If you’ve ever suffered from annoying digestive issues like heartburn, gas, bloating, constipation or stomach upset, you know how much poor digestion can negatively impact your quality of life. However, you may think that digestive distress is just about being uncomfortable, but the fact is, when your digestion suffers, so do many other aspects of your health.
Your body depends on a healthy, optimally functioning digestive tract to efficiently break down the foods you eat, extract essential nutrients and eliminate toxins. And in truth, the seemingly minor digestive complaints so many people struggle with on a daily basis are actually precursors to much more serious health problems. Unfortunately, this connection has long been overlooked by conventional medicine.
To make matters worse, the approach most doctors take to “help” patients complaining of digestive discomfort is to prescribe drugs that do nothing to address the underlying cause of the problem and are riddled with side effects.
For example, when people complain of heartburn, doctors frequently recommend acid blocking medications, also known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which are the third highest selling class of drugs in the U.S. Many people take PPIs for years, not realizing that they interfere with absorption of nutrients like vitamin B12 and magnesium, cause bone loss and increase the risk of contracting a deadly infection. These drugs also cause rebound symptoms, which is to say, they actually make heartburn worse, leading many people to become increasingly dependent on them for relief.
The Crucial Digestion Connection
More and more research is showing that when your digestion suffers, so does your overall health. Poor digestion can make it difficult for your body to absorb crucial nutrients from the food you eat and to eliminate harmful toxins, resulting in nutritional deficiencies and systemic toxicity. The buildup of toxic matter inside the intestines promotes the growth of harmful microbes, which can set the stage for indigestion and eventually, more serious digestive disorders. This toxic buildup can contaminate the bloodstream and make digestion uncomfortable and progressively less efficient.
Additionally, here’s a surprising fact: Roughly 80% of your immune system is actually found in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This means that your gut is a key player when it comes to maintaining a strong immune system and optimal overall health.
Why Do So Many People Struggle with Poor Digestion?
The underlying cause of most digestive complaints is simple: a microbial imbalance. Our GI tracts are colonized with bacteria beginning from the day we’re born, and as a result, our intestines are brimming with many different strains of bacteria, some beneficial — some not. The “bad” microbes promote disease, while the “good” microbes promote efficient digestion, helping us to absorb nutrients and eliminate toxins. These friendly bacteria, also known as probiotics (which means “for life”), stimulate the immune system and work to crowd out the bad microbes.
As a result, when we eliminate or reduce the good microbes from our body, we set ourselves up for nutritional deficiencies, the build-up of dangerous toxins, increased susceptibility to infection — and a whole cascade of health problems. Exposure to antibiotics, antibacterial hand soaps and environmental pollutants, as well as poor eating habits and stress can all quickly kill off good bacteria. In fact, antibiotics are one of the very worst culprits, since they are literally designed to quickly kill bacteria (both the good and bad types) in your body, and since so many doctors prescribe them unnecessarily.
Improve Your Health Quickly with Probiotics
The latest scientific research is showing that it’s crucial to make sure you’ve got plenty of good bacteria in your body. And while this may seem like news from the cutting-edge of science — humans throughout the world have actually known this for centuries. Throughout history, people have used fermented foods, which are naturally high in probiotics, such as yogurt, cheese, miso and cultured vegetables, to support intestinal health.
Unfortunately, in this modern day and age, most of us need a little extra help, even if we regularly consume fermented foods. Of course, the big food and pharmaceutical companies are trying to capitalize on the growing popularity of probiotics and have come up with a slew of “probiotic” drinks, snacks and pills that are little more than marketing hype.
And of course, as with any health trend, there are some shady supplement companies out there hawking probiotic pills that offer little to no benefits whatsoever. But this doesn’t mean you should stay away from probiotics. In fact, taking a high quality probiotic supplement may make many nagging health problems quickly disappear. However, it’s important to choose the right product so you’re not wasting time, money and the opportunity to revolutionize your health.
Most Probiotic Supplements Are DOA!
Here’s some essential information that you need to know about probiotic supplements: The live bacteria most contain are literally DEAD ON ARRIVAL by the time they make it to you. That’s because most probiotic supplements require consistently cold temperatures to keep the bacteria alive. Even if the bottle is refrigerated in the store when you buy it, you can’t be sure it was refrigerated in the truck, in the warehouse, etc. Just a few hours of exposure to light or heat is all it takes to kill the microbes. And unfortunately, the few advanced formulas out there that don’t require refrigeration are absurdly expensive.
How to Avoid Wasting Your Money on Probiotics
As I explained above, most of the probiotic supplements you’ll find out there don’t have what it takes to get the job done — and some are literally worthless.
Here are four things to look for to ensure that you’re spending your money on a supplement that’s vital and truly effective:
#1: Shelf stability. Take a product made using advanced Heat Stabilization Technology (HST) so that it does not require refrigeration. This way, you can be sure the friendly bacteria are still alive and thriving. Look for a formula that guarantees at least 10 billion colony forming units (CFU).
#2: Multiple bacterial strains. Just a single strain of bacteria won’t cut it for broad-spectrum health benefits. Look for a supplement that provides these five bacterial strains, which have the most research backing their effectiveness: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus rhamnosus.[6,7,8,9,10]
#3: Prebiotics. Research shows that when prebiotics are added to a probiotic supplement, they help good bacteria to adhere to the intestines and can significantly enhance the effectiveness of the probiotics.
#4: A reasonable price. Some people mistakenly believe if you pay more for a probiotic supplement you get better quality. My advice is to avoid paying more than $20 for a one-month supply. There are many companies making bogus marketing claims and charging more than three times this.
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7. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2009 Dec;60 Suppl 6:5-11.
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