Written by: Natalie Ledbetter DAcOM, MSN, MSNA, CRNA
Probiotics: Should I use them and does the brand matter?
There are more cells in our bodies that are not human than cells that are. We have microbes living on our skin, in our mouth and gastro-intestinal tract, and in our nose. There are mites that live off our dead skin cells and dwell on our scalp, our skin, and on our eyelashes. Before you get creeped out and scrub your entire body using antibacterial soap, know that these tiny creatures that colonize our bodies are our friends for the most part. As long as the levels of “good” bugs and “bad” bugs stay in a healthy balance, all is usually well with planet human.
The problem can arise when the balance gets disrupted. Our GI tract is a finely balanced environment where approximately 500 different strains of bacteria live. The natural microflora balance can be upset by medications such as antibiotics and oral contraceptives, poor dietary choices, or excessive alcohol consumption and potentially harmful organisms can begin to over grow and overpower the beneficial strains.
With the use of antibiotics in conventionally produced animal products which enters our meat and dairy products and with the frequent prescription of antibiotics in our healthcare system, we often suffer from an imbalance in our microflora. Probiotics have been shown to help combat this and have positive GI and immune benefits. They have been shown to 1) increase the population of healthy bacteria in the gut; 2) support healthy bowel function; 3) increase the production of beneficial short-chain fatty acids that provide energy for the cells lining our GI tract; 4) promote a healthy gut mucosa; 5) help with digesting difficult-to-breakdown compounds like casein and lactose; and 6) enhance detoxification of harmful compounds.
In order for a probiotic to be helpful, the microorganisms in the capsule must be alive when encapsulated, survive the trip to the store or your house, and reach the target area (your lower GI tract) alive. It doesn’t do you any good to take a probiotic only to have the good bugs die in your stomach due to moisture, heat, and stomach acids.
We prefer a supplement that provides multiple lactobacillus strains to include Lactobacillus acidophilus (La-14), L. paracasei (Lpc-37), L. plantarum (Lp-115), and L. rhamnosus (Lr-32). These strains have been shown to help support a healthy immune response, have different abilities to withstand differing antibiotics, and compete against different strains of potentially harmful bacteria. Bifidobacterium and Saccharomyces boulardii (a probiotic yeast) are also valuable in a probiotic.
We at L aesthetics and Longevity like Ortho Biotic from Orthomolecular because they ensure shelf stability and utilize technology that ensures that the microorganisms are protected, sealed, and freeze dried away from moisture, heat, light, and oxygen to allow them to remain dormant until they are released at the desired site. Ortho Biotic contains 4 different strains of Lactobacillus, 2 strains of Bifidobacterium, and saccharomyces boulardii. Their product is tested and guaranteed to contain 20 billion colony forming units (CFU) up to the day of expiration.
If you have any questions about your current probiotic, would like to purchase a bottle of our favorite brand, or have other questions about your GI health, give us a call to make an appointment with one of our medical staff: Dr Billy Ledbetter MD, Dr Natalie Ledbetter DAcOM, or Blaise Geyer PA.