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August 11th, 2017

Probiotics : What They Are & Why You Need Them

by Kristin Stromberg, ATC

When I started this blog and typed in probiotics into Google, I was overwhelmed with how much information there was about probiotics. From the top 10 brands to warnings about probiotics. With all of that information out there how do you know what is right? Does it really matter which brand to get?

As a matter of fact; yes it does matter where you buy your probiotics. You can refer to a previous blog regarding tiers of vitamins as that applies to probiotics as well.  It is imperative that your probiotics along with any vitamins you take come not only from reputable sources, but that the manufacturers are at a bare minimum cGMP compliant.  At our office, we will only recommend physician grade supplements because they are the most highly regulated on the market.  The manufacturers that we utilize test every batch for quality, safety and effectiveness.  Not only that, but they are free of fillers and binders.  

The question we get asked the most often is, “Why are your probiotics in the fridge and not out with the rest of your vitamin/supplement line? I can get them at Osco, Walgreens or other places right off the shelf.”

Probiotic products contain millions and even billions of live cultures of friendly bacteria and require appropriate handling to maintain their maximum activity during storage. Probiotics are essential to gut health but they also can help with allergies, decrease inflammation, improve auto-immune disorders and more.

The potency of probiotics can be adversely affected by prolonged exposure to high temperature and humidity, water and the amount of air it is exposed to. Don’t forget these are live bacteria!  You should also avoid touching the capsules as much as possible. Pour the desired number of capsules into the cap so that any extra can be put back in the bottle without handling to avoid introducing moisture present on the hands into the product. Always use a clean, dry spoon to measure probiotic powders.

Can probiotics survive if they are not in the fridge at all times? Yes they can. If you are traveling or going to work, putting them in a separate container will be fine. They can be left at room temperature for a few weeks. After that the capsule will start to turn dark brown and they are no longer viable and should be thrown out.

There are some brands that have each probiotic individually wrapped.  Each vegetarian capsule is sealed in nitrogen-purged aluminum blister packs to serve as protection from factors proven to compromise stability of probiotics such as heat, moisture, and oxygen. This is also a great way for each probiotic not to be exposed to each other and you do not have to worry about the whole batch. They are easier to travel with since they do not need to be in the fridge.

Probiotics are essential for gut health and immune health.  They should have AT LEAST 25 billion CFU per capsule or serving.  This is for broad spectrum use, meaning this type is great for basic everyday use.  If we are treating specific conditions such as IBS, colitis, leaky gut, prolonged antibiotic usage, chronic yeast infections and others, we may use a more specific probiotic strain OR a probiotic with over 100 billion CFU per serving.

You can get probiotics from food including, but not limited to yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi and other fermented foods.  We have found in practice that it’s great to get a variety of probiotics.  Adding some of those foods in your diet is a good start, and supplementing with a broad spectrum probiotic is the icing on the cake!

If you have any questions about probiotics please give us a call at 847-362-4476 for a FREE consultation with one of the doctors. Mention this blog to get 20% off probiotic capsules or powder today!

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