Chances are, since you are reading this blog post, you have probably heard of probiotics and know that they are beneficial. But you may not realize just how essential they are. The word probiotic literally means "for life." In our intestines live these good bacteria which prevent the bad bacteria, also in our intestines, from making us sick. They’re needed for the formation of normal stools, the digestion and absorption of vitamins and minerals, tissue development, immunity, and protecting the intestines from pathogens like E. coli. Ideally, 85% of the bacteria in our intestines should be good bacteria, with the remaining 15% consisting of bad bacteria. However, most people have these percentages reversed. When we take antibiotics we destroy all of the bacteria in our intestines, good and bad. Unless we actively restore the good bacteria to 85% we will continue to get sick. Drinking chlorinated or fluoridated water, taking birth control pills, and eating food that contains antibiotics (most meat and dairy) also destroys good bacteria. Symptoms associated with dysbacteriosis (improper balance of good and bad bacteria) can include vaginal yeast infections, athlete's foot, thrush, ring worm, eczema, fatigue, migraines, muscle pains, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pains, decreased immunity, UTIs, menstrual irregularities, bladder inflammation, and so many more.
Many people associate probiotics with yogurt. The American Dairy Association and yogurt companies work hard to promote yogurt as a magical healing food, and many Americans are fooled. A few years ago the yogurt company Dannon was sued for its claims that their products have been scientifically proven to aid in digestion and improve immunity. It is true that yogurt contains some probiotics, but we don't know how much or which strains live in these yogurt products. Just as a doctor prescribes specific antibiotics for certain ailments, each strain of probiotics also has a unique function. This is why it's important to take a multi-strain probiotic supplement. Additionally, the negatives of consuming the added sweeteners and chemical ingredients in most brands of yogurt outweigh the benefits of eating yogurt for its probiotic content.
I take 200 billion CFUs of Klaire Labs Ther-biotic Complete Powder, which is a high dosage. My naturopath suggested this dosage due to the antibiotics I took as a teen to “cure” my acne, and the aggravation my intestinal lining has endured due to gluten intolerance. This probiotic contains twelve strains. For children age two and older, Klaire Labs makes children's chewable tablets, which contain 25 billion CFUs. This costs about $35 for 60 tablets. If you really can't afford this (and I recommend making sacrifices to be able to afford it), a cheaper alternative is Rainbow Light's Probiolicious Gummies, which cost about $13 for 50 gummies. These gummies only contain 1 billion CFUs. Therefore, Rainbow Light might be helpful for daily maintenance but if your child has taken antibiotics or has digestion or health issues I suggest either Klaire Labs Ther-biotic Complete Powder or Klaire Labs Children's Chewables. For infants under age two Klaire Labs offers an Infant Formula Powder.
If you still feel confused as to what exactly you should take I recommend that you see a naturopathic doctor. On the right side of this page there is a link to find a naturopath in your area. But in the meantime, while you're waiting to see your naturopathic doctor, taking any probiotic would be better than no probiotic at all. Good luck!