When to Use Probiotics & Prebiotics

October 7, 2018

When to Use Probiotics & Prebiotics

Do you know what probiotics are and how they affect your weight, your energy and your cravings? When the gut is stripped of good bacteria by antibiotics, people often have intense sugar cravings. We have even found that the lack of good bacteria in children can lead them to become picky eaters. Listen in to today’s Dishing Up Nutrition as we talk about the importance of probiotics and prebiotics, and how a healthy gut is the key to a healthy body.

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CASSIE: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition. This show is brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. I'm Cassie Weness. I'm a registered and licensed dietitian and the longtime listeners have heard me say it before. I've been teaching and counseling clients about real food nutrition for the past two decades and my co-host today has quite a bit of experience too. She has a lot of personal experience. I'll introduce Jennifer and just a bit. Jennifer and I are going to be sharing information this morning about prebiotics and probiotics. We’ll be answering questions like what exactly are probiotics and how do probiotics affect my weight? How do probiotics affect my energy? And how about this one? How do probiotics affect my cravings? You heard me right. Probiotics can affect your cravings. In essence, when your intestines are stripped of enough good bacteria, maybe because you just had to do a round or two of antibiotics. oftentimes the intense sugar cravings set in. Another thing that we've found in this realm of probiotics when it comes to clinical experience, is that the lack of good bacteria in kids can lead them to become picky eaters. Now, usually if I have a picky eater in the office, one of the first things I do is get them started on a good beneficial bacteria supplement to restore the intestinal tract. And we have pill form. We have powder form. So, even if it's a young child that can't swallow pills, we still have something that can help to replant those good bugs. And before I introduce my cohost, let's talk a little bit about what are probiotics. Basically, probiotics are good bacteria. They’re the good bacteria or the good guys that live mainly in our gut, and if we're healthy, we should have over 500 different types, or sometimes we call them strains of these good bugs living in us. So, you can imagine it's really important to consume probiotics every day in order to maintain the number of good bacteria inside our intestines, or what I sometimes refer to as our gut. And one of the many things we'll be talking about today in terms of important that good bacteria accomplishes for us is that good bacteria helps to fight off disease causing bacteria. So really, we could say good bacteria, or probiotics, help to support a strong immune system. And I better quit talking here and let somebody else on the mic. I'd like to take this time now to introduce my cohost, certified nutrition educator, Jennifer Schmid. She's here in studio with me this morning and Jennifer has her own personal story about how the lack of beneficial bacteria in her digestive system led to her developing a long-term eating disorder. And I know you'll be sharing a lot of those details with us this morning, but first, Jennifer, I want to say welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition. I always enjoy being in your company and I always walk away having learned valuable information.

JENNIFER: Wow. What an introduction, Cassie. Thank you. It's great to be in the studio with you once again and good morning listeners and you know, Cassie, I'm really excited about the topic today. At the very least, I hope listeners will grasp the idea that there is hope. You can overcome your digestive problems.

CASSIE:Right. And you are testament to that, so we might as well jump right in. Why don't you share a little bit of your story because I'm sure connecting an unhealthy digestive system to an eating disorder is a big leap for a lot of our listeners.

JENNIFER: Yes, it is. I want to make that connection today. So, some of our long-term listeners have heard my story about having an exercise addiction that led to an eating disorder and my long road to recovery. In 2012 I had two emergency intestinal surgeries and after that second surgery I stopped absorbing my food. I was already at a very low body weight and I couldn't afford to lose any more weight. You know, in thinking back two decades, I had no idea that my poor intestinal health had anything to do with that link to my exercise addiction, my eating disorder, also my sugar cravings, and at times not wanting to eat at all. I was told “Your situation is all in your head. It's due to stress.” But you know what, I discovered it's all in my gut, technically in my small intestinal tract. So today I'm excited to share how healing my intestinal tract was possible by changing my diet, eliminating the foods that were harming my gut, such as gluten, soy, dairy and sugar, and adding in healing foods like animal protein, good, healthy fats and cooked vegetables, along with learning how to slow down when I ate. Taking some deep breaths, sitting down, getting in that rest and digest state and learning how to chew my food. Also, adding in some good healing probiotics actually put a halt to my eating disorder. So, let's explain the science of probiotics to our listeners the same way we do with our clients who take our Weight & Wellness series, specifically in class three where we talk about intestinal health and food sensitivities.

CASSIE: I think that's a great idea and I remember the first time I took that six-week Weight & Wellness series. Boy, that must have been about 11 years ago now. And I remember the intestinal class, like you said, class three in particular, just having all these light bulb moments when I sat through that because even though I was a registered Dietitian at the time when I sat down 11 years ago to take the class, this was stuff I had never been taught in college and it was brand new information to me that my poor digestive health was related to so many other aspects of my health that were going wrong.

JENNIFER: Everything in your body.

CASSIE: Yeah. It all comes back to your intestinal health. So, I love what you are suggesting. Let's talk about probiotics the same way we do when we're teaching that class, and that brings to mind a saying. It goes something like this. “A healthy gut is the key to a healthy body.” Pretty simple, but very true. And one of the things we teach in that Weight & Wellness class three is that our intestinal tract has between 75 to 100 trillion bacteria, or we could call them micro organisms, living in it. I didn't say billion with a B. I said trillion with a T. So, 75 to 100 trillion microorganisms in our intestinal tract. Now, some of these microorganisms are bad pathogenic bacteria. That's just the natural makeup of the human body, but to be the healthiest version of ourselves, we certainly want more good bacteria than bad bacteria and that's why getting enough probiotics, either through food or supplements or both, is so important to our overall health.

JENNIFER:  It really is. It's so very important. The key to a healthy body is to have that healthy gut. And we know the Standard American Diet, or SAD, or the Modern American Diet, MAD, with a large consumption of processed foods can decrease the good bacteria inside of our intestinal tract and increase the bad bacteria. And too many bad bacteria can cause many different health problems. When I had an excess of bad bacteria, I had a lot of IBS symptoms, which stands for irritable bowel syndrome. So what does that mean? That's when you go from a state of constipation to diarrhea, back to constipation. You're just never in that normal state, and I'm sure a lot of listeners can relate to this.

CASSIE: I know they can. When I was in clinical practice that was so common, and I would get so frustrated because I felt like the doctors were throwing that term out there to put a name to it, but they didn't have an answer to it.

JENNIFER: They didn't have a solution. I also craved sugar, processed carbohydrates, junk food, or sometimes again, no food at all. I felt irritable, sometimes hangry, sometimes moody, and I had very high levels of anxiety. I also experienced sleep problems and I would get these terror dreams and those terror dreams went away when I changed my diet. But what's funny is I didn't make the connection until I had a gluten exposure two years later and the terror dreams came back, so I linked that to gluten. I also had those severe, doubling over cramps. I was suffering from all of these symptoms and I'm going to talk more about these symptoms when we get back from break. So, you're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Today we are sharing information about the use of probiotics and prebiotics. We know the use of probiotics help to reduce symptoms in people with IBS or irritable bowel syndrome. Like I mentioned, it's a fairly common practice. Even though there have been at least 50 different clinical trials that have demonstrated positive results, there’s not been a consistent strain of probiotic used in each study. And consequently, it would seem a probiotic treatment plan should be based on each individual personal symptoms or biochemistry. So, the probiotic strain and the dosage would be symptom dependent. For best results, working with a knowledgeable nutritionist like I did is what we recommend. A combination of diet, lifestyle, and probiotics is necessary for the reduction and elimination of symptoms and we will be right back.

BREAK

CASSIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you're just joining us, I'm Cassie Weness and I'm in studio today with Jennifer Schmid and our topic is centered around the use of prebiotics and probiotics. So, on that note, I want to let listeners know that the use of probiotics in the treatment of ulcerative colitis have been found to be effective not just in our clinical experience, but also in the research. More than one research study has found that a common probiotic used successfully for the treatment of ulcerative colitis has been a multi-strain probiotic. So, there's single strain and then there's also supplements you can buy that have several different types of good bacteria in them, and that would be the multi-strain. The research data indicates that clients with ulcerative colitis may need a multi-strain probiotic at a pretty high dose for several months to achieve relief of their symptoms. But again, it's different from one person to the next, so it doesn't matter just because you both have ulcerative colitis, let's say, that doesn't mean the same probiotic at the same dose is going to work for you. It can really vary so we feel it's best to work individually with a knowledgeable nutritionist who can address your food, your lifestyle, and what probiotic would work best for you. And we have found most times that it's best to start with a low dose single strain, even if it's somebody with ulcerative colitis, but then slowly work up to that multi-strain probiotic at a higher dose to address the ulcerative colitis. For most people, if you just hit them hard with a high dose multi-strain probiotic, they're going to have a lot of bad side effects, so start slow and work up. But I do recommend working with a knowledgeable nutritionist or registered dietician.

JENNIFER:  Yep, absolutely. And that's exactly what I did. So, before we went to break, Cassie, I was talking about the symptoms I was suffering from my IBS. And so the nutritionist I worked with suggested that in addition to changing my diet, I start taking the probiotic, bifido bacteria. She told me probiotics are made up of good bacteria strains. And the reason for taking probiotics was to increase the number of beneficial bacteria inside my intestines to fight off the disease-causing bad bacteria. And she started me out slow. Again, you mentioned starting clients out slow. Basically, I started out with a quarter of a teaspoon before meals. And so I didn't have that battle going on in my gut because when you don't have a lot of that good bacteria and you have mostly bad, you start introducing a lot of the good, you're going to have a battle going on. But I didn't struggle with any of those symptoms.

CASSIE: I agree with what your nutritionist did. And often, when I was in clinical practice, I almost always started with bifido bacteria, just as your nutritionist recommended for you. And the reason is, bifido bacteria is the most common strain of good bacteria found in our intestines. Not only that, but the research shows that bifido bacteria is really abundant in breast milk. The research has shown that about a week after birth, so somewhere between seven to 10 days after that baby is born, more than 90 percent of the bugs in the intestine of breastfed infants is bifido bacteria. So, I think that tells us right there, it's some pretty important stuff. And this abundance of bifido bacteria is one reason why very young infants are resistant to infection. So, speaking of research, if any of you out there listening really like the science of things, here's some more for you. This research I have in front of me came out of Great Britain. It was done 20 years ago, but it still holds up today. And this research found that supplementing young babies with extra bifido bacteria, so more than what they were getting in their breast milk, reduced their risk of getting asthma by 45 percent. That's huge. Reduction of asthma by 45 percent simply by supplementing with a little bit of extra bifido and it's really easy to do. At our office, we sell a powder form and so moms will buy that and either just put a little bit on their finger and let the baby suck it off, or you can put a little bit on your nipple and let the baby suck it off, and just do that a couple of times a day. This research also showed that supplementing with extra bifido bacteria reduced the baby's risk of developing allergies by 45 to 50 percent. Bottom line, when babies have sufficient probiotics, they digest their food better and they're more resistant to allergies and infections and asthma.

JENNIFER: And even colic. We've talked about this on our show before that it really helps with colicky babies and I suffered from colic as a baby, as well.

CASSIE: Were you breastfed?

JENNIFER: I was.

CASSIE: Something, to point out too, is that if the mom doesn't have good intestinal health, they're not going to have much good bacteria to pass on to the baby.

JENNIFER: My mom was on a course of antibiotics kind of indefinitely for a heart murmur condition. So, she took them prophylactically everyday. So, her bacteria was depleted.

CASSIE:  So, then you can't pass it on.

JENNIFER: Exactly. So, when I started taking the supplement, the bifido bacteria, my digestive system calmed down. And you know what, Cassie? So did my anxiety. I stopped craving the sugar and processed carbohydrates. In fact, I think it was just 10 days after taking it, I started to notice that those sugar cravings went away.

CASSIE: I believe it is. It is so powerful, the connection that our gut has to every aspect of our health.

JENNIFER: It really does. I just felt better overall.

CASSIE: And talking about bifido bacteria, it reminds me of a question I have gotten so many times from clients, from class participants. They'll say, well, I'm only gonna, take one supplement. Maybe they don't want to spend a lot of money. Maybe they just don't like to swallow pills. They'll say, if I'm only going to take one supplement, what should it be? And for most everyone, my answer is a probiotic, namely that bifido bacteria, that strain of good bugs that should be the most abundant in our intestines. And we were talking about this in the break room before we came on the show that Hippocrates knew all this stuff many, many, many years ago. And Hippocrates is the one that said all diseases begin in the guidance, right? And I say let's keep our gut healthy. So, those diseases never have a chance to begin. Let's talk about dosing. I often suggest if you're starting out on bifido bacteria, to start with two capsules if you're going to do the pills, two capsules before every meal, or if you prefer the powder, which I do, and the kids and I all do powder. Do you do the powder?

JENNIFER:  I do.

CASSIE: I feel better. I do too.

JENNIFER: I feel it absorbs better because I have that compromised digestive tract. I don't have to worry about breaking down those plastic capsules.

CASSIE:  Right, right. You mix it in a little bit of water, a couple ounces of water. The powder goes down and it's just, Bam, ready to do its work.

JENNIFER:  Doesn't taste like anything.

CASSIE: No, it really doesn't. So, like you mentioned, your nutritionist started you off on a quarter teaspoon, so that's a good starting point and then working up to a half to one teaspoon of that powder for adults mixed in a little bit of water and do that a couple times, two or three times a day. And maybe some of you are thinking at this point, “Well I don't need a supplement of that good bacteria because I eat my yogurt or maybe you drink kefir.” Well, let me tell you that there are so many things in our American culture that kill off good bacteria and that could be another whole in and of itself.

JENNIFER:   It certainly could. We have a lot working against us.

CASIIE:   We do. Just to name a few, antibiotics, right? If you had to take antibiotics for an ear infection or back in my town, strep throats going around right now, so antibiotics kill the good bacteria along with the bad. Stress in your life kills good bacteria, drinking chlorinated water, which is what comes out of our tap and the drinking fountains, kills good bacteria. So many things working against us, so if you've done a lot of damage over the years, killing off good bacteria in your gut, you're most likely going to need a therapeutic dose that only a supplement can provide, at least for a while, and you just can't eat enough yogurt. I'll just put it that way. Now, by this point, you might also be thinking, okay, am I going to feel any different once I start taking this bifido bacteria supplement? You felt different.

JENNIFER:  Oh, I certainly did.

CASSIE:  I think most people feel different. Both my clinical experience has found this. The research has even found this. One of the many things that taking that good bacteria or that probiotic can do as it balances your microflora out is that it helps to produce regular bowel movements, which means no more constipation, no more diarrhea, so you're gonna feel better.

JENNIFER:  You certainly are going to feel better, and we are ready for our second break.

BREAK

CASSIE:  Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. So, before we went to break, I was saying that one of the many things that taking a supplement of bifido bacteria or some type of good probiotic can do for us is it can help to make more regular bowel movements. And you experienced this, you along with many.

JENNIFER: I did, yes. I noticed right away it relieved my IBS symptoms. I didn't feel that bloating, I didn't have that doubled over pain I would often get after eating and that cramping. And again, I believe this had everything to do with adding in some good bifido bacteria probiotic and like I mentioned before, I really prefer the powdered form, even now.

CASSIE: Yes, me too. And in our signature Weight & Wellness series that you and I were talking about earlier in the show, in that class three, that's all about intestinal health. One of the things that we talk about is the definition of probiotic versus the definition of antibiotic and I think that would be good to share with the listeners. So, probiotic, if we dissect that word, pro means “for,” biotic means “life.” So, a probiotic is “for life.” It's adding good life form to your intestinal tract. Then we take that word, “antibiotic.” Anti means “against,” and again, biotic means “life.” So, antibiotic is “against life.” So, I mean antibiotics, I feel, have their place at times, but you have to realize they don't discriminate. They're against all life, so if you're taking an antibiotic to kill off that bad bug that's causing your ear infection, that antibiotic is also killing the good bugs, or the good bacteria in your system. So, really, I want listeners to stop right now and think about the past year of their life. For the past two years, have you taken antibiotics a couple of different times? Are you drinking chlorinated water out of the tap? Coffee. There's another one. If you're not buying organic coffee, all the pesticide residues on there killing your good bugs. Stress in your life. If you've done a lot of things to kill off good bacteria in your gut, you have to replant. I always think of it like my garden. Because in the in the fall, you dig up your garden. I don't expect it in the spring when I walk out to my backyard that my green beans and my carrots and tomatoes are all just going to pop up on their own. I have to plant the seeds again. So, if you kill off your good bugs through American culture, American lifestyle, you need to replant.

JENNIFER:  Yeah, it's an ecosystem.

CASSIE:  Good word. Yes, that's a great way to think about it. And you know what? We are coming up on cold and flu season. Good reason to take a probiotic. And the research has shown this, as I mentioned early in the show, the fact that taking a probiotic helps to enhance your immune system is a really good idea to add it to your supplement regimen as we enter into cold and flu season. And here's one of the many research studies out there showing that this particular study was looking at elderly subjects. And they took one group of elderly subjects and gave them a daily probiotic and then the other group they did not give a probiotic to. And they found a reduction in influenza in those elderly subjects who were taking the bifido bacteria versus those that weren't. So again, bifido bacteria supports your immune system, not just when you're old, but when you're young and truly all throughout the life cycle.

JENNIFER: Absolutely. I've noticed a huge difference in my immune system since I started taking it, and one other way probiotics help your health is they've also been found to enhance bone strength. And this was an eye opener for me when I first read this research. It's like, “Wow!” And listeners might be like, “Well, how do you make that connection?” Well, when we take bifido bacteria, it helps us digest our food. And if we're digesting our food and absorbing it correctly, we're going to absorb those minerals and nutrients into our cells and therefore into our bones. So that's where that connection comes in. I've shared my story about how I went from having osteoporosis to normal bone density and Cassie, you and I were on that show together on June 30th and at age 21 I was diagnosed with Osteopenia. And then at age 38 I was diagnosed with osteoporosis even though I was working out daily, I was lifting weights. I was taking calcium, eating yogurt and things like that. So, between taking probiotics, mainly the bifido bacteria we’re talking about and the bone building supplement called Pro Bono, I totally restored my bones.

CASSIE: That is amazing, isn't it? Because I don't think everybody realizes that that's even possible that you can go from osteoporosis to normal bones.

JENNIFER: Yeah, I hear it all the time when I share my stories, like, “Wait, what? That's reversible?” A lot of people don't know it's reversible. The body can heal itself. I went from having weak, fragile bones to having normal bone density. I took a packet of the Pro Bono supplement in the morning and a packet at night in addition to that one teaspoon of the bifido balance powder before every meal, plus eating real foods in balance and eliminating the sugar, the processed food from my diet. So, now my bone density is totally normal, which I never thought after my diagnosis would ever be a possibility, especially in in just a few years. I thought just by taking the bifido bacteria, I was getting rid of my digestive symptoms, but it got so much more. I got my positive moods back and this is something I wasn't expecting. I wasn't expecting my behavior to change. And isn't it just amazing that good bacteria can do that?

CASSIE: Like we've said so many times on the show today, it all comes back to your gut. You have to keep your gut healthy if you want to be your best self. So, we've mentioned that having plenty of probiotics in our system can cure a child from being a picky eater. It can get rid of sugar cravings, it can boost your immune system, it can cure constipation. Jennifer just talked about how in a little bit more of a roundabout way, it helps to build strong bones. But wait, there's even more. Another thing that probiotics can do is help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. So, here's a thought that I had preparing for the show. Maybe one day instead of the doctor putting you on a statin drug like Zocor or Crestor, those are just two of many to lower your cholesterol. Maybe that doctor will say, “Take a probiotic.” That would be amazing if they could figure out the specific strain that that they know will work for you to bring that cholesterol down because we know that drugs like Zocor, Crestor, any of those statin drugs, they have the potential for some pretty bad and serious side effects.

JENNIFER: They can cause a lot of damage in the body. So, we know cholesterol is made in the liver so it would make sense, but typically when a person's liver is making too much cholesterol, there's a reason for that. It's often due to a diet of too much sugar, processed carbohydrates, and refined oils. And Cassie, we've talked a lot about refined oils on the show, in our classes just to remind listeners that things like vegetable oil, soybean oil, corn oil, cotton seed oil or canola oil.

CASSIE: Yeah, those are the big four. The soybean, corn, cottonseed and canola. Stay away from those. We also know that cholesterol is eliminated through our colon, but are any of you out there listening struggling with constipation? If you have constipation, then obviously your elimination is very slow and then what happens is as your stool sits in your colon and it's not moving through in a timely manner, cholesterol gets reabsorbed into your body and that then increases the levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream. I bet that's new information for some of the listeners. So, by taking a probiotic and getting those bowel movements to occur on a regular basis, you can eliminate the cholesterol in a timely manner so it doesn't get reabsorbed, and also probiotics help to break down cholesterol.

JENNIFER:  So many amazing things that that good bacteria does for our bodies. There are many strains of probiotics. Some experts believe in concentrating on repopulating with a single strain, and we're going to talk more about the difference between the single strain and multiple strains when we get back from our next break.

BREAK

JENNIFER:    Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. So, before we went to break, I was talking about how some experts believe in concentrating on repopulating a single strain such as bifido bacteria. And at Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we find this to be the most effective. Why? Because the majority of the bacteria, 70 percent of the good bacteria in your intestinal tract is bifido bacteria. Other experts believe in a multi-strain probiotic that that's best, but for my body, I found a single strain to be most effective. I have found that bifido to be the most effective for me, and in fact a few weeks ago I was too busy to get into one of the offices and I ran out of my bifido powder. I was also going through some stress at the time, so I had some GI symptoms and I picked up the bifido powder and within 48 hours it calmed my symptoms down. I didn't even think about it at first. So, basically, one of the points I'm trying to get across here is that I will be taking bifido for life. For me, for my biochemistry, bifido bacteria works the best.

CASSIE: When, like you said earlier, there's so many things in our society that work against us. So, it kind of makes sense then for many of us, we have to continue to replant. The topic of the show today is prebiotics and probiotics. So, I want to address the question that I've gotten time and again, “Do I need to take a prebiotic?” And oftentimes people will ask me like this. They'll say, “Well, I heard that I need a prebiotic to make my probiotic work. Is this true?” So, I want to address that a little bit. First of all, most people eating the Weight & Wellness way, meaning that you're eating some meat, some healthy fat, and lots of vegetables several times a day. Most people eating this way do not need to purchase a prebiotic because you're going to find the prebiotics in the dietary fiber of those vegetables that you're eating. And what prebiotics do basically is they act sort of as a fertilizer or as a food for the probiotics. So, they help the probiotics to grow and multiply. So, my answer to that frequent question of “Do I need to take a prebiotic to make my probiotic work?” I would say for most people, no. Eat the Nutritional Weight & Wellness way instead, and spend your money on good, organic vegetables because these vegetables will give you the sufficient fiber that you need to feed and fuel those probiotics.

JENNIFER: And cooking those delicious, organic vegetables in bacon fat or butter, coconut oil. Delicious. I mentioned how changing my diet and taking probiotics help put an end to my exercise addiction and eating disorder, but what does research say about the evidence or lack of evidence to support the use of probiotics in clients who have eating disorders? Will probiotics help or won't they? We've talked a lot on the show about the gut/brain connection. So, how does that happen? Well, we talked about in our classes when we have the presence of good bacteria, we have a healthy gut. We've got the presence of good bacteria such as bifido bacteria and we eat animal protein and fats. How we make those feel-good chemicals called neuro transmitters. Things like serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, gaba, they travel up our vagus nerve to our brain to help populate those neurotransmitters. In other words, if you have a healthy gut, you're going to have a healthy brain. And this was my “a ha” moment 10 days after I met with my nutritionist, not going to the gym for the first time in 20 plus years and wondering why all of a sudden I am okay with not going. It's because my brain chemistry changed by healing my gut.

CASSIE:That obsessive compulsive need to go to the gym was just magically gone after all those years. Isn't that amazing?

JENNIFER:  I couldn't believe it. Still to this day, it's hard for me to go back into that space. I don’t remember what it was like to feel that compulsion because it's gone.

CASSIE: And you know as well as I know that some of the researchers in this area of brain chemicals call our gut or our intestines our second brain. It makes sense as we sit and listen to you, right? Because if you're making a large majority, in fact I think it's like upwards of 90 percent of our serotonin is made in our intestines. If our intestines are healthy.

JENNIFER: Exactly. And I didn't have healthy intestines my whole life and I certainly wasn't eating enough animal protein either. So, it was a combination of that. Yes, that is how we make our neurotransmitters.

CASSIE: Boy, it makes you think of all the people in this country struggling with depression and mental illness and maybe they need to change their food and get some good bacteria in their system.

JENNIFER:  Exactly. It can make a world of difference. Life-changing.

CASSIE: Lifesaving. Well I want to introduce another digestive term, and this might be new for some listeners. This term has been popping up in many nutrition-related articles the past couple of years, and the term I'm talking about is microbiome. We all have a microbiome, but what is a microbiome? In short definition, the microbiome consists of trillions of microorganisms and within those trillions there are thousands of different species. It's like you said, Jennifer, it's its own ecosystem living, surviving in our intestinal tract. It’s another whole world down there. I find it fascinating. I also find it overwhelming to think about. So, within our bodies we have these trillions of microbes. Some of them are good bacteria, some of them are bad bacteria. There's parasites living down there in us. There's viruses always living down in our intestinal track. There's fungi. And each of these have thousands of different species or at least hundreds of different species. Now in a healthy person, there's going to be far more good bacteria than there is pathogenic bacteria or parasites or viruses. And in a healthy person, all of these little bugs, all of these microbes peacefully coexist down in our small and large intestine. And I found in reading up for today's show that some of the people studying this microbiome, some of the PHD’s studying it are now calling it an organ. Because it is like another supporting organ. It really is because it plays so many roles in supporting health all throughout our body. And think about this, when our microbes are in balance, meaning the good bugs far outweigh the bad, they can then support our immune system and they can help us manufacture B vitamins. So, are you a person listening that really struggles with energy or has a lot of fatigue? Maybe it's because you don't have a healthy intestinal tract so you're not making your B vitamins because B vitamins have a lot to do with our energy levels. Also, when we have these microbes in balance in our intestines, they help us to make vitamin K. And our immune system is supported. So, our immune system, plenty of B vitamins, sufficient vitamin K, these are all vital components to maintaining great energy and staying healthy.

JENNIFER: Very important. I mean it is ground zero for health. You may be thinking, “How does the microbiome fit into the discussion of probiotics?” There are large families of good bacteria that help prevent the overgrowth of the harmful bacteria. And the probiotics help with a better balance of good, beneficial bacteria versus the bad, disease-causing bacteria.

CASSIE: Exactly. If you have plenty of good bacteria, in other words, probiotics in your intestines, it keeps the bad bugs in check. Kind of getting back here as we wrap up to our discussion about how probiotics provide a benefit to people with eating disorders, I just want to say again that we know it clinically. We know it from your story, Jennifer, that probiotics are beneficial in reducing anxiety. They’re beneficial in reducing depression. And that should all make sense to listeners at this point, right? Because now you know if you have enough good bacteria in your system and you're eating enough protein, you are making a lot of serotonin, that feel good brain chemical down in your intestinal tract. And something we haven't gotten a chance to talk about too much this morning, but is definitely supported clinically, is that probiotics help with weight regulation. They can help us to maintain a healthy weight, so it really just all fits together.

JENNIFER: It really does. And what's interesting, Cassie, is that researchers have found that the specific strain bifido bacterium longum blocks the feelings of stress. The test subjects also had lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Again, when our cortisol is too high, we've got too much stress, that reduces the good bacteria, the good bugs. And Cassie, I could go on and on. This is a great show. I wish we had another hour or two. But our goal at Nutritional Weight & Wellness is to help each and every person experienced better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing and can be lifesaving. Thank you for listening and have a great day.

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