Functional Medicine

Seven Reasons For Taking A Probiotic Beyond Digestive Health

Over 100 trillion microbes (bacteria, fungi and viruses) populate our gastrointestinal (GI) tract, with 99% being beneficial to human health. These microbes regulate not only our digestive system but also our metabolism and immune system.

Seven important, but less known, functions of a good microbial balance include:

1. Increased energy – for every 2 minutes of energy you body creates, the microflora produces six seconds of it. If that doesn’t sounds like much, think of the most erotic 2 minutes of your life and take the best six seconds of it – that’s what the microflora gives you.

2. Increased metabolism – the microflora converts 30% of the inactive thyroid hormone, thyroxine, to its active form, T3, to help boost your metabolism. If you’re feeling a little sluggish, constipated, and your hair is falling out (three signs of a subclinical thyroid disorder), perhaps you want to add a good probiotic to your thyroid optimizing protocol.

3. Enhanced mercury detoxification – very new research is showing that your microflora is responsible for between 50% and 90% of mercury detoxification. If you enjoyed Hamachi for dinner last night and had a Niçoise salad for lunch today, augment your body’s natural detox mechanisms by adding a good probiotic to your supplement routine for the next 14 days.

4. Improved mood – the microflora synthesize B vitamins which are used to create serotonin, the ‘happy’ neurotransmitter. B vitamins are also energy nutrients. If you want to be happy and energized, dejunk your diet, so the beneficial microbes can proliferate and do their work.

5. Improved mineral absorption – beneficial microbes enhance the absorption of calcium, magnesium and zinc. If improved bone density is a goal, adding a good probiotic should be considered along with Vitamin D3, calcium, magnesium and other bone nutrients.

6. Decreased food sensitivities – the microflora improve gut barrier function by creating fuel for the cells that line the GI tract. Without this fuel, these cells atrophy causing leaky gut. Once leaky gut is established, food sensitivities frequently develop.

7. Decreased obesity – beneficial microbes use more calories to survive than pathogenic microbes. The pathogenic microbes also interfere with insulin signaling leading to increased fat mass. Modern animal husbandry has known this for years; give animals low dose antibiotics and they get fatter.

Probiotics are designed to augment normal flora so the microbes can more easily perform their diverse functions. However, probiotics are not a panacea for wellness. They are part of a larger protocol to improve the gut microbial balance.

Equally as important are:

  • limiting your intake of antibiotics (medically and in the food supply)
  • dejunking your diet to limit the fuel for the pathogenic microbes
  • eating a colorful array of plant-based foods to provide substrates for the mircoflora to feast on
  • adding naturally fermented foods, like coconut kefir and sauerkraut, to enhance the microbial balance, and
  • playing in the dirt