Health & Wellness

Colorado Health & Wellness | Spring 2016

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Fermented foods with probiotics, such as yogurt or kombucha, can be helpful, but most foods do not have as many live or active bacteria or the diversity of strains typically found in supplement form, says Clinthorne. Supplements can cost anywhere from $15 to $60 per bottle and are available in shelf-stable and refrigerated varieties, but other factors matter more, Weir says. "The important thing is choosing the right probiotic. Most studies test very specific strains of a probiotic, and if you are not taking that strain, you may not achieve the desired effect." (see sidebar) Since most probiotics are sold as "dietary supplements," they aren't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so finding a reliable, quality product matters. For people with food allergies, beware. Some products, even those labeled otherwise, have been found to contain gluten, dairy and soy. Weir says consumers should look for a product with good manufacturing processes, the expiration date of the live and active cultures, and a product identifying the strain bacteria. Probiotics with enteric coating are also preferable, since the coating helps ensure the microorganisms will survive stomach acid and thus pass to the digestive tract. Newer spore-based probiotics and biofilm preparations also help live organisms make it to the colon. Infants or individuals who are already ill should not take probiotics because there is a risk of contamination from unwanted microorganisms in these unregulated products. Weir says those with an extremely leaky gut should also refrain, since "even 'good' bacteria are bad if they get into the bloodstream or other organs of the body." Continuing research suggests more beneficial uses for probiotic supplements beyond gut disruptions and bowel disorders, Clinthorne says. For example, strains such as Lactobacillus gasseri and Lactobacillus plantarum can help people manage their weight, he says. "The medical profession is slowly recognizing and accepting the many ways probiotics can help." PROBIOTIC STRAINS MATTER Medical experts say there's sound research that certain probiotics might help particular conditions. Here are some examples: IBS: VSL3, a multi-strain blend (Tiffany Weir and Fernando Carreira) C. Diff: Florastor or Culturelle (Carreira) Traveler's diarrhea: Saccharomyces boulardii (Jonathan Clinthorne) Antibiotic use: Lactobacillus rhamnosis GG or Saccharomyces Boulardii (Clinthorne) Celiac disease: Lactobacillus rhamnosis GG (Clinthorne) Occasional diarrhea and gut disruptions from gas/bloating: A probiotic blend with eight plus strains (Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium infantis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and Streptococcus thermophilus) (Clinthorne) 46

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