Prebiotics & Probiotics
Scott, a 10-Day Detox participant wants to know, what are the best prebiotics and probiotics to take and how to keep his gut healthy.
The health of the trillions of bugs in our gut (which outnumber your cells 10 to 1) is one of the biggest things that impacts our wellbeing. We have to learn how to tend the flora of our internal gardens (our gut) by being selective of what we eat and how we live. We must feed the good bugs and avoid gut-busting habits – like eating too much sugar and starch, or consuming too much alcohol, or allowing stress to wreak havoc (yes, your gut bacteria are eavesdropping on your thoughts).
I see so many patients in my office who are suffering from uncomfortable and disabling symptoms like bloating, cramps, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain. Often these are signs of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which have become a very real problem. Did you know that 60 million people (20 percent of Americans) have an irritable bowel? And even if you don’t have gut symptoms, so many other diseases are affected by the health of your gut flora – including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disease, allergic diseases like asthma and eczema and even depression, ADD and autism!
Basically, the microbial ecosystem in the gut has to be healthy for you to be healthy. When your gut bacteria are out of balance, it makes you sick. Among all that gut bacteria, there are good guys, bad guys, and VERY bad guys. When you have too many bad guys, and not enough good guys, this becomes a problem.
This is why supplementing with probiotics and prebiotics is so very important.
Probiotics vs. prebiotics.
Probiotics provide beneficial bacteria that colonize the GI tract with optimal amounts and types of bacteria to protect against inflammation and support immunity and healthy digestive function. In cases where someone is dealing with yeast overgrowth or a histamine intolerance and who wants to avoid fermented foods, a probiotic supplement might be the best choice. I typically prefer pills or powder form because this is the easiest and most effective way to introduce probiotics. Here is a list of my favorite brands. And one particular product that I like is VSL#3 – a super high potency probiotic. Each dose contains 450 billion live beneficial bacteria. Start slowly on this and build up.
Now, prebiotics are a form of soluble fiber that helps feed the good bugs in your gut. Prebiotics include foods like onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, dandelion greens, jicama and resistant starch. Be sure to include these natural gut health supporters as much as possible.
Prebiotics and probiotics are great; however, there are a ton of other things we should be doing to get our guts healthy. I highly recommend reading my blog, How to Fix Your Gut Bacteria and Lose Weight.
Wine: Should We Drink It?
Our next question comes from Barbie who asks, “Can you explain how damaging a glass or two of wine is with dinner every night?”
Drinking wine is like a U-shaped curve. A little bit is OK; a little more is bad news. For women, wine can be especially damaging. Why? Increased alcohol load means your liver can’t metabolize estrogen well. Increased estrogen in the body can lead to breast cancer. Drinking just one glass of wine a day increases your breast cancer risk by 40 percent.
So, what is the verdict?
Occasionally enjoying a glass of wine can be part of a healthy diet but only in moderation. Red wine, for example, contains resveratrol, which naturally protects and improves your body’s mitochondrial function through its effects on special master aging genes. But make you enjoy only the best quality wine out there. I recommend Dry Farm Wines for the best quality and highest integrity wines.
Remember…mitochondria are the part of your cells that create energy. So, supporting healthy development and sustaining them is super important. But as stated above, increased consumption can tax your liver, leading to negative side effects.
For a less harmful and more effective way to support healthy mitochondria, I recommend sticking to these tactics:
- Exercise regularly and incorporate a mix of different types of exercise. Interval training increases the efficiency and function of mitochondria, while strength training increases the number of mitochondria.
- Eat whole, real, colorful plant foods which are full of antioxidants and phytonutrients that protect mitochondria. Include 8 to 12 servings of fresh vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and seeds every day.
- Supplement with nutrients that protect mitochondria and boost energy – such as: acetyl-L-carnitine, alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, n-acetyl-cysteine, NADH, D-ribose, resveratrol, magnesium aspartate.
- Increase omega-3 fats. These help to build your mitochondrial membranes.
The final word here is that we need to think of alcohol as a recreational treat. If you drink alcohol, I suggest you limit consumption to one glass, up to three times a week. Remember: One drink equals 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of hard alcohol, or 12 ounces of beer. And again, quality makes all the difference. For the best quality organic wines check out Dry Farm Wines.
Now I want to hear from you. What are your favorite prebiotics and probiotics? What are your thoughts on enjoying wine every night? Comment on my Facebook page, and if you liked this video, be sure to share it with your friends and family on Facebook and Twitter. Also, send your video submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and maybe next week I’ll make a House Call to you!
Wishing you health & happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD