Texarkana, TX 80° Wed H 85° L 62° Thu H 85° L 62° Fri H 87° L 68° Weather Sponsored By:

Check with the pros about taking probiotics

Check with the pros about taking probiotics

June 16th, 2019 by Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. in Health

Yogurt is good for gut health. (Metro Creative Graphics)

Probiotics are a hot topic in the field of nutrition, in part because there's research that indicates the bacteria in your intestinal tract helps you in many ways, from dodging Type 2 diabetes to soothing volatile emotions. But do you know if the probiotic you've chosen has been rigorously tested? Or if it's been found to do you more good than harm? (Yes, harm is possible; after all, they're live microorganisms.)

To find out, you can start by checking out labdoor.com. It found 16 of 37 tested probiotics contained viable bacteria amounts that were less than half of what their labels claimed, and just 23 of 37 received an ingredient safety score of 90 or higher out of 100.

Don't overlook a powerful way to promote a healthy intestinal biome: fermented food. So, let's get into the guts of the matter.

What are probiotics? They're bacteria and yeasts that help digest food, regulate glucose levels, digest (ferment) fiber, produce vitamins (biotin, vitamin B12 and K, folic acid and thiamine), regulate salt levels, promote immune system strength, produce mood-altering hormones (neurotransmitters like serotonin) and more.

Does that mean it's full speed ahead with any old probiotic supplement? Nope. You want to choose a probiotic that delivers benefits. A recent study in Cell found that many (but not all) folks' digestive tracts actually block some probiotics from successfully colonizing. If you stop taking those specific probiotic supplements—which we suspect may not deliver many living microbes to your gut after they pass through your stomach acid—and the surviving good bacteria don't stick around. You also want to make sure they are safe for you. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says that there are reports linking some probiotics to severe side effects, such as dangerous infections. This is especially important for folks with serious medical problems or weakened immune systems, very sick infants and those taken post-surgery.

Does that mean you shouldn't take probiotic supplements? No. But you need to make sure that your gut isn't so inflamed or unhealthy that taking a probiotic is potentially risky. As one of the researchers who published a new study on gut inflammation in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says: "When the gut barrier is healthy, probiotics are beneficial. When it is compromised, however, they can cause more harm than good. Essentially, "good fences make good neighbors."

Turns out, if you have gastrointestinal problems, autoimmune diseases such as lupus or multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, arthritis, allergies, asthma, acne, obesity or even mental illness, you may have leaky gut (an intestinal lining that's inflamed and allows bacteria and other material to pass into the bloodstream), and there's a chance that some probiotics can permeate the gut/blood barrier and cause you problems.

So how can you nurture good gut bacteria and heal a leaky gut?

  •  Talk with your doc about diagnosing the symptoms you have that make you think it would be smart to take a probiotic. Bloating, gas and diarrhea, for example, aren't normal. Discuss getting a reliable analysis of your gut biome. A stool sample won't tell you what's actively colonized your intestines.
  •  Tamp down gut inflammation by avoiding highly processed foods, added sugars and excess alcohol. Find out if you have food sensitivities, intolerances or allergies.
  •  Eat "The Big Two."

No. 1: Foods that contain prebiotics. They keep good bacteria healthy and increase nutrient absorption and bowel regularity. That's dried beans/legumes, garlic, asparagus, onions, leeks, certain artichokes, green bananas and wheat.

No. 2. Foods that contain probiotics. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the most common groups of probiotics. That's miso, tempeh, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, many pickles and yogurt.

Consult your doc about taking a probiotic supplement to help ease your gut inflammation and to keep your gut healthy. We like ones that make it through your stomach acid, like Culturelle and Digestive Advantage. Labdoor ranks them Nos. 1 and 2 in quality with scores of 98.1 and 97.1, respectively.


Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit sharecare.com.

(c)2019 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Texarkana Gazette Comments Policy

The Texarkana Gazette web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Gazette web sites and any content on the Gazette web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Gazette, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Gazette web sites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Texarkana Gazette
15 Pine Street
Texarkana, TX 75501
Phone: 903-794-3311
Email: webeditor@texarkanagazette.com