Critters in your Gut: Are Parasites making you Fat?

parasites

A parasite is any organism that lives and feeds off of another organism. Most common that I deal with are tiny organisms, usually worms, that feed off of your nutrition.

An example of parasites include roundworms, tapeworms, pinworms, whipworms, hookworms, and more. Parasites come in so many different shapes and sizes. They also have their fair share of symptoms. Some feed off your meals, making you unable to gain weight. Others feed off of your red blood cells, causing anemia. Some lay eggs that can cause itching, irritability, and even insomnia. Many times I work with people who have tried a variety of approaches to feel better and nothing works. I like to dig a little deeper and see if there could be an underlying stressor such as a parasite. I also find that many times people end up band-aiding the symptoms instead of discovering the root cause.

How do you get parasites?

There are a many of ways to contract a parasite. The first and most common way is through contaminated food and water. Undercooked meat is a common place for parasites to hide, which is why it is best to buy clean, organic and grass fed meat. Another common way is contaminated water especially from underdeveloped countries, lakes, ponds, or creeks. Always make sure you clean your fruits and vegetables; they can also harbor parasites. Some parasites can even enter the body by traveling through the bottom of your foot, YUM.

Once a person is infected with a parasite, it’s very easy to pass it along. I have a lot of couples where one person has a parasite or h pylori, and you must treat both of them especially if they are sexually active. The area you want to be super careful is bathrooms, even your own. Any place where stool is exposed is high risk for a contracting a parasite. So wash your hands after using the bathroom. Close the toilet lid before you flush so the water can’t splash out.  If you have a parasite and don’t wash your hands after using the restroom, you can easily pass microscopic parasite eggs onto anything you touch — the door handle, the salt shaker, your phone, or anyone you touch. I highly recommend taking anti-parasitic supplements when traveling out of the country just to be safe.

10 Signs You May Have a Parasite

  • You have an explained constipation, diarrhea, gas, or other symptoms of IBS
  • You traveled internationally and remember getting traveler’s diarrhea while abroad
  • You have a history of food poisoning and your digestion has not been the same since.
  • You have trouble falling asleep, or you wake up multiple times during the night.
  • You get skin irritations or unexplained rashes, hives, rosacea or eczema.
  • You grind your teeth in your sleep.
  • You have pain or aching in your muscles or joints.
  • You experience fatigue, exhaustion, depression, or frequent feelings of apathy.
  • You never feel satisfied or full after your meals.
  • You’ve been diagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia.

The signs of a parasite can often appear unrelated and unexplained. As I mentioned previously, there are MANY different types of parasites that we are exposed to in our environments. I typically see parasites causing more constipation in patients than diarrhea, but some parasites are capable of changing the fluid balance in your gut and causing diarrhea. Trouble sleeping, skin irritations, mood changes, and muscle pain can all be caused by the toxins that parasites release into the bloodstream. These toxins often cause anxiety, which can manifest itself in different ways. For instance, waking up in the middle of the night or grinding your teeth in your sleep are signs that your body is experiencing anxiety while you rest. When these toxins interact with your neurotransmitters or blood cells, they can cause mood swings or skin irritation.

Testing for Parasites

The best way to test for a parasite is to get a stool test. Most doctors will run a conventional stool test if they suspect a parasite, however these are not as accurate as the comprehensive stool tests that we use in functional medicine.  When doing a test you want to make sure you haven’t taken any probiotics or antibiotics for two weeks prior and have broken down your biofilm to get the most accurate results. I also recommend people get a minimum of 5 days of samples for one test. A lot of the one-day tests will not come up with anything.

Conventional stool tests can identify parasites or parasite eggs in your stool, yet this test comes with many limitations. The problem with this test is that it is only conditionally successful. This test requires three separate stool samples that must be sent to the lab for a pathologist to view under a microscope. Parasites have a very unique life cycle that allows them to rotate between dormant and alive. In order to identify them in this conventional test, the stool sample must contain a live parasite, the parasite must remain alive as the sample ships to the lab, and the pathologist must be able to see the live parasite swimming across the slide. While these can certainly be useful tests for some people, they are unable to identify dormant parasites, and therefore I often see a high number of false negatives with this type of stool test.

Functional Medicine Comprehensive Stool Test

I use a comprehensive stool test on all of my patients. I have worked with several companies but I have found the Parasitology Full GI panel is the most comprehensive, reliable, accurate and the most bang of your buck.

The Full GI Panel consists of our Comprehensive Stool Analysis (CSA) and our Swab Culture. The combination of these two tests provides a full coverage screening of all intestinal pathogens and is recommended for anyone experiencing GI symptoms. The CSA provides a detailed analysis of all intestinal parasites (Protozoa, Trematodes, Tapeworms, Nematodes) from all 7 continents as well as other intestinal organisms including Candida, yeast, and other fungi. Analysis of bio-indicators such as red and white blood cells, mucus, fatty acid crystals, starch granules, undigested tissue, beneficial bacteria, epithelial cells, pollen, and charcot-leyden crystals is also included. Swabs are taken for culturing and analysis of bacterial and fungal infections. Sensitivity and resistance results as well as quantification of positive findings indicating intensity of infection are also included. The Swab Culture can be used for culturing stool, skin, urine, or any other body parts or secretions. This test is highly recommended for patients with GI symptoms who have had negative stool tests for parasites, as the symptoms for pathogenic bacteria are very similar to those of parasitic infections. I also add in a test for Pylori.

Treating Parasites

The comprehensive stool test is able to identify what specific parasites and/or bacteria so that I know how to treat the infection. I usually use a blend of herbal supplements to kill the parasite, yeast, candida, SIBO and or Pylori. Before starting an anti-parasite herbal supplement, I highly recommend that you consult with your practitioner before starting and make sure you have the right herbs for what specifically you have going on in your gut.

It all starts in your gut and your gut is the gateway to health. Your Gut is your second brain.

Common Symptoms:

  • Chronic fatigue for no apparent reason
  • Swollen or achy joints
  • Increased appetite, hungry after meals
  • Eat out at restaurants
  • Nervous or irritable
  • Restless sleep/teeth grinding while asleep
  • Night sweats
  • Blurry, unclear vision
  • Fevers of unknown origin
  • Frequent colds, flu, sore throats
  • Recurrent feelings of unwellness
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea alternating with constipation
  • Thinning or loss of hair
  • Allergies, food sensitivities
  • Irritable bowel, irregular bowel
  • Rectal, anal itching
  • Bloating or gas
  • Abdominal or liver pain/cramps
  • Mucus in nose that is moist or encrusted
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Bowel urgency
  • Skin problems, rashes, hives, itchy skin
  • Vertical wrinkles around mouth
  • Kiss pets, allow pets to lick your face
  • Go barefoot outside the home
  • Travel in 3rd world countries
  • Eat lightly cooked pork/salmon products
  • East sushi/sashimi
  • Swim in creeks, rivers, lakes
  • History of parasitic infection
  • Loose stools or diarrhea
  • Pale, anemic or yellowish skin
  • Foul-smelling stools
  • Low back or kidney pain
  • Indigestion, malabsorption

For more information contact Samantha at seefitpt@aol.com

Healthy Super Bowl snacks….

Mushroom Pizza Bites

Ingredients

  • 12 button mushrooms rinsed
  • 1/2lb italian sausage- Make sure it has no added nitrates or sugar. You could get ground meat and season yourself if you can’t find anything that is clean.
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4-1/2 cup pizza sauce or no sugar added marinara sauce CHECK FOR SOYBEAN OIL AND SUGAR

Directions

  1. Turn on your grill so it’s hot.
  2. Wipe down your mushrooms and remove stems. Then place them stem side up on a plate.
  3. Throw your italian sausage in a bowl along with your egg white. Use your hands to combine it all together.
  4. Then make tablespoon size balls of the meat mixture and plop them into the cap of the mushrooms.
  5. Place on top rack of grill and cook for about 8-10 minutes or until sausage is cooked through.
  6. Top each mushroom and sausage cap with either hot or cold pizza/marinara sauce
  7. Stick a toothpick in it and YUM YUM

FAT is your Friend!!!

Why is everyone so afraid of Fats?

Do not worry you are not the only one most of my clients are afraid of fat.  Fat in food has become the villain in America the past decades. Everyone assumes that low-fat and fat-free foods are what we should be eating to shed fat and look and feel our best. Well that is so far from the truth. Fat is the building blocks for all of our hormones. Believe it or not cholesterol is the main fat that helps us produce all of our necessary hormones. Without fat what happens? YES, our hormone levels can drop and as a results we have

7-Healthy-Fats-that-Promote-Weight-Loss

 thyroid, hormone, weight, fatigue, fertility, and many more symptoms. SO eat your good healthy fats!! Now I am not saying go eat a ton of corn oil and canola oil. There are good fats and bad fats which I will tell you about below.

My Top Favorite Fats for your body:

  1. Butter or Ghee (clarified butter)

Assuming you do not have a cow milk sensitivity or allergy butter is a great source of fat. I am not saying the “I can’t believe it is not butter” and Margarine are ok.  Those are filled with tons of trans fats from vegetable oils. I am talking about REAL butter made from grass- fed organic cows. The omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids found in butter help your brain function at optimal level and improve your skin health. These two fatty acids are considered to be very important since your body cannot produce them on its own. These fats must come from other sources.  Butter also has a lot of trace mineral and fat soluble vitamins. One being Selenium which can help with thyroid function.

Ghee is also a great option. It is loaded with fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and E. It also contains high levels of Vitamin K2 which helps strengthen bones. These types of vitamins are best absorbed by your body when they’re in a fat substance and then stored in your gastrointestinal tract, keeping your metabolism and digestion on track. Another great thing about ghee is it is lactose and casein-free. What this means is if you can’t have lactose ghee may be an ok alternative.

  1. Coconut oil:

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This is one of my all-time favorite oils to use because it has such a high number of benefits. You can cook with it, use it on your hair and skin, use it for your teeth and gum health, a natural lubricant, and raise your body temp just by eating it which can help you lose weight!  Coconut oil is rich in medium-chain fatty acids, which are easy for your body to digest and not stored in the body as far in small size, allowing them to infuse cells with energy almost immediately. These fatty acids also improve brain memory and function.

The high amount of natural saturated fats in coconut oil means that it increases good cholesterol and promotes heart health. IT also has anti-inflammatory effects which can help reduce pain in joints. Now that you know coconut oil is so great remember to store it at room temperature. I recommend buying extra virgin as refined or processed coconut oil can eliminate some of the health benefits.

From my personal experience with my clients some of them can’t loose weight and are constipated. I add in two tablespoons of coconut oil a day to start and they have started to loose weight and go potty!!

  1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil:

olive-oil-and-olives

Now this is one fat that everyone should include in their diet. EVOO is what people like to call it. However, it is not recommended that you use olive oil to cook because if it gets too hot the good fat will become rancid. So keep it cool and use it on veggies and salads. EVOO is amazing for heart health. There was a study done that when people supplemented a Mediterranean diet with extra virgin olive oil, it reduced the incidence of heart attack or dying of heart disease, probably due to its high amounts of monosaturated fats. The high amount of antioxidants in EVOO means it protect your cells from damage. We all could use a little damage control. EVOO also helps improve memory and cognitive function, and will work as an anti-inflammatory. Again, we can all use a little anti-inflammatory seeing that is where a majority of our health problems come from.

When you buy EVOO is is important that you buy a specific kind. “Extra virgin” is the best it means that there are no chemicals involved when it is refined. You want to look for an olive oil that is  cloudy if you can that means it has been refined down the least but there are plenty of non cloudy that are great. Believe it or not some of the most common brands are fake olive oil!! There was a study done that found most of the top selling brands failed the test for the standards for extra virgin olive oil and there was even a lawsuit filed.  A good rule of thumb is that if a liter bottle is less than ten dollars then look for the seal from the international olive oil council. Yes, there is such a council .

It is also good to check the harvesting date on the label; if it’s labeled as “light,” “pure” or a “blend,” it isn’t virgin quality; and last opt for dark bottles this protects the oil from oxidation.

Recap it is not recommended for cooling at high temperatures because of its low smoke point!!

  1. Omega-3s:

This type of fat is super important because the body is not able to produce them by itself. This fat we have to get through food or supplementation. There are three types of omega 3 fatty acids ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).

The most preferred sources of EPA and DHA are found in seafood: salmon, mackerel, sardines, walleye, and cod are some common sources. ALA, is found in foods such as plants and some nuts and seeds and grass fed beef. The best nuts to eat with the most abundant amount of omega 3s are chia seeds, walnuts and flax seeds. For ALA the green leafy veggies are great such as Kale, Brussel sprouts and watercress.

There is a lot of debate over the high levels of mercury in fish and how we shouldn’t have any fish oil due to that but if you read the label for what type of fish is used you should be ok. Many people are staying away from fish all together due to the contamination and that is why supplementing with a good quality fish oil is key.

Cod liver vs Fish oil can be very confusing so let me clarify that a little bit. The difference between fish oil and cod liver oil is lower in omega-3s but very high in vitamins A and D. I would recommend that the best form of omega-3 fish oil contains astaxanthin (a powerful antioxidant that also helps stabilize fish oil), so my preferred choice is fish oil made from wild-caught pacific salmon, which has high levels of DHA/EPA and astaxanthin.

So, when it comes to getting enough omega-3s into your diet, I recommend eating plenty of omega-3 foods and also supplementing in most cases.

I would recommend at least 1,000 milligrams a day of EPA/DHA and about 4,000 milligrams of total omega-3s (ALA/EPA/DHA combined).  Many people will also notice a dramatic decrease in inflammation in the body, increase growth in hair and nails and better cognitive function. So make sure you get a goo

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d fish oil in your diet.

Grilled Octopus Salad

octopus-salad

This is one of my favorite things and I always forget about it. It is perfect in the summer for a light meal.

1 octopus (4 to 5 pounds)
4 stalks celery, medium diced
4 lemons, juiced
1 can large pitted olives, halved
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 red onion, medium diced
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
Olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
In large stock pot boil octopus until tender (1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours). Take out and let cool. When cool, clean and slice. Take the octopus and brush with olive oil and throw on the grill until slightly grilled. Then cut into small pieces. In a large mixing bowl, add celery, juice from the lemons, olives, garlic, onion, parsley, and sprinkle with olive oil. Mix well and season salad with salt and pepper. Remove from mixing bowl and serve at room temperature.

80/20 Rule!

calvin-hobbes-new-years-resolutions

Yippie, it is the New Year again. Time to start over, another year of unsuccessful diets and workout plans.

Is this what you bring to the table every new years. Memories filled with an entire year of failure in the gym and with your diet. As if life is not stressful enough. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you can just change the way you think about your goals you may feel differently at the end of 2016. Nobody is perfect!

Living by the 80/20 rule works. I never tell my clients they fail if they skip a workout or have their favorite treat. I honestly believe that life is too short. I have tried not having cheat meals and not skipping a workout and I was miserable. The results were minimal because I was so stressed all the time.

How about this year you try to make lifestyle changes slowly and not think about all the rules you have put on yourself starting January 1. Do not think about what you can’t have but what can have.

I teach people to change the way they eat for the rest of their lives and to have a workout plan that is maintainable not killing your self for hours at the gym. A majority of us are Olympic athletes so don’t train like one it is not necessary.

So this year go for the 80/20 rule enjoy your 20 percent you are worth it.

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Give your Digestion a Break…

bone broth jars

Ok so you have almost survived the holidays. New Years is the last holiday, remember what I said in my old post about what to drink and how to prevent a hangover.

A great way to just give your body a break after all the sugar and rich food is give your digestion a small break. Try drinking broth for a day and a healthy light dinner loaded with veggies and lean meats.

Bone broth is a very powerful tool when it comes to your health. It will help heal leaky gut and repair damage to your intestinal wall.  The gelatin in the bone broth (found in the knuckles, feet, and other joints) helps seal up holes in intestines. This helps cure chronic diarrhea, constipation, and even some food intolerances. It also helps boost your immune system, which we all need this time of year.

Taking glucosamine supplements to help with joint pain has been common knowledge for years, but it turns out that bone broth has glucosamine too.  The chondroitin sulfate in bone broth has been shown to help prevent osteoarthritis. Bone broth will help reduce inflammation in your joints.

Bone broth is a good source of collagen. You can find collagen in all kinds of “plumping” products these days. It is way cheaper than Botox.

The phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium in the bones seeps out into the broth leaving you with the essential building blocks for healthy bones.

bone broth w words

BONE BROTH RECIPE

  • Whole organic chicken or 4 Large Grass Fed Beef Bones
  • 4 or more quarts of filtered water or about 1 inch above contents
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 7 carrots,  chopped
  • 5 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons of Thyme and Rosemary
  • Sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried green peppercorns, crushed or ground in pepper grinder
  • Fresh ginger root
  • 3 Bay leafs

Fill the bottom pot of a large stockpot with the onion, carrots, herbs, apple cider, celery, and ginger. Put the second pot on top and add the large peppercorn, bay leafs and the whole chicken. Fill the entire pot up with filtered water. Let the pot boil on high for 1.5-2 Hours until the chicken is cooked. Turn off the pot and pull out the chicken and let it cool. Once the chicken has cooled take all of the meat off the bone and throw the bones back into the top pot. Turn the stove on low and boil with a lid for 12 hours minimum. The longer the more intense the flavor will be. If you do not have a stockpot you can use a crock-pot. Drink UP!

 

NOTE: If you cannot make bone broth  many of the health foods store carry it in the frozen foods section. They have many varieties you will have to see what you enjoy the most or you can contact me personally for purchases of broth. 

 

 

 

Let your digestion rest…

bone broth jars

Ok so you have almost survived the holidays. New Years is the last holiday, remember what I said in my old post about what to drink and how to prevent a hangover.

A great way to just give your body a break after all the sugar and rich food is give your digestion a small break. Try drinking broth for a day and a healthy light dinner loaded with veggies and lean meats.

Bone broth is a very powerful tool when it comes to your health. It will help heal leaky gut and repair damage to your intestinal wall.  The gelatin in the bone broth (found in the knuckles, feet, and other joints) helps seal up holes in intestines. This helps cure chronic diarrhea, constipation, and even some food intolerances. It also helps boost your immune system, which we all need this time of year.

Taking glucosamine supplements to help with joint pain has been common knowledge for years, but it turns out that bone broth has glucosamine too.  The chondroitin sulfate in bone broth has been shown to help prevent osteoarthritis. Bone broth will help reduce inflammation in your joints.

Bone broth is a good source of collagen. You can find collagen in all kinds of “plumping” products these days. It is way cheaper than Botox.

The phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium in the bones seeps out into the broth leaving you with the essential building blocks for healthy bones.

bone broth w words

BONE BROTH RECIPE

  • Whole organic chicken or 4 Large Grass Fed Beef Bones
  • 4 or more quarts of filtered water or about 1 inch above contents
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 7 carrots,  chopped
  • 5 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons of Thyme and Rosemary
  • Sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried green peppercorns, crushed or ground in pepper grinder
  • Fresh ginger root
  • 3 Bay leafs

Fill the bottom pot of a large stockpot with the onion, carrots, herbs, apple cider, celery, and ginger. Put the second pot on top and add the large peppercorn, bay leafs and the whole chicken. Fill the entire pot up with filtered water. Let the pot boil on high for 1.5-2 Hours until the chicken is cooked. Turn off the pot and pull out the chicken and let it cool. Once the chicken has cooled take all of the meat off the bone and throw the bones back into the top pot. Turn the stove on low and boil with a lid for 12 hours minimum. The longer the more intense the flavor will be. If you do not have a stockpot you can use a crock-pot. Drink UP!

 

NOTE: If you cannot make bone broth Whole foods sells small single serving containers of Pacific bone broth. Or you can order it from the Brothery at https://www.bonebroth.com.

 

 

 

 

Functional Diagnostic Nutrition (FDN)

What is FDN?
Functional Diagnostic Nutrition (FDN) is a type of detective work that seeks to identify the underlying causes of disease instead of treating symptoms. Using functional lab work, I will identify healing opportunities and engage each client in a health-building process using the potent, proven, professional protocols in our D.R.E.S.S. for Health Success program. This includes Diet, Rest, Exercise, Supplements and Stress Reduction. This natural, holistic approach yields the highest level of positive clinical outcomes. I do not medicate, I educate!

Functional Diagnostic Nutrition

 

 

No Bake Granola Bars with Raisins and Chocolate Chips {Grain Free, Paleo}

Chewy, crunchy, sweet and salty, these grain free and paleo no bake granola bars are going to become your favorite with the first bite!  They’re loaded with raisins and mini chocolate chips, coconut flakes and nuts, sweetened with raw honey and packed with healthy fats.  Kid approved, gluten-free, dairy-free, grain free and addicting! 

Prep Time: 15 minutesChill Time: 2 hrsTotal Time: 15 minutesCourse: Paleo snack/treat Cuisine: dairy-free, grain free, Paleo Servings: 20 bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw pecans or walnuts
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 cup  coconut flakes unsweetened
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 tsp salt or 1/4 for less salty
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil melted (use refined for no coconut flavor)
  • 1/4 cup almond butter (no sugar added)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mini choc. chips  dairy free, soy free

Instructions

  1. Place the nuts in a food processor and pulse several times to “chop” them into a crumbly texture – a few larger pieces are a good thing – don’t overmix!
  2. Transfer the nuts to a large mixing bowl* and stir in coconut flakes, cinnamon, salt, and raisins to evenly combine.
  3. Place melted coconut oil in a small sauce pan and whisk in the almond butter and honey. Set heat to low and whisk while honey and almond butter melt. Once mixture is smooth and well combined, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
  4. Pour the wet mixture into the large bowl with the dry ingredients and stir to fully combine – I used a silicone spatula for this step. Thoroughly mix to make sure all the dry mixture is coated. Once coated, gently stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Line an 8 x 8” or 9 x 9” square pan with parchment paper along the bottom and sides, with extra up the sides for easy removal. Transfer mixture in and press down, using your hands, or another piece of parchment paper to get it packed tightly into the pan.
  6. Cover the top with parchment or plastic wrap, then set in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm, or longer if you have time.
  7. Remove pan from freezer and grab two ends of the parchment paper to remove the bars, set on a cutting board.
  8. Using a long very sharp knife, cut into 20 bars.  You can wrap them in parchment individually storing in the fridge (for up to two weeks) or freezer for longer.
  9. Bars will start to melt around room temp due to the coconut oil, so they’ll need to be kept chilled to stay firm. Enjoy!

Sometimes you feel worse before you feel better. What to expect with probiotics.

Probiotics: Who Shouldn’t Take Them?

Some people find that taking probiotics causes them to have gas, bloating, and abdominal discomfort. For most people, these symptoms are temporary; however, side effects are more likely in those who are very young or elderly and those who have less robust immune systems or a damaged immune system, such as those with HIV or a terminal illness. Indeed, probiotics might not be good for people who are already extremely ill.

A general concern is that probiotics are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Instead, they are classified as a food supplement, so consumers are at the mercy of manufacturers and their health claims.

Keep in mind that the effects of one strain of probiotics do not necessarily hold true for other strains or even for different preparations of the same species or strain. If you do experience gas and bloating from one type of probiotic, you can try switching to a different kind to see whether it agrees more with your digestive system.

“Because the quality and quantity of probiotics is not regulated by the FDA, it is difficult to accurately assess the effectiveness of one formulation against another,” Lucak says.

Expert Tips for Choosing Probiotics

Probiotics come in two forms: live cultures — such as in probiotic yogurt — or in a dormant (but still living) form, such as those found in capsules. If you want to try probiotics, here are tips to help you choose.

Decide on food or supplements. One advantage to probiotics in food is that they may also contain other beneficial ingredients, such as dietary fiber,  which also promotes digestive health. But most experts agree that it’s a matter of preference whether you consume probiotics in your diet or as supplements. I find that supplements tend to be more effective, as long as the probiotics are good quality.

Watch the expiration date. Because probiotics are living organisms, the amount placed in the container or capsule when it was manufactured may not be the same as when you consume the product. You must use these products before the expiration date to be sure the probiotic is still effective.

Play detective. If your doctor recommends a specific species and strain of probiotic, be aware that you may have a difficult time finding it. Many manufacturers don’t tell you exactly which strain is in their product; they only list the species (e.g. Lactobacillus acidophilus or Bifidobacterium lactis). If you’re looking for a specific strain of probiotic and it’s not listed on the label, call the manufacturer and ask. This information might also be on the company’s website.

Buyer beware. To avoid being scammed, don’t order products over the Internet unless you know and can trust the site. Keep in mind that the price of probiotics can vary tremendously, and a higher cost doesn’t mean the products are of higher quality.

If you decide to try probiotics, make sure you store them according to the directions on the package; some must be kept in the refrigerator.

Sometimes when you start a probiotic you will experience some dye-off as your body begins to rebalance the good bacteria. Give it a week or two and see how you feel before you throw in the towel. If things aren’t getting better try a new brand. The one I have found to be the most effective with all of my clients is the Orthomolecular Biotic. Take one Am and one PM.