Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system.
They can be obtained naturally through certain foods like yogurt or sauerkraut, or you can take supplements to aid your digestion.
A good digestive system is also important for your immune system.
Probiotics can also lower the amount of "bad" bacteria in your system that can cause infections or other problems.
They help balance your "good" and "bad" bacteria to keep your body working like it should.
Listen in as Felicia D. Stoler discusses probiotics and all their health benefits.
RadioMD Presents: Train Your Body | Original Air Date: March 17, 2015
Host: Melanie Cole, MS
Guest: Felicia D. Stoler, MD
RadioMD.com your trainer Melanie Cole is here to motivate and help you perform. It’s time now for Train Your Body.
MELANIE: Well, you know, you’ve been hearing so much in the media today about the gut and your intestines and your immune system and probiotics. How does that all tune together and go together so that you can have really good immune system health from your gut? My guest today is fan favorite, Dr. Felicia Stoler. She’s America’s health and wellness expert.
Welcome to the show, Dr. Stoler.
DR. STOLER: My pleasure.
MELANIE: So tell us about probiotics. Thank you and that’s your new trademark so congratulations on that.
DR. STOLER: Thank you.
MELANIE: Now, probiotics. Tell us a little bit about prebiotics and probiotics give us a little physiology lesson of how they even help our gut.
DR. STOLER: So, when you think about probiotics and prebiotics and everything in between, what’s interesting is "biotic" means life, right? So, pre-life, pro-life, good life, right to promote life, antibiotics. Antibiotic soap might kill germs, but prebiotics and probiotics, what they do is they help to promote what we call "good germs" in our body. We often think we don’t have them, but we do. They live in our intestines and they serve a number of purposes, but most importantly they’re really helpful with digestion. So, when a baby is born their GI tract is completely clear of any kind of bacteria. We have no gut bacteria whatsoever because when we’re in utero. We are getting nutrients from our blood--from our moms--from the umbilical cord. So really, when babies start to eat, that is when they are first developing this gut flora, as we like to refer to it. Some people have better gut flora than others and whether it be due to disease; or if you take medication; or you don’t eat right; or you don’t go to the bathroom enough--all of these things. Sometimes that medication-prescription medications--not just antibiotics. Prescription medications impact our guts' flora and that impacts our immune system and that impacts how we feel and impacts our ability to absorb nutrients. So, it's really important that we have adequate levels of pre- and probiotics. So it’s not just about supplements. There are foods that people have been eating for hundreds, maybe thousands, of years that have provided that to us.
MELANIE: So, people hear probiotics; they hear bacteria; and, as you say, we think of antibacterial, antibiotics. So these are good bacteria. They’re not going to hurt us. When we get probiotics, whether supplementing or from foods--some kinds of fermented foods--and you’ll talk about those, are they live and can they make things worse or are these always good bacteria?
DR. STOLER: They’re also good bacteria. They are live but they are good, so let’s think about an easy one that people can relate to. Lactobacillus. The easy thing to remember is, part of lactose it’s got that LAC in it. So, what that’s found in is milk. It’s found in yogurt. And so, what that does and for people, especially people that are lactose intolerant, when they have yogurt that has pre- and probiotics in them, it helps them to break down the lactose or the milk sugar, that’s in the yogurt so, they don’t have difficulty absorbing it. That’s a problem. They lack the enzyme Lactaid so, therefore, Lactobacillus that is found naturally (but I believe that they add a little extra to the yogurt when they make it) helps it to absorbs the nutrients in there.
MELANIE: So, are we getting enough if we eat yogurt? If we eat a yogurt everyday--a good Greek yogurt--not one of the ones with weird colors and dyes and little fruity things in them. Are we getting enough?
DR. STOLER: (laughing) Well, you know, I think it’s really hard to measure what is adequate. I think that’s fair. I don’t know if there’s any documentation and I think it depends on who you speak to and I think it depends on what an individual's needs are. Like somebody that maybe has issues with diarrhea, for example, because they may have GI issues--they might have IBS or something like that--they may need a little bit more than maybe someone like myself or yourself. So, it can be challenging to really tease out who needs what in terms of quantifying it. There are other areas where people get it. Think about the different cultures around the world and some of the typical foods that they’ve been eating so in Eastern Europe and in Russia people have been eating fermented and pickled food. When you think about Asia, the entire Asian continent, you think about China, Japan, Korea and you look at a lot of places and, again, I use the term "Asia" to refer to the continent: kim chi, things like that. There are other fermented things that you can buy, other fermented vegetables. But the thing we think a lot about here is sauerkraut.
MELANIE: Love sauerkraut.
DR. STOLER: That’s a very popular kind of fermented food.
MELANIE: Especially after today. People have made their corned beef and cabbage and then when it’s leftover you make Reuben’s with it. So, you put plenty of sauerkraut on there.
DR. STOLER: That’s right.
MELANIE: Okay, so we can find it in sauerkraut, miso, yogurt. So if we eat these foods we’re getting it. Now, what about supplements? And do we take the ones that are liquid? Dr. Stoler I’ve given my kids--when they were littler and having some digestive issues--I gave them the liquid and I called it "bugs". “Here you guys go. Here’s your bugs” and then there are chewables.
DR. STOLER: Right.
MELANIE: And then there are tablets. Does that matter how you ingest them?
DR. STOLER: No, it really doesn’t. And, you know, what’s interesting? You were talking about the “bugs”. I’ve seen them in some markets where they’re liquids and what looks like a little yogurt shake. I’ve seen them in chocolate bars. I mean, I’ve seen them in little squares that look like the calcium chews that are probiotic chews and they taste like chocolate. I’ve used those with my kids. I just take the ones for myself, too, that I have for the kids. I mean, there are all different forms of getting them, if you want to take them as supplements. A lot of times when people have an antibiotic and they know they end up getting yeast infections, for example, secondary infections. Doctors will recommend that people, in addition to having yogurt, will consume some extra probiotics as well.
MELANIE: So, that’s a good point that you’re making.
DR. STOLER: Because what happens is when you lose….I’m sorry?
MELANIE: No. That’s a good point that you’re making. So, a good time also, which, of course you can discuss with your doctor, but a good time also to really make sure you’re getting your probiotics, is when you have a yeast infection. People might think it’s just the opposite. Now, what if your doctor puts you on antibiotics for a sinus infection or something else? You know, a urinary tract infection? And you're on antibiotics. Can you still take probiotics? Will that counter the effect of the antibiotic?
DR. STOLER: Well, what it does is, it helps to restore what the antibiotic is potentially wiping out. So, yes, it is there. I was just going to say that you should be taking that. I almost want to say prophylactically but it’s really taking them in a synergistic way because the good bacteria that is coming in, in the probiotics, is going to help restore what is being wiped out and that’s what I wanted to explain, too. What happens is that it will wipe out the bad. It’s going to wipe out everything. It doesn’t differentiate the good and the bad. You want the bad wiped out, but you need to bring more of the good “bugs” in to restore the gut flora there as well. It’s so important that you’re replacing it because if it’s all wiped out then you’re going to have difficulties with absorption.
MELANIE: So, you have about a minute or minute and a half left, Dr. Stoler, so wrap up and kind of put it into a nice neat little package for us. Probiotics and our gut health and the real importance of them. Why they’re helping our gut and why we should all be taking probiotics.
DR. STOLER: So, the reason why we should be taking probiotics is to help keep our gut working in a helpful manner. Not just for immune function but to help with absorption and the digestion of nutrients from the foods that we take in and it helps to maintain the health of our intestinal tract. Whether it be from food or whether it be from supplements, it is an integral and important part of one's diet in order to maintain overall wellness and health. I can’t say enough about it. I encourage people to get it from food first and supplements second.
MELANIE: Okay. So, from food first and supplements second. Yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, tempe, she’s mentioned a few things that you can get it from. So, look around. See where probiotics are. Make sure you’re getting them if you have a yeast infection or you’re on antibiotics because they really can improve your overall health, not just the health of your intestines and your gut but really help build up your immune system.
You’re listening to RadioMD the show is Train Your Body Motivate and Perform with the American College of Sports Medicine.
This is Melanie Cole. Thanks so much for listening and stay well.