Who is ruling the roost, bad bacteria or good bacteria?
Yes, this question pops in your head when you read available online mega content on Probiotics or Prebiotics. Funny, isn’t the bunch of good bacteria have become bitcoin for nutritionist & fitness folks.
Try Google search it and you will realize millions have already revolutionized their health with probiotics and millions will soon – they are just busy gulping strains after strains.
It is good but isn’t too much goodness can be addictive or harmful in different means, so here we are for Chat on the Mat with Dr. Anjana Rastogi, MD, FACP, FAARFM Advance fellowship in Antiaging, Regenerative and Functional Medicine, to understand science behind it.
(please note : in following conversation bacteria could be referred as flora, microbiome, microbes interchangeably for same thing for practical purpose by Dr. Anjana Rastogi. )
hmy : What is the science behind swallowing these supplements or foods of good bacteria? Really, does it keeps us healthy or it is another pharmaceutical stunt to hit the sales target.
Dr. Anjana Rastogi : Probiotics have a very important role in achieving optimum health in today’s time.
After even a single dose of antibiotics we lose almost 90% of our healthy gut flora. Living in today’s toxic and stressful environment further stresses out our healthy bacteria. But not all probiotics available either by prescription or over the counter, meet a true probiotics definition. So, one has to take caution when selecting a good probiotics.
hmy : What is the difference between Probiotics & Prebiotics? And which one is more preferred?
Dr. Anjana Rastogi : Probiotics are live healthy bacteria, when introduced in adequate amount delivers health benefit to its host. We have more than 100 trillion bacteria of more than 1000 different species living in our gut alone. We call these bacteria and their genetic material present in our body, “microbiome”. 99% of our metabolic function is controlled by our gut microbiome. So maintaining a healthy microbiome is very essential for good health.
Prebiotics are fermentable, digestible carbohydrates which these gut bacteria utilize to grow. It’s like a fertilizer but we should be careful in consuming prebiotics alone in presence of abnormal unhealthy bacterial growth because they can promote growth of bad bacteria also.
So ideally if someone has a need for probiotics ( which in my opinion pretty much everyone has in today’s environment ) should be taking both a balanced probiotics along with home-made fermented food examples like yogurt, kambutcha, or commercially available XOS, FOS, prebiotics.
hmy : Many probiotic supplements are available over the counter, what care one must take while picking from these supplements?
Dr. Anjana Rastogi : When picking a probiotic few basic facts you should understand :-
1. Much smaller percentage of microbes more in range of 2% in the world, are actually dangerous to our health. Rest 98% are either helpful or neutral. So the goal is to keep these 98% healthy bacterial species to take care of the “bad” 2%.
2. We all have different internal make up of microbiome. Not even twins share the same microbiome. And then there is internal variety, each small area of gut has different strains and species. After taking even a single dose of antibiotics, all microbes species drop down by 90%. So taking only one kind of strain for long time can cause imbalance which we call “dysbiosis”.
3. No matter what it may claim but majority of bacteria present in available probiotics are either already be dead and whatever is alive , gets killed by our stomach acid and after that by bile salts. Still people may feel better temporarily after taking probiotics because their genetic material left behind while passing gut help some metabolic function and decrease inflammation.
4. There are certain strains of bacteria which act as police in out gut which helps to control overgrowing bacteria and promotes growth of less populated healthy bacteria. It means they will bring back the healthy balance in gut. Newer generation of probiotics contain spores of these special healthy bacteria which can bring healthy balance. So look for spore probiotics.
hmy : Since ages and worldwide, theory of fermentation is prevalent in home kitchens. Fermented food items like Kefir, Sauerkraut, Yoghurt, Kombucha, Soy Milk, Meso Soup, etc, are traditional foods of different regions. All of us are not good enough to prepare all the varieties at home, so while buying probiotic supplement should we keep a note of strains so that we can create ecosystem of variety of strains in our system?
Dr. Anjana Rastogi : As mentioned above, you should try to pick either spore probiotics or a balanced one which contains atleast 8-10 most important species.
Fermented foods do not provide live microbes to our large intestine, FERMENTED FOODS ARE NOT PROBIOTICS. FERMENTED FOOD ARE PREBIOTICS which acts as a fertilizer providing predigested food and nutrients In easily digestible form. Some individual may benefit from individual strains for curing their diseases . But for daily health you should avoid single strain probiotics.
hmy : Over population of single kind of strain, is it harmful?
Dr. Anjana Rastogi : Yes overpopulation of few strains only can cause imbalance . Avoid self medicating. It’s different and safer with spore probiotics that it does not get killed by stomach acid or other harsh internal environment, it does not over grow and works as a police in gut.
hmy : What happens to our immune system when we consume these supplements for longer period of time?
Dr. Anjana Rastogi : Depending upon if it helps , it can decrease inflammation and hence help immune system or vice-versa
hmy : When should we discontinue these probiotic supplements?
Dr. Anjana Rastogi : Usually take higher dose for 3-4 weeks and then maintain smaller dose if treating or used for a specific medical condition.
hmy : What type of diet & lifestyle one should follow while consuming probiotic supplements?
Dr. Anjana Rastogi : One should follow a balanced healthy diet regardless of use of probiotics to maintain healthy gut.
1. Eat very diverse diet from various sources (including source of origin), green leafy vegetables, underground vegetables garlic, onions, jicama, and many more. From different sources, different farms or stores as they may contain different strains of bacteria. Ultimately soil contains all kinds of bacteria and we all have been exposed to dust in our life.
2. Eat some of your own home fermented food regularly but keep a variety.
3. Eat organic because chemicals used in today’s agriculture like round up ( glyphosate), pesticides etc kill our healthy microbiome.
4. Eat less. Drink plenty of fluids . Chew food well. Fasting intermittently to give gut total rest to repair & rejuvenate.
5. AVOID FAST FOODS AND ALL REFINED SUGAR. AVOID ALL CARBONATED DRINKS INCLUDING SODA, COKES, AVOID GLUTEN CONTAINING FOOD USUALLY MADE OF WHEAT LIKE BREAD, PASTA.
6. Exercise regularly including 8 -10 min of intense exercise per day.
7. Get 8 hrs of good night sleep, Meditate, deep diaphragmatic breathing PRANAYAMA exercises daily help to bring down stress level and must for optimum health.
hmy : Can flora of good bacteria be an alternate cure for infections or inflammation?
Dr. Anjana Rastogi : Unhealthy gut is root cause of majority of inflammation in our body. This gut Inflammation leads to majority of chronic illnesses including heart disease, dementia and also cancer. Yes bringing back your healthy gut environment can prevent and even cure some of the diseases, one simple example is chronic constipation.
hmy : Any message to probiotic fan followers who are reading this conversation?
Dr. Anjana Rastogi : In summary because of variety of reasons we have lost healthy population of our gut microbiome and hence lost our internal defenses, our silent helpers in digesting food, producing essential nutrients, controlling bad bugs. We need to take all essential precautions to maintain a healthy gut.
Taking Probiotics and prebiotics are integral part of maintaining gut health but not the only thing. They will be essential in beginning of your restoration process but then sustain it by healthier life choices. We have been blessed with ancient wisdom of yoga and yogic way of living. So live everyday yogic way.
More info about Dr. Anjana Rastogi & contact her @ https://www.rastogisimcmidland.com/provider/anjana-rastogi-md-facp-faarfm
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