Why your microbiome is better than Redbull

March 27, 2019

Why your microbiome is better than Redbull

When you think of bacteria - you often think of infection and green boogers...am I right??

While this is true, that's one ugly side of bacteria. But there is a good side too. Bacteria is everywhere in our body, it lines our digestive tract, and is all over our skin! There are TRILLIONS of them in our body that they actually make up between 1 to 3% of our body weight!

They even outnumber the cells in our body by 10 to 1.

So it's hard to ignore these good guys and pretend they don't exist or play a significant role in our health! 

It's important to know why we have to protect these good guys, and this next  list outlines just some of the roles bacteria play in our bodies:

  • help us absorb nutrients (for ex. vitamins and minerals)
  • help our immune system to fight infections
  • have been shown to play an important role in the following:
    • detox
    • inflammation
    • neurotransmitter and vitamin production
    • signaling being hungry or full
    • utilizing carbs and fat

Based on this list, the microbiome affects our: 

  • mood
  • metabolism
  • libido
  • immunity
  • clarity of our thoughts

Basically it has everything to do with how we feel physically & emotionally.  That means it can even determine whether we’re fat, thin, lethargic or energetic.

So what can kill that beautiful built-in army?

  • environmental chemical (pollution, fumes, fragrances)
  • certain foods (sugar, gluten)
  • water (unfiltered, chlorine)
  • pharmaceuticals (antibiotics)
  • lack of nutrients that support healthy microbiome (i.e. probiotics)
  • STRESS (you’ve heard that stress is bad for your health, this is one of the MANY reasons why)

Some of these are possible to avoid, and some are not.

For that reason, it's always important to take probiotics to ensure that the colony is strong in numbers. This can be done with supplements and food. 

Probiotics have been defined by an international group of scientific experts as “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”[1] Essentially, these are a special class of bacteria that scientists have linked to better health by influencing the composition of the gut microbiome. They mostly come in the form of pills and powders, while also found in foods and drinks like sauerkraut and yogurt.

Probiotics are one possible way to change the composition of your gut, and they are certainly important when recovering from a course of antibiotics, or fighting a cold or stomach bug. They outnumber the pathogens (the bad bugs) that are causing the cold, the stomach bug, etc. 

Food Sources of Probiotics

It's easy to get your dose of probiotics from foods. Probiotics are measured in Colony Forming Units (CFU's) and usually range from 1 million to trillions of CFU's.

  • sauerkraut, cultured vegetables (make sure there’s NO VINEGAR, it should consist of 2 ingredients: vegetables + sea salt) - 2 tablespoons should provide a few trillion CFU!
  • kefir (water, coconut, milk) (varies by brand and type of kefir, approximately 10-50 billion CFU per cup)
  • kombucha (3-10 billion per bottle, varies by brand)
  • yogurts (coconut, almond, milk - please avoid soy) (This one varies by brand, but in order to be labelled a probiotic yogurt, it should contain at least 1 billion CFU's)
  • prebiotics

Prebiotics are an important mention because they don't actually contain probiotics or bacteria, they're actually food for the bacteria. They're gut-loving foods that fuel their grow and activity. They're non-digestible (like fibre, they pass through the stomach without breaking down by stomach acid/enzymes) and they can be fermented or metabolized by intestinal bacteria.

Sources of prebiotics:

  • raw garlic
  • onions (raw or cooked)
  • raw leeks
  • raw asparagus
  • jicama
  • chicory
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • acacia gum
  • raw dandelion greens

You can also find prebiotic powders sold in health food stores, such as my favorite Genuine Health's "Gut Superfoods". It's easy to incorporate those into smoothies, baking and homemade popsicles for kids, which is why I like the powder form.

Probiotic Supplements

When recovering from a course of antibiotics, or going through a cold or flu, or recolonizing the gut (when you haven't had probiotic-rich foods, or foods that kill the microbiome bugs), it's important to take higher doses in supplement form. The following strains are what I would look for in a good probiotic supplement. It's better to take them in a multiple strain formula as they work better synergistically than when taking single strains.

Lactobacillus plantarum
    • found in kimchi, sauerkraut, cultured veggies
    • it survives in the stomach for a long time and helps with immunity & keeps inflammation in check
    • it’s most important role is that it reduces gut permeability - super important because many diseases or chronic health conditions are a direct result of gut lining permeability
    • incredible ability to absorb and maintain levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants.
Lactobacillus acidophilus
    • found in fermented dairy products, including yogurt
    • keeps a balance of good vs. bad bacteria in check
    • in women, it’s been found to reduce the growth of candida albicans, a fungus that can cause yeast infections
    • it helps maintain cholesterol levels
    • it makes lactase (enzyme needed to digest milk and make vitamin K)
Lactobacillus brevis
    • found in sauerkraut and pickles
    • enhances cellular immunity
    • inhibits effects of certain gut pathogens
    • increases levels of brain-growth hormone BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factorBrain-derived neurotrophic factor) - a protein that, in humans, is encoded by the BDNF Gene. Decreased BDNF were correlated with obesity and diabetes complications
Bifidobacterium lactis (aka. B. animalis)
    • found in fermented milk products (yogurt)
    • helps prevent stomach viruses and boost immunity
    • helps knock out food borne pathogens (salmonella)
Bifidobacterium longum
    • one of the first bugs to colonize our bodies at birth
    • improves lactose intolerance, prevents diarrhea, food allergies and proliferation of pathogens
    • has antioxidant properties
    • a study showed that it reduced anxiety in mice
    • shown to enhance BDNF production in an animal study

Lactobacillus reuteri and Lactobacillus rhamnosus

    • Lactobacillus is one of the most important groups of bacteria that helps keep the natural balance in women
    • Lactobacillus produces lactic acid, thus reducing and maintaining a low vaginal pH, which prevents yeasts, bacteria, and other organisms from overgrowing and causing problems.
    • promote mucus production which provides a protective barrier in the vaginal wall against other bacteria, yeasts, and viruses (including HIV). 

    When purchasing a probiotic supplement, ensure that you buy one that says it’s hypoallergenic (free from gluten, dairy, soy, corn), to prevent any side effects or reactions, should you have any hidden allergies.

    This is one of my favorite brands, which contains all of the above listed strains.

    I'm a strong advocate for stool testing and learning about what your microbiome profile is like. It helps you learn why you feel the way you do and what you can do about it. I'm a Viome ambassador and a proponent for their method. Have a look at their website and contact me directly if you have any more questions about Viome or this topic!

    Have any more questions on this topic? Send me an email! hello@healthrefined.com



    [1] Hill, Colin, Guarner, Francisco, et al, "The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics consensus statement on the scope and appropriate use of the term probiotic", Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology volume11pp 506514 (2014).

    [2] Perlmutter, David, and Fristin Loberg. Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain. Little, Brown & Company, 2015.

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