In our previous blog we looked at how the anti-inflammatory diet can help us. Of great importance as well is how supplementation can support the healing benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet. According to Dr. Natasha when it comes to digestive disorders we have to be very careful what we introduce into the gut of the patient, because a lot of supplements may irritate an already inflamed gut lining and interfere with the healing process. However, some supplements can be very beneficial and some are essential. The supplementation protocol she recommends consists of:
- An effective therapeutic strength probiotic
- Essential fatty acids
- Cod liver oil
- Digestive enzymes
- Vitamin and mineral supplements
In this blog we will look at how to choose the right probiotic. We will also see how the ‘Healthy Heart Club’ products are the perfect companion for the diet outlined by Dr. Natasha, as they all support digestion, and have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Probiotics are an important part of getting our gut health back in order. The problem is that there are so many products in the market, it can be confusing. Many probiotics in the market are not strong enough. In other cases, the labels can even be misleading, so how do we choose the right probiotic? Dr. Natasha explains that a good probiotic has to include all of the following:
1. It has a mixture of strains from different groups of probiotic bacteria rather than just one group. A good product should contain some of the following:
a. Lactobacilli: members of this family are L. acidophilus, L. bulgaricus, L. rhamnosus, L. plantarum, L. salivarus, L. reuteri, L. johnsonii, L. casei and L. delbrueskii. They are the most numerous inhabitants of the stomach and intestines, they allow cell renewal process in the gut, keeping the gut lining healthy and intact.
b. Bifidobacteria. The most common belonging to this family are B. bifidum, B. breve, B. longum and binfantis, although there are around 30 different species identified. In the human gut these are seven times more numerous than lactobacilli. They are important because they synthesize amino acids, proteins, organic acids, vitamin K, B 5, B 1, B 2, B 3, folic acid, B 6, B 12, assist in calcium, iron and vitamin D absorption. They are the second most numerous family of bacteria found in probiotic supplements, after lactobacilli.
c. Saccharomyces boulardii. This yeast is effective in treating diarrhea in children and adults. Recently there has been a lot of interest in this yeast to treat candida.
d. Escheridia coli or E. coli. This is a large family, the pathogenic members of this family can cause serious infections, however, physiological strains of E. coli are normal and numerous in the healthy human gut. They are found in the bowel and lower parts of the intestines, but if they are found in the mouth, stomach and duodenum that indicates an abnormality of gut ecology (gut dysbiosis). E. coli digests lactose, makes K and B vitamins and amino acids, produces antibiotic-like substances called colicins and improves immunity. E. coli is very active against pathogenic microbes including pathogenic e. coli. A product called ‘Mutaflor’ contains this bacteria.
e. Enterococcus faecium or Streptococcus faecalis. They live in the bowel where they control pathogens by producing hydrogen peroxide and reducing pH to 5.5. They break down proteins and ferment carbohydrates. There are studies showing they are effective against diarrhea, they are quite common in supplements.
f. Bacillus Subtilis or soil bacteria. This bacteria is resistant to stomach acid, most antibiotics, temperature changes, etc. It is specially effective for allergies and immune disorders. It produces a whole host of digestive enzymes, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, etc. This bacteria doesn’t stay in the gut but passes through it doing a lot of work. Humans used to get these ‘transitional’ bacteria when we drank from wells and streams. In Dr. Natasha’s opinion, probiotics that contain soil bacteria are the most effective probiotics in the market.
2. One that has at least 8 billion units of bacterial cells per gram.
3. One that the manufacturer has tested for strength and bacterial composition and even published the results of testing.
Once you find it, you need to know how to use it. A good one will always produce a ‘die-off reaction’. What is that? As you introduce probiotic bacteria they start destroying pathogenic bacteria, viruses and fungi. When these pathogens die, they release toxins, the very toxins that made us sick. Consequently, symptoms may get worse temporarily. You may also feel more tired, ‘off-color’, or develop a skin rash. This is all temporary and can last a few days or weeks. To make this as mild as possible, she recommends to build the intake of probiotics as slowly as possible. If in the first dose no reaction is seen, the dose can be increased until reactions appear, when this happens, she recommends to stay on this dose until die-off symptoms disappear. Then increase the dose again until a therapeutic level is reached. This process of building up the dose can take from weeks to months depending on the patient. It is very individual and depends on how much overgrowth of pathogenic microbes the person has in the gut.
A healthcare professional can be consulted about this. There is an increasing number of GAPS practitioners who can be found in her website www.gaps.me
Some guidelines for dosing are:
Adults should have around 15-20 billion of bacterial cells per day.
Infants up to 12 months: 1-2 billion/day.
A toddler (1-2 years old): 2-4 billion/day.
Child (2-4 years old): 4-8 billion/day.
Child (4-10 years old): 8-12 billion/day.
For ages 12-16 the dosage should be 12-15 billion/day.
Once the patient has reached this therapeutic dose, he should keep it for 6 months average. This is how long it takes to remove the pathogenic flora and how long it takes to start re-establishing normal gut flora. Adhering to the GAPS diet is absolutely necessary in this period. Feeding the pathogens in the gut with sugar and processed carbohydrates will prevent the probiotic from having any effect.
After the therapeutic dose period is over, the probiotic dose can be reduced to maintenance dose level, and be kept there for years. It is important to reduce the dose as gradually as you have been increasing it and observe any reactions in this period. Maintenance dose is very individual, usually it is half of the therapeutic dose. But in some cases the maintenance dose is the same as the therapeutic.
Some people are concerned about stomach acid destroying the probiotic. Dr. Natasha recommends to take them with food or after eating, because then stomach acid is bound to food particles. She doesn’t recommend enteric coating probiotic products because the stomach also needs these probiotics. In cases of low stomach acid, there are lots of pathogens growing so the probiotics are needed there. Also, some patients have problems breaking up these enteric coating and these probiotic pass through the entire digestive system without being absorbed at all. Dr. Natasha asserts that even if some probiotic strains are killed by stomach acid, even dead they will do a lot of good in our gut: the cell walls of our digestive system can stimulate immune responses and absorb toxins, removing them from the body.
In conclusion, probiotics are absolutely vital for treating any digestive condition. In conjunction with diet, probiotics provide a great deal of improvement. A great amount of new research points to their role in improved immune function. They are said to “ ‘chat’ with the immune system part of the gut (epithelial cells, Peyer’s patches M cells, and immune cells) encouraging them to have a response to pathogens and to contribute to the mucosal barrier, among other beneficial activities.” (1)
The immune boosting power of garlic
Nobody can deny the healing properties of garlic, it has been used for millennia for its many benefits. According to Dr. David Jockers garlic is ‘one of nature’s natural anti-biotics. Due to the powerful sulfur containing nutrients and immune stimulators within garlic it is classified as a superfood herb. Consumption of garlic daily may be one of the best defense’s against infection and inflammatory based disease’.
Garlic has several healthy benefits:
- Antimicrobial: antiprotozoal, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral.
- Anticarcinogenic and antimutagenic properties.
- In the cardiovascular system garlic is works well for high cholesterol, thrombosis, high homocysteine and high blood pressure.
- Other healthy benefits are as a prebiotic and immuno-modulatory.
Because of all these properties, garlic is a great addition to an anti-inflammatory diet. Dr. Natasha recommends cooking with it, as we have seen. For the purpose of today’s topic we will say garlic’s most notable benefit is in strengthening the immune system. In this sense, ” Garlic is one of nature’s most powerful immune boosting secrets. Garlic contains over 100 biologically active components including alliin, allicin, alliinase and unique sulfur compounds.” More specifically, “Researchers have found garlic to be more powerful at destroying pathogenic bacteria than the popular anti-biotics penicillin and tetracycline. It is also very effective against viruses and yeasts like candida” (2)
The role of ginger
Of equal importance is ginger. Ginger is ‘rich in anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties…(it) boosts immunity, improves digestion, relieves pain, and treats asthma and cardiovascular disease. Ginger is also known as a powerful remedy for infections and liver cleansing.” (3). Because of all these properties, ginger is also a great addition to our anti-inflammatory, immune boosting and digestive enhancing protocol.
The “Heart and Body Extract” contains both ginger and garlic synergistically blended to increase its other’s health benefits. Ginger is also an active ingredient in the “Kidney/Bladder extract” and the “Gland Extract” from contains papaya, which also aids in digestion.
Summing up, we have seen the importance of an anti-inflammatory diet for improved immunity and absorption of nutrients. Supplements like probiotics and the products from the “Healthy Hearts Club” are the perfect addition.
Thank you for reading.