A Primer on Probiotics

What are probiotics and why are they important? 

Probiotics

Extensive scientific evidence now points to the importance of gut microflora for good immune system function and overall health & wellbeing. A healthy and diverse diet is of course your #1 means to promote a well-functioning gut. Here are a few useful facts about probiotics:

  • Probiotics are bacteria that line your digestive tract and support your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight infection

  • Your digestive health affects every physiological system in your body.

  • Up to 80% of your immune system is in your microbiome (your body’s bacteria); which is primarily located in your digestive tract (gut).

  • Your digestive tract is the second largest part of our neurological system. That’s why the gut is often referred to as our second brain!

  • Restoring good digestive health is a matter of balancing out the good and bad bacteria in our gut, and having a diverse microbiome.

  • Many Americans have a poor diversity of bacteria in their gut, due to modern methods of food production (pasteurization for example is an excellent modern food safety practice, but it also kills the good bacteria in food along with the bad), and also the widespread overuse of antibiotics.

  • 70 million Americans suffer from digestive disease, at a cost of over 100 billion dollars in medical bills.

  • More then 40 diseases have been linked to bacterial imbalance, including arthritis, IBS, metabolic syndrome and cancer.

  • A recent meta-analysis of the scientific literature examining the link between gut health and obesity concluded that dietary agents for modulation of the gut microbiome are essential tools in the treatment of obesity and lead to significant reductions in BMI, body weight and fat mass when compared to placebo.(3)
     

Who needs probiotics?

Everyone needs a diverse microbiome in order to have a well-functioning digestive and immune systems. Unfortunately, a number of modern practices have played a role in reversing our natural gut diversity. For example, the increase in the number of births by Cesarian section has meant that more babies are now born without the benefit of receiving their mother’s beneficial bacteria during the birth process. Our higher standards of cleanliness and increasingly indoors/sedentary lifestyle also isn’t helping – our kids literally could do with getting their hands dirty a little more often! And of course antibiotics have been liberally dispersed by well-meaning family physicians in recent times – before we understood so much about the importance of re-populating our microbiome. So really, everyone from babies to the elderly can do well to think about ways to strengthen and diversify their gut microflora. One great way is to eat fermented foods such as raw, homemade sauerkraut or kimchi – but if you’re a busy person or not really kitchen-inclined then most health professionals would recommend finding and using a good quality probiotic supplement.

If you are overweight, have Type 2 diabetes or other metabolic diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory joint pain, depression, anxiety or digestive illness, you may particularly benefit from improving your gut flora.

What’s wrong with the current probiotics foods and supplements on the market?

Although there are already many foods and dietary supplements on the market that contain beneficial bacteria, the majority also contain very high levels of sugar and other carbohydrates. Do not be fooled by the marketing copy on the label that often proudly proclaims: “no added sugars” or “no refined sugars”. Often the manufacturer has simply replaced cane or white/table sugar with sugar by another name, such as fruit juice concentrates or purees, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar or coconut sugar. At the end of the day, as far as your body and metabolism is concerned - sugar is sugar is sugar. For example, some of the popular fruit-flavored “fat-free” Greek yoghurts or natural/organic green smoothies marketed as healthy contain more than 30g of sugar per serving! That’s more than we’re aiming for in an entire day on a ketogenic or VLC diet.

Bottom line:

Having a well-functioning gut not only helps your immune system but can also help you lose of keep off weight, lower your blood sugar, and even positively affect your cognitive and emotional health. In fact, this last topic (the gut-brain axis and mental health) is so interesting that I’m going to write a whole separate blog post about that! (5)

Here are our top tips for a healthy gut:

  • Remove sugar and processed foods from your diet and get most of your carbohydrates from dark leafy vegetables – of course, being keto you already know this, right?!

  • Eat a diverse range of fermented foods – without added sugar of course! Your best bets are fermented veggies such a kimchi and sauerkraut, which also have the additional benefit of being both salty and savory. This is helpful for topping up your sodium levels and combating sugar cravings.

  • Avoid using antacids – at least consider swopping them out for digestive enzymes instead that will help you to breakdown fats (lipase) and/or protein (protease). Many people on the Standard American Diet (SAD) have become accustomed to using antacids after meals – but as you clean up your way of eating and begin eating very low carb meals you should find that you no longer experience the same bloating, gas and heartburn that you used to experience.

  • Don’t overuse antibiotics – and if you must do a course, be sure once your infection has cleared up that you re-populate your gut with beneficial bacteria, either through live foods such as those mentioned above, or through a good quality supplement.

  • Consider using a high-quality probiotic supplement. Ketologie PROBHB delivers 2billion CFU’s of bacillus coagulans with every serving.
     

How/when should you take probiotic supplements?

Our probiotic/ketone supplement has been designed to be taken first thing in the morning, and can also be used again during the day depending on your health goals. Our unique formulation deliberately contains no caffeine, so you don’t have to worry about using it in the afternoon and having that negatively impact your sleep patterns.

Scientific references

  1. Jager et al (2016). Probiotic Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 reduces exercise-induced muscle damage and increases recovery. Peer J, DOI 10.7717/peerj.2276 
  1. Jensen et al, (2017). Inactivated probiotic Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 induces complex immune activating, anti-inflammatory, and regenerative markers in vitro. Journal of Inflammation research, 7th August 2017: 107 – 117. 
  1. John et al (2018). Dietary alteration of the gut microbiome and its impact on weight and body mass: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Genes Mar 16;9(3). 
  1. Mandel et al (2010). Bacillus coagulans: A viable adjunct therapy for relieving symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis according to a randomized, controlled trial. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 10:1. 
  1. Mayer et al (2014). Gut microbes and the brain: paradigm shift in neuroscience. J Neurosci Nov 12;34(46): 15490-6.