Translate / Tradutor

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Fazer dieta pode engordar!

É claro que quando uma pessoa faz uma dieta, a tendência é emagrecer.
O grande problema é que nenhuma dieta restritiva se mantém por muito tempo.

E ao voltar a se alimentar de forma normal, ou seja, voltar a comer pães, doces, massas, frituras... acabam engordando novamente, às vezes até 10 ou 20% a mais.
Isso acontece porque o cérebro não percebe a perda de peso. Para ele é como se tivesse dormido e ao acordar ele sente alguma coisa errada e começa a trabalhar para voltar ao peso de antes.
A mesma coisa acontece em relação aos remédios inibidores de apetite, que agem no seu sistema nervoso central, mais especificamente, no hipotálamo, que é o centro do prazer, aumentando a sensação de saciedade e diminuindo o desejo por comida.
E o hipotálamo não é apenas responsável pelo controle da comida, mas também pelo sono e apetite sexual. E é exatamente por isso que quando se toma esse tipo de medicamento, as pessoas ficam nervosas, de mau humor, irritadas, com insônia e até mesmo com falta de libido.
A grande questão que está relacionada ao aumento de peso mesmo quando fazemos dieta é que o nosso organismo sofre com a ausência de determinados alimentos, essenciais para o seu bom funcionamento.

Mônica Damácio

Todas as castanhas são iguais?

As castanhas não são iguais, pois possuem concentrações diferentes de gordura saturada, monoinsaturada e outras substâncias.
Antes de você entender a diferença, conheça alguns dos benefícios pra saúde:
  • -  Fonte de energia;
  • -  Fibras insolúveis;
  • -  Contém vitaminas, proteínas e minerais;
  • -  Ajudam na prevenção de doenças;
  • -  Antioxidantes;
  • -  Melhora o sistema imunológico.
    O que você precisa observar é a origem, se vem de um lugar frio, que é o caso das nozes, ou de um região mais quente, como a castanha-do-pará. Independentemente disso, é preciso tomar cuidado com o seu armazenamento e assim você preserva todas as propriedades.
    Outra questão importante é que as sementes das castanhas possuem uma substância chamada de ácido cianídrico, que dependendo da dose, é tóxica.
    É exatamente por isso que não devem ser consumidas livremente, pois a concentração de gordura saturada é o que diferencia uma castanha da outra.

Mônica Dalmácio

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Tips, Vitamin D

Most people don't get enough of it. And now we know 

Most people don't get enough of it. 

Vitamin D Is Magic

Magic? It would seem that way if there wasn't a ton of research to back it up. We already know that having a high level of vitamin D in your system leads to better athletic performance, easier fat loss, and optimal hormone levels. It even helps women have better orgasms. And having low vitamin D has been linked to dozens of maladies, even several forms of cancer and various fat-person diseases.
Now we have another reason to supplement with it and stop fearing sunshine: you're more likely to get injured if you have low vitamin D.

The Study

Researchers nabbed 216 college football players who were participating in the NFL Scouting Combine. They wanted to find out if there was a relationship between vitamin D levels and muscle strains, including core muscle injuries (sports hernias).
Using blood tests, they found that 126 players (more than half) had abnormally low serum vitamin D levels, and 22 of them had severe deficiencies. Here's how they defined that:
  • Normal: 32 ng/mL
  • Insufficient: 20-31 ng/mL
  • Deficient: Below 20 ng/mL
Was there a relationship between low D and muscle injuries? In short, yes.
"Our primary finding is that NFL combine athletes at greatest risk for lower extremity muscle strain or core muscle injury had lower levels of vitamin D. This could be related to physiologic changes that occur to muscle composition in deficient states," said Dr. Scott Rodeo, the senior investigator.

But Is "Normal" Good Enough?

The scientists here defined normal D levels as those being at least 32 ng/mL. That's 32 nanograms per milliliter... but that's just barely normal.
Progressive doctors go a bit further and say that the OPTIMAL range is between 50 and 70 nanograms per milliliter. And some shoot for as high as 100 ng/mL. Those higher ranges seem to be where the real health benefits kick in.
Now, the average American in late winter (after months of little sun exposure) averages about 15 to 18 ng/ml – a serious deficiency. So, chances are, unless you're a lifeguard in Kona who doesn't wear much sunscreen, you'll need to supplement with Vitamin D.

How Much to Take

Experts suggest supplementing with 1000 to 5000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day. You can adjust that amount based on your non-sunscreened sun exposure, the time of the year, your location on the planet, etc. If you want to see where you're at and how much you need in order to maintain a healthy level, you'll need ask your doctor for a couple of blood tests for 25-hydroxyvitamin D.
Can you get too much vitamin D? Technically, yes, but it would very difficult to do unless you were swallowing over 20,000 IU daily for months on end. So, no need to worry about it really.
Old recommendations said 2000 IU daily was the safe upper limit, but today most agree that was unnecessarily low and say that 10,000 IU is more like it. (Government agencies and antiquated dietician schools will take a while to catch up and reluctantly change their recommendations, of course.)


  1. Hospital for Special Surgery. "More than half of college football athletes have inadequate levels of vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency linked to muscle injuries." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 March 2017.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Intermittent Fasting

Fasting and feeding

My general position on the fasted phase is that it should last through the night and during the morning hours. Ideally the fast should then be broken at noon or shortly thereafter if you arise at 6-7 AM like most people. Afternoons and evenings are usually spent in the fed state.

However, the fast could also also be broken later in the day depending on your personal preferences and daily routine. I personally tend to break the fast as late as 4-6 PM since I work well into the night and rise later than most people with normal jobs.

The recommendation for fasting through the earlier part of the day, as opposed to the latter part of the day, is for behavioral and social reasons. Most people simply find it easier to fast after awakening and prefer going to bed satiated. Afternoons and evenings are times to unwind and eat. For adherence reasons during dieting, I've also found that placing the feeding phase later in the day is ideal for most people.

The protocols
I work with four different protocols depending on when my clients train. Depending on setup, one, two, or three meals are eaten in the post-workout period.

Fasted training

Training is initiated on an empty stomach and after ingestion of 10 g BCAA or similar amino acid mixture. This "pre-workout" meal is not counted towards the feeding phase. Technically, training is not completely fasted - that would be detrimental. The pre-workout protein intake, with its stimulatory effect on protein synthesis and metabolism, is a crucial compromise to optimize results. The 8-hour feeding phase starts with the post-workout meal.

Sample setup

11.30-12 AM or 5-15 minutes pre-workout: 10 g BCAA
12-1 PM: Training
1 PM: Post-workout meal (largest meal of the day).
4 PM: Second meal.
9 PM: Last meal before the fast.

Calories and carbs are tapered down throughout the day in the example above.

Early morning fasted training
Here's a sample setup for a client that trains early in the morning and prefers the feeding phase at noon or later. 

6 AM: 5-15 minutes pre-workout: 10 g BCAA.
6-7 AM: Training.
8 AM: 10 g BCAA.
10 AM: 10 g BCAA
12-1 PM: The "real" post-workout meal (largest meal of the day). Start of the 8 hour feeding-window.
8-9 PM: Last meal before the fast.

For the sake of conveniency, I recommend getting BCAA in the form of powder and not tabs. Simply mix 30 g of BCAA powder in a shake and drink one third of it every other hour starting 5-15 minutes pre-workout. Tabs are cheaper, but much more of a hassle (you're going to have to pop a lot of tabs). 

One pre-workout meal
This is the most common setup for my younger clients that are still in college or have flexible working hours.

Sample setup

12-1 PM or around lunch/noon: Pre-workout meal. Approximately 20-25% of daily total calorie intake.
3-4 PM: Training should happen a few hours after the pre-workout meal.
4-5 PM: Post-workout meal (largest meal).
8-9 PM: Last meal before the fast.

Two pre-workout meals 

This is the usual protocol for people with normal working hours.

Sample setup

12-1 PM or around lunch/noon: Meal one. Approximately 20-25% of daily total calorie intake.
4-5 PM: Pre-workout meal. Roughly equal to the first meal.
8-9 PM: Post-workout meal (largest meal).

Key points 

* No calories are to be ingested during the fasted phase, though coffee, calorie free sweeteners, diet soda and sugar free gum are ok (even though they might contain trace amount of calories). A tiny splash of milk in your coffee won’t affect anything either (½-1 teaspoon of milk per cup at the most - use sparingly and sensibly if you drink a lot of coffee). Neither will sugar free gum in moderation (~20 g).

* The fast is the perfect time to be productive and get things done. Don’t sit around, get bored and brood about food.

* Meal frequency during the feeding phase is irrelevant. However, most people, including me, prefer three meals.

* The majority of your daily calorie intake is consumed in the post-workout period. Depending on setup, this means that approximately 95-99% (fasted training), 80% (one pre-workout meal) or 60% (two pre-workout meals) of your daily calorie intake is consumed after training.

* The feeding window should be kept somewhat constant due to the hormonal entrainment of meal patterns. We tend to get hungry when we're used to eating and maintaining a regular pattern makes diet adherence easier. If you're used to breaking the fast at 12-2 PM and ending it at 8-10 PM, then try to maintain that pattern every day.

* On rest days, meal one should ideally be the largest meal, as opposed to training days where the post-workout meal is the largest meal. A good rule of thumb is to make meal one on rest days at least 35-40% of your daily calorie intake. This meal should be very high in protein; some of my clients consume more than 100 g of protein in this meal.

* When working with clients I am always open to compromising on the above rule. If your preference is to eat a larger meal in the evening instead of noon, or whenever you break the fast, it's no great harm. Some people prefer to save the largest meal on rest days for dinner with their family instead of having a large lunch and that's fine by me if it makes them enjoy and adhere to their diet better.

* Macronutrients and calorie intakes are always cycled through the week. The specifics depends on the client's ultimate goal: fat loss, muscle gain or bodyrecomposition. The details will be revealed in the book. Generally speaking, carbs and total calorie intake is highest on training days. On rest days, carbs are lower and fat is higher. Protein is kept high on all days.

* Here are the supplements I recommend everyone to take on a daily basis: a multivitamin, fish oil, vitamin D and extra calcium (unless dairy is consumed on a regular and daily basis).

* For fasted training, BCAA or an essential amino acid mixture is highly recommended. However, if this feels like too much micromanaging or simply questionable from an economic standpoint, you could also make due with some whey protein. The importance of protein intake prior to fasted training is outlined in this and this post.

* People sometimes ask me which protocol is best. I tend to look at things from a behavioral perspective first and foremost, so my reply to that is to choose the protocol best suited to your daily routine and training preferences. When dealing with clients I make the choice for them. If you work a 9-5 job and your only option is to train after work, training fasted is generally a bad idea and I always choose the one or two meals pre-workout protocol.

* Even from a physiological perspective, each protocol has it's own strengths and theoretical benefits. With "physiological perspective" I mean in terms of nutrient partitioning, fat loss and muscle growth. This deserves an article on it's own. I have some interesting and compelling arguments that I think are very unique.

Below I'll list some other resources that I think will give you an idea of what Leangains is all about.

Diet methodology

Calories, foods and macronutrient choices play an important role in the optimal diet. The following articles will give you an insight into my philosophy on this topic.

Scorch Through Your Fat Loss Plateau

Maintaining Low Body Fat

Intermittent Fasting, Set-Point and Leptin

Diet psychology

The right mental attitude is a crucial factor for a successful diet and training routine. This is an area that is all too often overlooked. I've explored this subject through many different perspectives.

The Secret Benefit of Being Lean

The Marshmallow Test

How to Look Awesome Every Day

How People Fail Their New Year's Resolutions

Regarding comments
Commentators often ask me if this or that is fine or how they should optimize things. I simply don't have time or energy for that any longer. Understand that a lot of factors need to be taken into consideration when determining calorie intake and macronutrient cycling; body weight, body fat, activity level, training routine, gender, insulin sensitivity and so forth. That's why I have clients - optimizing a diet plan requires time and reflection, and being a perfectionist by nature I simply can't "okay" something without having all the facts in front of me.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Estudos mostram que exercícios podem reduzir a inflamação do corpo

Que as atividades físicas são benéficas para a saúde de uma forma geral não é mais novidade. Além de conferir bem estar, a prática regular pode prevenir doenças como diabetes, obesidade, doença celíaca e fibromialgia. E um estudo recente comprovou ainda que exercícios podem ajudar a reduzir a inflamação no corpo.

Entenda como caminhar pode reduzir inflamação no corpo. 

Como os exercícios podem reduzir a inflamação do corpo?

Um estudo realizado por pesquisadores da Universidade da Califórnia em San Diego, nos Estados Unidos e publicado recentemente na revista científica Brain, Behavior and Immunity, mostrou que 20 minutos de exercício são capazes de reduzir a inflamação no corpo.
O grupo de pesquisadores desejava comprovar se a prática de atividades físicas ativavam o sistema nervoso simpático do cérebro. Essa parte é responsável por acelerar os batimentos cardíacos, elevar a pressão arterial e intensificar o ritmo respiratório. E eles acreditavam que ao disparar esse sistema, ele acionaria uma resposta anti-inflamatória. Essa teoria foi comprovada com o estudo.
Para isso, os cientistas convocaram 47 homens e mulheres, que precisaram caminhar em uma esteira em intensidade moderada por 20 minutos. Eles tiveram uma amostra de sangue coletada em dois momentos: antes e depois da prática desse exercício. O que os resultados mostraram é que houve uma redução de 5% no número de células imunológicas ligadas a processos inflamatórios.
A partir desse estudo, os cientistas pretendem conseguir desenvolver novos novos tratamentos anti-inflamatórios. E um outro lado positivo deste estudo é a comprovação de que apenas 20 minutos de atividade já é suficiente para se proteger. “A ideia de que o treino precisa ser exaustivo e longo intimida aqueles que sofrem com doenças inflamatórias crônicas e poderiam se beneficiar da atividade física”, comentou a cientista líder do estudo Suzi Hong.
Para quem sofre com alguma doença ou vive no sedentarismo, não há como mais fugir e deixar de praticar exercícios. Uma simples caminhada já pode fazer toda diferença para a manutenção da sua saúde. Vale a pena consultar o seu médico e um profissional capacitado em atividades físicas para que avaliem de que forma essa prática pode ser inserida na sua rotina, possibilitando que você consiga todos os benefícios disso.

Gostou de saber que a caminhada pode ajudar a reduzir a inflamação do corpo? Para outras notícias fitness, não deixe de acompanhar o Blog!

Thursday, 8 December 2016

The Definitive Guide to Probiotics for Your Diet

The Definitive Guide to Probiotics
for Your Diet.

From yogurt to youth-enhancing creams, probiotics seem to be the latest cure-all ingredient. But what is it? And how can they really help you?
In the most basic of terms, probiotics are microorganisms, such as yeasts and bacteria, that can be consumed to achieve positive effects on your digestive and overall health. In May of 2002, the World Health Organization (WHO) conferred with expert groups of academic scientists and representatives from the probiotic industry to create their “Guidelines for the Evaluation of Probiotics in Food”.
According to the WHO, the definition of a probiotic is as follows: "Live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host."1

What’s a Real Probiotic?

Beyond that, to be considered a true probiotic, the organism must be a defined microbe that has been identified and classified by genus, species, and strain level. This classification is critical. Regulation and control are critical for identifying the potential benefits of any particular type of probiotic. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, probiotics must be deemed safe and tolerable for ingestion by the intended consumer.2
It’s understandable if the idea of eating bacteria doesn’t sound healthy or appealing. However, humans and animals are largely made up of bacteria. In fact, it’s believed we have the same amount of bacteria as human cells! It’s no wonder our bacteria in our body weighs more than our brain (3 lbs!).3
Because the body is full of both good and bad bacteria.

The good guy bacteria play a large part in many of the body’s functions and processes—including immune responses and digestion.4 Oftentimes, that desired effect is related to digestion. Probiotics have certainly made a name for themselves in recent years for their ability to regulate and assist with all things related to the belly’s business. Digestive health is a major contributor to overall good health. Naturally, probiotics have become a popular addition to many people’s personal health routines.5

How Can Probiotics Help Me?

To say that probiotics are used to aid consumers with their digestion is a generalized statement. In reality, there are numerous benefits from consuming probiotics. Many pluses associated with taking probiotics have to do with the digestive process, such as:
  • Reducing bloating
  • Relieving gas pressure and pain
  • Regulating bowel movements
  • Assisting with IBS symptoms
  • General reduction of gastrointestinal discomfort 6, 7
In addition to these digestive benefits, probiotics have been found to be useful in managing and preventing eczema, preventing and treating urinary tract and bladder infections and more.8
The effects of probiotics have been studied and documented for generations, but it was not until recently that probiotics reached the public consciousness. Now, they’re highlighted in mainstream media and product advertisements marketed for their gut-boosting benefits.
At this time, probiotics are available to consumers in a number of forms. Most commonly, they’re associated with dairy products, such as yogurt and kefir. Good natural sources of probiotics are also found in many fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, miso soup, and sourdough bread. Commercially, probiotics show up in dark chocolate, pickles, snack bars, and certain kinds of teas.9, 10

The Journey of An Ingested Probiotic Supplement

Once you ingest a product that contains probiotics, the bacteria go through the digestive process. Ideally, the probiotics ultimately find their way to the lower gut, where they can contribute to the health of the host. Unfortunately, the digestive system is rigorous and often indiscriminate, so much of the “good” bacteria ingested are lost to the process. For the bacteria that survive the process and establish a presence in the lower gut, they can be distributed to the intestines, the kidneys, the liver, and anywhere else they can be utilized appropriately based on the particular strain.11

How can I ensure that my probiotics survive the
digestive process?

The body generally seeks to rid the body of both the good and the bad guys when it comes to bacteria. The digestive process is accomplished with stomach acid—which is incredibly strong and quite effective at breaking down compounds and expelling unwanted matter from the body. The stomach acid breaks down everything that finds its way into the stomach, including good bacteria.12, 13

So, what can you do to retain the good guys while continuing the expulsion of the “bad” bacteria?

According to some studies, there are actions that can be taken, such as ingesting the probiotic on an empty stomach or with a meal.14 Researchers continue to study this theory to determine whether this helps. Another approach is to eat a diet rich in fiber. The fiber, which your body can’t digest, feeds the bacteria in the large intestine. A lack of fiber can result in the good bugs starving, thereby minimizing their full potential.15

Who Discovered Probiotics for Health?

While most recognize that the popularity of probiotics came to be in the 21st century, the establishment of probiotics as an actual scientific concept was in 1907. The idea that that microbes and bacteria affected the internal workings of humans and animals was first proposed by Russian zoologist Élie Metchnikoff. He went on to become known for his research and studies in the field of immunology. In fact, he was awarded the 1908 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. After observing Bulgarian peasants living longer, healthier lives than other peoples from the region, Metchnikoff proposed the theory that the peasants’ custom of eating large amounts of yogurt may be linked.16
"The dependence of the intestinal microbes on the food makes it possible to adopt measures to modify the flora in our bodies and to replace the harmful microbes by useful microbes.” - Élie Metchnikoff, Nobel Prize winner.17

Ancient Use of Probiotics

Technically, the history of probiotics can be traced to the beginning of mankind’s understanding of the fermentation process, but the first time the applications or medicinal properties of the bacteria were considered is certainly a more relevant occurrence. Unfortunately, it is also just as difficult to pinpoint. There are mentions of using fermented milk to treat intestinal issues in the Bible and in other sacred books of comparable era. Many Middle-Eastern and Asian societies of the time have also been found to use fermented or “soured” milk for intestinal health.
There is also documentation from thousands of years ago in ancient Rome of widespread use of fermented dairy products for medicinal purposes. Pliny the Elder, a renowned naturalist during the Roman Empire era, allegedly recommended drinking fermented milk products to treat intestinal issues.18, 19
The therapeutic benefits of these products were recognized and accepted by many cultures worldwide—even though it was well before science could define and explain the benefits of good bacteria.20

Modern Day Probiotic Discoveries

A correlation between digestive tract bacteria and gastrointestinal health was found in 1899 by Henry Tissier, a French scientist. Tissier discovered a bacteria called bifidobacteria in the intestines of a number of infants in the study. Whenever he found an abundant supply of bifidobacteria in an infant, he found they had significantly fewer gastrointestinal problems and far fewer instances of diarrheal illnesses.21
Not long after Henry Tissier made his mark, Elie Metchnikoff’s work in the field of immunology started to get recognized. Metchnikoff, like Tissier, was a research scientist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France. He was allegedly seeking a biological “fountain of youth,” or compound that would grant eternal youth. This was a popular pursuit of scientists of the time. And despite the seemingly ridiculous theory, the scientific discoveries it led to made it worthwhile in the end.
At the time Metchnikoff was at work, it was already understood that certain “bad” bacteria existed in the digestive tract. Metchnikoff was studying lactic acid bacteria and came to believe that it actually produced a form of protection or reversal of a certain strain of bad bacteria. Metchnikoff soon began studying rural Bulgarian peasants and their propensity to live to very old ages—regardless of poverty and living in a terribly harsh climate.
He concluded that the fermented milk products they drank contributed greatly to their increased life expectancies.22
Metchnikoff published his findings in the book, “The Prolongation of Life: Optimistic Studies”. In the book, he makes the proclamation that ingesting microorganisms could have substantial health benefits in humans.23
For his studies on immunity, including how good bacteria can help, he was awarded the 1908 Nobel Prize. He was commended for essentially demonstrating that intestinal illness and the ill effects of harmful microbes can be neutralized by the introduction of beneficial microbes.24, 25 Today, Metchnikoff is considered the grandfather of modern probiotics.
Almost a decade after Metchnikoff’s work gained acclaim, German scientist Alfred Nissle began exploring the possible applications and benefits of probiotics. During his research, Nissle was able to isolate and identify a new bacterial strain, now known as Escherichia coliNissle 1917 (EcN). Nissle subsequently went on to use the bacteria in successfully treating intestinal diseases, including diarrhea, and it is still being used in similar capacities today.26, 27

Types of “Probiotics”

Indeed, the term “probiotics” is general. It refers to countless probiotic strains found in nature.
The human body alone houses more than 500 different known probiotic strains. 28
While it would be very difficult to become personally familiar with all of the strains that exist, it is important to be aware of as many as you can. Having a diversity of probiotic strains in your body has been linked to good digestive health and the prevention of obesity and other health issues.29, 30
Here are some of the most well-known strains of probiotics:

Using Certain Strains to Treat Specific Health Conditions

Obviously, it is not enough to just know the names of different strains. Each strain has very specific effects and applications for the human body and its functioning.
For example, Lactobacillus Rhamnosus gg is a “good” bacteria and has been proven to provide more than 44 health benefits.31 It is considered particularly effective at intestinal wall adhesion, which helps the body clear itself and cultivate other “good” bacterial strains. The end result of this cultivation is a stimulation and invigoration of the immune system.32
Similarly, another “good” bacterial strain, Bifidobacterium Lactis also has been proven to enhance immunity and improve digestion, and it has also been known to fight tumor growth and lower cholesterol.33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38
It is typically located in the intestines and colon and is tasked with processing and breaking down body waste and assisting with the body’s absorption of vitamins and minerals.
Bifido Infantis is, no surprise, an important bacterial strain for human beings during their infancy. In fact, it is one of the first probiotics a mother passes to her baby. Many physicians even recommend that pregnant women supplement their daily intake. As you get older, it continues to play a role in your body, as it helps improve digestion and contributes to the prevention of infection and illness. It also has been shown to increase production of certain acids in the digestive tract and vagina which protect against foreign bacteria and parasites. This actually helps prevent kidney stones and allergies.39
Lactobacillus helveticus is used throughout the world, but particularly in Switzerland, to reduce blood pressure, increase serum calcium levels in the blood, improve sleep patterns, and fight bone loss.40, 41, 42, 43
Perhaps the most well-known and thoroughly researched probiotic strain is Lactobacillus Acidophilus. This strain was first isolated by Metchnikoff, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist in the 1890s. Subsequent studies have found that Lactobacillus Acidophilus could be a critical element to human health and survival. This one probiotic strain alone has been shown to help not only with digestive functioning, but also to fight infections, reduce allergy symptoms, improve blood pressure and cholesterol, and assist in infant development.44, 45

The Criticism Against Probiotics’ Effectiveness

As is the case with most natural remedies, probiotics have been met with a fair share of cynicism. However, among the scientific community, including the National Institute of Health, probiotics are confirmed to help with digestion issues. Probiotics linked to treating other issues are still being researched but initial results are promising.46
Much of the controversy surrounding probiotics comes from questions about the regulation of probiotic products on the market. The general feeling is that the products and claims associated with the products have been developed too quickly for the existing regulatory processes to keep up and meet the minimum required regulatory needs of the consumer population.47, 48, 49
Finally, some cynicism has been generated by a few manufacturers of probiotic products. A small number of isolated high-profile incidents have occurred wherein companies have marketed their products using claims and descriptions that have not been fully substantiated by the medical and scientific community. These high-profile cases have, unfortunately, left an indelible mark in many consumers’ minds when it comes to probiotics.50, 51, 52
The fact is, many claims about probiotics have been verified and proven scientifically, but many others have not yet been. It would be a terrible misconception to believe that probiotic bacteria have no proven benefits, but it would also be irresponsible to believe every claim made by product manufacturers. Consumers should be vigilant in their research and attention to detail when considering any health or wellness product.

Natural Food Sources of Probiotics

As established, probiotic intake is critical to maintaining good gut health. The knowledge of this fact leads many concerned people to seek out supplements and products that boast the ability to provide extra probiotic strains to the body.
Interested in maximizing the probiotic potential in the foods you eat? There are a number of probiotic-rich foods you can add to your diet, such as:
  • yogurt
  • kefir
  • sourdough bread
  • sour pickles
  • sourkraut
  • miso soup53
Most of these foods contain different probiotic strains. It’s important to diversify one’s intake. Therefore, a diet complete with a variety of probiotic-rich foods is most effective. That being said, there are also benefits to considering adding more probiotics to such a diet with the use of safe, effective supplemental products.

Probiotics in Food 411

Plain yogurt

Perhaps the food most commonly associated with probiotics is yogurt. Some of the first and most prominent supplemental products were yogurts and yogurt-based, and they got the discussion started about the benefits of probiotics. Beyond those products, which typically have additional probiotics added, yogurt, in general, contains naturally occurring "good" bacteria.54
Yogurt has been shown to assist in the maintenance of gut health and can treat diarrhea, gas, and other digestive problems.55, 56
When many people hear that yogurt is packed with probiotics, they immediately think that perhaps cheese has similar properties. In reality, this is only somewhat true. While not every cheese is considered a significant contributor to one’s probiotic intake, there are a number of softer, fermented cheeses, such as swiss, gouda, Parmesan, and cheddar, which do have significant concentrations of the “good” bacteria. Not only that, but research finds that, while much of the probiotics consumed by a person are lost during the digestion process. However, some withstand and interact and potentially boost the immune system.57

Sourdough Bread

Another food commonly eaten in the western world that has a significant probiotic content is sourdough bread. Again, not every type of bread has probiotic qualities. Sourdough bread, in particular, is made with sourdough starter, a compound that functions much like yeast, which contains plenty of “good” bacteria.58

Pickled Vegetables

Pickles are another commonly consumed fermented product—particularly sour pickles. The fermenting process provides them with their beneficial qualities, but only natural processes, which utilize sea salt and water in lieu of vinegar, create the desired bacteria.
Similarly, pickled cabbage products, including sauerkraut and the Korean staple, kimchi, also have ample probiotic contents, which help with immunity and can fight infection.59, 60
In addition to kimchi, Southeast Asian cuisine has numerous products and foods that are rich in probiotic bacteria. For example, miso soup—a popular breakfast food in Japan—has become commonly consumed in the Western world, particularly in Japanese and sushi restaurants. This soup, made from fermented soybean paste, has been known to promote good digestion.61


Kefir is another probiotic-filled product that has become popular at U.S. supermarkets in recent years. Kefir is a fermented dairy drink from a grain that originates from Russia. It is a bubbly, thick, creamy, tangy beverage that is much like yogurt, but contains its own unique probiotic strains.62, 63


Another product that has also made progress in gaining public awareness in the west is tempeh. With high probiotic content and large amounts of non-animal protein, it is an excellent meat replacement. Tempeh is made from a base of fermented soybeans.
It is Indonesian in origin and has a nutty flavor. The probiotics in tempeh are a natural antibiotic and actually fight certain “bad” bacteria.

Key Differences in Probiotic Supplements?

Probiotics and bacteria in general are typically considered safe, but certain varieties and concentrations may cause unwanted bacteria-host interactions and side effects. Because of this, the WHO (World Health Organization) stresses that serious consideration be given to the testing and assessment of the microorganisms for their potential benefits, applications, and dangers. The factors most important to monitor include: detecting antibiotic-resistant patterns in the organism; recognizing side-effects in animals and humans; detecting the presence or stimulation of metabolic activity in the test subject; and making note of any adverse or negative reactions in the subjects.64
Lastly, testing is being conducted to determine how the reaction varies with increased concentrations of the probiotic. Additionally, it is possible for one strain to provide a variety of reactions or benefits to a host at differing concentrations.65

What Should I Consider When Buying Probiotics?

Research on the effects of probiotic use are staggeringly positive, so they should be included in your diet. But what type of probiotic supplements are best? Fortunately, the probiotic marketplace is rich and diverse, so there are many wonderful products out there. There are some ineffective products out there as well. It is important to know the basics of what you should look for when considering a probiotic product. Here are some tips:

Strain Diversity

The product should incorporate multiple types of strains, such as Lactobaccilus plantarum, Lactobaccilus acidophilus, Lactobaccilus brevis, Bifidobacterium lactis and Bifidobacterium longum.66

Live Bacteria

Most high-quality probiotic supplements either should be refrigerated or the bottle’s label should clearly indicate the bacteria will survive on your shelf without refrigeration. Unfortunately, if it’s been sitting on the shelf and the label says nothing about ‘no refrigeration needed’, it’s quite possible much of the bacteria has already perished. If you’re curious to see if a probiotic actually has live bacteria, you can do this simple milk test:

CFU Count

Look for CFU (Colony Forming Units) count on their labeling, which indicates how much of the probiotic bacteria will divide and create colonies of additional ‘good’ bacteria. A good range for daily supplementation is 10-30 billion CFUs.

Enteric Coated

Make sure your probiotics are encased in a capsule or enteric coated because stomach acid can zap the amount of CFU’s available.

What Probiotic Products Should I Buy?

With the many factors for comparison in mind, an educated consumer might start with a probiotic digestive health capsule. Probiotic products are also available in the form of fermented drinks, such as kombucha, which can substitute for unhealthy soda and other sugary drinks. Kefir is a popular drink in many parts of the world and can boast up to 40 strains of bacteria!
Another drink, Dong Quai, has been gaining a lot of notice for its use as a treatment to increase fertility and prostate health.
Perhaps the most popular probiotic product is yogurt. Since plain yogurt is healthy in its natural state, probiotic-enriched yogurt is an effective, tasty way of getting your daily dose of probiotics.

Why Probiotics’ Recent Popularity?

Since the success of a handful of early entries, the number of probiotic-enriched products available in the market has exploded in the past decade. The marketability of these products led to an increased interest in the field, which in turn led to a number of studies into the effectiveness of various bacterial strains.
In addition to the WHO’s studies and discussions, there has been a flurry of research on the effects probiotics have on the health of consumers. Studies on the effects and benefits of gut bacteria in particular have exploded in recent years, with scientists around the world racing to be the first to discover a heretofore unknown beneficial reaction between a strain of bacteria and its host.
In 2015, for example, a group of researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine were looking into a well-known microbe, a bacteria known as lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG). While it was known that LGG had many useful properties — specifically with weight loss, and the treatment of skin disorders, intestinal issues, and respiratory problems — scientists were still unsure of how it produced those beneficial results.
The researchers discovered that the LGG bacteria were actually acting as a facilitator and, in doing so, were effectively modifying or changing the actions of the other bacteria in the gut. This recent study could lead scientists to newer, more effective strategies for achieving gut health.67, 68
Why are more people using probiotic supplements now?
Due to increased stress, changes in lifestyle, and problems with modern diets, including excessive sodium, sugar and trans-fat consumption, the average person deals with significant gastrointestinal and digestive distress during their lifetime. Coupled with the increased consumer awareness of the benefits of probiotics and the huge amounts of money spent by companies advertising their specific probiotic-enriched products, there is a growing interest and adoption of the philosophies associated with the probiotic movement. In fact, the probiotics market is expected to grow greatly over the coming years. It’s projected to be generating over $64 billion in sales by 2023.69

Other Conditions Probiotics Can Help Treat

Probiotics are usually associated with the treatment of digestive and gastrointestinal issues, but they have been linked to positive outcomes when used to treat a number of other symptoms as well. For example, probiotics are often given to breastfeeding mothers to help prevent eczema in the child.70, 71
Here are a few more things probiotics seem to help as well, with a link to a study:
Slowing Growth of HIV
Helping with Spinal Cord Injuries
Clear Skin

What are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are compounds found in food, like probiotics, that act in conjunction with probiotics to assist with digestive and overall health. Think of them like fertilizers for your ‘internal garden’ aka good bacteria.
They act as promoters or cultivators of the "good" bacteria.72, 73
Prebiotics include fructooligosaccharides and galactooligosaccharides.74 They can be found in significant concentrations in foods like onions, leeks, garlic, bananas, asparagus, soybeans, and artichokes.75


Every day, it seems that new uses and applications for prebiotics and probiotics are being discovered, theorized, and tested. Their existence and function is not in doubt, but the understanding the extent of how they help other ailments and exactly what they do is still a work in progress. However, with all the news about how important good bacteria in your gut is for health, it does confirm what Hippocrates believed thousands of years ago: “Disease begins in the gut.”