Health & Food

“Product Contains Probiotics”, Really?

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Thanks to everyone who read yesterday’s post, and re-tweeted the message! I truly think our government is a lost cause when it comes to doing something about the confusion and lack of consistency that surrounds health and wellness. I hope Ellen will see our Tweets and start helping us spread the REAL message. Obviously this is wishful thinking, but it’s always worth a try. So much needs to be done, and it won’t happen overnight. This is something that will takes YEARS to tackle, but we have to start NOW!

I read an article in Nutrition Action Healthletter the other day, which focused on probiotics. Here is some information I pulled from the article, which I thought you might find interesting.

– When buying a probiotic product, look for the specific strain. Unfortunately most products do not disclose the strain, only the genus and species of the bacteria. If you are looking for more specific health benefits (such as reduction of diarrhea, help for IBS, etc.), the strain must be known, or else the name of the probiotic really means nothing. For example, Lactobacillus (group) acidophilus (species), what’s the strain?? Sometimes it takes an e-mail or a phone call to the company. If you are just looking for the general health benefits of probiotics, such as help for lactose intolerance, or restoring a healthy GI tract, the strain may not be necessary.

– Dose matters! Just because a product has probiotics, doesn’t mean it’s going to be helpful. If the product does not list the amount of probiotics, what’s the point of buying it? For clinical benefits it’s important to have at least a billion live probiotics, but most products on the market these days don’t even have close to that amount. This doesn’t mean the probiotics that you are consuming aren’t helpful, as they do add up. If you’re just looking to re-establish a healthy digestive system, even a million will help (but I’m doubtful that some of these products even have a million!). Remember there is no one in charge of making sure these companies are being honest with these probiotic claims. Nor is there anyone regulating the doses in each product.

– Survival matters! Yogurt and other dairy products are the best way to get probiotics because the milk acts as a buffer and makes the stomach acids less active and less able to destroy the probiotic (yes, your stomach acid will kill the probiotic, unless the company has created a probiotic that can survive your stomach acid, which very few companies have done). Look for companies who have had a THIRD PARTY investigation of the viability of their probiotics (ie: can they handle your GI system? Are they shelf-stable? Have they survived the manufacturing process?). Don’t waste your money on products that can not prove viability. Also, be aware that products that sit on the shelf for a long time may be loosing their probiotics, slowly, but surely.

Some of the products of which I’m skeptical are the teas that claim to contain probiotics.. I’m really wondering if they are worth their outstanding price (in my opinion, paying any more than $2 for tea is ridiculous). Many of the teas I see simply list the probiotic, but not the amount, and of course not the strain (to read more about KOMBUCHA tea, check out this article). There is no requirement for the use of the word “probiotic” on a label, so pretty much anyone can use it! The Nutrition Action Healthletter looked at a few products, and here is what they found:

1) Activia: May speed transit time (time it takes for food to be digested, basically) and may help relieve stomach grumbling and gas. However, unlike the claim on the label, it’s still not clear whether it can help with occasional irregularity.

2) Yoplait Plus: There is little published evidence that this product helps with, well, anything! I do still think the probiotics in this product are helpful for the general population, but are they any more helpful than the typical yogurt? Probably not, so I wouldn’t waste my money.

3) Bigelow Probiotics Tea: Unlikely to do much to aid digestion (such as the claim indicates).

SPEAKING OF TEA….. Coco is having a TEA giveaway! This tea doesn’t make any crazy promises, just that it’s delicious and fresh. That’s all I need in a tea

Here is where I get my probiotics; KEFIR! Kefir is a natural source of probiotics, and it’s a dairy product so at least I know my stomach acid will be slightly buffered and thus less likely to kill the beneficial probiotics. If I had a more specific condition, which warranted more probiotics, I would look for a respected supplement with the specific strains listed, and THIRD PARTY research to back up all of their claims. The information about probiotics is exhausting, but to learn more, visit USProbiotics.org.

I also get my probiotics from yogurt. Thanks for delivering these yogurts for our 5k race tomorrow, Chobani!"Product Contains Probiotics", Really? 1

Coming Up

Starting today I’m pretty much busy, busy, busy, 24/7. I have a ton of work to catch up on, a 5k race to tackle in the morning (I’m not running, just organizing the race….), and then a trip to the casino boats down south, for which we are leaving right after tomorrow’s morning race. On Sunday I’ll (hopefully) be posting a recap of the 5k race. I hope it’s a hit!

Thanks for reading everyone, and have a great weekend.

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