Everything You Need to Know About Probiotics
You've seen probiotics in many places: at the drugstore, in one of your kitchen cabinets—or, most likely, at Sephora or Urban Outfitters in a HUM Nutrition bottle.
HUM's packaging is super cute, and they offer a variety of supplements, aiding in everything from glowy skin to a restful night's sleep. Sounds pretty appealing, right? We totally get it, considering we've even started using Glamglow's Berryglow Probiotic Recovery Mask, because the pretty, pink solution is aimed to "help balance skin's microbiome," leaving our faces feeling "strengthened with a visible, revived glow." But all of that said, are you still left knowing really nothing about the definition of a probiotic?
To be completely honest, we didn't really know, which is why we reached out to Dr. Saman Faramarzi, ND, a Los Angeles, California-based, naturopathic doctor, who goes by Dr. Sam. She broke everything down for us, including the probiotic brand she personally endorses. Keep reading for everything you need to know about probiotics.
Sweety High: What are probiotics and why are they necessary at every age?
Dr. Sam: Probiotics are "good" bacteria that support a healthy digestive system and your overall well-being. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as "live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host." This means that a true probiotic should provide live, viable cells that arrive alive in the gut to do their work.
The gut is home to trillions of bacteria. When an imbalance of bacteria occurs, whether it's due to antibiotics, pollutants, poor diet, or other causes, digestive issues and other health problems may arise. Probiotics provide friendly bacteria that help balance good bacteria in the gut to support digestive and immune system health. Our microbiome starts to form once we're conceived, and affect our health throughout our whole lives, making them necessary at every age.
SH: Break down the main forms of probiotics and what they do.
DS: There are so many different strains out there, and they all have different functions. First, I want to stress how important it is to take probiotics that actually make it into the gut where it can function to heal your gut. Probiogen's SmartSpore technology ensures that live delivery.
Most probiotics will help with general digestive issues to help alleviate gastrointestinal issues, like bloating or gas, but Bacillus coagulans is one strain that's particularly well-researched. Bacillus clausii is another well-studied probiotic known to survive into the gut, even in the presence of antibiotics. This strain helps support general healthy immune system responses. Bacillus subtilis is a strain that's studied for its heart-healthy benefits, as well as immune benefits. This strain in particular helps decrease bad bacteria in your gut.
SH: Approximately how much daily use until a probiotic has done its job?
DS: This depends on the probiotic you're taking. With Probiogen, my patients usually report feeling a difference within a couple of days, especially with their gastrointestinal health. As soon as you introduce the live bacteria, they start interacting with the gut microbiome and start working on promoting balance in there.
SH: There are many probiotic brands out there. You stand by Probiogen. Why this brand as opposed to others?
DS: So many reasons! I'll list a couple:
1. They use the SmartSpore technology: The formulas are microbiologist-formulated and contain well-researched, DNA-verified spore strains, including Bacillus subtilis HU58™, a spore-forming probiotic with the ability to identify and support the decrease of harmful bacteria.
2. Probiogen provides guaranteed potency probiotics with clinically researched, DNA-verified strains, which means you can trust they're delivering exactly what's on our label. Unfortunately, many probiotics today may not actually match their label claim. With probiotic products, especially the multi-strain products with 10+ strains, manufacturers are not required to do genome sequencing on their strains before they are utilized in a product.
3. I've been taking this myself and I notice a difference! Plus, they don't have to be refrigerated, which matches with my on-the-go lifestyle.
SH: How did you get into specializing in probiotics, and what else do you specialize in, when it comes to medicine?
DS: As a naturopathic doctor, I quickly realized how important gut health is in healing, and I started learning more about it early in my career. I was always searching for an effective probiotic that actually makes a difference for my patients.
As a naturopathic doctor, I treat the whole person and like to always start by looking at the gut because that's where health starts. We are more bacteria cells than human cells, and gut health has an influence on anywhere from the immune system to the hormonal system and skin health.
I support my patients through all sorts of conditions, from acne to autoimmune conditions. The different treatment options I offer my patients include personalized diets, lifestyle changes, looking at vitamin deficiencies and offering different ways of replenishing those vitamins, whether it's through oral supplements, vitamin injections or vitamin IV therapy.
Mostly, I love being a health detective and finding the root cause of the issue for my patients.
SH: What are the biggest misconceptions about probiotics?
DS: The biggest myth is that the ones that are refrigerated are better. And there's also the myth that the higher the CFU, the better the probiotic.
SH: Probiotics are for the person who… ?
DS: Probiotics are for everyone! With a high quality probiotic, you can help support less digestive issues, such as bloating, constipation or gas, which can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. With more than 70% of the immune system located in the gut, immune health is another great benefit of certain probiotic supplements. Many people say they feel more energized and happier when gut health is addressed.
In our modern daily lives, we are bombarded with bad bacteria and antibiotics from various sources. Preservatives, chemicals in our drinking water, antibiotics, processed foods, sugar and chemicals in personal care items can all contribute to throwing off the balance in your gut flora that keeps you at your best health.
As we learn more about the critical role of the digestive system, the known benefits of probiotics to our overall health continue to increase. In fact, the digestive system plays a role in nearly every aspect of human health.
The digestive system is critically important to nutrient absorption and the creation of hormones, enzymes, neurochemicals and more.
More than 70% of your immune system and the second largest neurologic system (after the brain) is located in the gut. Even issues that you may not link with digestive health are thought by researchers to be mediated by the composition of bacteria in the gut.
Want to know even more about probiotics? Check out our interview with the founder of HUM Nutrition HERE!