Beautiful, Beneficial Bugs by Desiree Nielsen, BSc RD

This month we’re all about probiotics—so we wanted to speak to a bug-expert, of sorts, about how probiotics can support optimal health and what you need to know about finding a good quality supplement. Desiree Nielsen is a registered dietitian in private practice in Vancouver, and Education Specialist for Bio-K+, a family owned, Canadian manufacturer of clinically tested probiotics Plus, she is right in line with our approach to health, and as a dietician harnesses “the power of food and natural health products to help others achieve vibrant health health and wellness.” And we just love that, so thanks Desiree!

Beautiful, Beneficial Bugs

I have a confession to make: when I was in school to become a dietitian, I didn’t think that bacteria were all that interesting! As a dietitian, I harness the power of food and natural health products to help others achieve vibrant health. Now I understand that without a thriving community of helpful bacteria, optimal health becomes harder to achieve.

The core of a healthy body is a healthy digestive tract. When it is functioning well, you are able to digest and assimilate the nutrients from the food you eat to form a strong body. Trillions of bacteria call our digestive tract home; not just passive riders, the bacteria that share our body have the remarkable ability to harm us or help us thrive.

How can beneficial bugs support optimal health?

  • They produce vitamins, digestive enzymes such as lactase and help us better absorb minerals like calcium and iron
  • They educate our immune system to help it function more intelligently
  • They protect us from potentially harmful microbes that could cause disease
  • They interact with our nervous system and can directly alter levels of GABA and serotonin, the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters

Modern life seems designed to battle our beneficial bugs and make it easier for hostile critters to settle in. When they do, inflammation, infection and general dis-ease can take over. Probiotics are your defense system; like an armed guard, daily use of a probiotic protects your resident community of healthy bacteria so they can thrive and support a healthier body.

Now for the nitty gritty…once you have been inspired by the beautiful world of bugs, how to choose a product? Fermented foods are a great start but for truly therapeutic benefits, you are going to need to bring in the heavy artillery. I work with Bio-K+, a Canadian, family-owned manufacturer of clinically tested probiotics and recommend it to all of my clients. When you are in the health food store, here is what you need to know to find a good quality probiotic:

  1. Choose human strain probiotics; these are strains that are used to living in the human digestive tract.
  2. Ensure that you are getting at least 10 billion CFU (colony forming units a.k.a live and active cells) per dose.
  3. If you are buying your probiotics in freeze-dried form, they must have enteric coating to protect the weakened cells from the harsh environment of your digestive tract.
  4. Finally, ensure that the company does its clinical research on the finished retail product so you know you are buying the research-proven formula. You should be able to access that research online to decide for yourself!

Feed yourself and your bacterial residents well and enjoy a lifetime of vibrant health!

Our guest Desiree Nielsen, BSc RD contributed this post for myWholeLife’s Probiotics Theme. Each month, myWholeLife invites guests who are aligned with our philosophy on holistic nutrition to write content for our blog and other online channels.  Register today to join myWholeLife’s mailing list, and be the first to learn about new products, the latest research, and app releases.
Twitter: @desireerd
Twitter: @biokplus