Dr. Kahana's Simple Digestive Health Solution
If you're reading this right now, you're one of the select few about to learn the key to longterm health. Don't be fooled by the title – the answer isn't simply to take probiotics. You're about to learn a secret that only a few of my patients know, but first, let's take a closer look at your microbiome and the ways it's warning you of an imbalance.
As we’ve seen, in an earlier article in the series, The Dangers of Irregular Digestion, our health heavily depends on our gut microbiome. The trillions of bacteria in our microbiome help to regulate and control many processes in the body. Even a slight imbalance in our gut flora can wreak havoc on our whole body.1,2
Let's take a closer look at why digestive health and a balanced microbiome are so important.
Adding a daily probiotic has been clinically proven to help solve a number of body-wide health problems, but while there is no doubt that probiotic supplements—if effective enough—can work wonders for your microbiome, it’s crucial to read beyond advertising and understand why some supplements are designed to fail.
Let's look at some of the key differences between a high-quality and low-quality probiotic supplements.
Choice of Strains
The selection of the strains used in a probiotic is crucial for its effectiveness.22 There are a ton of supplements on the market that contain only one or two strains of bacteria. As we have seen, the effectiveness of our microbiome depends on its diversity, so using a supplement containing only one strain is less likely to have a significant effect.
A good supplement should contain carefully chosen strains or substrains of bacteria that have proven beneficial value.
Many products on the market fail to deliver real results simply because they aren’t potent enough. It’s critical to remember that any orally supplemented probiotic will be challenged by the harsh, acidic conditions of your stomach.23 Multiple studies have shown that probiotic potency has a direct effect on clinical response.
That’s why the best probiotic supplements have a high concentration of live bacteria –– usually over 15-20 billion colony-forming units per serving.
Protection From Stomach Acid
To further encourage bacterial survival, try to find a capsule with delayed release technology. These capsules will protect the bacteria from stomach acid until they reach your intestine, where the capsule will dissolve and allow the microbes to colonize.
Most probiotic supplements on the market don’t contain prebiotics, so you may need to do some research to find the right product. This step is critical, because prebiotics will help maximize probiotic survival but providing the right substrate for fermentation.
Additives and Chemicals To Avoid
Not all probiotics are formulated the same way, which is why it’s critical to read the label of any probiotic you plan to purchase. Some common probiotic fillers and additives to avoid include:
- Magnesium stearate
- Gelatin capsules
- Silicon dioxide
- Artificial colors and flavors
- Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils
These fillers and additives may not only sabotage the results you’re hoping for, but cause unwanted and potentially harmful effects. Try to find a premium, all-natural supplement that doesn’t skimp on quality ingredients.
Quality Is Key
When comparing different probiotic brands, most of us are usually swayed by price. However, when you're purchasing a supplement, it's important to remember that your health takes priority over your wallet. Try to find products with the highest-quality, natural ingredients that are third party lab-tested to give you real results. They may cost more, but they're far safer and more effective. In the long run, you'll save money by preserving your health now with the right probiotic.
Everything Begins In The Gut
Seventy percent of our immune system is located in our digestive tract. With such a vast number of immune cells counting on our continued digestive health, it’s no wonder that so many conditions stem from an unbalanced gut microbiome.
In fact, issues like fatigue, eczema, allergies, and anxiety can all be traced back to our digestive system. Even our neurological system takes directions from our gut, which is why so many mental and emotional health conditions stem from an unbalanced microbiome.
With all that in mind, we’d imagine that digestive health would be at the forefront of medical research. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case –– upward of 60 to 70 million Americans are still suffering from digestive diseases, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. These numbers don’t even reflect the number of cases that go undiagnosed each year.3
These statistics are worrisome to say the least, especially because research has shown that our digestive health has whole-body effects stretching well beyond a simple stomach ache. It can affect everything from our ability to absorb the right nutrients, to our daily habits and behavior. In fact, there are four key health concerns that our digestive microbiome is directly affecting right now.
1. Is Eating Healthy Really Enough?
We all know how important it is to get our daily servings of healthy fruits, vegetables, and protein, but many of us don’t realize that choosing a salad over a burger isn’t enough. In fact, most healthy foods are meaningless without the right gut microbes to help break it down.
For example, lactic acid bacteria helps us properly digest milk and other dairy products. Many lactose-intolerant individuals can improve dairy digestion by supplementing with these key bacterial strains. An article published in the Journal of Dairy Science notes that children who consumed milk with Lactobacillus supplements experienced fewer symptoms of lactose intolerance than those who drank milk without probiotic supplements.4
Our gut bacteria don’t stop at dairy digestion. They also play a crucial role in overall nutrient absorption, help us break down complex carbohydrates, and synthesize essential vitamins.5 That’s why keeping your digestive system balanced with the right bacteria is crucial for nutrient absorption.
If your microbiome becomes unbalanced, problems arise in your digestive system’s ability to absorb nutrients, and your body won’t be able to obtain the vital nutrition that it needs to survive. This slippery slope of malnutrition can lead to liver and kidney damage, weakened bones and muscles, and even cognitive decline.6
2. Your Immunity Depends On Your Digestive Health
The next time you get the flu, you may need to blame your intestinal tract. As we mentioned earlier, our gut health is closely connected to our immune system. In fact, there are an enormous number of immune cells residing in your gastrointestinal tract right now.
Your digestive system is associated with a large amount of lymphatic tissue, known as gut-associated lymphatic tissue or GALT. This component makes up over half of your entire immune system.7 That said, it plays a vital role in keeping you healthy and safe from unwanted microbial diseases, and can be easily affected by your digestive system. That’s why unhealthy digestion can weaken your immune responses, which can ultimately make you vulnerable to infections.
Even more surprising is the positive role your gut’s “bad” bacteria plays in your immune health. These microbes are constantly challenging your immune system, which helps keep it strong and ready for battle. In fact, you need bad bacteria to keep your immune system prepared for more serious health-threatening entities.8
However, too much bad bacteria can also cause immune system problems.9 If the bad bacteria takes over, it can overwhelm your immune responses to the point where they can no longer fight. This is usually how diseases begin, which is why it’s crucial to maintain the right balance of good and bad bacteria.
Your digestive system is also critical for eliminating waste from your body. If it fails to do so, the waste will accumulate until it breaks through your intestinal wall and finds its way into your bloodstream—this constitutes a leaky gut, which can create serious complications. Toxins from this waste will start attacking other cells, which can cause inflammation that leads to health problems throughout the body.10
Keeping your microbiome balanced with strains that help strengthen your immune system is crucial for your continued health. The best bacterial species to help boost your immunity include L. rhamnosus, L. bulgaricus, L. casei, L. acidophilus, L. rheuteri, L plantarum, B. bifidum, B. lactis, B. infantis, and B. breve, among others.11 Each species is also further categorized into specific strains, many of which offer different health benefits, so it is important to note subtle differences.11
3. How Does Digestion Affect Our Central Nervous System?
Recent studies have revealed a surprisingly close connection between your gut and your brain. This bidirectional communication forms a pathway termed as the “Gut-Brain Axis” (GBA).
Gut flora play a crucial role in the GBA and may influence your nervous system.12 When your microbiome communicates with your brain, it can react through nerve signals, hormones, and your immune system. Essentially, your gut microbiome is regulating itself by telling your brain and central nervous system what to do.
One study on small mice treated with antibiotics found that their compromised microbiomes had a detrimental impact on neurogenesis, or the creation of nervous system tissue in their brains. When treated with probiotics, however, neurogenesis returned and they were able to function normally. Researchers suggest that this study, among others, links digestive microbiomes and the use of probiotics to nervous system health.13
If you’re concerned about keeping your memory and nervous system in top shape, try adding a high quality probiotic to your daily diet.
4. A Profound Psychological Connection
As we just learned, your gut is closely connected to your brain and nervous system. In fact, it’s a major source of neurotransmitters—the chemicals that neurons use to communicate. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, for instance, directly affect our mood and behavior. Guess where they’re synthesized? The intestines.14
Studies have revealed that gastrointestinal abnormalities can lead to behavioral disorders like anxiety and depression.15 In one study, researchers used certain strains of bacteria to treat these conditions, and they were found to be highly effective.
There is also a link between your microbiome and autism.
Some research suggests that autistic individuals have a significantly different microbiome from those who aren’t autistic.16 To mitigate this, doctors have begun suggesting probiotics, specifically Lactobacillus plantarum, L. acidophilus, and a mixture of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, which have all shown to improve behavioral symptoms in ASD.17
5. Can A Thriving Microbiome Actually Control Our Weight?
If all the crash diets and long hours at the gym aren’t giving you the results you want, you may need to consider tending to your microbiome. Decades of research has shown that not only do your gut microbes help you absorb the nutrients you need, but they also regulate fat storage.
This is a huge revelation that tends to be underappreciated, especially considering almost one third of the US population is suffering from obesity and weight gain.18 Although there are many other causes, recent research has revealed that our gut microbiome plays a much bigger role in storing excess fat than we once realized. One study found that overweight individuals had lower microbial diversity. More specifically, they were low on –– or even missing –– certain bacteroidetes, verrucomicrobia, and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii. They also had a higher amount of Actinobacteria and certain Firmicutes.19
Another study showed that gut bacteria can not only alter the way our body stores fat, but also how it balances blood glucose levels.20 This suggests that having a balanced microbiome can actually help improve the symptoms of conditions like diabetes.
It’s becoming clear that an unbalanced microbiome can cause unhealthy fat storage, but can balancing our microbiome actually help us lose weight? According to one study on obese mice, the answer is a resounding yes. Researchers provided overweight mice with microbes from their lean counterparts, and they almost immediately began shedding weight.21 The scientific community is excited about these findings and firmly believes a link exists between our gut microbiome, weight gain, and obesity.
There are dozens of ways our microbiome can get out of whack. In fact, even some of the traits of our modern lifestyle can lead to an imbalance that spreads throughout our body. Polluted air, chlorinated water, pesticides, and antibiotics are only a few culprits. If these are present and unavoidable parts of your life, there is a high likelihood that your microbiome is in danger.
This likelihood increases if you also suffer from any of the symptoms below:
- Digestive pain or discomfort, such as IBS, heartburn, or acid reflux
- Skin problems, such as acne, eczema, and dermatitis
- Increased fatigue and/or insomnia
- Worsening allergies and sinus infections
- Frequent colds and flu
- Memory loss or cloudy mentation
- Anxiety and inattention
Now that we know how connected our gut health is to the rest of our body, it’s easy to see how critical it is to balance our microbiome. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, or if you live with microbiome-endangering chemicals, you may want to consider taking better care of your gut health. While eating right is a great first step, it probably won’t solve all the problems listed above. The best and most effective solution for a balanced microbiome is a daily probiotic supplement.
While probiotic supplements are critical for enriching your microbiome, it’s even more important to choose something that’s both efficient and safe to use. There are too many supplements on the market that are sub-par and fail to provide any meaningful benefits. Most probiotics don’t even contain what’s listed on their label. In fact, it’s taken me years to find a probiotic that I can confidently recommend.
That’s why I was thankful to come across 1MD’s Complete Probiotics Platinum. As I mentioned earlier, the highest quality probiotics offer multiple diverse strains, high CFUs of bacteria, and prebiotics to help feed your new microbes. Complete Probiotics Platinum contains all of this and more. This all-natural formula is clinically proven to help balance your microbiome with the bacteria you need, not only for optimal digestion, but for long-term, whole-body health. That’s why I recommend Complete Probiotics Platinum to my patients.
Out of all the probiotics I’ve seen over the years, this supplement is unique in that it contains a carefully selected blend of 11 strains of bacteria clinically proven to improve gut health, along with a high-CFU count, prebiotic substrate, in an all-natural capsule and with no chemical fillers.24 It offers acid and bile-resistant microbes that have been extensively studied for both their efficacy and safety.
When it comes to potency, most brands fail to offer more than a few billion CFUs. Complete Probiotics Platinum knocks them out of the park with over 50 billion CFUs of bacteria per serving.
1MD combines these strains with a premium prebiotic blend called NutraFlora Prebiotic® fiber mix, which is made of the purest forms of prebiotics available on the market. Prebiotics have been shown to improve the viability of various strains of bacteria, including Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus.
Not only does Complete Probiotics Platinum offer diverse strains and essential prebiotics, it also maintains its natural purity by incorporating vegan capsule shells that don’t contain common allergens like lactose, soy, gluten, or preservatives.
Another feature is its delayed release technology, which protects the probiotics from harsh stomach environments and delivers them safely to your intestine. Combined with the high concentration and delayed release technology, 1MD is clearly miles ahead of the competition.
As a gastrointestinal doctor with years of experience, I’ve seen my fair share of patients come in with all kinds of digestive issues. After trying Complete Probiotics Platinum with these patients, I can confidently say that it really makes a difference and helps improve digestive function. That’s why, in my opinion, Complete Probiotics Platinum by 1MD is one of the safest, most comprehensive, and effective probiotics supplement on the market today.
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