Bugs In Your Belly
By Fred Cheng (R.Ph), Christine Cheng (R.Ph)
The landscape of our gut gives epic meaning to the term, “internal conflict”. At any one time, the healthy human gut carries approximately 100 trillion micro-organisms in the intestines. This number is 10X greater than the total number of human cells in the body! The majority of these micro-orgnisms are bacteria, and because they are perpetually active, some scientists even view them collectively as an “organ” in the body, processing and releasing important nutrients and byproducts into the gut.
Not only are the majority of the gut bacteria not harmful, many of them are actually beneficial to our health. For example, the healthy bacteria (called “probiotics”) are responsible for training the immune system, preventing growth of harmful bacteria, processing unused energy substances, and producing important vitamins for the body such as biotin and vitamin K. So, you can see how an imbalance or elimination of these friendly bugs could lead to rather unfavourable outcomes. Therein lies the epic battle. The good guys are always battling and fending off the bad guys. Read on to find out ways to prevent or even overcome an offensive by the bad bacteria in your gut.
There are 2 main philosophies or tactics as to which probiotic supplement to use. Chat with your physician and pharmacist to see which is most suitable for you. One camp believes that you should take a supplement that contains only one strain of healthy bacteria. This is similar to sending in your strongest fighters to establish a strong-hold before allowing the cooks, bakers, florists, and children to follow passively and come out of hiding. Many of the latest scientific studies support this theory, partially due to the fact that it is easier to study one strain at a time. An excellent one to try would be SISU’s “INTEGRIS 30”, which contains 30 billion live CFU’s (colony-forming units) of Lactobaccilus plantarum (LP299v strain). This formula can withstand stomach acid, stimulate protective intestinal mucous, and multiply in the intestines, inhibiting pathogens. It is great for people taking antibiotics, or dealing with IBS, or wanting a daily immune boost. It is even safe enough for children.
Another train of thought is that a supplement containing many different strains of good bacteria (ie. a “broad-spectrum” probiotic) is more beneficial. This is like sending the entire village into the battlefield, so that the strong fighters can establish territory at the same time that the bakers and florists can set-up shop and children can play in the fields. Options that we carry in-store include METAGENICS, NEW ROOTS, and FLORA (UDO’s CHOICE). These products all contain pure, medicinal strains in various ratios. Although the number of CFU’s is important, it is of greater importance to focus on the actual strains of bacteria present in the formulation you choose. At Cloverdale Pharmasave, we have had years of experience with these probiotics. Within those lines, there are even specific combinations of strains that cater to specific age groups (eg. toddlers and children, 55+, etc.), and specific disease states and scenarios (eg. IBS, traveling, hospital stay, etc.).
Probiotics are a great way to ensure strong immunity through a healthy gut. They are well-tolerated, easy to take (as a powder or a pill), and can be used regularly as well as symptomatically. There are many different strains and combinations on the market, as well as specialized formulations for your furry friends (dogs, cats, horses); just come in and see for yourself! Consult a knowledgeable physician, pharmacist or naturopathic doctor to make the best choice for your health. Although “gut wars” is not likely to be the title of a blockbuster film anytime soon, it definitely is the feature theme in your healthy gut, and it is up to you to help the good outdo the bad.
Christine and Fred Cheng are a passionate, charismatic sister-brother pharmacist team at their unique family-owned and operated Pharmasave in Cloverdale, BC. Their pharmacy celebrated its 30th Birthday last year. They specialize in natural remedies and compounding for both human and veterinarian use, and are available for private in-store consultations or seminars at your work/facility. Everything mentioned in their article is available IN-STORE and ONLINE. They would love to hear from you! 604-576-2888; Facebook; Instagram; Twitter. You can also contact them HERE. Of course, before you begin any activity program or try any OTC supplementation, check with your physician and pharmacist. Sign up to receive these articles, event and special announcements in our newsletter every month HERE.