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by Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM, ROHP--World Leading Authority on All Things Probiotic

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The Probiotic Miracle

Dispelling the Myths about Probiotics

Discover the truth about probioticsThe other day I was flipping through a medical journal which touted probiotics as the “supplement of the year.”  I opened my e-mail inbox only a few hours later to find a news story showcasing probiotic-rich foods as the “health food of the year.”  It seems probiotics and probiotic-rich foods have earned their rightful place in the health and nutrition world. 

But it seems there is almost as much misinformation about probiotics as there is mention of these beneficial microbes.  As a probiotic researcher for 25 years and author of the soon-to-be-released book, The Probiotic Promise (DaCapo, January 2015), I’d like to shed some light on the facts and expose the fiction.  Be sure to subscribe to this blog as I’ll be sharing critical information over the weeks and months ahead—information that you can use to improve your health and quality of life.

Before I start tackling the essentials about probiotics, let me introduce myself a bit further.  I am a board-certified doctor of natural medicine, registered nutritional consulting practitioner, and registered orthomolecular health practitioner.  As the author of 16 books including several international best-sellers, many readers count on me for practical, no-nonsense health information.  Unlike many health sites on the internet, I have the clinical experience and health background to provide accurate information in my blogs.  You wouldn’t buy the plans for your dream home from an architectural coach; I think you should be as selective about where you get your nutrition and health information.

So, what exactly are probiotics?  Probiotics are living microorganisms that bestow health benefits when ingested in food or supplement form.  The first myth I regularly hear is that probiotics are “beneficial bacteria.” While it is true that probiotics count many beneficial bacteria in their numbers that is only part of the story.  Probiotics can also include other types of beneficial microbes.  Some beneficial yeasts are an example. 

Immediately when I say “beneficial yeasts” someone immediately pipes up that yeasts cause yeast infections.  Beneficial or probiotic yeasts DO NOT cause yeast infections and may even help boost your immunity so your body is better able to fight harmful yeast infections.

Stay posted.  I’ll be sharing lots more news you can use and helping you to get the facts straight on probiotics.  If you haven’t already subscribed to this blog, I hope you will. You can subscribe here.

Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM, ROHP is an international best-selling and 17-time book author and doctor of natural medicine, whose books include:  60 Seconds to Slim, Weekend Wonder Detox, The Ultimate pH Solution, and Healing Recipes. She is the publisher of the free e-magazine World's Healthiest News.  Subscribe to receive health news, tips, recipes and more.  Follow her on Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.  Learn more about her work on her website DrMichelleCook.com.

The Cultured Cook blog

The Probiotic Miracle...Coming Soon!

April 3, 2014

We’ve all heard horror stories of people going into the hospital for a relatively minor problem and coming out with an untreatable and potentially lethal infection.  And hospitals aren’t the only “hot zones” for superbugs.  While we may not want to admit how serious drug-resistant superbugs can be, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just announced that superbugs “pose a catas…

Read more

Probiotics vs. Prebiotics: What You Need to Know

February 6, 2014

Are you confused about probiotics and prebiotics?  This is a dilemma facing many people, and outrageous marketing claims aren’t helping matters.  So, “what’s the difference?” you may be wondering.

The Pros of Probiotics

Probiotics are Probiotics are beneficial to the whole body.basically microorganisms that promote health.  They are primarily bacteria that offer health benefits when eaten or supplemented with.  There are many di…

Read more

The Probiotic Miracle...Coming Soon!

April 3, 2014

We’ve all heard horror stories of people going into the hospital for a relatively minor problem and coming out with an untreatable and potentially lethal infection.  And hospitals aren’t the only “hot zones” for superbugs.  While we may not want to admit how serious drug-resistant superbugs can be, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just announced that superbugs “pose a catastrophic threat” to people in “every country in the world.”  (See attached article at the end of this proposal.)  Even worse, the medical establishment’s chosen weapon against superbugs—antibiotics—are becoming less and less effective against these infections.  That’s because the superbugs have adapted to the genetic composition of the antibiotics—in essence, they’re outsmarting them! 

But the story is not one of gloom and doom.  It’s actually one of potential empowerment.  Exciting new research shows that some strains of probiotics--Lactobacillus rhamnosus and reuterii, for example—are killing superbugs even when antibiotics stop working.  Even better, research demonstrates that the superbugs do not develop resistance to probiotics!  That’s largely due to their complex structure.  Superbugs can’t outsmart them the way they outsmart antibiotics, which is great news when you consider the rapidly growing accounts of antibiotic resistance: over 70 percent of all pathogenic bacteria in hospitals are at least minimally resistant to antibiotics.

Adapted with permission from my upcoming book, The Probiotic Miracle (DaCapo).

Check out my new book 60 Seconds to Slim.  Subscribe to my free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more.  Follow my blog on my site HealthySurvivalist.com, Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook. 

Probiotics vs. Prebiotics: What You Need to Know

February 6, 2014

Are you confused about probiotics and prebiotics?  This is a dilemma facing many people, and outrageous marketing claims aren’t helping matters.  So, “what’s the difference?” you may be wondering.

The Pros of Probiotics

Probiotics are Probiotics are beneficial to the whole body.basically microorganisms that promote health.  They are primarily bacteria that offer health benefits when eaten or supplemented with.  There are many different strains of bacteria that offer an array of benefits, ranging from boosting immunity and reducing arthritis symptoms to boosting brain health and fighting cancer.  These bacteria are primarily from the Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria families.  They’re names are usually shortened to L. for Lactobacilli and B. for Bifidobacteria when they are listed on the labels of probiotic supplements.  For example, L. acidophilus and B. bifidum, which are two of the main strains naturally present in healthy human intestines.  There are, of course, many other strains.  They “crowd out” harmful pathogenic bacteria and yeasts in the intestines, helping to prevent and heal disease.

Unheated or unpasteurized fermented foods naturally contain probiotics, with different foods containing different strains.  Since these cultures are typically airborne, there are also regional differences in the type of strains found in food products from different places.  Some of the probiotic-rich foods include:  sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, and yogurt.  However, keep in mind that eating yogurt is rarely enough to obtain the many health benefits of probiotics.  Many commercially-available brands of yogurt don’t contain “live cultures.”  If you’re choosing one, be sure to choose one that says “live cultures” on the label.  While the claim doesn’t guarantee that the cultures are intact, it may increase the odds.  If they are subjected to excessive heat during the manufacturing, processing, transportation, or storage of the products, the probiotic content will drop.

Sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, and other fermented foods are also sensitive to heat so if they sit on grocery store shelves at room temperature you can bet they were pasteurized and don’t contain any remaining probiotic cultures.  Choose products from the fridge section of your natural food store that are “unpasteurized” for the probiotics to remain intact.

Dispelling the Myths about Prebiotics

Prebiotics are the food that probiotics feed on to enable them to populate the intestines.  Many food products and supplements come with claims that they contain prebiotics that are necessary for probiotics to work but that isn’t the whole story.  In most cases, adding prebiotics to packaged foods or supplements isn’t necessary and is really more of a marketing gimmick in my opinion.  Here’s why:  Prebiotics are carbohydrates such as sugars, starches, and fiber and are found in all plant-based foods.  Beneficial bacteria feed on these substances in our gut and proliferate, improving gut health and overall health.  If you eat fruit, or fiber- and carbohydrate-rich whole grains and beans, your body likely has all the prebiotics it needs.  But, you’ll have to make a concerted effort to eat more fermented foods or take probiotic supplements to get adequate probiotics.

If you read “contains FOS” or “fructooligosaccharides” keep in mind that “oligosaccharides” are simply sugar molecules and “fructo” means that the sugars are derived from fruit.  Inulin is a type of fiber that is also touted as a popular prebiotic.  Some of the best sources of prebiotics include:  Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, onions, garlic, chicory root, asparagus, bananas, dandelions, endive, radicchio, and burdock.  Eat more of these foods and other foods rich in fiber to give the beneficial bacteria a boost.  

Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water if you’re eating probiotic-rich foods or taking probiotic supplements because, like you, the beneficial bacteria need water to function.

Adapted with permission from my upcoming book, The Probiotic Miracle (DaCapo).

Check out my new book 60 Seconds to Slim.  Subscribe to my free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more.  Follow my blog on my site HealthySurvivalist.com, Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.