What Should You Look For In a Probiotic?

womanshoppingYou already know probiotics play an important role in supporting optimal digestion and health.‡ But with so many products to choose from, what factors are important when it comes to choosing an effective probiotic supplement? Here are a few quick basics:

  • Look at the culture count to determine the strength or potency of a probiotic. Culture count refers to the total amount of live, friendly bacteria cultures in a single serving. Most experts recommend at least 15 billion live cultures or CFUs (colony forming units) daily to make an impact on your health.‡ However, because research is showing more is better, you may benefit from more depending upon your age or specific concerns.‡ Total live cultures will often be determined at time of manufacture, but very few remain at full strength through their expiration date. Look for a high-quality probiotic that displays potency on the label at time of expiration, not manufacture.
  • Pay attention to the number of strains. The strains, or specific types of probiotics, plus the culture count of each should be listed on the label. Over 1,000 strains of beneficial bacteria can be found in the human gut, so it makes sense to choose a probiotic supplement that reflects this natural diversity.
  • Look for lots of Ls and Bs. When you scan the label of a good probiotic you will see strains that begin with Ls and Bs, such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. A good trick to differentiate these is that the L strains are more native to the little (small) intestine and the B strains are generally found in the big (large) intestine, or colon. Look for lots of Ls and Bs because each person’s body utilizes certain probiotic strains differently than others.
  • Choose delayed-release capsules. While probiotics are also utilized in the upper digestive tract, the majority of bacterial populations exist in the lower small and large intestines. So how do the good bacteria get all the way down there? Probiotics must travel through the harsh stomach environment and be delivered to the intestines to colonize. Delayed-release capsules are engineered to remain intact through the stomach and begin dissolving in the intestines, where they are needed most.

A probiotic supplement, when delivered to the right place, with the right amount of cultures and strains, can help promote digestive health and bowel regularity as well as support immune health.‡ Be sure to read the label so you know you are giving your body the probiotic it needs.

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Natural Body Cleansing: What are the Benefits and Where to Begin?

womanandlakeEach day we are confronted by harmful toxins in the air we breathe, the food and water we consume, and even in the products we use every day to make our lives more convenient. Over time, those toxins can build up in the body and impact our overall health. For this reason, many health experts recommend regular internal cleansing to help the body more efficiently eliminate toxins and waste.‡

While there are plenty of herbal cleansing formulas to choose from, beginners may benefit from a total-body formula designed for first-time cleansers.‡ Such a program will typically last about two weeks and include gentler whole herbs to provide natural support for each of the body’s elimination organs—including the kidneys, liver, lymphatic system, and bowel (or colon).‡ After that, you may wish to move on to a more advanced cleanse. These can last up to a month and will often contain deep-cleansing herbal extracts to support detoxification and help restore digestive regularity.‡

Helpful Tips to Remember
During any type of cleanse, remember that your goal is to support your detoxification processes while helping your body maintain a healthy balance of nutrients.‡ Your daily diet should provide support for your organs of elimination as well as overall nourishment for your body, which is why choosing the right foods while cleansing is also important. Below are some quick tips to help you get started:

  • Eat plenty of “living foods” such as raw, organic fruits and veggies (veggies may also be lightly steamed) in addition to fermented foods that contain beneficial probiotic cultures such as yogurt, kefir, miso and/or tempeh.
  • Choose lean protein sources such as organic, natural, or free-range chicken, turkey, beef, fish, tofu, and eggs.
  • Consume essential fatty acids such as the beneficial Omega-3 fats found in oily fish and certain nuts and seeds.
  • Opt for well-cooked grains from sources such as millet, buckwheat, khorasan wheat, amaranth, quinoa, spelt, teff, rye, basmati rice, wild rice, and brown rice—all of which provide an excellent source of fiber while cleansing.
  • Drink plenty of purified water to help to flush unwanted toxins and waste from the body. A good rule of thumb is to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of purified water every day.
  • Try to limit your consumption of sugar (both table sugar and hidden refined sugars) and starchy carbohydrates, which may feed unhealthy microbes in the gut.

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