September 2020 - Wakunaga of America

Which Bacterial Strains to Look for in a Probiotic

In this blog post, we will get into some of the most beneficial strains for a healthy gastrointestinal tract and more. In addition, we’ll go over a few bacterial strains that can help to alleviate some of our most common health concerns. Let’s jump right in!

Quick Probiotics Refresher

First of all, let’s review something that’s important yet often misunderstood. Probiotic bacteria are classified as Genus – Species – Strain. So if you’re looking at a probiotic label that lists Lactobacillus gasseri KS-13, lactobacillus is the genus, gasseri is the species, and the number after it is the strain code. Knowing the species helps to more closely identify the species characteristics of the bacteria genus. And the strain code provides even more detail on exactly which specific bacteria is in the supplement.

When looking for a probiotic, it helps to find one that contains human bacterial strains. Human strain probiotics don’t actually contain human byproducts or ingredients. They are simply strains of beneficial bacteria that have been found to live in the human digestive tract. This means that they are already adapted to thrive in the gut.

In this same vein, something else you should keep in mind when looking for a probiotic is whether or not its species and strains have been clinically researched—and more importantly, if they have been clinically researched together. Many probiotics claim to be clinically studied, but oftentimes they are referring to clinical studies that have been carried out for each species separately. The best case scenario would be if the probiotic’s combined species have been researched together as they appear in the supplement. This adds to the studies’ validity and ultimately, the supplement’s efficacy.

Why Strains Are Important

There are many kinds of probiotic bacteria, and each has unique functions within the body. It’s important to know what these different strains do, so that when you buy a probiotic you’re buying one that has the specific strains that will be most helpful to your health needs.

Bifidobacterium bifidum: This specific strain can help reduce allergy symptoms like itchy skin, sinus congestion, headaches, and even diarrhea. It does this by discouraging the production of histamine, a chemical that is released in the body to trigger allergic reactions during times of stress or allergy.1

Bifidobacterium longum: This strain may help improve the immune response and help to prevent gut disorders. Research suggests it may also suppress allergies and improve skin health.2

Bifidobacterium infantis: This strain may improve IBS symptoms and help to eliminate E. coli in the gut.3

Lactobacillus gasseri: This strain produces vitamin K, lactase, and anti-microbial substances. It may also help people with lactose intolerance to digest dairy foods. L. gasseri also helps prevent indigestion, diarrhea, and yeast infections.4

Lactobacillus rhamnosus: This strain boosts cellular immunity. It also helps reduce IBS symptoms and may help to prevent recurrent bacterial vaginosis.5

Beyond Gut Benefits

A lot of people think that probiotics are only good for the digestive system. The truth is, probiotics can have beneficial head-to-toe effects.

Allergies: Emerging evidence suggests that probiotics may help prevent and even treat seasonal allergies like hay fever, as well as environmental allergies to things like dust mites.6 Researchers believe that probiotics can help allergy sufferers by modulating the immune system and limiting the release of inflammatory chemicals involved in the allergic response. Most of the research on probiotics for allergies has been done on Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria, showing that these probiotics can help with the prevention and reduction of allergy symptoms.

Heart Health: According to the American Heart Association, probiotics may help maintain healthy blood pressure, especially in those already diagnosed with hypertension. Probiotics may also help keep cholesterol in check. Some studies show that one probiotic specifically, L. reuteri, can support a healthy balance between good and bad cholesterol by breaking up bile salts.7

Immunity: Behind digestion, immunity is the second most cited reason people take probiotics. Because the intestines house about 70 percent of the body’s innate immune function, boosting friendly bacteria in the gut can increase the body’s ability to fight off not-so-friendly bacteria. Research shows that probiotics can also cut the duration and severity of cold symptoms.8

Considering everything your gastrointestinal tract does for you, it makes sense to give it some TLC every day with a high quality probiotic, one that contains specific strains customized for your health concerns. Your GI tract will take better care of you, if you take better care of it!

This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

How You Can Support Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

When you haven’t eaten for a while, the level of sugar (glucose) in your blood decreases. When your blood sugar gets too low, it triggers a cascade of hormones, like cortisol (a stress hormone) and adrenaline (the “fight or flight” hormone) that raise and rebalance your blood sugar—and spark those hangry feelings.

Not only will keeping your blood sugar levels in a healthy range lessen those hunger-induced episodes, it’s also very important for reducing the risk of diabetes. Let’s run through some simple ways that can help keep your blood sugar levels balanced.

Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

Blood glucose levels change throughout the day. They are at their lowest point before your first meal of the day. After eating, your blood sugar levels rise, then they “settle” after about an hour. Health authorities consider a normal fasting blood sugar level to be below 99 mg/dL. In people with diabetes, the levels will differ a little more. And instead of targeting a specific blood sugar level, their aim is to manage their blood sugar and keep it within a certain range. The American Diabetes Association recommends targeting levels of 70-130 md/dL before eating for a person with diabetes. Within two hours of eating a meal, blood glucose levels should be less than 180 mg/dL.1

Consistently high blood sugar levels are associated with a condition called hyperglycemia. This condition normally develops when there is not enough insulin in the body, or when the cells become less sensitive to insulin. Without sufficient insulin, glucose cannot enter cells, causing it to build up in the blood stream. This is dangerous, because left unmanaged, high blood glucose levels could eventually lead to conditions like nerve damage, foot ulcers, vision problems, tooth infections, and more.2

Hypoglycemia, on the other hand, is exactly the opposite. This happens when the blood sugar levels fall below the normal range. Low blood sugar is most prevalent in people who take insulin, but it can also occur when you are taking certain diabetes medications. Some common causes of hypoglycemia include taking too much prescription insulin, not eating enough food or skipping a meal, increasing the amount of exercise you engage in, or drinking alcohol. If your hypoglycemia goes unchecked, it could eventually lead to seizures and loss of consciousness.3

Top Blood Sugar Balancing Tips

So what can you do to take charge of your blood sugar and keep it balanced? Let’s take a look.

Live that low-carb life: Carbohydrates cause blood sugar to rise. When you eat carbs, they are broken down into simple sugars. Those sugars then enter the bloodstream. As your blood sugar levels quickly rise, your pancreas releases insulin. This prompts your cells to absorb the sugar from the blood, which causes your blood sugar levels to drop. Many studies have shown that eating a low-carb diet can help to prevent these blood sugar spikes.4  Try and eat fewer carbs, especially refined carbohydrates like white bread, white rice, soda, candy, and dessert.

Limit your sugar intake: The Healthy Eating Pyramid suggests that sugary drinks and sweets should be eaten sparingly, if at all. The average American, though, consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar every day, which adds up to an extra 350 calories daily!  There’s definitely some room to cut back on the sweet stuff. Studies show that consuming dietary sugars is associated with developing insulin resistance, resulting in the body not being able to control blood sugar effectively.5 In general, it’s best to avoid or minimize your intake of sweetened beverages and foods that are lacking in healthy nutrients. Sure, they are tasty, but they aren’t doing you any favors.

Exercise more: Exercise helps control blood sugar spikes by increasing the sensitivity of your cells to the effects of insulin.6 Increased insulin sensitivity means your cells are better able to use the available sugar in the bloodstream. Exercise also helps your muscles use blood sugar for energy and muscle contraction. So consider taking a brisk walk in the neighborhood to gently bump up your activity level. You could also try biking, dancing, hiking, swimming, or whichever mode of exercise you feel comfortable with.

Nutrients that Can Help

If you would like to add a supplement to your regimen to help balance your blood sugar levels, look for a supplement containing nutrients like niacin7, chromium8, and bitter melon.9 These nutrients have been shown to help stabilize blood sugar levels.

Simply put, a few lifestyle changes like sticking to a low-carb, reduced-sugar diet, as well as exercising, can help stabilize your blood sugar levels. And always talk with your doctor before adding new supplements to your regimen or if you have and questions regarding these dietary changes.

This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

Greens You Won’t Find in the Produce Aisle

How do these greens promote better health? Let’s take a look.

Why Do You Need Greens?

Greens are the health superstars of the food world. They are low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins, and phytonutrients. But their benefits don’t stop there. Greens also help support good health by balancing the body’s pH. If you think back to your high school chemistry class, maybe you remember a lesson on pH. Maybe you even placed a strip of special “tape” on your tongue to measure your body’s pH.

The pH scale ranges from 0, which is the most acidic, to 14, which is the most alkaline—with 7 considered neutral. Your blood needs to be kept in a slightly alkaline range, between 7.35-7.45. Normally blood pH is tightly regulated and shifts only when a person is really sick. However, intercellular acidity, which is measured by urinary or saliva pH testing, can change significantly due to lifestyle, including things like diet, exercise, and sleep. Fortunately, the body has a unique “buffering” system that protects your blood’s pH to keep it in a safe range – but it does so at a cost.

If your blood and other bodily fluids become too acidic, the pancreas and kidneys secrete neutralizing bicarbonate. Key alkalizing minerals can also be pulled from your bones to aid in this buffering process. But this extra buffering can deplete the body of alkaline minerals like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

So what can you do to rebalance your pH? Get more greens! The goal is to make sure that 75 to 80 percent of the foods you eat are alkalizing and only 20 to 25 percent are acidifying. Including a high-quality powdered greens drink as part of your routine can help you reach this goal. Besides the usual leafy greens you’re likely familiar with, there are a few more “powerhouse” greens you should consider adding to your regimen.

Greens Breakdown

Wheatgrass: This juice bar staple is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and E, as well as iron, magnesium, calcium, and amino acids. Among its 17 amino acids, 8 are considered essential, meaning your body can’t produce them—they must come from your diet. Wheatgrass is a powerful source of glutathione, known as the “master” antioxidant. It’s little wonder that preliminary research has found that it reduces oxidative damage to cells. Other studies suggest that wheatgrass may support healthy cholesterol levels, aid in balancing blood sugar, counter an inappropriate inflammatory response, and induce the destruction of damaged or abnormal cells.1

Chlorella: This freshwater algae has survived on the earth for over two billion years. The secret to chlorella’s longevity is its fibrous outer wall. Although this defensive wall protects this single-cell algae, it also prevents the body’s ability to take advantage of chlorella’s detoxification benefits. Fortunately, scientists have found that breaking this wall releases chlorella’s natural ability to bind toxins and heavy metals through a process known as chelation. Chlorella also boasts a wealth of vitamins including vitamins B1, B2, B12, folic acid, C, and K. Plus, chlorella is a potent source of minerals, essential fatty acids, protein, and fiber.2

Spirulina: High in antioxidants, spirulina has been shown to inhibit the production of inflammatory-signaling molecules. Spirulina is also rich in high-quality protein, B vitamins, iron, copper, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Not only does this make spirulina an alkaline food, its rich nutrient profile gives this algae numerous health benefits as well. Research shows that spirulina supports healthy lipid levels, helps maintain blood sugar balance, benefits those with seasonal allergies, and improves muscle strength.3

Kelp: This common seaweed is rich in B vitamins, which play a critical role in cellular metabolism. Because it absorbs nutrients from its surrounding environment, kelp contains more than 15 amino acids and is also a great source of calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, boron, and manganese. As a result, this mineral-rich seaweed helps maintain bone density and muscle health.4

If you don’t think you’re getting enough green vegetables in your daily routine, try adding a nutrient-dense powdered greens drink mix to water, juice, or your favorite smoothie. It will not only help you to meet your daily veggie intake, it will support virtually every system in your body.

How to get Your Cholesterol In Check Before the Holidays

Danish researchers studied over 25,000 people with an average age of 59 in Copenhagen. None were taking cholesterol-lowering drugs. All of the participants had their blood drawn at the beginning of the study and then again in January and June over the next three years. The average total cholesterol at the start of the study was 205 mg/dL, just north of the recommended  200 mg/dL. LDL (bad) cholesterol was 116 mg/dL, just above 100 mm/dL, which is considered healthy.  During the next three years, the average cholesterol of the participants In January was 240 mm/dL and the average LDL was 143 mm/dL, both in the unhealthy range. Yet in June, the average cholesterol was 197 mm/dL and LDL was 108 mm/dL. Almost twice as many people had unhealthy lipid levels in January as in June!1 Why does this matter? High blood cholesterol levels can contribute to clogged arteries, resulting in a greater risk of cardiac events like heart attack and stroke, so it’s definitely something worth monitoring. We are going to show you how you can take charge of your cholesterol, targeting a few different areas.

Why Is Cholesterol Important

One word—plaque buildup. Plaque is a combination of substances including fat and cholesterol. When plaque builds up, arteries narrow and stiffen, constricting blood flow to the heart. Plaque can even build up to the point where blood flow is completely blocked. This condition, known as atherosclerosis, can significantly increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.2 What’s unfortunate, high cholesterol has no symptoms. The only way to determine if your cholesterol levels are too high is through a simple blood test ordered by your doctor. The test measures cholesterol and triglyceride levels circulating in your blood. Triglycerides are another type of fat in the blood. Similar to cholesterol, unhealthy triglyceride levels can increase your risk of heart disease.

Not to worry (too much) though since adopting certain diet and lifestyle changes can help keep your cholesterol in check.

Lifestyle

  • Exercise can improve cholesterol.3 With your doctor’s okay, work up to at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. Try jogging biking, step aerobics, or a Zumba class for variety and fun.
  • Put a cap on stress with deep breathing. Taking a few minutes to focus only on your breathing can help bring calm to a hectic day.
  • If you smoke, look for ways to quit. Quitting smoking improves your HDL cholesterol level, and the benefits can occur relatively quickly.4

Diet

  • Reduce saturated fats. Saturated fats, found primarily in red meat and full-fat dairy products, raise your total cholesterol. Decreasing your consumption of saturated fats can help reduce your LDL cholesterol.5
  • Check labels for the sugar content in your favorite breakfast cereals. Opt for those with 3g or less.
  • Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids don’t affect LDL cholesterol, but they have other heart-healthy benefits including reducing blood pressure.6 Foods with omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, herring, walnuts, and flaxseeds.7

Supplements

Research shows that supplements containing lecithin, phytosterols, and omega-3 fatty acids can all help to lower cholesterol.

  • Lecithin is a fat that is essential for every one of your body’s cells. Researchers have discovered that soybean lecithin can contribute to raising HDL (good) cholesterol and lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol in blood profiles.8
  • Phytosterols are a group of naturally occurring compounds found in plant cell membranes. Because phytosterols are structurally similar to cholesterol, they compete with your body’s cholesterol for absorption in the digestive system. As a result, cholesterol absorption is blocked, and levels drop. While you can find phytosterols in foods like vegetable oil, nuts, legumes, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, you can also take them in supplement form.9
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are types of polyunsaturated fats found in fatty fish, nuts and seeds, plant oils, and various supplements. Some evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acids can help to reduce blood triglyceride levels. There also appears to be a slight improvement in high-density lipoprotein (good cholesterol) from consuming omega-3s.10

Before the holidays hit, try taking some steps to reduce your LDL cholesterol. Go for an after-dinner walk, incorporate  foods like nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fatty fish such as salmon into your diet, and try finding a supplement that contains one of the nutrients mentioned above. This year, avoid that post-holiday uptick in your blood fat levels by giving yourself the gift of healthy cholesterol!

This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

How to Have a Healthy Staycation

You can get the health benefits of taking some time off and make the best of these limited travel days with a summer/fall “staycation”. We get it, you may be feeling a little burned out from work, may be a little sick of staying in your house for 4+ months on end, not seeing friends and family as much, and sometimes, you just need a break. But instead of traveling right now, which may be unsafe, we are going to help you plan the perfect staycation. You can relax, unwind, and emerge more rested and less stressed. You might even pick up a new hobby!

Staycation Benefits

The popularity of staycations has increased in recent years. The idea of staycations, like we all probably know, is that instead of travelling to another state or country for your vacation, you stay either at your home or a nearby hotel and enjoy your town (or home!) as if you were a tourist. A staycation probably does not sound as exciting and “exotic” as your typical vacation, but there really are some benefits. One of the biggest benefits is that staycations are less expensive. The number of people taking staycations has increased ever since the economic crisis in 2007-08, as people looked for more creative ways to save money without compromising their lifestyle.1 Staycations are cheaper because so many expenses are cut, there’s no need to book a flight, or spend lot’s of money on expensive meals at a hotel.

Another great benefit to staycations is that they require little to no prep or travel time. Prepping for a vacation can cause enough stress to make you need a vacation from your vacation! You would need to account for travel insurance, travel to the airport, renting a car, travel money, language barriers, etc…this can all cause some added stress that no one needs right now.

Top Staycation Tips

Speaking of stress, here are some top tips to plan and enjoy a stress-free staycation, so you can really focus on getting in some good R&R.

Disconnect from work: A lot of us are working from home right now, and it’s tempting to walk by your laptop and see a new email from work and want to respond instantly…but resist the urge! When you take your staycation, make sure you are off “work mode.” Give yourself a break from emails and phone calls even if your home is now your office. Set your out of office reply, turn off the computer and closed the door. Office closed!

Change the scenery a bit: If you can, buy a few new inexpensive plants or décor for your backyard or home, so that it will feel a little more like a getaway. Planting some colorful new plants in your garden could even dust off your green thumb, and help reawaken a hobby you used to enjoy! And don’t limit your time to the house – set up a campsite or go “glamping” in the backyard for a change of venue.

Try something new: Speaking of hobbies…use your staycation to pick up a new hobby! For example, learn to cook a new dish, or finish a fun project around your house. Include the whole family and find new things to do together that you can all enjoy. Use this staycation time to try something you might not otherwise do during your normal week.

Play a game: Chess, bingo, cards, and crosswords all help keep our minds agile, research suggests, especially for the elderly. Those who regularly play board games like chess and bingo for example, are more likely to maintain their thinking skills.2 So break out those bingo cards! Plan a game night for the family with prizes or ‘bragging rights’ for the winners.

Staying at home for your vacation doesn’t have to be boring. With a little creative planning, your staycation can be filled with adventure, fun, and memories with loved ones.

What are Probiotics, Exactly?

For a long time, the word “bacteria” was associated with germs and disease. But the reality is that the body is teeming with healthy bacteria that keep digestion, immunity and a score of other bodily functions in balance. Once people began to understand this, they looked for products and foods to help them maintain this balance. Enter probiotics. Probiotics refer to the specific live strains of “good” bacteria that help the body maintain wellness. They’re found naturally in foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and pickled vegetables, in supplement form and increasingly as additives in a number of functional food and beverage products.

How do probiotics work?

Once they arrive in an adequate host environment, these microbes can replicate. Generally, a moist environment is necessary for probiotics to stay alive. But in the case of supplements, if the bacteria are stabilized and dried properly, they remain alive and can start to grow and replicate again once they return to a moist environment (in this case, in your body).

When you supplement the body with probiotics, you’re essentially repopulating the gut with the healthy bacteria it needs to maintain a balanced microbiome (the collection of microbes that lives in and on the human body). The microbiome can be thrown off balance by a lack of sleep, antibiotics, stress, travel or a poor diet, so probiotics can play a positive role for many people.

Because the intestines are home to trillions of bacterial cells – not all of them friendly –introducing healthy bacteria into the diet through probiotic-rich foods or supplements can result in better digestive health. Probiotics also benefit immune health because the intestines house about 70 percent of the body’s innate immune function. Increasingly, scientists are also beginning to link microbial balance with body-wide benefits ranging from heart health to mental health.

What’s the difference between probiotics species?

In general, any probiotic supplement will help maintain or restore gut bacteria. But each probiotic genus – and the different species within that genus – performs a different role. Important to remember is that more may not be better when it comes to CFU count. Below are some general guidelines of CFUs to look for based on species, but be wary of claims that exorbitantly high numbers of CFUs are superior.

Species for overall health include the following. Together, they are great for maintenance. Look for a supplement with at least 1.5 billion cells guaranteed through expiration.

  • Lactobacillus gasseri: One of the main species of lactobacilli in the human gut, this species is great for both gastrointestinal function and immune health.
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum: This species is known to modulate the immune system and stabilize the body’s metabolic, antibacterial and antiviral responses. Plus, it can reduce inflammation.
  • Bifidobacterium longum: Suffering from IBS? Look no further. This species can reduce stress-induced gastro-symptoms, normalize bowel movements, improve IBS and shorten the duration and decrease the severity of acute diarrhea.

Species for gastrointestinal upset include the following. They’re often found together with other species for overall health. Look for about 1.5 billion cells through 3 billion guaranteed through expiration.

  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus: Reach for this species if you’re taking antibiotics. It’s known to help with side effects like diarrhea, as well as symptoms of IBS.
  • Bifidobacterium lactis: Constipation is no match for this species, which can also improve digestive comfort.
  • Bifidobacterium infantis: IBS symptoms be gone! This species can reduce symptoms on its own.

Species for immune support include the following. This is often paired with other probiotics. Again, 1.5 million CFUs is ideal for a combination supplement.

  • Bifidobacterium breve: This species modulates inflammation as well as allergies, and has been shown to increase resistance to respiratory infections in infants.

 

This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

Understanding the Microbiome

What it is, why it’s important and how to support it

Microbiome. The word alone sounds complicated. In fact, the microbiome is one of the body’s most complex systems—and one of its most important.

Essentially, the microbiome is the collection of microbes (bacteria, fungi and viruses) that lives in and on the human body. These microbes number in the trillions and impact nearly every bodily function. In fact, the human body has about 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells, most of which reside in the large intestine. This collection of microbes is known as the gut microbiome.

While promoting healthy digestion and nutrient absorption is the most obvious role of the gut microbiome, it isn’t the only role. The healthy bacteria within the gut microbiome also impacts the body’s inflammatory response, immunity (because up to 70 percent of the immune system resides in the gut), and even functions like mood, blood pressure and congnitive function. Scientists are still understanding how exactly the microbiome can do all of this, but one thing’s clear: a healthy microbiome is linked to overall health.

So how can you support a healthy microbiome? Here are five simple ways:

Repopulate with probiotic-rich foods.

One, or ideally two, servings of probiotics per day will serve up healthy bacteria and keep the microbiome running smoothly. Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and pickled vegetables are all natural sources of probiotics. Tip: Purchase these products from the refrigerated section to be sure that the cultures remain intact.

Take a supplement.

Probiotic supplements are another great way to inject more beneficial bacteria into your diet. Just be sure that the packaging of the supplement indicates that the bacteria will be live at expiration, rather than simply live at manufacture. Some labels may indicate that the supplements are heat-stable or stomach acid resistant, which means they’re able to reach the large intestine intact. Keep these supplements in a cool, dark and dry location to promote the stability of the bacteria inside.

Support with prebiotics.

Think of prebiotics as food for bacteria. And bacteria love fiber. Boosting the diet with soluble fiber from sources such as chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp fiber, sprouted grains and organic fruits and vegetables will give these microbes lots to munch on. Also, some probiotics include prebiotics in them, which can provide the benefits of colonizing good bacteria, as well as providing food to thrive.

Reduce sugar.

As good bacteria need soluble fiber to survive, bad bacteria feast on sugar. Eliminate or minimize refined sugar in the diet to minimize unhealthy yeast in the digestive tract.

Diversify.

According to the American Gut Project, eating a wide variety of plant foods and soluble fiber is linked with a greater diversity of gut bacteria. Essentially, different bacteria prefer different foods, so the more diverse the diet, the more diverse the bacteria in the gut. And when it comes to bacteria, the more diverse the merrier. Ideally, aiming for 25 to 35 different species of plant foods can change the diversity of the microbiome within days. Bonus points for organic plants: Soil that clings to garden-fresh food is teeming with beneficial microbes.

 

This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

New to probiotics? Here’s what you need to know.

How to read the label.

While most supplements are measured in milligrams, probiotics are measured in CFUs, with numbers normally in the billions. CFU stands for Colony Forming Units and refers to the number of live bacteria cells capable of dividing and forming colonies. You’ll want to look for dosages of at least 1 billion, though products can contain 50 billion or more. If you are healthy and are looking for maintenance, aim for a dose of 1 billion to 5 billion CFUs per day.

Because probiotics must reach the intestines live and intact in order to produce results, choosing a stable supplement with bacteria count guaranteed through the product’s expiration date is critical. In other words, it’s not enough for a product to list the organism counts at the time of manufacture. Supplements must also be stable at room temperature (for storage purposes) and heat resistant (so they can travel through the body).

How to choose a probiotic.

“Probiotic” is a catch-all term for good bacteria. But there are many, many different kinds of bacteria in the gut – and on the shelves as supplements – and they each provide a different benefit. These different kinds of bacteria are organized into genus and species. For example; in the case of lactobacillus gasseri, “lactobacillus” is the genus, and “gasseri’ identifies the species. Taking this one step further, some (but not all) manufacturers include a strain code, which is a unique identifier of the strain, which can be traced back to its origins.

The species you choose will depend on your health goals. Strains in the Lactobacillus genus, for example, are generally helpful for boosting immunity and fending off allergies. Strains in the Bifidobacteria genus, on the other hand, are linked closely to digestive health and reducing gastrointestinal symptoms. Often, products will provide a combination of probiotics to encourage diversity in the gut for better overall health.

How to make it part of your routine.

It’s common to experience some mild stomach upset, gas or bloating when you first start taking probiotics. Some experts believe these fleeting symptoms are a result of the “bad” bacteria dying off in a newly healthier environment. If symptoms are bothersome, try to avoid inflammatory foods (like sugary or processed options) and load up on anti-inflammatory antioxidants instead. If symptoms persist, it’s possible that you are taking bacteria strains that may not compatible with your system. You may want to try a different combination of probiotics. While this process could take a little time and trial to find a match, it will be worth it to support your overall well-being.

 

This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

Moducare for a Balanced Immune System

Today, we are finally getting the message out that the immune system plays a huge role with your vitality and how well you feel every day, and not just when you are getting sick. When your immune system gets out of balance, it can affect inflammation, mood, and your overall energy, so it truly can have a huge impact on your daily life.


Moducare® is one of the most important supplements I teach about and recommend in my practice, because it is one of the only supplements I know of that can help people restore and maintain balance in their everyday immune system functions.

Moducare is a blend of compounds extracted from pine, known as plant sterols and sterolins. These two substances are combined in in a very specific 100:1 ratio and have been heavily researched. Moducare is unique to the supplement world because it is acts as an immune modulator. In other words, it can help balance out immune system function. Studies have shown some pretty incredible results.

A surprising benefit of Moducare is its ability to help manage the effects of stress on our immune system. Virtually every patient that I see has some measure of stress pounding away at his or her immunity and vitality. Moducare helps control the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. When someone is under a lot of stress, whether physical from intense workouts, mental or emotional stress, cortisol is elevated triggering an increase production of IL-6, an inflammatory cytokine. This suppresses the part of our immune system known as the TH1 immune system. The TH1 side produces cells that can kill cells infected by viruses (so they are side of our immune system that works against colds and flu.)  And at the same time, if your TH1 Immunity is too high you could begin to attack your own tissues like in the case of autoimmune thyroiditis. Moducare is my go to recommendation in that situation. Other studies have shown that it can help with allergies, so it can help balance out the TH2 side of the immune system also.

The take away is that Moducare lowers production of heightened cortisol from physical and mental stress. It doesn’t mean that it automatically lowers cortisol, it just protects the immune system from the changes that occur under stress that lead you to being more prone to getting sick. A study showed that marathon runners that took Moducare did not get the same immune deficits or cortisol spikes as people who did not take it, resulting in less post event upper respiratory infections for those runners taking Moducare.

Moducare has Anti-inflammatory Activity

The effects of the inflammatory cytokines are very far reaching. For example, IL6 mentioned above, can contribute to depression, pain, and leaky gut. Our immune cells produce many inflammatory cytokines, not just that one, so the production of cytokines from the immune system can be a big source of inflammation in our bodies. When IL-6 gets turned up in your body, it triggers the re-release of a compound called claudin-2 and once that happens big changes start to occur in the immune reactions that go on in the gut. When claudin-2 upregulates, the tight junctions between mucosal cells of the intestine loosen. This sets people up for food intolerances and allergies along with setting their bodies up for even bigger immune problems.

As you can see, our immune system affects many areas of health. Here are just a few of the situations where Moducare can help by providing nutritional support for the immune system:

  1. Allergies – environmental or food allergies
  2. Autoimmune conditions
  3. Chronic high stress
  4. Athletes or people who do regular intense workouts
  5. High cholesterol
  6. Hepatitis C
  7. Leaky gut
  8. Mood issues
  9. Mycotoxins and other infections like Lyme’s disease

With the emergence of CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome), people are finally beginning to understand that the immune system needs to be supported every day for its best function, just as we take a nutrient for the heart or for better cognition. Daily maintenance to help keep balance in the immune system may well be the single most important thing you can do for your healthy longevity.

 

James B. LaValle, R.Ph., CCN, is an internationally recognized clinical pharmacist, author, board certified clinical nutritionist and naturopathic doctorate with more than 30 years of clinical experience. He works with the NFL, NBA, MLB and the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village to offer personalized health, wellness, diet and performance strategies. LaValle is best known for his expertise in metabolic and integrative medicine, with an extensive background in natural products, lifestyle drug/nutrient depletion and uncovering the underlying metabolic issues that keep people from feeling healthy and vital.  https://www.metaboliccode.com/

This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.