Probiotic FAQ – with Dr. Sara Celik, ND
Question: There are so many probiotics on the shelves, how do I choose?
Answer: As a consumer, you want to do your research before making your purchase. But let’s be honest, it can be very confusing! I tell my patients to look for 3 things; potency, delivery system and strains. As a general rule, I find most of my patients could benefit from a daily probiotic of 50 billion beneficial bacteria or more. When it comes to the gut, the more the merrier! I also tell them to look for enteric coated capsules to ensure that the bacteria arrive safely in the small intestine. Without some sort of delivery system, most will be killed by the harsh environment of the stomach. Last but not least, I tell them to look for multiple strain formulas with lots of Lactobacillus strains but more importantly, lots of Bifidobacterium strains. That is the bacteria that resides in the large intestine and diminishes as we age. If you find a product that delivers all of this, your gut will thank you.
Question: I heard that probiotics fight viruses. How does that work?
Answer: They certainly can help. In fact, many of us don’t realize that over 70% of our immune system is in our gut. Pathogenic organisms are always present to some extent in the GI Tract but are normally outnumbered and neutralized by the beneficial bacteria. When the beneficial and harmful bacteria levels become imbalanced you have what is called DYSBIOSIS. This imbalance can be caused by poor diet, certain medications (birth control pills, steroids, NSAIDs and of course, antibiotics), stress and illness.
Let’s talk about viruses. The beneficial bacteria in your gut that contribute to your immunity are like an army standing guard in your gut. When a virus invades, your friendly bacteria will fight back on three different levels:
Level 1 – While the virus is still in your intestinal tract, good bacteria surround and neutralize it.
Level 2 – The good bacteria form a barrier along your intestinal lining. This prevents the virus from passing through into the bloodstream.
Level 3 – Good bacteria communicate with your body to produce substances that neutralize the virus before it causes damage.When you have dysbiosis your body’s defenses are down however a daily probiotic supplement can help bring you back into balance and your immune system up to par.