THE SUPPLEMENT DISCLAIMER
Supplements are the 3rd step in a performance diet. Step 1 - optimized base diet, Step 2 - optimized sports nutrition manipulations using foods, and Step 3 - supplement trials (take note of the word "trials"). If you want to get to the 3rd step work closely with a sports dietitian.
WHAT ARE THEY?
Probiotics are friendly gut bugs that can support the health of your microbiome. What is a microbiome you ask? It is the world of friendly microscopic organisms that live in you and on you actually outnumbering you. Watch this fantastic 5 minute video to learn about the microbiome.
REASONS TO TAKE PROBIOTICS
- defend against harmful bacteria
- improve metabolism of food
- restore digestive system health
"It's important to know that different strains of probiotics can be better for different people"
For example, Lactobacillus acidophilus L92 may help to treat eczema in children (the proof) whereas Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM may reduce the risk of getting a cold or the flu (the proof). These two probiotic strains belong to the same family and species, but are different strains. Check out my dog analogy below if you want to know what I mean when I say strain (really important to understanding how to choose the right probiotic supplement).
WHAT WE THINK WE KNOW ABOUT YOUR MICROBIOME
As you age your good bacteria population decreases.
Women seem to need more bacteria from the Lactobacillus family to prevent yeast and urinary tract infections and control menopausal symptoms.
Unhealthy you = Unhealthy microbiome!
YOUR BIRTH STORY
Smoking and stressed pregnancies, early deliveries, C-sections, formula feeding, antibiotic use and more all have been shown to lower good bacteria diversity or populations.
DIET (OF COURSE) MATTERS
Dietary fibre (found mostly in THE SUPERFOODS) acts as prebiotics, the food for our good bacteria. Without food our friends starve and die! (the proof that diet matters)
HOW TO TAKE PROBIOTICS
Look for probiotics belonging to the families:
YOU MIGHT NOT NEED TO LOOK PAST THE FOODS YOU ALREADY KNOW! Probiotic supplementation is not really new. The foods listed below are getting the spotlight after centuries in the diets of many cultures... notice the fermented trend!
- Miso (fermented soy)
- Kimchi (fermented cabbage)
- Kombucha (fermented tea)
- Kefir (fermented milk or juice)
- Yogourt (fermented milk)
- Unpasturized cheese (fermented milk)
IF YOU ARE GOING TO TAKE A SUPPLEMENT make sure the strains are ones that we know actually confer benefits. And, as bacteria in a pill would love to be where there is food, it is best to take probiotic supplements with a meal to ensure many of them survive the trip through your stomach acids.
THE DOG ANALOGY
What is a probiotic strain exactly?