Did you know that almost one pound of your body weight is made up of bacteria cells? In fact, your gut is filled with over one trillion of these microscopic bugs right now. Some are the friendly, “good” bacteria, while others are the harmful and disease-causing bacteria. For most people, the balance of good versus bad bacteria is way off, where high levels of bad bacteria outnumber the good. This unbalanced ratio can potentially wreak havoc on your health.
There is a constant battle between the good and bad bacteria that is taking place in your gut every day! External elements that kill bad bacteria, such as taking antibiotics, drinking chlorinated water, amongst other things, also kill the friendly bacteria. When healthy bacteria are killed, it allows harmful cells to thrive and multiply.
What Are The Harmful Effects of Bad Bacteria?
When bad bacteria takes over, there are can be serious health implications. Your body is left susceptible to allergies, colds, flu, digestive issues, immune deficiencies, chronic disease over time, as well as other potentially harmful conditions.
The solution to outnumbering these harmful, bad bacteria is PROBIOTICS.
Why You Need Probiotics
- Every system in your body, including your immune and digestive systems, depends on friendly bacteria cells in your intestines doing their job
- 70-80% of all immune cells live in your gut, so a healthy immune system in many ways is dictated by the health of your gut.
- Probiotics help your body effectively absorb and use nutrients from the foods you eat
- Probiotics support a healthy digestive system
- Probiotics assist the body in effectively eliminating waste
- Probiotics boost immune system function
- Probiotics reduce intestinal inflammation
- Probiotics neutralize everyday toxins in the gut
- Probiotics boost gut health
- Probiotics crowd out bad bacteria
- When taking an antibiotic, antibiotics kill bacteria, but they don’t differentiate between the good and the bad. So when taking an antibiotic, you need to replenish the good bacteria to promote optimal gut and digestive health.
This begs the question, what are the best ways to get more healthy bacteria and probiotics into your system? Many foods, such as yogurt, sauerkraut and dark chocolate, contain probiotics, but in the food environment that we currently live in, it is impossible to get the number and breadth of probiotics that you need for optimal health.
The solution is to take a high-quality probiotic supplement. But, how do you find a high-quality probiotic supplement among that mass of options available on the market? What makes one probiotic supplement more effective than another?
4 Tips to Select The Best Probiotic Supplement
When shopping for supplements (and probiotics), you have to remember that not all supplements are created equal. For example, the vitamin C found in one supplement might not be as high-quality and bioavailable (the ability of the vitamin to actually be absorbed by your body) as another.
What to look for when purchasing a quality probiotic supplement.
- High level of CFU’s (colony forming units)
CFU’s are how the friendly bacteria are measured, and while 1 billion CFU’s sounds like a lot, remember that the gut has over one trillion bacteria cells! Also, supplements will lose potency while sitting on the shelf over time. So, the 1 billion CFUs listed on the label, for example, could be a great deal lower by the time it hits your gut.
Ideally, you’ll want to look for a probiotic closer to the 20-30 billion CFU range.
- Breadth of Bacteria Strains
While high levels of CFU’s are critical for promoting health, it’s equally as critical that your probiotic contain numerous strains of bacteria. Not all bacteria in the gut address the same issues — there are actually over 1,000 or more different forms of bacteria in your gut.
Many of the probiotic supplements available at CVS, Walgreens, Costco or the grocery store only contain one strain of bacteria, and typically low levels of bacteria (CFUs). In the probiotic world, a concentrated but diverse number of strains is important, so look for a probiotic that has at least 4-6 different strains of bacteria.
- Prebiotics – Food for the Friendly Bacteria
Getting friendly bacteria in your gut is paramount for your health, but you also want the friendly bacteria to grow. When the friendly bacteria begin to grow, the bad bacteria will be crowded out. Prebiotics are the food for the friendly bacteria. Prebiotics accelerate the growth of the beneficial bacteria in your intestinal tract, which again, will “crowd out” the growth of bad bacteria.
- Pharmaceutical Grade
Finally, when purchasing any supplement, you want to ensure that it’s Pharmaceutical Grade, as opposed to Food Grade. The vast majority of supplements available at retail stores are manufactured at “food grade” standards, with limited-to-no testing of products and raw ingredients.
Only a handful of companies produce vitamin supplements at pharmaceutical grade levels voluntarily, which is a much higher standard that helps ensure that what’s on the label will be in the bottle. It also ensures that no outside contaminants will exist in the product, and that the product will break down and be absorbed by your body.
Now that you understand probiotics and have 4 tips to selecting a probiotic that will deliver on its health claims, we highly recommend that you take the next steps to defending and protecting your digestive and immune system by improving your overall health with probiotics.