Janus Baker, Author at Wakunaga of America

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.


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.

Podcast: Dr. LaValle Discusses Probiotics on “Herbally Yours” Radio Show

Dr. LaValle will show listeners how to become proficient in their probiotic use by sharing three things probiotics can do for your health now that science supports and two things they can’t do, just yet.

To listen to this radio show, click here.

About Dr. James LaValle

Jim LaValle, R.Ph., C.C.N, a nationally recognized clinical pharmacist, author, board-certified clinical nutritionist, and founder of Metabolic Code Enterprises, Inc. a web platform and practice solution enterprise, launching AIR Support and the Metabolic Code Assessment.

About “Herbally Yours” Radio 

Hosted by Ellen Kamhi, Ph.D., RN, this radio program focuses on current issues in natural health, such as natural foods, herbs, essential oils and mind-body techniques.

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.

Podcast: Dr. LaValle Talks Probiotics on “Today Radio Network”

For the full interview, click here.

About Dr. James LaValle

Jim LaValle, R.Ph., C.C.N, a nationally recognized clinical pharmacist, author, board-certified clinical nutritionist, and founder of Metabolic Code Enterprises, Inc. a web platform and practice solution enterprise, launching AIR Support and the Metabolic Code Assessment.

About Bob Gourley 

Bob Gourley’s “Issues Today” has been in on the air since 1998. The first affiliate was the legendary KPPC radio in Pasadena, California. The fast-paced half hour features leading guests discussing the challenges that face us all. Past guests include Ann Coulter, Ben Stein and columnist Michael Barone.

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.

All About Inflammation

Inflammation helps the body by producing white blood cells and other substances. When the inflammation process starts, chemicals in the white blood cells are released into the blood and the affected tissues to protect the body. The chemicals increase blood flow to the infected or injured body areas, causing redness and warmth in those locations. These chemicals can also cause leaking of fluids into tissues, resulting in swelling. This protective process can also stimulate nerves and tissues, causing pain1.  So how much do we actually know about inflammation, and how it affects the body?

Different Types of Inflammation

Scientists, over the years, have searched for commonalities behind some of our most common and prevalent diseases, like Alzheimer’s, arthritis, diabetes, and more,  and have zeroed in on one factor that seems to play into them all: inflammation. Now, inflammation happens to everyone, whether you’re aware of it or not. Inflammation is classified into two different types, acute inflammation, and chronic inflammation.

  • Acute inflammation usually occurs for a short, albeit severe, duration, and it usually resolves in about a week or two. Symptoms oftentimes appear quickly. This type of inflammation can restore your body to its state before injury or illness. It may include heat of a fever or warmth in the affected area. Acute inflammation is a healthy and necessary function that helps the body to attack bad bacteria and other foreign substances anywhere in the body. Once the body has healed, the inflammation usually goes away.
    • Some examples of acute inflammation include bronchitis, an infected/ingrown toenail, a sore throat, skin cuts, and dermatitis.
  • Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is a slower and less severe for of inflammation. It typically lasts longer than six weeks, and can occur when there’s no injury, and doesn’t always end when the injury/illness is healed. Unfortunately, it can continue to attack healthy areas of the body, unless the body’s immune response “turns off.” Chronic inflammation has been linked to autoimmune disorders and even to chronic stress2.
    • Some examples of conditions that cause chronic inflammation include inflammatory arthritis, asthma, periodontitis (inflammation of the gums and other supporting teeth structures), and inflammatory bowel disease (IBS).

Symptoms of Inflammation

The specific symptoms that you have will depend on where in the body the inflammation is found, and what is causing it. Nevertheless, there are five classic markers for inflammation, which are heat, pain, redness, swelling, and even loss of function. In some autoimmune conditions, your immune system can trigger inflammation that affects your skin, leading to rashes. In other types, it attacks specific glands, which affects hormone levels in the body. With rheumatoid arthritis, for example, your immune system attacks your joints, and you may experience joint pain, stiffness, fatigue, numbness, tingling, and a limited range of motion from inflammation. With IBS, some common symptoms include diarrhea, stomach pain, weight loss, anemia, and bloating.

Ways to Help Fight Inflammation

There are several things you can do yourself, in order to help fight inflammation. The first is to monitor the foods that you eat, because changes to diet really can help! To reduce inflammation, you should limit these three things in your diet: sugar, saturated fat, and refined carbohydrates. Many studies have found that eating foods high in sugar can cause inflammation in the body. When we eat processed sugars, it triggers the release of “inflammatory messengers,” called cytokines. Next, is saturated fats. Saturated fats can trigger inflammation in fat cells called adipose tissue, which increases the inflammation associated with arthritis. Consumption of refined carbohydrates should be reduced, because not only has most of their fiber been removed, but they provide very little “nutrition.” They have also been linked to high levels of inflammatory markers in the blood3.

Another item that might help you to reduce inflammation is to start taking a supplement containing turmeric. Turmeric is sold as a spice and also as a supplement. Dozens of studies and trials have shown that curcumin (the main active ingredient in turmeric) has anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, curcumin has been found to increase the antioxidant capacity of the body. The reason antioxidants are so important, is that they protect your body from free radicals, which can cause oxidative stress to the body4. Curcumin is great because it can help to neutralize these free radicals, due to its chemical structure, and it also boosts the activity of the body’s antioxidant enzymes. When choosing a curcumin supplement, look for one that is formulated to be bioavailable (natural curcumin does not absorb well and is rapidly eliminated from the body). For example, Kyolic Curcumin supplement contains Meriva® Turmeric Complex that binds curcumin with phosphatidylcholine to increase bioavailability and absorption.

Inflammation is a necessary part of the body’s healing process, and is usually nothing to worry about. But when inflammation is chronic, it can turn into a serious health problem. Watch your diet and take care of your body to keep your immune system in balance. If you are experiencing ongoing inflammation, you should consult with your healthcare professional for more information.


  1. https://www.verywellhealth.com/signs-of-inflammation-4580526
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/inflammation#symptoms
  3. https://www.lifespan.org/lifespan-living/foods-fighting-inflammation-arthritis-and-joint-pain
  4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric#section11

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.

Sherry Torkos Talks About the “Power of Probiotics” on Retro Television Network

Sherry also discusses Kids Kyo-Dophilus, and how beneficial probiotics are for children.

Click here to watch the full interview.

About Sherry Torkos

Sherry Torkos is a pharmacist, author, certified fitness instructor and health enthusiast who enjoys sharing her passion with others. Her philosophy of practice is to integrate conventional and complementary therapies to optimize health and prevent disease. Sherry has won several national pharmacy awards for providing excellence in patient care.

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 Diaphragmatic Breathing Can Help Digestion

It’s hard to believe that something as simple as taking a few deep breaths can transform your body, state of mind, and digestion, yet science shows that it does. Deep breathing sends a message to your brain that has a calming effect. Deep breathing in it of itself can lower your heart rate and breathing rate, decrease your blood pressure, reduce muscle tension and help you feel less stressed overall1. The best part is that these breathing exercises require no special equipment or supplies…they can be done by anyone, anywhere, anytime.

The Power of Deep Breathing

As it turns out, there actually is a “wrong” way to exhale, and experts claim that bad habits in the respiratory department are more common than you’d think. “Breathing is something we do 15,000 times a day, so that what ends up happening is that it can become habitual in a positive or negative way,” said Patricia Ladis, a physiotherapist and certified behavioral breathing expert2. Many of our breathing patterns were picked up in childhood, she says – for instance, if you lived in a stressful home or had traumatic experiences at school, your adult self may be more prone to unconsciously hyperventilate or hold your breath when you’re in tense situations. Other people can develop disordered breathing in response to things like injury, pregnancy, or chronic pain.

When you start breathing correctly, there are a whole litany of benefits that you can expect to enjoy. One of the greatest benefits is that it can greatly reduce your anxiety. When you reach a breath rhythm of inhaling and exhaling for a count of five or more, it changes the nervous system, taking the body from the sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight) to the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the digest-and-rest mode3. The fight or flight response causes blood to move from the gut to the larger muscles, which interferes with digestion, weakens the immune system and increases inflammation. These changes don’t last long, and in the short term, they are not harmful and may even be helpful, but when they happen time and time again, they can hurt your health. The good news is that you can learn to “turn off” this automatic response through deep breathing. Taking slow, deep breathes creates a “relaxation response” that calms the mind and body. Abdominal breathing, also called diaphragmatic breathing, is one of the easiest, most effective ways to reduce muscle tension and stop the fight or flight response4.

Diaphragmatic breathing is especially helpful to those experiencing GI issues. Focusing one’s breath is an effective way to help the body to relax. When practicing this type of breathing, the stomach, rather than the chest, moves with each breath, expanding while inhaling, and contracting while exhaling. Some general benefits of diaphragmatic breathing are that it can lower the heart rate, increase blood oxygenation, bring warmth to the hands and feet, improve concentration, reduce stress hormones, and more. But for those suffering with GI issues specifically, diaphragmatic breathing offers specific benefits. Activating the diaphragm creates a gentle massaging action felt by internal organs like the intestines and stomach, which can reduce abdominal pain, urgency, bloating, and constipation5. This breathing can also help in these specific GI situations:

  • Diarrhea and urgency: Diaphragmatic breathing can help calm the digestive tract and ease moments of panic (i.e. I MUST get to the bathroom right now).
  • Constipation: Diaphragmatic breathing can be used while sitting on the toilet attempting to have a bowel movement, to calm and massage the system.

Quick Guide to Deep Breathing

Here is a quick step-by-step guide on how you can get the most from your deep breathing.

  • Find a comfortable, quiet location and lie in a flat or reclined position
  • Place one hand on your abdomen, and one hand on your chest
  • Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose into your abdomen to push your hand up. Only breathe in as deeply as is comfortable (your chest should remain still)
  • Exhale through the mouth and gently blow out
  • Your abdomen should rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out
  • Repeat these steps until you count up to 10

Taking calm, deep breathes is easy, and you can start now. It can take weeks or even months, to fully realize the benefits of abdominal breathing.  But take a deep breath and hang in there, because it’s worth it!


  1. https://health.usnews.com/health-care/for-better/articles/2017-01-05/how-to-improve-your-health-through-breath
  2. https://www.wellandgood.com/good-advice/breathing-exercises-for-better-health/
  3. https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/Breathing.html
  4. https://www.loyolamedicine.org/blog/breathing-stress-improve-digestive
  5. https://www.uofmhealth.org/conditions-treatments/diaphragmatic-breathing-gi-patients

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.