Probiotics: What you Need to Know
Written by Danielle Morissette, Ph.D. Molecular Biology
Nowadays, probiotics are everywhere. If I ask you if you know what probiotics are, you’ll probably answer “yes, of course.” But if I were to ask you to explain what probiotics really are and how they can contribute to your well-being, what would you say? Not sure? Then keep reading!
Probiotics are bacteria. We mainly think about the types that make us sick but not all bacteria are bad. In fact, bacteria are essential to our lives. Several species live in the digestive tract and they play important roles in maintaining our health.
- Bacteria cover the inner surface of the intestine to protect it against the bad bacteria and also to maintain equilibrium between the inside and outside of the intestine. If this equilibrium is broken, a chain reaction is triggered that can cause symptoms like diarrhea.
- Bacteria degraded several kinds of fibers in order to feed. Yeah! Several fibers are your friendly bacteria’s snack, which enables them to grow and divide in order to give you a healthy gut.
- Bacteria synthesize several essential vitamins.
- Bacteria have an important role in sustaining the immune system.
As mentioned above, the gut houses several species of friendly bacteria. More than 500, as a matter of fact. From those, less than 10% represent 99% of the bacterial gut community. And its composition is different from one person to the next. In fact, the level of each different species of bacteria varies according to different factors such as diet and age. For example, some species are privileged by a protein-rich diet and others by a carbohydrate-rich diet.
So, now you see why it’s important to keep a healthy bacterium community in your digestive tract. How can you help maintain this community? Eating plenty of fermented foods which contain probiotics, such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha and fermented vegetables or take a probiotic supplement.
Probiotics are bacteria that are the same species as the ones in your gut. If you visit a pharmacy or look for probiotics on-line, you might feel overwhelmed by the number of choices available. How to choose the right one? Not an easy question. In my opinion, a few elements need to be taken into account.
- Check the number of cells at the expiry date, not at manufacture date. Products manufactured in Canada are required to specify this information, whereas those made elsewhere are not. You must also be aware that, between the manufacturing date and the expiry date, the number of living cells decreases significantly. And as you might guess, if the cells aren’t living, they’re not useful.
- The posology form is also an important aspect to consider. To be effective, the probiotics need to get to the digestive tract. Always keep in mind that 90% of the bacteria will be nuked as they make their way through the stomach unless you choose enteric-coating capsules. Some powders or liquid probiotics contain bacteria that are more resistant to gastric acid, but you’ll need to know which ones.
- The number of living cells at expiry date. Depending on your particular situation, this information can be a big help in making your choice. For example, if you’ve just gone through a round of antibiotics, you might want to make sure you take a supplement with a high level of living cells since a part of the bacterial gut community has been wiped out.
- The number of different bacteria (strains). As I mentioned earlier, the gut is home to several different bacteria. This diversity reflects the complexity of the digestive system. The closer the supplement can mimic this diversity the better.
Recently, Adrien Gagnon launched three new probiotic formulas called Go Probiotics. For the first time, probiotics are coupled with an active ingredient in order to boost their efficiency in helping with regularity, the immune system or irritable bowel symptoms.
- Go Probiotics Regularity is fortified with Inulin, a soluble fiber known to stimulate the growth of good bacteria and to provide gentle relief from constipation and irregularity.
- Go Probiotics Immune System is fortified with Astragalus which is one of the most commonly used plants to boost energy and support the immune system. Astragalus has a long history of being used for its invigorating effect on the immune system and its protective action against bacteria and viruses.
- Go Probiotics Irritable Bowel is fortified with Prunella which reinforces the intestinal flora and soothes irritable bowel symptoms such as diarrhea and hemorrhoids.
Whether you prefer fermented foods or a supplement, you must make sure to integrate probiotics into your diet. The digestive system plays an important role in our well-being and our health. Our little friends down there have to be taken care of. In return, they will take care of us. It is a win-win situation.
A healthy digestive system is the beginning of a healthy life.
Danielle likes to say that she is like a cat, having nine lives, at least as a career view. She occupied several positions in different work environments from legal to science and include academic, research, marketing, and sales. Using natural health product since her childhood, her work in a nutraceutical company is just a logical continuation of her professional career.
Adrien Gagnon’s mission is to prevent disease by offering quality products, as well as actively contribute to health education through several consulting services to consumers. Over the past 60+ years, Adrien Gagnon has earned a reputation as a leader in science-based natural health products, offering over 150 natural health products including vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements.