Pickleball? Seriously?

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Pickleball? Seriously?

Yes despite it’s ridiculous name it is sweeping the country and the fastest growing sport in the world. I play and as a result people frequently ask me about my experience of playing. This prompted me to use the opportunity in this month’s newsletter to expose those of you who are curious about the game and want to know more. Pickle ball is the fastest growing sport in the world for many reasons but the biggest is it is just flat out fun. Many of you may have heard of this new craze but have no idea what it is and many of you are already avid devotees. For those of you who are curious this will remove some of the mystery.

Pickleball is a combination of three sports-tennis, badminton and ping-pong. It is played indoors or outside on a court similar to a tennis court that is about two feet shorter on the ends but the same width. The paddle is flat and approximately the same size as a racquetball racquet. The ball is the size of a whiffle ball on steroids or about the size of a baseball. Tennis serving boxes are in the front while the pickball serving boxes are in the back close to the server. It can be played with two, three or four players.

Some additional information that makes pickleball an attractive exercise option include:

  1. It won’t break the bank. Most places available for play are either free or have a nominal fee of $3-$5. Paddles can be purchased from $28 to $198 at and amazon (of course). Some facilities have extra paddles available for your use.
  2. You don’t have to coordinate everyone’s busy schedules. You simply show up any time during the predetermined time and play for as little or as long as you want.
  3. Most everyone can play. If you have a previous history of playing any of the sports involved you will pick it up in just a few minutes. For those of you with little to no racquet experience you can also learn very quickly however may take a little more practice to become proficient.
  4. You can play virtually anywhere. Whenever I travel I usually do an Internet search for local pickleball locations and simply show up at the appointed time. People are always welcoming to outsiders. For example if I travel to St. Simons Island I will do an Internet search for pickleball St. Simons and it let’s me know the details of where and when games will be played.
  5. It’s a very social game. Everybody is generally welcoming and gracious. Over time you get to know an entire new group of friends and competition can range from very competitive to social but either way you will get a good workout and get your body moving. The limited size of the court is also a big advantage for those with knee or foot issues.
  6. Games generally don’t last a long time. You play to 11 however if there are a number of people waiting games are often shortened to 7 to allow more playing time for everyone.
  7. It’s great exercise and you can get a good workout but you generally are just having fun so you don’t notice the effort it takes.

For more information check out this video on how to play. What is Pickleball? – USAPA Pickleball

If you are interested in seeing some high level play watch the championship from last year by clicking this link. Pickleball Channel – YouTube

No matter what part of the country you live in consider checking out your local pickle ball centers and give it a try. I think you’ll have fun and be glad you did.

With Gratitude,

A Gift To Yourself

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A Gift To Yourself

So here we are once again at the beginning of a new year with all the promise it holds for the upcoming year. Whether you write down goals with specific intentions, unconsciously think them through, or ignore them all together the truth is statistically 92% of us won’t win our battle.

When most of us set goals or intentions for the year they are often unrealistic and lack self-compassion. This lends itself to a fairly high probability of limited success. I am sure it comes as no surprise when you hear some one say “It’s the same every year. I want to loose weight, exercise more and sleep better. I just never seem to quite get there”. There is a reason it’s the same thing every year.

We have all made mistakes, tried and failed, done and said things that we weren’t proud of and at the end of the day usually don’t let ourselves off the hook easily. When we make a mistake or things don’t go the way we planned or in the time we allotted we often give ourselves negative messages such as I’ll never be able to do it, I don’t know why I bother, I have no will power, I’m such a looser and soon you just stop trying.

When we continually come up short in our endeavors we are usually left feeling defeated. Creating unrealistic goals such as working out 5 days a week, changing your diet and committing to sleeping at least 8 hours a night is an overwhelming amount of change. While the enthusiasm is to be admired, a total revamp of your life all at once is the perfect recipe for failure. Consider take incremental steps at whatever level of comfort seems right for you. Stretch yourself but with considerate mindfulness. It is equally important to acknowledge yourself for whatever steps you do take no matter how large or small.

Make friends with self-compassion as a companion in your desire to create something new in this year. Whether you want to loose weight, start a relationship, getting a new job, being a better parent or partner or whatever else you may want to change recognize that inherent in that will be opportunity for growth and inevitably some amount of discomfort and struggle. However, it doesn’t need to be a battle.

Supporting ourselves by reminding and equally acknowledging what we did well instead of tearing ourselves down with what we didn’t do is what self -compassion looks like. In all likelihood most of us will not make changes perfectly but that doesn’t mean we stop doing it. Assess what is working and give yourself a hand and carry on. For the things that aren’t going quite as planned have some patience and compassion for yourself and start again. You are much more likely to have success in whatever changes you are trying to make.

As you journey on the path to the newer year I ask you to consciously consider acknowledging as many things as you can that you are doing well. Consider grace and self-compassion as a gift to yourself.

With Gratitude,

Exercise and Your Brain

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Exercise and Your Brain

It turns out that exercise is good for more than just looking good in a bathing suit and fighting off heart disease. Research shows it is significantly important for our brain health. In an era where Alzheimer’s is growing at an alarming rate any thing that we can do to help our brain health is not only advisable but also essential.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association findings for 2017 more than 5.5 million people are living with Alzheimer’s and that number is growing rapidly. It is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States and 1in 3 seniors will die with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Since 2000 deaths from heart disease have decreased by 14 % while deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased 89%! In addition it kills more than breast cancer and prostrate cancer combined.

So how does exercise help your brain? Initially we believed that our brains were static with little ability to change but now we know that the brain has neuroplasticity, which means that the brain has the ability to create new neurological patterns. It creates these new neurons and patterns through a process called neurogenesis. Dr. Gage at the Salk institute for Biological Studies along with a multitude of other studies has shown that through increased blood flow to the brain through exercise triggers biomechanical changes that spur neuroplasticity and generates new brain cells even in the aging brain.

The significance of this is that we have the ability to consciously and purposely have an effect on our brains ability to create these new neurons. Thus far the research has primarily been proven with aerobic exercises and to date it has been unclear whether anaerobic resistance training has the same effect. It turns out that as little as three hours of brisk walking a week has been shown to halt and even reverse the brain atrophy that starts somewhere in our forties. Aerobic exercise is especially helpful in the regions of the brain responsible for memory and higher cognition.

We all know that exercise is helpful in many other ways aside from creating neurogenesis in our brain. Exercise lowers blood pressure, maintains cardiovascular health, increases muscle mass and has been helpful in addressing depression as well as many other issues. My hope for each of us is to age gracefully and enjoy all of life we can. To that end I encourage you to get up, get moving and stay smart.

With Gratitude,

A Breath of Fresh Air

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A Breath of Fresh Air

There is nothing more relaxing than a good deep breath. It is one of the most highly utilized techniques employed in any setting to assist you to calm down, relax and get focused. So why write a newsletter about your breath? I am sure you have been successfully breathing for as long as you can remember. Interestingly, however, you may be surprised to find that a large number of people don’t breath correctly and this can actually create more stress than relaxation. Justifiably most people rarely pay attention to their breath but with a slight modification you can optimize your breathing to significantly produce increased relaxation for your mind and body.

Take a second and take a good deep breath. Did you find that as you inhaled deeply your chest and shoulders lifted filling your lungs with air? This actually creates what I refer to as an “anxiety breath”. It makes sense if you think about it. When you get startled or taken by surprise you breath in the same way by inhaling a large amount of air as your chest rises.

Creating a calming breath still involves inhaling through your nose and mouth, however instead of filling your lungs by lifting your shoulders and ribcage as you breath in push out your lower abdomen with as little movement in the upper body as possible. Try practicing this by placing a hand on your stomach and as you inhale attempt to push on your hand as you fill the lower abdomen. As you exhale passively allow your belly to relax. Although it may feel awkward at first with just a few practice breaths it becomes more natural.

Breath is one of the only conscious connections between the mind and the body and can be valuable not only to relieve stress but also to calm and center you before a test, a big meeting, working on a project or to be in the moment and enjoy the day. If you have children I encourage you to share this techniques with them. We often overlook the stress they are under and teaching them techniques such as this at an early age will serve them for years to come.

Practicing proper breaths will assist you to stay calm especially in more stressful moments. When you are calm you think better and make clearer decisions. As trivial as it may sound consider evaluating your breathing and measure how effectively it is working for you. You won’t be disappointed.

With Gratitude,


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Aging is going to happen whether we rebel against it or not but we do have some control over aging well. Unfortunately, it is well documented that the likelihood of developing balance issues as you age is significantly high. This is because as we age we lose full balance function through a decreased or loss of sensory processing, the ability to integrate the information and issue motor commands and because we are generally weaker. Increased incidences of falls are one of those realities but with a little effort you can minimize it being your reality.

Ideally we want to begin to address these issues long before we need them however you can start at whatever level you are capable of and progress from there. Safety when performing these exercises is critical so I always insist that some one else is present especially when you first start. What we do know is that repeating specific movements will create a new neurological pattern in your brain. In addition by performing these repetitions you will strengthen the muscle utilized in balance. The more repetitive the movement the stronger the neurological connection and the easier you can access the movement.

I frequently discuss this with most of my more senior patients at some point and with a minimal amount of effort they find significant improvement and minimize the chance of injury while feeling stronger and more stable.

Consider trying the following simple exercises as recommended by the National Institute on Aging:

  1. Standing up from a seated position without pushing up with your arms. This will activate your gluteus muscles, which often don’t fire optimally as you age.
  2. Try standing in front of your kitchen counter or behind a sturdy chair. Gently place your hands out in front of you on the surface to steady yourself. Creating a slight space between your hands and the counter then lift one leg off the floor with a bent knee, look straight ahead and hold for ten seconds. Repeat with the other leg. Try to do five times each side morning and night. When you feel comfortable lift you hands up higher but keep them outstretched in case you need to catch yourself. When you are proficient try doing this with your eyes shut. (Continue to keep your hands out in front.)
  3. Placing one foot behind the heel of your front foot and perform Heel/Toe walk. (walking in a straight line) Choose a spot in front of you and keep your eyes focused on it as you take a step moving the back foot in front of the lead foot. Keep your arms out to the side to assist in your balance and repeat for twenty steps morning and evening
  4. When you have become fairly proficient with the above exercises try doing some of your regular exercises such as bicep curls or stretching on a large exercises ball. Performing exercises on the ball initiates a muscle in your abdomen called the transverse abdominus, which is a critical muscle recruited in balance.

If you are someone who likes to participate in a class experience I highly recommend Thai Chi as a safe effective gentle way to incorporate balance exercises into your life. Thai Chi can best be described as continuous flowing movement. It incorporates your whole body, is very gentle and almost anyone can participate. There are many places around town that specialize in groups specifically for the aging. Cate Morrill in Little Five Points has a company called Shoulders Down Inc., 404-525-6466 or try Jude at Decatur Healing Arts 404-378-6288.

I encourage you to try a number of these options and decided what works best for you. The sooner you begin the less likely you are to develop problems in the future so please get busy now!

Got Water?

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Got Water?

Summer is upon us and with that an increased need for hydration. It may surprise you that many people drink virtually no water at all and believe they get a sufficient amount in their coffee or tea. Aside from water, coffee and tea each contain caffeine which actually contributes to dehydration instead of resolving it.

This occurs simply by loosing more water than you take in. Each day we diminish our water by evaporating it through our skin, breathing as we exhale, urinating and through fecal material in our stool.

This loss of water can be caused by many things such as:

  1. Heat exposure especially during exercise
  2. Diarrhea and/or vomiting
  3. Burns
  4. Urinary tract infections
  5. Limited water and/or drinking dehydrating beverages such as coffee, tea etc
  6. Fever

Dehydration leads to a variety of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Being thirsty or having a dry mouth is obvious but some symptoms are not so apparent and often go unrecognized. Headache, rapid heart rate, dizziness, rapid breathing, irritabilty and/or confusion, listlessness, muscle cramping, delerium and in a severe state loss of consciousness can all be caused by dehydration. Urine color is also a tell tale sign. Urine color should be pale yellow to clear. Darker urine is indicative of dehydration, but be aware that taking Vitamin B can also create a darker urine color even when you are well hydrated.

While prevention is obviously the best choice, remedying dehydration is fairly simple. Drink plenty of water or drinks with electolytes. Stay away from soda, caffeine and sugar laden energy or sport drinks. While Gatorade is a good hydration source its cousin, G2 contains half the carbs and calories but has the same electolytes for hydration making it a much better choice.

The amount of water we need depends on our weight and the eight glasses/day that you may have heard is not true for everyone. Larger people need more water. Sixty Four to 100 ounces a day is a good rule of thumb for most average weights with increasing amounts during times of exessive perspration, workouts, sickness or burns. If you allow yourself to get dehydrated know that it can take a day or so of consistent hydrating to get back to a proper level of hydration. Alcohol will also dehydrate you. If you are drinking alcohol make sure you drink additonal water. Not only will it keep you hydrated you will drink less alcohol and consume fewer empty calories.

Lastly, let’s not forget our pets. They get dehydrated just as easily so keep their bowls full of fresh water especially if they spend time outside. Fortunately they aren’t nearly as resistant as some of us are and will drink when they are thirsty. As long as the water is available they will generally self regulate well.

If I haven’t convinced you yet that drinking water is critical to virtually every aspect of maintaining a healthy body consider that drinking the proper amount of water water will keep your skin moist, plumped and younger looking. So, please be mindful, good to yourself, drink enough water and stay healthy.

Low Vitamin D Levels?

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Low Vitamin D Levels

During your most recent physical you may have been told that your vitamins D levels were too low. If you happened to mention it to you friend there is a good chance they may have had a similar experience. So why all of a sudden do we have a nation of Vitamin D deficient people? In truth what has actually happened is that physicians have begun to test for it as a normal screening process and finding that indeed many people do have lower than acceptable levels.

These lower levels are a result of gallons of sunscreen, limited exposure to the sun, dark skin and/or limiting your consumption of the foods that contain Vitamin D. We have consistently been warned about the negative effects of the sun and have dutifully slathered our children and ourselves with sunscreen to prevent skin cancer. Despite its effectiveness it has also had some negative drawbacks. Vitamin D is one of the fat-soluble vitamins, which means that it is stored in our fat cells and released when it is needed. The sun is unfortunately one of our best sources for this vitamin, which is integral to many bodily processes.

Normal Levels of Vitamin D contribute to:

  • Decreased risk of fracture due to osteopenia or osteoporosis
  • Decreased dental cavities
  • Reduced incidence of heart disease and diabetes
  • Decreased levels of C-reactive protein, which is a marker for inflammation in our body. High levels of C-reactive protein increase the chance that we will develop a disease.
  • Prevention and treatment of depression
  • Reduced risk of allergies especially in adolescents and children
  • Regulating cholesterol levels in the blood

Foods such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna, shitake mushrooms, egg yolk, milk, cheese and yogurt contain vitamin D but studies show that in general you’d have to eat an uncomfortable amount to fulfill all of your daily Vitamin D requirements. Since Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin in order to achieve maximal absorption I recommend that you take it with whatever meal contains the largest amount of fat.

The amount of Vitamin D you need daily is dependent on how deficient you are. In general a minimum of a 1000 IU/day for children and 1,500 to 2000 IU/day for adults if your blood levels are normal. If you are deficient you doctor may put you on a prescription of 50,000 for eight weeks prior to putting you on a maintenance dose. Having a blood test and talking with your physician is the best way to determine your specific needs. On your next physical make sure to have you Vitamin D levels assessed so that can ensure you are taking the proper amount.

What’s All The Fuss About Wheat?

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What's the Fuss About Wheat?Everyday at least 2 and sometimes as many as 10 people will ask about the effects that wheat may or may not be having on their health. Wheat is one of the most prolific and over used ingredient on our planet. It is estimated that 4 out of 10 people have wheat sensitivity. So why has this seemingly benign plant that has sustained generations of humans suddenly the bad guy?

In order to get the full flavor we have to take a look at the history of wheat in our culture. When I was growing up you could drive through farm country anywhere and see miles of four-foot high amber waves of grain flowing in breeze. Today they are whopping 18 inches high. This is due to the immense genetic changes that wheat has undergone in the last fifty years.

Wheat has been genetically modified, hybridized, cross-bred and introgressed to make the wheat plant resistant to environmental conditions such as drought, diseases and fungi. All of the changes have been beneficial in terms of the increase in yield from each acre and there is a significant reduction in diseases affecting the plant. Each acre now yields about ten times the yield of the same acre in the past, which has been very benefit to developing countries with limited available land for farming.

Scientists were so intent on increasing the yield of a crop that there were no animal or human safety tests conducted or required on the new strains that were created. After all it looked, performed and tasted just like wheat and that seemed to be enough. The problem is that each time a new modification of wheat occurred 95 % of the protein expressed in the offspring were the same but 5% were unique and not found in either of the genetic offspring. Our body does not recognize these unique proteins and see them as foreign invaders. Small changes in the structure of wheat will lead to a significant immune response to wheat protein for some and for others no response at all which is what creates part of the confusion. Your response depends on your genetic make up, sensitivity and the strength of your immune system to respond.

Wheat is also found in foods that you wouldn’t even consider which further magnifies our exposure to these protein molecules. It is found in salad dressings, canned and commercially prepared soups, instant drinks, condiments such as soy sauce, Worchester sauce, teriyaki and horseradish sauce and ketchup. Additionally it is found in dips, gravy mixes, luncheon and prepared meat patties, beer as well as synthetic and imitation chesses. This is not to mention the cakes, pastas, cereals and breads that we expect to contain wheat. So you can see wheat is everywhere and our bodies constantly have to deal with the bombardment of these protein molecules and some of use deal with it better than others.

Wheat sensitivity can present in many ways other than the traditional bloating, flatulence and bowel irritability that we commonly associate with food sensitivity responses. Wheat sensitivity causes an inflammatory response, which in turn lends itself to rashes, joint pain, asthmas symptoms, migraines, lethargy, cloudy thinking, sleep disturbances and many other symptoms.

Consider trying an experiment with yourself and eliminate wheat from your diet for two weeks. If you have sensitivity to wheat you should be able to see a difference in that period of time. In order for it to be a viable experiment you will need to eliminate all wheat from your diet, which necessitates reading labels and avoiding many processed foods.

For a more in depth understanding of wheat and its effects consider reading Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health by cardiologist Dr. William Davis. It is an easy read and very informative. For you convenience you can click the link above or you can find it on my website and click on the recommended reading tab.

Why Don’t You Sleep Well?

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Why don't You Sleep Well?Sleep is our most precious and often most over looked commodity. One question I ask my patients when doing nutritional consultations is how long and how well do you sleep? The reason for this is how well you sleep plays a significant role in how healthy and happy you are.

Statistics show that poor sleep plays a role in virtually every aspect of disease and disease related issues as well as performance. Despite the various mandates given on the amount of sleep that you need each of us has our own unique sleep requirement, which varies by age, sex, genetic and physiological factors. A good rule of thumb however is that a sufficient amount of sleep is that which allows for spontaneous awakening and leaves you with enough energy to feel refreshed and alert for the whole day.

There are many reasons why people don’t sleep well and with systematic evaluation the root cause can be uncovered and frequently resolved. Causes such as breathing problems, adrenal fatigue, drinking to much alcohol to late, shift work, worrying, hormonal changes, sleeping environment and even animals in your bed all play a role in how well you do or do not sleep.

Breathing: Sleep apnea is a condition in which you temporarily stop breathing while sleeping. It is more common than you would think and causes an individual to wake frequently through the night. Many times the individual isn’t even aware that this is occurring. More often it is the person that they sleep with who recognizes the irregularity in their breath or the fact that when they snore they sound as if they have temporarily stopped breathing. Diagnosis is relatively easy and involves doing a sleep study. If you require treatment for sleep apnea the results generally can and do make a significant difference. Aside from being more rested people report having more energy, getting sick less often and many even report weight loss.

Adrenal Fatigue: The adrenals are two small glands that sit on top of the kidneys and are responsible for multiple functions in the body but are especially helpful when responding to stress. They release what we call the “flight or fight” hormones. However, the adrenal glands do more than just release adrenaline when we get under stress. They control a whole host of other hormones. One hormone that the adrenal glands control is cortisol, which effects the sleep/wake cycle. When your cortisol rhythms are disrupted you cannot sleep well. Additionally, if you wake up between 1-3 AM your liver may be lacking the glycogen reserves needed by the body to keep blood glucose levels high enough through the night. So you literally wake up because you are hungry. This is easily remedied by eating a small high protein snack before bed such as peanut butter or cheese on a cracker.

Alcohol and Food: Many people use alcohol as their sedative to induce sleep. While it is true that alcohol may reduce the amount of time it takes to get to sleep, alcohol that is consumed close to bedtime has been shown to disrupt the second half of the sleep cycle. Eating and drinking late or too close to bedtime can cause heartburn and/or reflux, which disrupts sleep as acid backs up into the esophagus. If you have to eat late for whatever reason eat on the lighter side to avoid indigestion and disrupting your sleep patterns.

Worrying: Worrying about your relationship, money, your job and any big changes such as marriage, buying a house or starting a new job or even worrying about your sleep itself can all cause you to not sleep well. For some writing lists before the end of the day helps to organize them which let’s their brain take a rest. For others it is a matter of doing something calming such as taking a bath or meditating that redirects their mind. Some read and others watch TV. It’s helpful to remember that the old adage is still true, “Worrying never solved anything”.

Animals: Many sleep issues as well as back pains have been simply resolved by getting our beloved pets out of the bed. Don’t get me wrong I love my dog and she is the best snugger in the world, but if I ‘d let her she would have the whole king sized bed to herself before morning. Admittedly more than half of dog and cat owners sleep with their beloved pets. Whether it is dog, cat or whatever my experience is that people report they will constantly change their positions to accommodate their animals sacrificing their own comfort and disrupting their sleep.

Sleep Environment: Light in your bedroom can easily disrupt your sleep. Get rid of or cover ambient light such as alarm clocks, DVD players, cable boxes and using room darkening curtains and shades can significantly enhance your ability to sleep deeply.

According to leading sleep researchers the following are the top ten questions to ask yourself when trying to correct sleeping problems. Check out how your sleeping rates?

  1. Do you keep a regular sleep/wake cycle?
  2. Are you drinking or eating caffeine up to 6 hours before bedtime and are you mindful of your daytime consumption?
  3. Do you avoid smoking near bedtime or if you awaken in the night?
  4. Do you avoid alcohol and heavy meals later in the evening?
  5. Do you get regular exercise?
  6. Have you minimized noise, light and excessive hot or cold temperatures where you sleep?
  7. Do you go to bed at the same time each night?
  8. Can you awaken without an alarm clock?
  9. Do you sleep with animals in you bed?
  10. Do you have a successful method for dealing with excessive thoughts or worry while trying to go to sleep?


Probiotics or Not?

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Probiotics or Not?

There is more information being disseminated than ever about the benefits of probiotics. Certain yogurt companies make it a selling point for their yogurt. Hopefully your doctor will advise you to consume them when he or she puts you on antibiotics and many products now advertise that they have added them to sell the product. But what are probiotics and do we have a need for them?

First it’s important to recognize that we already have a substantial amount of probiotics naturally occurring in our intestines. Technically, probiotics are live microbial organisms, which beneficially affect the host whether animal or human by improving the intestinal balance. By now you may have seen one of the many commercials on TV trying to sell probiotic products by reminding us that our gut is our number one defense mechanism against disease. Probiotics are commonly consumed in foods such as yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, soy sauce, sauerkraut and dietary supplements. When you ingest these foods the probiotics in them enhance your intestines ability to produce more beneficial bacterial microorganisms, which in turn help to fight disease and increase your immunity.

Every healthy bowel has an estimated 100 trillion microorganisms in 500 different species. These bacteria keep pathogens, which are the harmful microorganisms in check, which assists in fighting disease. Additionally they aid in digestion, which in turn helps you to absorb more of the nutrients from your food. When you have the unfortunate need for antibiotics it is important to understand that they kill the good bacteria along with the bad. Taking probiotics during this time will facilitate the regrowth of beneficial bacteria. Clinical trials have shown that it also will shorten the course of infectious diarrhea in infants and children. Scientists are continuing to research probiotics and are learning more each day about the role of these microbes in keeping people healthy. This is especially true when the right type and levels of the probiotic microbes are consumed.

So far research has shown that probiotic bacteria can:

  • Help with the side effects of antibiotic therapy
  • Improve digestive function
  • Improve tolerance to lactose
  • Enhance immune function
  • Help reduce the risk of certain acute common infectious diseases
  • Assist in maintaining urogenital health

Additional there are current studies being done to evaluate whether certain probiotics can play a role in reducing the development of allergies in children. There are many individuals suffering from food related allergies, which cause their bowels to stay in an inflamed state. Taking probiotics can enhance the body’s ability to fight invading pathogens in this inflamed tissue and increase the immune response.

As beneficial as probiotics can be it is also important to mention that in certain individuals with immunosuppression large doses of probiotics or the wrong type of probiotic may pose a theoretical risk. Knowing the source of the probiotics you are taking is also important. If you are going to take supplements as one of those sources make sure you are taking a reputable product.

So, do you need probiotics? If you have a healthy bowel, good digestive function and no food intolerance then maybe not. However, for the rest of us it is definitely worth considering adding some yogurt, kefir or a supplement to our diets.