What to Know Be­fore Tak­ing Your Pro­bi­otics

Shape (Malaysia) - - Gut Health -

Cer­tain nu­tri­ents make them more ef­fec­tive

Ide­ally, fer­mented foods and drinks are the best sources of pro­bi­otics. Most peo­ple don’t eat enough of them to get the perks, though, so sup­ple­ments and foods for­ti­fied with pro­bi­otics are a great op­tion, says Sarah Mor­gan, a func­tional nutri­tion ex­pert and the founder of Bud­dies in My Belly, a mi­cro­biome ed­u­ca­tion com­pany. For the best re­sults, take pro­bi­otics with fiber, which feeds the bugs.

Num­bers are key

Look for sup­ple­ments that list the pro­bi­otic strain (usu­ally num­bers) be­side its name (for Bi­fi­dobac­terium bi­fidum W23, W23 is the strain). This in­di­cates that it’s a strain-spe­cific type, which tend to be well re­searched and higher qual­ity, Mor­gan says. For daily use, choose pro­bi­otics with five to 15 bil­lion colony-form­ing units per serv­ing, she says. Less may be in­ef­fec­tive, and long-term use of very high doses hasn’t been well stud­ied; Mor­gan says it could ir­ri­tate the in­testi­nal wall.

You need to feed them

“One hot area of re­search in­volves syn­bi­otics, a com­bi­na­tion of pro­bi­otics and pre­bi­otics, nondi­gestible sub­stances that gut mi­crobes con­sume,” says Dr. Geoffrey A. Prei­dis, a sci­en­tific ad­vi­sory board mem­ber for the Amer­i­can Gas­troen­tero­log­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion Cen­ter for Gut Mi­cro­biome Re­search and Ed­u­ca­tion. “Pre­bi­otics help pro­bi­otics grow so that the bac­te­ria can bet­ter per­form their ben­e­fi­cial func­tions.” Try Smar­tyPants Adult Pro­bi­otic Com­plete ($25, ama­zon.com).

An­tibi­otics can mess with things

Peo­ple of­ten use pro­bi­otics to help ease the side ef­fects of an­tibi­otics, such as stom­ach pain and di­ar­rhea. But if you take the sup­ple­ments and the meds at the same time, the an­tibi­otic will wipe out the ben­e­fi­cial bugs be­fore they can work their magic. To pre­vent that, wait about three weeks af­ter tak­ing your first an­tibi­otic pill to start the sup­ple­ments, Dr. Roizen says.

EAT KIM­CHI The fer­mented food is a great source of ben­e­fi­cial bugs.

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