How to Choose Probiotic Supplements for Digestive Health

Are pill-based probiotics really effective for digestive health? Maybe for some people, but not everyone. For example, one clinical study showed that up to 40% of patients taking probiotic supplements did not have any signs of colonization—and subsequently, any related digestive benefits. These results reflect what many health practitioners observe regularly: A significant number of patients don’t achieve relevant results using standard probiotic supplements.

As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I always recommend food first when possible, for achieving optimal health. For those who are allergic to or don’t like food sources of probiotics – yogurt and fermented foods, such as kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, and fermented vegetables – you may need to consider taking a supplement to ensure you are on track for a healthy microbiome.

Unfortunately, not all supplements are created equal! Since the FDA does nothing to ensure safety and efficacy of dietary supplements and leaves the responsibility with the individual product manufacturers, it makes it challenging for consumers to find products that are safe, effective and worth the cost. Here are some general guidelines to help you navigate the dietary supplement marketplace:

  1. Don’t decide on nutritional supplements based on cost alone. You truly get what you pay for in this case.
  2. Avoid ordering your supplements from Amazon. Many counterfeit goods are sold by third parties on Amazon. It’s not worth saving a few dollars if you can’t be sure of the contents in the container.
  3. Buy products from high quality companies. High-quality companies will pay for third-party testing to confirm the presence of ingredients, the potency of ingredients, and the absence of contaminants. Quality companies go above and beyond the requirements of cGMPs (current good manufacturing practices) and get third-party certifications related to their manufacturing practices. 
  4. Consult a qualified and trusted health practitioner, meaning someone who has formal academic training in Nutrition with credentials and knowledgeable of your health condition and needs.

When it comes to Probiotics, I have a few specific recommendations:

  1. Choose a supplement with a high number of different strains. Your gut contains over 500 species.
  2. Consume adequate doses to achieve desired results. Effectiveness varies but 5 to 10 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) per day is a good target.
  3. Ensure your supplement contains live strains of bacteria. Probiotic bacteria need to be alive to be effective.
  4. Take your probiotics with a source of prebiotic fiber (see food sources in my recent Microbiome blog post) can help to “feed” the good organisms in the gut.

With hundred of probiotics out there, it can be overwhelming to choose one even with the above guidelines. I highlighted a new product, SynerGI, from my Wellevate Supplement Dispensary that’s worth trying.

Introducing SynerGI

Botanically-Enhanced Probiotics with POS (pectic-oligosaccharides) by Clinical Synergy Professional Formulas. This live-fermented, synbiotic beverage delivers advanced, fast-acting support for digestive health and microbiome vitality.

SynerGI features a powerful liquid delivery system that provides live clinically-tested lactobacillus strains, fermented with 19 organic digestive-supporting herbs, organic berry juice, and pectic oligosaccharide (POS) prebiotic nutrient to support a healthy terrain. SynerGI is non-GMO and contains no artificial preservatives, sugar, gluten, dairy, or lactose.

Live Bacteria

SynerGI contains 8 strains of live beneficial bacteria that deliver a broad-spectrum of digestive, immune and overall health benefits. For example:

  • Bifidobacterium lactis supports nutrient absorption and healthy bacterial populations. B. lactis converts carbohydrates into lactic acid, vitamin B, and other key nutrients, and encourages an optimal low pH environment for healthy microbiome populations to thrive.
  • Bifidobacterium longum promotes a healthy gut environment and supports GI lining integrity; converts carbohydrates into lactic acid and prebiotic oligosaccharides into energy.
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus produces vitamin K and other nutrients that support a healthy microbiome. L. acidophilus also promotes metabolic balance, immune function, and other areas.

As a live-fermented, synergistic formula, SynerGI provides multi-targeted support for key areas of digestive health:

  • Supports a healthy microbiome
  • Relieves occasional diarrhea and constipation
  • Supports long-term digestive function and motility
  • Promotes nutrient absorption
  • Supports GI lining integrity
  • Supports Immunity

Clinical Synergy Formulator Dr. Isaac Eliaz has been using this unique synbiotic to provide advanced digestive and immune support for his patients. This revolutionary formula is now available through the Clinical Synergy Professional Formulas line. You can save 10% by ordering SynerGI through my online store.

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Truth about Turmeric

Turmeric really doesn’t need much introduction these days. For those who don’t do much cooking, it is a bright yellow spice commonly used in Indian cooking. If you are wondering what business turmeric has in finding its way into our lattes, it is because of its super food status in culinary medicine. Turmeric has potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects which can potentially prevent and treat arthritis, cancer, heart disease and diabetes.  As a food enthusiast, I am no stranger to cooking with turmeric but I am curious whether drinking a cup of turmeric tea latte per day (a.k.a Golden Milk) will keep my knee pain away.

The medicinal effect of turmeric is attributed to its active compound, curcumin. It has been used to help prevent ailments for generations in Asia. Research indicates that you need to get 500 to 1,000 milligrams of curcumin per day for an anti-inflammatory effect. The average Indian diet provides around 60-100 milligrams of curcumin (2,000-2,500 milligrams of turmeric) per day. In other words, you would need to consume more than 10 times the amount of turmeric than what’s in a typical Indian diet. The truth is that it is not easy to get a therapeutic dose of curcumin without some supplementation. However, if you decide to take on the challenge with eating real food for your curcumin,  keep in mind that you will need to add at least 2 1/2 Tablespoons (17 grams) of turmeric a day in your diet to get 500 milligrams of curcumin. Also, curcumin is not easily absorbed and it needs to be combined with fat and black pepper to enhance its absorption. I am sharing my recipe of the Oven Roasted Turmeric Cauliflower that is super easy and delicious with an abundant amount of turmeric. Cauliflower is naturally high in antioxidant so this packs an extra anti-inflammatory punch.

Along with boosting curcumin in your diet to flight inflammation, it is beneficial to avoid inflammation inducing foods – sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial trans fats, refined carbohydrates, processed meats, and alcohol – at the same time. This is a good way to double down on the battle against inflammation!

Cauliflower

Oven Roasted Turmeric Cauliflower

1 large head of cauliflower

1/4 cup Olive oil

2 Tbsp turmeric

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Cut cauliflower into florets and put on a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. whisk olive oil, turmeric, salt and pepper in a bowl and drizzle over cauliflower to coat pieces.
  4. Roast cauliflower in oven until tender and slightly brown for 15-25 minutes, turning halfway.