What is a probiotic?
Probiotics are live microbes that can be formulated into many different types of products including foods, drugs, and dietary supplements. Species of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are most commonly used as probiotics; however, the yeast Saccharomyces and some E. coli and Bacillus species are also used.
Lactic acid bacteria (LAB), including species of Lactobacillus, which have been used for preservation of food by fermentation for thousands of years, can serve a dual function by acting as agents of food fermentation and potentially imparting health benefits. Fermentation of food provides characteristic taste profiles and lowers the pH in your gut, which prevents contamination by potential pathogens. Fermentation is globally applied in the preservation of a range of raw agricultural materials (cereals, roots, tubers, fruit and vegetables, milk, meat, and/or fish for example). Strictly speaking, however, the term “probiotic” should be reserved for live microbes that have been shown in controlled human studies to impart a health benefit.
What do probiotics do?
Increasing evidence shows that the activity of probiotic bacteria in the human GI tract plays a role in the dietary management of certain diseases. The intestine is naturally colonized by more than 400 different bacterial species. 40 of these are predominant. In the colon, bacteria reach a concentration of 1010 – 1012 per ml of fecal contents. It has now been scientifically proven that the intestinal microflora, and in particular Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, play a significant role in your health by:
- affecting the PH of the intestine leading to healing
- providing bacteria that produce nutrients that heal the colon
- competing with bad bacteria already present for nutrients and positioning on the colon wall
The intestinal microflora play a significant role in metabolic function both from a nutritional point of view as well as for the maintenance of an efficient intestinal mucosal barrier.
Know Your Bacteria
Studies have shown that taking specific multistrain probiotics can help infer health benefits above what a change in diet alone could accomplish. Each probiotic formulation must contain a mixture of bacterial strains. Look for bacteria such as:
- Bifidobacterium breve
- Bifidobacterium longum
- Bifidobacterium infantis
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus casei
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus paracasei
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
- Lactobacillus reuteri
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus
- Streptococcus thermophiles
Know Your Dosage
Most commercially available probiotics contain between 1 to 10 billion CFU (colony forming units) per capsule. PCOS Diva Probiotic Spheres contain 5 billion CFU. Yogurt, a common source of probiotics for many Americans, contains less than 2 billion CFU per serving.
Yeast based probiotics are great for antibiotic associated diarrhea, and specific multi-strain probiotics are good for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Ulcerative Colitis.
Some conditions may require very large doses. For Irritable Bowel Syndrome,112.5 billion per day is great to start. For Ulcerative Colitis, 450 billion per day is great and go up to 3600 billion per day if flaring. In these cases, consult your doctor.
Check the Quality:
Remember, supplements are not regulated by the FDA. Choose a probiotic that is third party certified so that you are certain it contains the contents on the label in the proper quantities and quality. The best quality probiotics are refrigerated even during shipping. PCOS Diva Probiotic Spheres meet all these requirements. Give them a try.
Probiotics are safe, effective, cheap ways to get your GI tract healthy again!
Amy Medling, best-selling author of Healing PCOS and certified health coach, specializes in working with women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), who are frustrated and have lost all hope when the only solution their doctors offer is to lose weight, take a pill, and live with their symptoms. In response, Amy founded PCOS Diva and developed a proven protocol of supplements, diet, and lifestyle programs that offer women tools to help gain control of their PCOS and regain their fertility, femininity, health, and happiness.
Jenna Pedone, RPh, Sigma-Tau Pharmaceuticals
Jenna Pedone, RPh is a registered pharmacist. She graduated form the University of Rhode Island and currently works at Sigma Tau Pharmaceuticals. Jenna has a passion for non pharmaceutical options to help heal patients. Visit their website at http://www.vsl3.com.