Tag Archives: healthy gut

What are Probiotics and why do you need them?

What are Probiotics and why do you need them?

The short answer:
Your gut is filled with bacteria, good and bad. Good bacteria aids digestion, boosts immunity, and combats a number of gut-related illnesses. Emerging research shows it may also impact weight loss and influence mood. Bad bacteria hampers good bacteria and can make you sick in an assortment of ways, oftentimes involving repeated trips to the bathroom.

The two fight constantly.

Probiotics contain good bacteria. You’ll find them either in supplement form or through real foods like yogurt, tempeh, kimchi, miso, and kombucha. By taking them, you’re fortifying the troops. While they’re generally an excellent idea, they’re particularly important after you’ve had an infection or you’ve taken a round of antibiotics, because these things tend to wipe out the populations in your gut.

The long answer:
The therapeutic use of probiotics is an excellent example of ancient wisdom existing long before Western science could pull its head out. There are references to curdled milk in the Bible (Genesis 18:8 and Isaiah 7:15 if you’re keeping score), but the party really got started around the start of the 20th century when Nobel Prize–winning scientist Dr. Elias Metchnikoff reported that Bulgarian shepherds tended to live almost twice as long as urban Parisians where he was living. He pinned this on the formers’ intake of fermented milk, which he felt contained “good” and “anti-putrefactive” microorganisms.

It’s unclear how Metchnikoff made the connection between these two rather disparate groups, but it gave birth to the modern investigation of probiotics, so let’s not complain. For the last hundred plus years, science continues to discover more and more good things about the bugs living in our intestines.

The 100 trillion (give or take a trillion) bacteria that live in your gut can be divided into over 500 types. Many of the important ones fall into one of two genera, Lactobacillus andBifidobacterium. Under that, there are several species, many of which have specific benefits. For example, Lactobacillus acidophilus has been shown to be especially effective in combating lactose intolerance and Montezuma’s Revenge (or “traveler’s diarrhea” if you want to be boring about it). However, unless you have a specific issue that you’re trying to address, you probably don’t need to stress about all the species.

Fun fact one: the bad bacteria you’re working to keep in check include Helicobacter pylori,Escherichia coli (E. coli), and salmonella.

Fun fact two: we’re born without bacteria in our guts, but the populating begins when we pass through the birth canal. Our first gasps of air provide yet more bacteria, as does breast milk, which is especially rich in probiotics.

It’s well-established that probiotic consumption helps with almost any intestinal issue you can think of, including constipation, lactose intolerance, GI infections, gas, diarrhea, Crohn’s disease, IBS, and IBD. It’s been shown to be effective in treating vaginal and urinary tract infections and atopic eczema. There’s also research showing probiotics may reduce the risk of colon cancer.

There are a few theories as to how this all happens. One is that good bacteria simply take up the space in the gut that the bad bacteria would take over. There’s also the fact that some good bacteria stimulate the immune system by promoting the release of various white blood cells that kill pathogens. A third idea is that many bacteria use the same fuel sources. For example, Clostridium difficile, which causes diarrhea and inflames the colon, is dependent on sugar—but so are many good bacteria. It all comes down to balance. If you have plenty of good bacteria in your gut, they’re going to dominate the monosaccharide buffet.

Look beyond GI issues, and current science on gut bacteria and probiotics gets even more amazing. A Washington University study on identical twins—one overweight and one thin—showed that they had entirely different gut microbiota, suggesting certain bacteria in your system promotes weight gain. (A separate UC Berkeley study suggests the evolutionary reason for this is that people in northern climates need more body fat, so their gut bacteria actually shifts to promote weight gain.)

But if you think popping the right probiotics will soon be the key to dropping pounds, don’t get too excited. Yet another study on mice shows that “weight loss bacteria” doesn’t seem to thrive on a high in saturated fat, low-fiber diet. However, they tend to propagate when fed a diet filled with fruits and veggies.

Researchers are also looking seriously into the gut-brain axis. In other words, those little bugs in your belly might actually have a say in your decision-making process. For instance, gut bacteria produce 95% of your serotonin, a powerful “feel-good” neurotransmitter.

And a Texas Tech University study on mice found that feeding mice the bad bacteriumCampylobacter jejuni drove up their anxiety levels.

So, yes, you should consume probiotics. How many depends on your situation. Antibiotics wipe out the microbes in your gut, so a supplement is an excellent idea after a round of those. Beyond that, if you have a gut-related issue, it’s worth researching which probiotic might help and supplement thusly.

Quality probiotic supplements can be pricey though. For most people, a solid diet filled with probiotic foods should do the trick. (For the record, Shakeology contains Bacillus coagulans, an especially hearty probiotic that can survive at room temperature when many probiotics require refrigeration.)

Yogurt is also a great source. However, it’s important to read the label. The bacteria that make the flavor and texture that Western society considers yogurt can’t survive the voyage through our GI tract, so manufacturers enhance the stuff with other strains, including Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum.

Kombucha, or fermented tea, is another great probiotic food that’s especially trendy right now. It may take a while to learn to appreciate its tangy taste, but it’s worth it. Another benefit of kombucha is that it’s incredibly simple to make.

Beyond that, there are tons of other foods out there that are technically probiotic, including tempeh, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, and various cheeses. Unfortunately, these foods are often heated or pasteurized in such a way that kills the bacteria, so check on the label to verify if the probiotics are still active. Another option is to seek out a boutique producer who deliberately maintains the bacteria in their foods. Or you might want to make them yourself.Sandor Ellix Katz’s The Art of Fermentation is an excellent resource for your bacterial DIY needs.

On a final note, remember that fruit and veggie thing a few paragraphs up? Well, it applies to all the benefits of probiotics. Gut bacteria thrives on certain foods called prebiotics, so it’s crucial to make them part of your diet. Foods especially high in prebiotics include asparagus, onion, leek, garlic, artichokes, oats, and bananas. Yacon root, which you’ll find in Shakeology, also contains prebiotics.

So make prebiotics and probiotics a cornerstone of your diet because if you’re good to all those little bugs in your gut, they’ll return the favor tenfold.

Ready to try adding some amazing probiotics, prebiotics, enzymes, and whole-food nutrition to your diet? CLICK HERE!

Interesting Conversations about Probiotics


Today I had the most wonderful day ever. I got to stand…yes stand…outside in the 80% humidity for seven hours talking to people about their troubles.

Conversations about Probiotics

Most of the conversations went like this:

Do you take probiotics? No? Well, have you heard of probiotics? Yes? Is there a reason that you haven’t started a program? Do you have any chronic health issues?  Before you answer, do they have to do with your skin? Headaches? Allergies? Digestion? Immune system? Pain? Blood sugar? Mental clarity? Mood disorders? Sleep issues?

Interesting thing is…everyone has something.

Actually, there were a few people with perfect health and happiness.  There was one lady who answered that she knows all about probiotics and she doesn’t need them because she only eats healthy…as she is feeding her kids (and herself) a cupcake with five inches of icing on top.

There was another lady who said she also knows all about probiotics and doesn’t need them because she eats fermented cabbage…but she was also experiencing an adult acne breakout that led me to believe that she isn’t eating nearly enough fermented foods to combat her Candida problem.

I did meet some really great people who are suffering every day…and taking daily prescriptions that are either not really helping, causing many negative side-effects, or at best – just masking the symptoms of their disease…not really treating the issue.

candida, fungus, disease, health, probiotics, where to buy probiotics, detox, yeast, fungus growth, leaky-gut, auto-immune

What are symptoms of Candida overgrowth?

Candidiasis symptoms:

Physical symptoms of Candida overgrowth

White furry tongue coat or when white patches on the tongue are scraped off and the underlying red tissue bleeds slightly. Mouth sores or blisters, canker sores, dryness, bad breath

Eyes – Erratic vision, spots in front of eyes (eye floaters) and flashing lights, redness, dryness, itching

Vaginitis, unusual odors, discharge, redness or swelling of the vulva and surrounding area, vaginal itching, burning or redness, or persistent infections.

Fungal infections on the skin or nails

Nasal congestion, postnasal drip, itching, dryness

Skin – dryness, dry red patches, acne, pimples, hives, rashes, itching skin, eczema, psoriasis, seborrhoea, ringworm, contact dermatitis

Constitutional symptoms of Candida overgrowth

Diarrhea, constipation, stomach bloating, pain, gas, mucus in the stools

Bruising easily

Hair loss, scum on the scalp, itchy scalp, scalp sores and dryness

Heart palpitations and irregular heartbeat

Frequent Headaches, migraines, brain fog, dizziness, etc.

Hemorrhoids, and rectal itching, rash, irritation and redness

Loss of sex drive, impotence, prostitis, penis infections, difficulty urinating, urinary urgency, painful intercourse

Allergies or reactions

Muscle aches and pain, numbness, burning or tingling, and lack of strength and coordination

Stomach – heartburn, indigestion, belching, vomiting, burning, pains, needle-like pains, food seems to sit in the stomach like a lump, etc.

Behavioral symptoms of Candida overgrowth

Intolerance to perfumes, odors, fumes, dust

Cravings or addictions for sugar, bread or alcohol

Insomnia, waking up frequently, nightmares, restless sleep, etc.

Anxiety attacks, nervousness, jitteriness, memory loss, inability to concentrate, mood swings, irritability, etc.

Autoimmune Diseases & the Candida connection

Many autoimmune diseases and other diseases have a Candida connection. Whenever the immune system is severely depressed and cannot function normally, it opens up the body to many diseases and malfunctions. Some, but not all, of these diseases are: Arthritis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Celiac Disease/Gluten Sensitivity, Crohn’s Disease, Epstein-Barr Virus, Fibromyalgia, Graves’ Disease, HIV/AIDS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Myasthenia Gravis, Sjogren’s, and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Candida is very opportunist when the immune system malfunctions, with candida overgrowth found in most cases. Therefore autoimmune diseases respond well to the candida program, particularly the diet, because it builds up and strengthens the immune system.

One woman I spoke with was really interested in the rocks I paint. I paint a variety of rocks – I make hobbit homes, fairy doors, Day of the Dead skulls, birds, turtles, owls…etc.  As she limped off – I asked her about the pain in her leg. She told me that it is actually her back that is bothering her – and her heart, and head, and just about everything is wrong with her.  She has Takayasu disease.  She went on to tell me what it is and some of the side-effects of the illness. First – it’s very, very rare. Second, they can’t really figure out how to fix it.  Here’s what I found out…

What is Takayasu disease?


Takayasu disease is a chronic inflammation of the large blood vessels that distribute blood from the heart, including the aorta and its main branches. Inflammation of blood vessels is also called vasculitis. It is most common in women of Asian descent. It usually begins between 10 and 30 years of age.

Takayasu disease has also been referred to as pulseless disease, aortic arch syndrome, Takayasu’s disease, and Takayasu’s arteritis.


What causes Takayasu disease?


The cause of Takayasu disease is unknown. The immune system in patients with Takayasu disease seems to be misdirected to cause inflammation of arteries (arteritis). White blood cells called T lymphocytes are part of the inflammation.


It sounds horrible and devastating. Worse…of all the specialists and professionals she’s met and consulted with – not one of them has recommended probiotics. She’s on a rainbow of medications to treat this and that – but not one person has mentioned that maybe her immune system is out of whack because of an unhealthy gut.

Also…I spoke to a lady with arthritis – again, never heard of probiotics. Thyroid issues. Psoriasis. Depression. Chronic sinus infection. Allergies. ADHD. Autism. Blood sugar diseases. Migraines. Torn ear drum (that one was concerning to me because the woman fears that the hole in her ear is allowing fungus to get into her brain). Nose polyps. Acne. Nail fungus.

The people I got to talk with were so very interested to hear about how nutrition and gut-health might be an answer to their prayers. After countless doctor visits and consultations, very few of these people understand how probiotics can help with these issues.

It’s time to change the way we view food. Your body and mind health begins in your gut. It’s not just what you eat, either. It’s what you don’t eat  – what you don’t get enough of that affects your overall health.

Probiotics and gut health are the first place to start with any health concern.