Probiotics — The Foundation of Health

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Probiotics have a larger effect on your health than genetics. It’s time to give serious concern to your intestinal flora. Many researchers now believe that declining levels of friendly bacteria in the intestinal tract may actually mark the onset of chronic degenerative disease.

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria and yeast that function internally to promote healthy digestion and immunity. They are naturally occurring, found in soil and on vegetables, which is how cavemen got their probiotics! When you’re healthy, over 100 trillion microorganisms from 400 different species can be found in your intestinal tract, aiding in digestion, absorption of nutrients, and the production of B vitamins, vitamin K, enzymes, and aiding in production of serotonin, 95% of which is produced in the gut and dependent upon good intestinal health. Eighty-five percent of your immune system surrounds your intestines. Without proper levels of probiotics, you cannot enjoy a healthy immune system.

In a healthy colon, there are over 100 billion beneficial bacteria per milliliter that kill harmful bacteria and other invaders.  Jon Barron states:

In the typical American, because of poor diet and neglect of the colon, the beneficial bacteria count may be as low as four or five per milliliter. Just compare 100 billion to four (not four billion, but four), and you’ll have an understanding of the scope of the problem.

It’s a battle that’s never totally won; the harmful bacteria cannot ever be completely eliminated. But in a healthy body, the bad guys don’t proliferate enough to cause illness. The good guys keep them in check. Let me tell you how to win the battle!

Benefits of Taking Probiotics

There’s a reason probiotics are so popular. The benefits of a probiotically optimized intestinal tract include:

  • Lowered cholesterol
  • Detoxification of heavy metals
  • Inhibition of cancer
  • Protection against food poisoning
  • Protection against stomach ulcers and acid reflux
  • Protection against lactose intolerance and casein intolerance
  • Enhanced immunity
  • Protection against many harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi
  • Protection against candida overgrowth
  • Prevention and correction of constipation and diarrhea, ileitis and colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and other digestive problems
  • Improvement in the health and appearance of the skin
  • Better nutrition from improved absorption
  • Internal generation of B vitamins that give you energy
  • Protection against bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections
  • Protection against many chronic, degenerative diseases
  • Recovery from antibiotics
  • Weight loss or maintenance of health weight

Symptoms of Abnormal Gut Flora

Diseases associated with low levels of beneficial bacteria can include: acid reflux, acne, ADHD, allergies, arthritis, asthma, bladder and urinary-tract infections, breast pathologies, cardiac problems, chronic fatigue, colitis, colon cancer, compromised immunity, constipation, depression, diarrhea, diverticulitis, ear and respiratory infections in children, eye, ear, nose and throat diseases, foul breath and body odor, gastritis, headaches, hormonal imbalances, IBS, liver and gallbladder problems, migraine headaches, ovarian and uterine cancers, PMS, sinus problems, spastic colon, stomach bloating, and vaginal yeast infections. Uh, pretty much everything.

How Probiotics are Destroyed

When we eat food, put our hands in our mouths, kiss someone, or eat fermented food, we are allowing new bacteria to enter our intestinal tracts and begin forming colonies. We used to get beneficial bacteria from raw dairy products delivered straight from the farm — before pasteurization. We also got bacteria from our fruits and vegetables before we decided we had to sanitize them prior to eating. Our obsession with sterilization is wreaking havoc in our guts.

Unfortunately, our modern lifestyles are destroying probiotics, and thus, our health in indirect ways. The levels of beneficial bacteria decline dramatically as the human body ages. Some of the reasons for this decline include:

  • Antibiotics. If you’ve taken antibiotics even once, your gut flora is damaged. When you take antibiotics, you kiss your beneficial bacteria goodbye. Antibiotics indiscriminately destroy both bad and good bacteria, allowing virulent, mutant strains of harmful microorganisms to run rampant in your gut. Antibiotics (in medicine and our food supply) are the number one culprit in the overgrowth of harmful pathogens in the gastrointestinal tract. If for any reason your intestinal flora are severely compromised (such as being subjected to a round of antibiotics) before the age of 6 (when your immune system is fully trained), it can negatively impact your health for the rest of your life.
  • Antibiotic Herbs. You can’t go crazy with antibiotic herbs. Even some beneficial herbs, such as goldenseal can kill probiotics if taken in sufficient quantity or used too frequently.
  • Probiotics get old, too. Colonies of friendly bacteria naturally age and lose their vitality. They need youngins to fight the good fight.
  • Acidity. If the acid/alkaline balance in your body is too acidic, this will favor the growth of harmful viral and fungal organisms and disease-causing bacteria.
  • Pain Medication. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like Aleve, Advil, ibuprofen, Motrin, Midol, etcetera, are destructive to intestinal flora.
  • Chlorine. Chlorine in tap water not only serves to kill bacteria in the water, it is equally devastating to the colonies of beneficial bacteria living in the intestines. Avoid chlorinated pools and get a chlorine shower filter to reduce exposure. Do not drink tap water unless filtered! For more info on what kind of water to drink and how to best filter your water, see my article What Kind of Water Should I Drink?
  • Cancer Treatments. Radiation and chemotherapy are devastating to your inner bacterial environment.
  • Conventional Factory-farmed Meat. Virtually all meat, chicken, and dairy that you eat (other than organic and grass fed) are loaded with antibiotics, which destroy ALL of the beneficial bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract.
  • Constipation. Constipation allows harmful bacteria to hang around longer, allowing them to proliferate. Rid yourself of constipation with a Coffee Enema. Never be constipated again!
  • Partying. Having a little too much fun? Cigarettes and alcohol kill probiotics en masse. Recreational drugs are not favorable to flora, either.
  • Stress. Stress is a major culprit in killing probiotics.
  • Low Iron (Anemia). Vegetarian and vegan diets can be problematic because they can be low in iron. You must have sufficient iron to create the biofilms (slime) in which probiotics thrive. Learn more about how to resolve Anemia.

What to Look For in a Probiotic

A good probiotic formula is absolutely essential for long-term intestinal health and parasite control. When choosing a probiotic, look for the following characteristics:

Refrigeration. All probiotics are perishable. If you look carefully at the labels of products that say refrigeration is not required, in almost all cases, you’ll find the CFU (Colony Forming Units) counts are guaranteed at time of manufacture — not when you’re taking it. This is a red flag. If the probiotic you are looking at is not in the refrigerated section, forget it. When probiotics are packaged in glass bottles, flushed with nitrogen to remove oxygen, kept dry with desiccant packs and hermetically sealed, they can withstand room temperature shipping and storage for periods up to 4 weeks. But, refrigerate upon arrival!

Super Strains. For each type of bacteria, there are recognized super strains. There are three recognized super strains of acidophilus: DDS, NAS, and BT1386. Choose a formula that uses only recognized super strains of beneficial bacteria. They will be identified as such on the label or in the company literature. If the strains are not identified, don’t buy it. We know the kill rate in stomach acid for the majority of probiotic strains runs from 99 to 99.99%. High potency probiotics are available containing acid-resistant strains and/or new delivery technology capable of protecting the strains in stomach acid.

Some modern strains of bacteria used in dairy products have been custom bred to optimize the fermenting of the dairy products — in terms of speed and taste, for example, not to survive stomach acid. Quite simply, many strains have been bred to optimize the production of a product — not to survive intact in the stomach and gut. On the other hand, the DDS Acidophilus strain, for example, was specifically researched and developed to survive stomach acid, not to mention have better retention, multiply rapidly, and combat yeast and fungi. In summary, if you stick to recognized super strains that have been bred for use in supplements, you will benefit.

Activity. It’s not enough for CFUs to just show up in our gut, they have to do something when they get there! That something is to make metabolic byproducts and lactic acid, the #1 byproduct made by these lactic acid bacteria. Lactic acid is a natural acid found in pickles, olives, and yogurt that prevents spoilage; it prevents many pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli from overgrowing in our intestines. Potency of a probiotic is more than just the CFU number: Activity is the other half of the equation. Specifically, it’s the rate of lactic acid production. The more the better. Typically, an old generation probiotic produces about 1% lactic acid in 24 hours. New generation probiotics like Theralac produce 1.5% lactic acid in 12 hours. A huge difference in terms of this probiotic’s benefit to you.

Potency. Don’t waste your money on a probiotic that’s less than 10 billion CFU. Then there’s the question of how many live microorganisms are left in your formula when you actually use it. Pick up any probiotic formula and you’ll see: “Contains 13 billion live organisms per capsule at time of manufacture.” The die-off rate can result in buying a very expensive, worthless product. Most formulas will experience a die-off down to a paltry 13 million within just 60 days of manufacture. Heat and moisture accelerate the process, which is why most manufacturers recommend that both you and the store from which you bought your formula keep your probiotic supply refrigerated. An alternative is to look for formulations that use tableting and encapsulation techniques that seal the bacteria from moisture. But even then, refrigeration is recommended.

No Enteric Coating. Some manufacturers claim that you need to use enterically coated capsules to protect the bacteria from stomach acid, which kills the bacteria. However, this makes no sense. If stomach acid killed all beneficial bacteria, then no one who ate fermented foods over the centuries would have received any benefit. Nonsense! Beneficial bacteria do not need to be enterically coated. As long as you choose strains that have been specifically developed (or have naturally evolved) to survive stomach acid, they will indeed survive stomach acid.
Enteric coatings like those used for aspirin and other drugs do not work with probiotics. For one thing the common polyacrylamide “super glue” coatings, besides having potential carcinogenic activity, actually destabilize the shelf life of probiotics because they cause moisture retention within the product.

Multi-strain Formula. A single strain product cannot colonize all the various niches in the gastrointestinal tract, it takes a multi-strain product to do that. For example, Lactobacillus strains are largely effective in the small intestine while Bifidobacterium strains work best in the large intestine. There is some overlap but a location preference exists. Also, some strains colonize the cells lining the wall of the intestines and/or their mucous surfaces better than others while some strains best colonize the cecum (that dead end sac above the appendix). Still others better colonize the food itself as it moves through the digestive tract. The reason why some companies push a single strain product is probably related to new FDA requirements that require that all active ingredients on a label be tested quantitatively in the product.

Avoid Too Many Strains. For the most part,between 3-7 strains is about right for a probiotic. What happens when formulating with a large number of strains is the inability to put an efficacious amount of each strain into a 500 mg capsule (typical size for probiotics). I don’t like to see any strain used at less than 2 billion CFU. It’s a space problem unless you’re just adding tiny “label dressing” amounts of most strains and larger amounts of only the few that are cheaper to make — products formulated this way will not make the regulatory cuts in the future.

Newer Strains are Not Necessarily Better. Today we find that delivery is the number one criteria for probiotic success. Many older strains do this job just fine — newer strains can be good, but many are created for marketing purposes. Many of the older strains were condemned because they didn’t seem to work well, but they actually work quite well when delivered properly.

Prebiotics. Prebiotics feed good bacteria and keep them alive until you take them.  They can be incredibly effective for constipation.

Currently the prebiotic FOS is under fire for not being selective enough for probiotics since it feeds bad bacteria such as Enterococcus species. This concern aside, a number of probiotic manufacturers still include FOS in their products. Virtually all of the data on FOS as a prebiotic shows a requirement of 4-8 grams per day. If a probiotic contains 100 mg of FOS per capsule (a typical amount) — to get to the 4 gram minimum requirement you would have to take 40 capsules per day. So FOS on a label is merely a marketing ploy.

There is a positive point to make on FOS: Natural sources of FOS and inulin are present in certain foods such as bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), tomatoes, rye bread, asparagus and artichokes. These are examples of true prebiotic foods. I recommend eating these to grow the current probiotics you possess in your intestines. The problematic FOS is the synthetic form found in probiotics.

Alginate is one of several fiber gums (soluble fiber sources) that are proving to be better than FOS type prebiotics since they do not cause excessive intestinal gas (while FOS does). You can also get alginate by eating chia seeds, fresh aloe vera, and supplementing kelp. Also look for partially hydrolyzed guar gum (PHGG) as a natural prebiotic; it has been clinically proven to improve regularity and is synergistic with high potency probiotics.

Original Growth Medium. The supernatant, the medium in which the culture is grown, contains a multitude of beneficial byproducts of the growth process, including vitamins, enzymes, antioxidants, and immune stimulators. Make sure the formula you choose was developed using full-culture processing so that the beneficial bacteria and its powerful supernatant are kept together. An example is Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics.

Probiotic Strains

Newer strains may be highly beneficial but they have not yet stood the test of time. With that in mind, there are many beneficial bacteria that will be in a good probiotic, but these two are the most important:

  • L. Acidophilus. L. acidophilus resides primarily in the small intestine and produces a number of powerful antimicrobial compounds in the gut. These compounds can inhibit the growth and toxin production of over 23 unpleasant pathogens (including campylobacter, listeria, and staphylococci), as well as reduce tumor growth and effectively neutralize or inhibit carcinogenic substances. There are three recognized super strains of acidophilus: DDS, NAS, and BT1386. It’s also important to note that L. acidophilus is the primary beneficial bacteria in the vaginal tract. When the presence of acidophilus is compromised, this allows the bad guys such as Gardnerella vaginalis or E. coli or Chlamydia to take over. This is particularly important to women to help prevent a whole range of vaginal infections.
  • Bifidobacteria. Many researchers believe that declining levels of bifidobacteria in the large intestine actually mark the eventual onset of chronic degenerative disease. Bifidobacteria benefit the body in a number of ways. They:
    • Consume old fecal matter.
    • Have the ability to remove cancer-forming elements, or the enzymes which lead to their formation.
    • Protect against the formation of liver, colon, and mammary gland tumors.
    • They produce B vitamins that give you energy!
    • Feed the colonies you currently have with garlic, onions, leeks, artichokes and bananas. Feed your zoo.

More strains are not always better. Too many beneficial bacteria in one formula may find the bacteria competing with each other before they can establish themselves in separate areas of the intestinal tract. These are great strains:

  • S. boulardii. This is a good probiotic if you have yeast or Candida overgrowth or diarrhea. It’s also a bowel detoxifier. S. boulardii is a yeast that kills other yeast. It is essential to replenish after you take oral anti-fungal medications. You can get it by drinking kombucha, which contains a lot of this particular yeast.
  • L. salivarius. It helps digest foods in the intestinal tract and makes vital nutrients more assimilable. It also works to eat away encrusted fecal matter throughout the entire colon. It repairs the intestinal tract by providing needed enzymes and essential nutrients. Adhering to the intestinal wall, it forms a living matrix that helps protect the mucosal lining.
  • L. plantarum. This warrior has the ability to eliminate thousands of species of pathogenic bacteria; it targets viruses. It favors colonizing the same areas that E. coli prefers, crowding it out. Plantarum is found in sourdough bread, raw sauerkraut, etcetera, but is now rare in our diets.
  • L. rhamnosus. A powerful immune stimulator, it inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria in the intestine. It can increase the natural killing activity of spleen cells, which may help to prevent tumor formation. It increases the destruction of foreign invaders by three times; and can increase circulating antibody levels by six to eight times. L. rhamnosus supplementation has been associated with the alleviation of lactose intolerance, diarrhea, constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, and food allergies. In animal studies, L. rhamnosus has been shown to inhibit the growth of colon tumors.
  • Other important friendly bacteria you might find in a good formula include: Streptococcus thermophilus, L. bulgaricus, B. longum, and L. casei.

Recommended Probiotics

There are a lot of good probiotics, but some are superior. Don’t waste your money on a probiotic that’s less than 10 billion CFU. Many brands do not possess the potency that’s on the label. It’s good to switch to different brands after you’ve finished a bottle to obtain as many different strains of probiotics as possible. You have over 400 different bacteria in your intestines. Diversity is key. I take probiotics every day in different forms and have used all the probiotics I recommend. I rotate all of these probiotic supplements:

  • Cytoflora. CytoFlora, a probiotic lysate, contains beneficial bacteria of which the cell wall has been decimated. This decimation releases vital substances and nutrients from the cell wall and cytoplasm. It’s one of the only probiotics that’s in a liquid delivery method. Perfect for giving to kids. It’s shown to dramatically improve the functioning of autistic children.
  • HLC Intensive.  HLC Intensive Capsules by Pharmax contain the highest-potency probiotics available in a capsule. This probiotic is ideal to take after a course of antibiotics to replenish lost beneficial bacteria. You want your probiotics to have a number after the name of the priobiotic strain. This demonstrates a clinically proven strain. This product only contains clinically proven strains of probiotics.
  • Jigsaw Probiotics. This probiotic utilizes five of the most effective human strains, including the proven L. acidophilus La-14. Each capsule contains 25 billion live, friendly, active bacteria.
  • Innate Response Flora 50-14.  This is a good source of 14 bacterial strains that are extremely important in the gut.
  • Syntol AMD. This probiotic is specifically formulated to fight candida and yeast infections. This supplement does not need refrigeration because it uses a spore delivery method. It’s great for traveling. It contains a spore germinating probiotic blend, a yeast digesting blend of enzymes, and a prebiotic blend to feed your gut flora.
  • PrescriptAssist is specifically formulated to repopulate your gut after a round of antibiotics. In a recent study, Prescript-Assist was associated with significant reductions in symptoms of IBS.
  • Bio-K is a great probiotic supplement drink. They have dairy, soy, and rice probiotic mediums.
  • Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics. He uses a special 3-5 year aging process (depending on the formula) to ferment his probiotic brew. The probiotics are encapsulated with their culture medium of nutritious fermented vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, and seaweed. Yum!

You don’t need to take probiotics on an empty stomach. This was always the recommendation for weaker old generation probiotics. With today’s probiotics, you can take them anyway you want, with or without food, on a full or empty stomach, with milk, juice, or water.

Dosage

Start with one 10+ CFU pill a day or follow the manufacturer’s directions. If you have symptoms such as bloating or gas, this is due to yeast and bacteria die-off. It will pass. When these critters die off, they produce toxic substances that can make you feel ill. If it becomes too uncomfortable, reduce to one pill every other day or stop completely for a couple days.

Once your gastrointestinal tract is effectively colonized, you can reduce your probiotics to twice a week and save money. Once you have established good flora (usually apparent by enhanced regularity with less odor) you need to figure out your maintenance dose. I took probiotics every day for years, but now only take them twice a week in addition to eating probiotic foods. I will take more if I’m naughty and eat too much sugar. Most people will need to take a probiotic every day for a few months, then reduce to every other day, then twice a week. Everybody is different so play around and figure out what works for you.

Probiotic Precautions

Probiotic side effects are uncommon. Most people can use them without experiencing any adverse effects. Some people do get flatulence and minor stomach discomfort when they first start to use products containing them, but this typically stops as the body adjusts. Very rarely, probiotics cause infections or extreme immune system responses, but this usually only happens in people with compromised immune systems. Clinicians use antibiotics to treat rare side effects when they occur.

Probiotics and Antibiotics

You can take probiotics with antibiotics to speed recovery. Most websites you read suggest antibiotics will kill probiotics, so there’s no point in taking them while doing a course of antibiotics. Gastroenterologists and other specialists have found it’s best to co-administer high potency probiotics with antibiotics. The secret is not to take them at the same exact time. Separating the two by 3-6 hours is best. Since most antibiotics are water soluble, they absorb in the upper gastrointestinal tract. Probiotics work mainly in the lower G.I. tract — so giving antibiotics time to absorb and get out of the way is the key.

Of course, there will be some killing of probiotics so it is vital that you stay on high potency probiotics well after the antibiotics are finished — one month minimum. Please reserve antibiotics for emergency use only. There are usually natural alternatives.

Most Probiotics Contain GMOs

Nearly all probiotics available in the U.S. market today are secretly formulated with genetically modified ingredients that are not listed on the label. The most common ingredients are maltodextrin, a corn-derived flow agent, and other fillers. Look at the probiotics at your local store. Almost none of them are certified USDA organic. Some probiotics contain as much as 30% maltodextrin in their formulas and are not required to list this on their ingredient label. It’s the industry’s dirty little secret. Call the manufacturer to find where they source their ingredients.

Probiotic Foods

If you don’t like supplements, eat probiotic foods instead. They can contain trillions of probiotics and may be more beneficial than taking supplements.

Pasteurized Commercial Yogurt

Yogurt does contain probiotics but is not potent enough to correct serious bacterial imbalances, which most people have. Very few yogurt products come close to providing the minimum effective dose of 10 billion CFU (Colony Forming Unit) recommended by leading microbiologists. And to make matters worse, most yogurt servings deliver 13-17 grams of sugar, which feed pathogenic bacteria! Plus, pasteurization kills all the probiotics except those used in the culture — which is usually only a strain or two. Supplements can have five to thirty strains, which is going to be far more beneficial.

View yogurt as a treat — not a food you eat for probiotic health. Most yogurt probiotics (L. bulgaricus and S. thermophilus) are not key beneficial bacteria, although they are indeed helpful. Some brands throw a small amount of acidophilus in after the fact — just so they can put it on the label.

There are a lot of yogurts with so-called health benefits being heavily marketed. Are they good? Are they bad? Do they work? Some examples to avoid include:

  • Dannon’s Activia with Bifidus regularis was specifically created to “help naturally regulate your digestive system.”
  • Yakult, with L. casei Shirota was created to optimize the health of the intestinal tract and boost your immune system.

These yogurts are promoted on the virtues of new probiotic strains based on limited studies or short-term observation. They don’t have the long-term track record of more established strains. That doesn’t make them bad or useless — just less proven. Although initial studies indicated that Activia was indeed helpful, subsequent reevaluation of these studies were less positive and resulted in a class action lawsuit against Dannon for making false claims. As for Yakult, several million users attest to its probiotic benefits, but studies have not necessarily supported that anecdotal evidence — at least as it pertains to boosting the immune system. Thanks to the “buzz” surrounding probiotics, new strains are appearing almost daily. Engineering new strains is fairly easy to do. There are so many new strains because manufacturers are trying to isolate new beneficial features that can be used to provide a marketing advantage over the competition. They’re not doing this to make you healthier!

All commercial yogurt and dairy products are pasteurized. Even more important, much of the yogurt that you buy in the store is now pasteurized after it is made, killing the probiotics! This is done merely to increase shelf life and totally destroys all the benefits inherent in the yogurt. When choosing yogurt in the store, make sure that the cultures are still living. If it doesn’t say “live, active cultures” on the label, don’t buy it. Try raw yogurt or kefir instead.

Raw Yogurt or Kefir

Raw yogurt or kefir is best for population of probiotic gut bacteria. You can make it at home or find it at your local farmer’s market. You can even mail order raw kefir grains. Raw dairy is nothing to be afraid of. I’ve been using it for over a year and have never had an adverse reaction or infection. It naturally contains probiotics that kill bad bacteria that might find its way into the product. Pasteurized milk has no such benefit and consequently is more likely to be recalled for bacterial contamination. For more information, see RealMilk.com.

Fermented Drinks

Fermented drinks that contain a wonderful array of probiotics include coconut water kefir (Inner-Eco is my favorite), kvass, kombucha, and apple cider vinegar drinks. I drink these on a regular basis. I love Inner Eco coconut water kefir because it has a flavor and stevia, which cuts the sourness found in most coconut water kefirs. You can even buy probiotic cultures and put them into a real coconut. You’ll have fresh coconut water kefir the next morning.

Fermented Vegetables

Fermented foods like raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut and kim chi contain probiotic bacteria. Most commercially available fermented foods are pasteurized, which will kill the good bacteria. Look for raw products. I made my own at home with added probiotics. See a video on how to make your own fermented veggies at BodyEcology.com.

Probiotic-enhanced Foods

Some food come enhanced with probiotics. Sunbiotics has a great line of probiotic-enhanced foods. There are a lot of probiotic foods that are marketed as more healthy than they really are. Be very wary when purchasing these products. They cannot be pasteurized in any way.

Diet to Restore Healthy Flora

The other school of probiotic thought believes that there is no point in taking probiotics because they are merely transient visitors in our intestines (and may not colonize permanently). They will not survive if the conditions are not optimal. They believe gut health should be restored by diet. The goal is to make the conditions in the intestines hospitable for the friendly intestinal flora, but not for the harmful bacteria. This is accomplished by improving the body’s pH, the digestive juices, and other aspects of digestion. This will work in the majority of the cases, without the use of probiotics. The following Paleo-type diet works best to naturally improve intestinal flora:

Raw food. It is best to stop eating almost all raw food until probiotic health is restored. This includes salads, lime and lemon juice. Raw foods are healthy, however, most goes undigested through your colon and serves more as a fibrous cleanse. Ever hear of a raw food cleanse? In general, they should be viewed more as cleansing foods, rather than nourishing foods. Raw foods are part of a healthy diet, though they are very difficult to digest and go mostly undigested through the colon. That’s why salads help you lose weight! Don’t panic. We are only excluding them until colon health is restored.

Protein. Eat meats, eggs, and organic, raw dairy products including milk, plain unsweetened (except with stevia) yogurt or kefir. Avoid all pig products, including pork, ham, bacon, chorizo, and lard, as they often contain some parasite eggs even when well cooked.

Vegetables. Eat a diet of mainly cooked vegetables, as these are more easily digested. Exclude nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, white and red potatoes, eggplant, all peppers, and tobacco). Nightshades contain toxic substances that bioaccumulate in your system and can eventually cause numerous health problems (the majority of people in pain is attributable to nightshades).

Fruit. Fruit today is full of SUGAR. It is bred to contain higher amounts of sugar because this is what consumers want. Who wants a sour orange or blueberry? Not me! I spit them out! Our bodies do not tolerate the sugar well, even though the tasty fruit comes with lots of beautiful phytonutrients. Fruit should be avoided completely until intestinal flora is restored and then consumed in very limited amounts. Sugar feeds the pathogenic bacteria in our gut and actually kills probiotics — even if it comes in a healthy package like fruit.

Grains. Gluten-containing grains, including wheat, oats, barley and rye, are inflammatory to the gut and must be avoided until the intestines heal. Whole grains such as brown rice, blue and yellow organic corn products, quinoa, amaranth, millet and others are okay in limited amounts, but only if you can digest them well. Sprouted grains are more easily digested because they’ve been predigested by sprouting. Otherwise limit these until your digestion improves. Spelt and buckwheat are also somewhat irritating foods today and best avoided. After a time, you may be able to reintroduce oats, barley and rye. However, wheat is irritating and no longer is a healthful food today. It is to be avoided. For more information, see my blog Gluten Sensitivity Affects 1 in 3.

Drinks. Drink 3 liters a day of pure spring water. For more information on why you should only drink spring water, read my blog What Kind of Water Should I Drink? You can also try drinking distilled water for a few months to do a sort of cleanse. However, discontinue after three months. Mild herbal teas are also fine, as is one cup a day of regular coffee or black, green or white tea. Ten to twelve ounces of carrot or green juice daily provides enzymes, minerals and a very bioavailable form of calcium.

Sugar. You must eventually eliminate all sugar and sweets from the diet. These include white sugar products, honey, maple syrup, agave, fruit, fruit juices, and smoothies or other drinks that contain fruit or sugar. It also means reducing and eventually eliminating alcohol (triple-concentrated sugar), soda, etc.

Avoid irritants. These include too much caffeine, the theobromine in chocolate, and all hot spices. Mild herbs and spices are okay. Avoid table salt, black pepper and all spicy condiments. However, sea salt is fine. Mustard and ketchup are fine. Genetically modified foods today should be avoided at all costs, especially soy and white corn.

Following this diet will resolve your digestive problems and restore probiotic health. However, body chemistry is slow to change. You may have to do the diet for six months to a year or more. It’s the best diet for health anyways, so stick to it when you’ve restored intestinal health. It relaxes, strengthens, and heals the intestines like nothing else I have seen. Do not be tempted to add back foods not on the list above. This will wreck the quite delicate process of rebuilding and reconditioning the intestinal tract.

Many people who have failed to improve candida albicans, IBS, food allergies and sensitivities, leaky gut syndrome, gas and bloating, diarrhea, constipation and other intestinal symptoms find that they go away quickly on this diet, with the help of a special digestive supplement. I recommend taking a supplement that contains pancreatin, ox bile, and bile acids. It better approximates the normal digestive enzymes in the body than many other digestive enzymes and supplements. Recommended products that have helped me tremendously are Bilex or GB-3. For more information on what GB-3 is, read the article GB-3.

Testing

If you’re really worried about what’s in your gut and how it’s affecting your health, you can do some testing with your Integrative Medical Doctor or Naturopathic Doctor. If you do a test with your regular doctor, beware. Many tests are inconclusive and don’t tell you much because 95% of what’s in your body can’t be cultured. Many tests are limited or useless. I found this out after going to an gastroenterologist and paying $500 for a stool test that only checked for five parasites. I could have gotten the Metametrix GI Effects DNA Stool Analysis and checked almost a hundred different parameters, including my beneficial probiotic levels, to see exactly what was going on in my gut.

The test I recommend is Metametrix DNA Stool Analysis GI Effects Test. It reveals parasites, pathogenic bacteria, probiotics, and so much more. Only licensed healthcare professionals, including MDs and DOs may order test kits. NDs, DCs, nutritionists, and other healthcare providers may also order, depending on your state regulations. If you need assistance finding a clinician in your area who can help you order Metametrix tests, please refer to the Clinician Referral Program on Metametrix’s website. However, your doctor can write the test you want on a prescription pad and you can go to the website and order the test kit yourself. Metametrix does the best medical diagnostic testing of any company I’ve come across.

Are Probiotics Beneficial?

The evidence supports the use of probiotics for a wide range of health benefits. The so-called inconsistency in so many studies showing they are of no benefit is a manufactured illusion. Most of the studies that claim inconclusive results are based on using a limited number of cultures (often one particular culture), further limited by the use of a single strain, and testing for a one predefined result that may or may not fall within that particular strain’s actual benefits. In other words, testing L. salivarius for its ability to lower cholesterol (which is not what it does) might lead to a blanket statement that probiotics are not helpful in lowering cholesterol — whereas the same study using Streptococcus thermophilus, L. acidophilus, or Bifidus would most likely produce entirely different results.

Another interesting thing to note is the probiotics tend to have a qualitative effect on gut and overall health, meaning they increase immunity and do other helpful things, but they don’t necessary increase the numbers of probiotics in the gut. Prebiotics tend to have a quantitative effect, meaning the increase the numbers of probiotics colonies in the gut. So, if you’re looking to increase the numbers of healthy bugs, you want to be taking prebiotics or eating prebiotic foods like jeruselum artichoke, asparagus, leek, onions, banana, garlic, dandelion and chicory root. Prebiotics are especially helpful for constipation since it is usually from too few bifidus bugs in the large colon.

The bottom line is that for the vast majority of people, there can be no true health or recovery from disease unless you have colonies of over 100 trillion beneficial microorganisms flourishing throughout your intestinal tract, aiding in digestion, absorption, the production of significant amounts of vitamins and enzymes, augmenting your immune system, and preventing harmful bacteria from gaining a foothold. Supplementation with probiotics or a probiotic-friendly diet is mandatory to Live to 110™.

The Medicinal Supplements Summit

Did you know that of the 54,000 dietary supplement products sold today, only a third have some level of safety and effectiveness that is supported by scientific evidence? Many supplements, even organic ones, are contaminated with toxic metals like lead, cadmium and arsenic. You could be taking supplements that are actually doing more harm than good!SUPP16_banner_attend_600x600

That’s why I’m hosting the Medicinal Supplements Summit, taking place from September 12 – 19!

This amazing online summit is dedicated to educating consumers on healthy supplementation and the latest in supplement customization testing. Join me and over 35 like-minded health professionals – including doctors, supplement manufacturers, and best selling authors – who are dedicated to helping you HEAL.

Register for FREE now >>>> Click Here

Own all of the expert talks to watch at your own pace >>>>  Click Here

My deepest hope is that you and your family experience vibrant health. And it all begins with taking the right supplements for YOU. So mark your calendars and join us for the Medicinal Supplements Summit September 12-19th! I’ll see you there!

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Wendy Myers

Wendy Myers, FDN, CHHC, is a functional diagnostic nutritionist, certified holistic health coach and founder of Live to 110. Her passions include getting you healthy, Modern Paleo, retoxing and detoxing. Discover her Mineral Power Program and enjoy freedom from fatigue and brain fog with metal detox.

  • maria Trampe’

    So are the sunbiotic nuts useless? I have had them several weeks and I did not refrigerate them because it says not needed on the package? I will not be very happy of I just wasted my money on these. They are not cheap!

    • NO, they’re not bad. It’s just generally recommended to refrigerate all probiotics. The sunbiotics are in a form that don’t require refrigeration, making them good for travel. But if you have them at home, by all means refrigerate them to prevent as many as you can from dying. No matter what brand you buy, you have a certain amount of die off of the probiotics. Refrigeration minimizes this. You’re okay!

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  • Marty

    Wendy,

    I just loved all your information about probiotics. I’ve been taking a Raw food 100 billion and sometimes 200 billion cfu probiotics per day now with some digestive enzymes and don’t know if it’s working. I feel about the same as before and sometimes more bloated than before I was taking some supplements. I have included rice in my diet too, so that’s a different change. I’ve eliminated gluten and cut down on sugar. I want to make sure I choose the best probiotic out there because I’ve been fighting an infection or a horrible candida problem and I need to get my flora under control again. I’ve been feeling tired, bloated and gassy and have a musky body odor. I’ve been battling this issue for at least 3 years now and I need some results to get my life back to normal. Any suggestions?

    • Absolutely I have some suggestions! I believe your issue is beyond probiotic supplementation. If you have copper or mercury toxicity, you will not get candida under control until this is addressed. More on candida and its causes here. http://www.drlwilson.com/articles/candida.htm If you’ve had this issue for three years, I say the issues is heavy metals like copper and mercury. Here’s a good article on the causes and symptoms of copper toxicity. http://www.drlwilson.com/articles/copper_toxicity_syndrome.htm

      Many times when you have a bacterial overgrowth, probiotics will cause a worsening of symptoms simply because they’re killing off pathogens and it’s uncomfortable. This is normal. However, if it continues, you need to do something more. Sometimes it’s not enough to do probiotics. I would eat foods with inulin to encourage growth of the good bacteria you already have inside you. Inulin-rich foods include garlic, onions, sunchokes, and leeks. Bananas have a little. I eat fermented garlic every morning and put a ton of it in my food. I have awesome breath!

      You can also take an amazing supplement called GB-3 by Endomet. This kills pathogens and parasites in the intestines as well as being a powerful digestive aid. Goes well beyond digestive enzymes. An infrared sauna is a great way to kill gut bugs and all manner of infections we have and may not be aware of. Not to mention you will detox metals and chemicals as well. In all, the best way I know of to address detoxing copper and mercury is to do a nutritional balancing program. I’m detoxing the metals from my body as we speak!

    • One more thing. I find that until adrenal activity improves, candida will be difficult to control. When the adrenals and thyoid glandular activity normalizes, often copper imbalance and yeast problems disappear on their own. Here’s some info on how to heal adrenal issues. And thyroid issues. Here’s a podcast on healing the thyroid.

      Additionally, birth control pills, patches and IUDs affect copper metabolism and can promote yeast overgrowth for this reason.

  • Marty

    Wendy,
    Thanks so much for your advice. I’m going to do more research on heavy metals, copper and candida. Apparently, yeast infections are so difficult to eliminate and I don’t know which direction to take sometimes. I’ve tried basically everything from diet, to supplements and it always always comes back. I find if I make a coconut milk smoothy with some banana and strawberries I feel way better. I’m going to make it an effort to do the infrared sauna at least once a week. The thing is my gym don’t offer infrared saunas, I need to go to an Asian spa where they do have one. I’ve felt amazing after being in the infrared sauna, my mind felt clear and I felt so clean from the inside and out. I’m going to eat more garlic, fermented foods and rid myself of heavy metals. I drink dandelion and milk thistle teas sometimes. Is that enough to detoxify metals? I sometimes eat seaweed and drink green tea because I heard it gets rid of free radicals and heavy metals. I also want to start taking algae pills or chlorela again. The only thing though is that chlorela gives me constipation. Anyways, thanks again for your advice and replying to me.

  • Paula

    I’m a bit confused. The first probiotic you recommend is Prescript Assist which is entirely made up of Soil based organisms. You then go on to say that soil based probiotics are dangerous and banned in the EU. Actually they’re neither dangerous nor banned – products like Enterogermina which contains b. subtilis have been available in Italy since 1958

    Professer Simon Cutting (Sporegen.com) has an excellent website with abundant information on b. subtilis and it’s use as a probiotic

    • HI, Paula. Thank you for pointing that out. After far more research, I realize that my initial research gave me wrong info. I’ll be editing that warning about soil-based organisms out of the post. Thank you.

  • spyros

    Amazing article! It took me almost 4 years to understand that all of my symptoms emanated from my poor digestion and my leaky gut. Probiotics work wonders. I would like to know more about recipes for fermented yogurt, vegies etc…

    Your blog is fantastic. Keep up your work. I wish I had seen your blog 4 years ago!

  • Plexus seems like a good brand, but there are many, many good brands of probiotics. Most brands contain about 5 strains and have 2 billion CFU so this is the norm. And many probiotics are in the Sporogenes form so they survive the stomach acid and proliferate in the intestines and don’t need to be refrigerated. Here’s the problem. A strain of probiotic should have a number next to it. That shows it’s a clinically proven strain of probiotic so i’ve been leaning towards the types that have a number. I personally take Jigsaw Probiotics and really like them. It gives you 25 BILLION probiotics. quite a bit more than Plexus. https://liveto110.com/product/jigsaw-essential-blend-probiotics/
    If you want a spores delivery method I prefer this brand https://liveto110.com/product/syntol-amd-probiotic-90/

  • Unless they’re an infant you can give them adult probiotics. Most probiotics only have a few of the most common strains.

  • Claire Murray

    Hi Wendy, i live in the UK and am looking at getting Syntol AMD – should this be taken with a meal or between meals? I seen the latter suggested however, i thought probiotics should always be taken with a meal? I’m on Dr L Wilson NB programme but need a good probiotic for candida! Thanks, Claire.

    • HI! This should be taken between meals. It’s not a regular probiotic. It’s a spore that kills yeast.

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  • Cindy

    Hi Wendy – I am a 58 year old woman and have been diagnosed with HPylori and cannot tolerate the antibiotics, they make my heart race. I have excessive bloating, gas, and stomach pain. I have been able to get the bloating under control with diet. I am now taking a 30 day regimen of Matula Tea. I am looking for a good recommended pro-biotic to take. Could you please recommend a good one? When everything gets to scientific I get lost. I just need the product. Thank you!

  • Any sauna is better than no sauna at all. They are all good. But near infrared saunas have some unique benefits and are far cheaper, which is why I prefer them.