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Julie Wilczynski: Confused About Probiotics?

by on July 15, 2012 1:27 PM

Probiotics refer to the beneficial bacterium that exists in the gastrointestinal tract of healthy mammals which supports digestion and healthy immune function. What you must always consider is why are you taking probiotics.

Are you taking them as part of your ongoing daily supplementation regimen? Are you taking them because you are dealing with an acute bout of lower GI (gastrointestinal) dysfunction or illness? Are you taking them to aid in rebalancing after an onset of Candida Albicans overgrowth?

Each indicator of need for supplementation with probiotics carries with it a different protocol, different strains should be taken, and different foods should be eaten.

All things considered, how you take probiotics is still a personalized decision. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need assistance choosing a probiotic that is right for your needs.

Francine Mondou, a microbiologist who specializes in manufacturing probiotics, suggests that it is optimal to take probiotics on a full stomach. Her reasoning is based on the fact that an empty stomach has a very acidic environment — a pH of about 1.5 to 2.5.

If you would like to learn more about pH scroll through past issues of the Centre County Gazette online — I discussed pH in April.

Right after a meal, the environment in the stomach becomes less acidic, rising to a pH of about 4.0 to 6.0. In general, probiotic strains are able to survive for at least two hours in a gastric environment with a pH of 4.0.

Ergo, taking probiotics on a full stomach increases the likelihood of the friendly bacterial strains surviving through the acidic environment of your stomach and reaching your intestines, where they can provide several health promoting effects. Of course, not all bacteria are equal in their ability to survive in acidic environments.

If you are taking a probiotic supplement or thinking of starting on one, your best bet is to choose a product that contains a wide variety of bacterial strains to increase the likelihood of having beneficial organisms reach your intestines. And it certainly won’t hurt you to follow Francine’s advice about taking your probiotic after a meal.

My family and I rotate through several comprehensive, chewable vegetarian formulations designed to support digestive tract health and nutrient absorption in people of all ages. We are also mindful of the specifics of why we take probiotics.

Are we taking them as a supplement for maintenance or is there a specific health concern we are trying to resolve or a body system that needs cleansed or strengthened? In any case it is always important to introduce a new formula to keep broad spectrum of beneficial bacterium plentiful and healthy in the intestinal tract and digestive system. For that reason we often rotate through several brands of probiotics.

If I have a client who is suffering with digestive distress, who is taking antibiotics or has an active Candida Albicans overgrowth then specific strains would be recommended and followed until a maintenance course can be put in place.

Probiotics are a beneficial in assisting to regulate intestinal and digestive functions. They assist in eliminating toxins and they support healthy immune system function. If you are taking probiotics or think you may benefit from taking them make sure you are taking what your body needs. If you need help determining what you need, give me a call.

Julie A. Wilczynski is a correspondent for the Centre County Gazette. She is a traditional naturopath, counselor of natural health, certified nutritional consultant, certified personal trainer and yoga and pilates instructor from Butler, Pa. For more information or for help in creating your own personalized healthy lifestyle program, contact Julie at
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