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Champion Your Digestion with Probiotics
by Dr. Jennifer Morganti, N.D.

With digestive disorders demanding ever-increasing attention on the United States' health front, Americans are spending more time and money searching for ways to heal their embattled mid-sections.

Extensive new research suggests that probiotics are fundamental to maintaining a vigorous digestive tract—the foundation of good health. Probiotics have demonstrated immediate and on-going positive health effects for numerous chronic gastrointestinal conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In addition, they have been shown to help prevent food and environmental allergies and the growth of harmful organisms (i.e., yeast), enhance the immune and digestive systems, and promote the degradation of toxins. Some strains of probiotics have also been shown to bind mercury and other heavy metals, preventing their absorption into the body.

Probiotics are found in a variety of foods, including cheese, yogurt, butter, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods.However, most of us cannot or do not eat these foods in sufficient quantities to counteract the challenges of modern life. The proper balance of these micro flora can be thrown off by a diet high in meat, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and other processed foods. Constipation, diarrhea, stress, birth control pills, or other forms of estrogen replacement therapy, chlorinated water, and antibiotics in our food supply easily off-set the balance of these beneficial organisms.

Therefore, supplementation is necessary. However, selecting an effective probiotic can be confusing. Some are single strains, while others are a combination of many. A few are stable at room temperature, though most are not. Powders versus capsules? Where should you begin? The N.E.E.D.S. Wellness Team understands this confusion, and, to help facilitate your selection process, we have highlighted the following probiotic supplements to provide details on the particular benefits of each:

BioBeads Complex Acidophilus, from Natrol, is one of the most convenient products. Unlike most probiotics, they don't require refrigeration and the blister-pack container makes it suitable for travel. In addition, as tiny spheres (or "beads"), they are really great for kids and those who have difficulty swallowing.

Each bead delivers 1 billion CFUs (colony forming units—a standard measure used for probiotics) of a proprietary probiotic blend consisting of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Bifidobacterium bifidum. This may sound like a small dosage, but because of the advanced delivery system, a significantly greater percentage of bacteria actually survive stomach acid and make it to the intestinal tract alive. This patented system, called Advanced, Triple-Shell Technology, involves using three layers of gelatin to seal in the probiotics and protect them from air and pathogenic bacteria. The outer layer ensures shelf-stability, the middle layer resists harsh stomach acid, and the inner layer dissolves in the intestinal tract, releasing the probiotics where they are most effective.

Ultra Flora Plus DF, from Metagenics, contains Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM®, Bifidobacterium and FOS (fructooligosaccharide). In use for over 25 years with over 60 scientific articles published on it, Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM is one of the most extensively researched L. acidophilus strains available. And since it originates from human source, it has proven itself very effective for human use. This form of acidophilus has also been shown to better "adhere" to the human intestinal tract, which enhances its effectiveness.

The Bifidobacterium is also of human origin. It produces strong acids that positively affect the good bacteria of the intestines, contributing to healthy intestinal flora. This formula's combination provides 15 billion CFUs of probiotics to populate the digestive tract.

Ther-biotic Complete, from Klaire Labs, is 100% dairy-free, therefore an excellent choice for those extremely sensitive to dairy. Klaire grows its probiotics on a chicoryderived inulin base that promotes growth of friendly bacteria in the intestines.

In addition, they use "InTactic" delivery technology. This is a hypoallergenic, highly purified polysaccharide complex derived from a marine origin and blended directly with the probiotic strains. The vegetarian capsule shell dissolves when it reaches the stomach. Gastric acid then binds to the outermost layer of the InTactic polysaccharide complex. This binding forms an insoluble matrix or "weave" that acts like a second shell to protect the remaining probiotics from the acidic pH.When the pill enters the more alkaline intestinal tract, the insoluble polysaccharide InTactic matrix begins to dissolve, releasing probiotics. Thus, the InTactic complex protects the probiotic microorganisms as they pass through the acidic environment of the stomach and affords a higher survival rate for the remainder of their journey in and through the intestinal tract.

There are 25 billion CFUs and 12 strains, including Lactobacillus rhamnosis, L. acidophilus, L. cassei and bifidobacterium bifidum, B. longum, and B. brevis, in this broad-spectrum probiotic. This formula supports healthy bacteria balance throughout the entire intestinal tract. It uses l-leucine as filler and is completely hypoallergenic and free of malto-dextrin, gluten, and dairy proteins.

Flora Biotic 16, from Nutri Needs, is an excellent, well-balanced, broad-range probiotic. As its name suggests, it contains 16 different strains, including Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium infantis, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Bifidobacterium breve, Lactobacillus paracasei, and Bifidobacterium lactis. Although it is grown on dairy medium, this formula is classified as non-dairy because it is centrifuged to remove dairy proteins, enabling it to be well-tolerated by dairysensitive individuals. It is guaranteed to have at least 15 billion viable cells at the time of manufacture.

In short, probiotics are beneficial in humans. They inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria that cause digestive stress, improve digestion and absorption of food and vitamins, stimulate the body's natural defense mechanism—the immune system— and help make vitamins the body requires. The health benefits of these organisms are so profound; a probiotic is one of the few supplements that nearly all people can benefit from and should consider making part of their daily regimen.

Related Products
UltraFlora Balance
Probiotic Acidophilus BioBeads