In this health video you will learn how to restore the good bacteria in your body.
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Tom Audette: Michael, if you find yourself just getting over an illness, perhaps, and you maybe have a feeling that it’s taking a little bit longer than it should and you think that, perhaps, you need to do something to restore the friendly bacteria in your system, how would you go about doing that? Michael Shahani: Well, there are a number of ways you could do that. You can start taking food products, eating foods that have probiotic bacteria, like yogurts or things like that. But, you know, sometimes those are in lower concentrations. It’s hard to get an extra number of good bacteria—the bacteria actually needed to replenish the bacteria that might have been killed off in your body due to illness or whatever reason. And so a probiotic supplement—that’s a good time to take a probiotic supplement. Tom Audette: Now, you mentioned earlier, that the amount of active bacteria that you get in a probiotic is important. Michael Shahani: That’s right. Tom Audette: That there are products on the market that claim—that will tell you that they have millions of bacteria and others that have billions. Is there an optimum amount that a person ought to be looking at, especially if they’re trying to rebuild? Michael Shahani: Well, as I said, it has to be in the billions of bacteria. We sort of feel that somewhere between two and 10 billion organisms a day as a supplement is a good maintenance kind of dosage, taken maybe two or three times a day with food. But for someone who’s sick, getting over an illness, maybe they’ve had food poisoning, you know, traveler’s diarrhea, whatever reason that’s made them sick and maybe those bacteria have been killed off, then maybe double that a day—10 or 20 billion bacteria—probiotic bacteria—a day maybe spread over two to three times a day and taken with food because the bacteria like to have that food available for them to start growing and working on. Tom Audette: Speaking of food to help it grow on, are there other things that you might look for in a probiotic, that would be in the probiotic that would help? Michael Shahani: There are substances now discovered and available called prebiotics. And prebiotics are not live bacteria in the way probiotics, you know—as we say probiotics as we know. Probiotics are live bacteria. Prebiotics are substances that—I think the best way to think of prebiotics is like fertilizer. You put fertilizer available for the plants or organisms to grow on and that’s what prebiotics do. They act as fertilizer for the good bacteria to grow on. They’re carbohydrates that aren’t really digested by the human being, but they’re digested by those bacteria. So the bacteria like them, they grow faster. They proliferate more and it helps build up those bacteria in the body. Tom Audette: So things like FOS might be prebiotics or innulin. Michael Shahani: Innulin, FOS, there are a number of different kinds of prebiotics available today. Tom Audette: And you would suggest that that is a good thing to look for as a an additional thing to help that bacteria? Michael Shahani: Yes. That’s certainly something that can help the bacteria grow. Prebiotics and probiotics are, as I said, like a fertilizer effect, but every probiotic doesn’t grow with the same prebiotic. So, it is important to get a good quality prebiotic so the probiotics will actually utilize that source of fertilizer, if you will. Tom Audette: Now, another question I guess I would have as far as if you’re taking out a program of probiotics—you’re taking them through, say, a supplement or maybe something like yogurt. How do we know that taking them is actually being beneficial? That they’re actually helping to propagate the GI tract? How do we know that? Michael Shahani: That’s a difficult thing to prove, actually, but it is possible to test fecal matter to know that the probiotics are there. And, in fact, probiotic bacteria do implant temporarily. They stay in the intestines for awhi