Bacteria By The Billion Ain't All That Bad
From the air we breathe to the nutrients we absorb from the food we eat, we have bacteria to thank for keeping us alive on this planet. Bacteria is relentless, it survives in air, water, soil, ice and extreme heat. You find it on plants and even in your intestines..
Today’s trend seems to be to spread the bad, bad news, bad reviews or bad experiences. This article aims to steer away from the bad (bacteria) and to focus on the good (bacteria). Let’s talk about bacterial superheroes, aka good bacteria - Probiotics, like ‘Garden of Life Probiotics Mood’ to be exact.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are ‘good’ bacteria which line the digestive tract and support the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and to fight infection. The human body is said to contain ten times the number of gut bacteria molecules as it does cells for the rest of the body, this is why the gut is so important to our health. The skin and digestive system alone host about 2,000 different types of bacteria. The benefits of probiotics have been proven to be effective in reducing inflammation, supporting immune function, promoting healthy digestion and also in maintaining beautiful skin.
Mind-blowing moment coming up…Did you know that 70–80 percent of your entire immune system is located in your digestive tract?
More than a century ago, the Russian Nobel Prize winner Elie Metchnikoff theorized that “health could be enhanced and senility delayed by manipulating the intestinal microbiome with host-friendly bacteria found in yogurt.” Today, because of refrigeration and updated farming practices like soaking foods with chlorine, a lot of our food contains little to no probiotics in the name of cleanliness. Nowadays, many foods contain dangerous antibiotics that kill off the good bacteria in our bodies.
Serotonin in the Gut
Mind-blowing moment part deaux coming up...Although serotonin is well known as a brain neurotransmitter, Did you know that it is estimated that 90 percent of the body's serotonin is made in the digestive tract?
Serotonin is a chemical produced by nerve cells that sends signals between those nerve cells. Serotonin is made from an essential amino acid called tryptophan. This amino acid enters your body through diet and is mostly found in foods like nuts, cheese, and red meats.
When serotonin levels are low, we can become depressed. Most depression drugs target the serotonin system by trying to artificially boost serotonin levels or sensitivity to those levels. MAOIs prevent the breakdown of serotonin in the body in general, in turn artificially raising levels. Zoloft and other SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) target the serotonin system by blocking the those pumps which bring the serotonin back in after a signal, causing signals to seem stronger and last longer.
As previously mentioned, 80 to 90 percent of the human body’s total serotonin is found in specialized cells in your gut, not in your brain. Factually speaking, serotonin was tied to food long before it became an important mood hormone. In many species, including us, serotonin is key in the functioning of gut muscles, causing contraction of our intestines.
How to increase serotonin in the gut
Since it serotonin has so many varied and important roles in the body, serotonin levels are key to health mentally and physically. Luckily, it shouldn't be too hard to increase serotonin in the gut because, serotonin can be found in a variety of foods. The highest concentrations can be found in:
These foods can boost serotonin levels in the gut, but supplementing a good probiotic - like Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics Mood+ will boost your gut health with beneficial bacteria and will not only improve digestion, but it can benefit your mood!
Are Garden of Life Probiotics vegan? The answer is tricky…
If you look at it by the simplest definition, Garden of Life probiotics are not vegan and not dairy free. Lactobacillus is grown in dairy. Whether that’s milk or some other form isn’t always clear, but you can count on it being fermented in some sort of dairy. Having said that, even though it is initially grown in dairy, the excess dairy is removed during processing. If a company specifies that their probiotics are vegan, it’s not necessarily false advertising. I could be just that they may be using a different definition than yours. Dietary vegans are fine with it. Ethically vegan may not be, due to the original source it comes from. So in essence Garden of Life respect both definitions, by only claiming it to be vegetarian.
What should I look for in a probiotic?
- Variety of strains
- Shelf stable or Refrigeration
- Clean label
1 - Probiotics are measured in CFUs (Colony Forming Units). When looking for a probiotic, this number should be prominently displayed on the front of box or bottle you are looking at. You should be looking for a probiotic that has a range between 3-50 billion CFUs. The lower end of the range, 3 billion CFUs, is what would called a daily maintenance product. This would be better suited for a person with an otherwise healthy or normal digestive system that needs to replenish the probiotics lost due to day to day living. Higher potencies are recommended for various reasons, including:
Age – As we age our bodies tend to lose probiotics at a faster rate, especially Bifidobacteria, commonly found in the large intestine. A lower amount of Bifidobacteria can lead to digestive issues. A higher potency probiotic with a high concentration in Bifidobacteria like B. lactis, B. Bifidum and B. longum are recommended.
Travel and Stress – With over 80% of our immune cells being in the gut, it is a great benefit to supplement during times that are more likely to compromise our immunity.
Diet – At times it may be tough to eat as healthily as you hope. Processed foods, artificial flavors, and other common items in today’s diet can play a large role in depleting the body’s natural flora.Compromised Digestive or Immune System – If your digestion or immune system is compromised, it is best to increase your probiotic intake to balance your flora back to normal.
2 - Variety of strains is vital in picking a probiotic. For the average adult, you should look for a good mix of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. This will ensure you are supporting both your large and small intestine. They are sometimes abbreviated on the label starting with L. and B.
3 - Shelf Stablility, It is important to get what you pay for (waste not, want not). A way to do this is by paying close attention to labeling. The probiotic supplement you choose should have a clear statement on their packaging that says “Potency guaranteed until time of expiration.” In addition to having its potency guaranteed, a good quality probiotic supplement should also be shelf stable, meaning you do not need to refrigerate it to keep its potency. Look for “Refrigeration Not Required” or “Shelf Stable” on the label.
4 - Clean label, Say NO to GMO’s!!! You should look for a product that is free of chemicals and other unnatural ingredients that could potentially upset your GI tract. The probiotic you choose should have a listing of all potential irritants it is free of in order to give you a quality supplement.
Here’s a quick list of the probiotic varieties and what they are commonly good for:
Best Probiotic For: Acne, Vaginal health, Diarrhea
Best Probiotic For: Eczema
Best Probiotic For: Inflammation
Best Probiotic For: GI support, Brain function
Best Probiotic For: Immunity
Best Probiotic For: Constipation, Brain Function
Best Probiotic For: Immunity, GI support
Best Probiotic for: Anti-aging
Best Probiotic For: Skin support
It can be tough to wrap your head around everything that is suggested to keep your health in check, simple daily changes to your diet and adding good supplements can make all the difference but as with any change to your diet or addition of a new supplement, it is recommended to always check with your healthcare provider before you start. If you found this article interesting and would like to know a little more about the benefits of probiotics, we have a fantastic article located here. If you are traveling, there is a great article here. Additionally, you may want to check out our current promotion with Garden of Life products.
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