to achieve with probiotic bacteria, many products have short shelf-life and must be refrigerated.
Finally, not all supplements are appropriate for all people. As you know, yogurt is a popular source of probiotic bacteria; however, it is obviously not suited to a vegan lifestyle. Additionally, many supplements contain sugar, which is problematic for diabetics. Vidazorb® is a convenient, non-refrigerated option for a plant-based lifestyle.
Do yourself a favor and be nice to your inner bug. When seeking out a probiotic that meets your requirements and lifestyle please be mindful that they are not created equal, so be choosy. Remember – You Are What You Absorb.™