Gut Microbes (con’t) – So, I’m asked all the time, how can you tell which is the best probiotic supplement to take? First of all you want one that contains “live cultures.” It should state it somewhere on the package label. Secondly, choose a refrigerated kind, because the cultures in an unrefrigerated kind tend to die off fairly quickly making them ineffective. And lastly consume at a supplement with at least 1 billion live bacterial cultures – 250 billion would be at the top of the range.
But what if you don’t want to spend the hefty price-tag that goes along with these supplements? Try getting them from whole, “real” foods.
Most people have heard of consuming yogurt as a way to get probiotics. If you are buying yogurt, the same is true as in supplements. Make sure that you look for the words “contains active cultures” or “living cultures” on the carton. The probiotics in yogurt that have been treated with heat will most probably be killed off and therefore ineffective.
*Live and active cultures refer to the living organisms Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, which convert pasteurized milk to yogurt during fermentation. All yogurts are required to be made with these two cultures. In heat-treated yogurt, these cultures are killed during post-fermentation heating. Source: http://aboutyogurt.com/index.asp?bid=28#Q3
Some studies have suggested that you will need to consume several cartons of live active yogurt to have any effect, so eating fermented vegetables may be a better option. If you can; purchase them from a local food source. Heating bacteria (as in commercially produced fermented vegetables) kills it in the manufacturing process, so even though it keeps them shelf stable – it has no probiotic effect. Pasteurizing also kills bacteria. So those yummy dill pickles you find on your store shelf, may certainly taste good, but offer little or no ‘good’ bacterium value.
For best probiotic results, choose raw, uncooked, unpasteurized fermented vegetables.
More to come on probiotics later this week….