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I’m interested in trying a probiotic to help with my digestion.

Q. Dear Terry, “I’m interested in trying a probiotic to help with my digestion. I recently found out I’m very sensitive to dairy, so I stopped eating yogurt and cottage cheese. Overall, I feel better since stopping the dairy, but I’m afraid I’m missing out on probiotics. What do you suggest?” – Alex B., Thornton, CO

A. Dear Alex, Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that help to keep our digestive system running smoothly. Fermented foods, like sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir, are great food sources of probiotics. However, many fermented foods may contain dairy. To help ensure you are getting enough probiotics, supplementation is a great option.

While there are many different types of probiotics out there, I believe the best kinds are human strain. Human strain probiotics means that they are naturally occurring within our bodies and many of these strains have been clinically studied.

One of the most extensively tested probiotics, Lactobacillus plantarum, has a wide range of benefits. In a clinical study, L. plantarum was found to reduce irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms in 95 percent of those taking it versus only 15 percent of patients in the placebo group. This normalization of the digestive system happened in only four weeks.

Another probiotic bacteria, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, is well known for its ability to stop the conditions that lead to inflammatory changes in the gastrointestinal tract (GI).  L. rhamnosus can also strengthen the barrier in the intestines to prevent leaky gut. Breakdowns in the gut barrier are common after taking antibiotics.

A clinical trial conducted in Bavaria found that Bifidobacterium bifidum significantly reduced IBS symptoms – including pain and discomfort, frequency of bowel movements, urgency, bloating, and improved overall quality of life.

We all need beneficial bacteria. Without them, we wouldn’t exist. I think it’s important to get probiotics that have a history of human use and work especially well in the human body. Having a “big number” of probiotics is less important than making sure you get the right probiotics. I recommend a combination of L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus, and B. bifidum taken daily. Look for a dairy-free formula that features a minimum of 20 billion live, acid resistant, probiotic bacteria.

Healthy Regards!

Terry . . . Naturally

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Terry is happy to provide his opinion on diet and nutrition, supplements and lifestyle choices. This information is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the advice of your physician and is not to be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Should you have any concerns please contact your physician directly.
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