Gut Health and Probiotics
Millions of people suffer every day with gas and bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and constipation. These tummy troubles can be uncomfortable, painful, and embarrassing—but there is a solution.
Probiotics provide an easy and convenient way to keep your gut feeling good so you can get back to living your best life!
In this Essential Guide to Gut Health and Probiotics, you’ll learn about probiotics and prebiotics, the gut-brain connection, and how natural health products, including ginger, help support good gut health.
Being Good to Your Gut
The beneficial bacterial cells in your body vastly outnumber your own cells, and most of those bacteria are living in your gut. It’s no surprise, then, that bacterial balance and good gut health play such a huge role in overall health and wellness.
An unhappy gut can lead to gas, bloating, cramps, diarrhea, nausea, constipation, and a host of other unpleasant symptoms. What’s more, poor gut health means poor digestion and decreased nutrient absorption, as well as an increased risk of yeast infection and bacterial overgrowth.
Good gut health also helps keep your brain happy, thanks to the vagus nerve that connects the gut and the brain (among other functions). The “gut brain” contains approximately 100 million neurons and can work both independently of, and together with, the “head brain.”
Most of us know all too well how tummy troubles can affect how we feel and how we think, and how stress and emotional upheaval can wreak havoc on our gastrointestinal system. It makes sense, then, that mental health and gut health go hand in hand.
Fortunately, keeping your gut happy has never been easier. Webber Naturals® offers carefully formulated natural health products, such as probiotics and ginger, to support digestion and bacterial balance and to help prevent and relieve nausea related to various conditions.
Shelf-stable, multistrain probiotic formulas can also help prevent traveller’s diarrhea, support immune function, and offer support at times of stress, and every product has guaranteed potency right through to the expiry date.
Role of the Microbiota
Your microbiota are made up of a collection of microbes that live in your body, including the Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Enterococcus species of bacteria and yeasts such as Saccharomyces. These microbes have a major impact on a wide range of bodily functions. When healthy, your small intestine microbiota are mainly made up of the Lactobacillus species.
A healthy large intestine (colon) is mostly populated by the Bifidobacteria species. These probiotic species produce and convert nutrients; help protect against pathogens; promote normal inflammatory processes, digestion, and immune function; and are even thought to support mental health by making chemical messengers (known as neurotransmitters).
Even subtle changes in the microbiota can affect overall health and well-being. For instance, bacterial imbalances have not only been linked to digestive concerns, but also to cardiovascular disease, mood imbalances, and immune system dysfunction.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to keep your microbiota happy and to restore balance if your microbiota have been upset due to diet, lifestyle, antibiotics, or stress.
Probiotic foods contain live organisms that can benefit human health, contributing to a healthy microbiota and supporting digestive health, immune function, and overall health. Probiotics also synthesize essential vitamins that the body cannot produce itself and can create a favourable healthy bacteria environment. Probiotic foods include:
Sour, salty, and delicious! Sauerkraut is a source of vitamins and live probiotic cultures. Look for sauerkraut with live cultures at local markets or smaller health food stores.
Like sauerkraut, fermented pickles can be a great source of probiotics. Unfortunately, many store-bought pickles have been pasteurized and don’t contain live cultures, so make your own at home or look for products with live cultures.
An excellent probiotic food, yogourt can contain Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria to support digestion and general health.
Made from fermented soybeans (and sometimes other legumes), tempeh tastes nutty and mushroom-like and is a source of probiotics and protein. Sautée or bake tempeh and use it in stir fries, salads, and sandwiches
Avoiding dairy? Look for unsweetened cultured almond, cashew, coconut, and soy yogurts.
Typically spicy and sour, this fermented cabbage is often used in Korean cuisine to aid digestion. Kimchi also contains vitamins A, C, B1, and B2, beta-carotene, calcium, and iron.
A staple food in Japan, miso is also popular in macrobiotic diets. This fermented soy paste is chock-full of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, as well as B vitamins. Miso is excellent in soups, stews, marinades, and noodle dishes. Rice, barley, and rye miso are also available
This fermented tea contains a plethora of probiotics, including beneficial bacteria and yeasts. Easy to find in your local grocery store, and easy to make at home!
1. What are Probiotics?
The gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts, skin, mouth, and nasal passages, are teeming with microorganisms – some good, some bad. Those microorganisms that benefit health are called probiotics.
Over 50 years’ worth of research has given us a good understanding of how probiotics support gastrointestinal and immune system health, along with oral health. More recent research shows that probiotics also support our psychological well-being via the gut-brain connection.
The foods we eat have a significant effect on health, partly due to how different foods affect the microorganisms in the body.
2. Probiotics vs. Prebiotics
It’s easy to confuse prebiotics and probiotics, especially as many foods and supplements contain both. To simplify, probiotics are the beneficial or good bacteria that support good health, while prebiotics are the foods that feed these beneficial bacteria.
Prebiotics are types of fibre that are indigestible to humans, including inulin, galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), and fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS). These prebiotics may be included in probiotic formulas to help the bacteria establish themselves in the gut. Ensuring a good intake of prebiotic foods helps to nourish good bacteria and gives them an advantage over pathogens.
Prebiotic foods are also often a source of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients and can support the absorption of nutrients from other foods by helping to create more favourable gastrointestinal conditions. Prebiotics are found in whole plant foods, including nuts and seeds, legumes and pulses (beans, lentils, and peas), vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
3. How Probiotics Work in the Gut
Probiotic supplements can help to restore and maintain a healthy, balanced microbiota. This is especially important if you are taking or have just finished a course of antibiotics or if you experience vomiting or diarrhea, which can cause a loss of beneficial bacteria. Probiotics are also helpful if you are taking antacids or have low stomach acid, as stomach acid helps protect against some pathogenic organisms. There are myriad benefits associated with probiotics. Here are just a few:
Probiotics can help reduce the risk and severity of antibiotic-associated diarrhea by restoring and maintaining a healthy bacterial balance.
Probiotics help provide on-the-go support for travellers, with certain strains able to reduce the risk of traveller’s diarrhea. If the worst happens, fast-acting formulas can help restore balance and reduce stress-related nausea and abdominal pain.
Probiotics help to support immune function, especially in times of stress. Some strains have been found to help reduce the likelihood and duration of cold-like symptoms and winter infections in healthy adults.
Certain probiotic strains help support the gut-brain axis to promote a healthy mood balance, moderate feelings of anxiousness, and help reduce stress-related gastrointestinal symptoms.
Probiotics help support the complete digestion of lactose (milk sugar) to reduce unpleasant symptoms of lactose intolerance such as gas, bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, and bad breath. Probiotics also support immune function and may help reduce the likelihood of cow’s milk-induced food allergy in infants and young children.
By supporting a healthy bacterial balance, probiotics can help reduce the incidence and severity of yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and urinary tract infections.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Probiotics help restore and maintain intestinal flora and support gastrointestinal health. Certain strains have been shown to help reduce the duration of diarrhea in those with IBS.
Nutrient synthesis and absorption
Beneficial bacteria turn indigestible fibre into essential nutrients. These probiotics can synthesize B vitamins and vitamin K, as well as short chain fatty acids, neurotransmitters, and other useful substances, all while supporting the proper digestion of nutrients from food.
Key probiotic strains provide intestinal support and can help reduce stress-related nausea and abdominal pain
4. Different Types of Probiotics and how to Choose the Right One for You
Choosing a probiotic supplement can be confusing because there are so many available. Where should you start?
Here are a few key things to keep in mind when selecting a probiotic supplement:
Why are you taking it?
Different formulas support certain aspects of health. For example, probiotics can be taken to reduce the negative effects of antibiotics, as well as provide support during traveller’s diarrhea, stress-related tummy upset, or symptoms of IBS.
What does the label say?
Supplements can contain different probiotics strains – some products may provide one strain, while others can provide 10 or more! In addition, supplements will have varied active cell counts, or the number of beneficial bacteria per capsule. Some products may provide 5 billion active cells, while other critical care formulas may provide much higher counts, such as 50 billion.
Is there a guaranteed potency?
The potency claim on the label of a probiotic supplement should indicate the number of active cells at the product’s expiry date and is based on the indicated storage conditions. When choosing a probiotic, it’s important to know where the product should be stored – is it shelf-stable (not requiring refrigeration), or does it always need to be refrigerated? This is especially helpful when choosing a product to use during travel or work..
Webber Naturals provides innovative and condition-specific probiotic formulas that are supported by research. Our products are shelf-stable and guaranteed to have the minimum stated number of active cell counts at the time of manufacture and at expiry.
Probiotics for Immunity
Good gut health is essential for immune function. In fact, an estimated 80% of the immune system is found in the gut. By restoring and maintaining a healthy gut microbiota, probiotics can help keep pathogens in check. Probiotics also support normal inflammatory processes and immune system activity, including influencing infection-fighting white blood cells, especially at times of stress. (1, 2)
How it works
Immune Probiotic from Webber Naturals features two key probiotic strains for immune system support, Lactobacillus helveticus R0419 and Bifidobacterium bifidum R0071. These probiotics have been shown to support normal immune function and reduce the likelihood of cold-like symptoms and winter infections in healthy adults.
Immune Probiotic is ideal for supporting immune health and general well-being, especially if you’re a physically active adult who frequently gets colds, particularly in winter. This formula is also helpful for restoring lost beneficial bacteria when taking antibiotics (just be sure to take it 2–3 hours before or after your medication).
Why it's unique
Immune Probiotic provides a guaranteed total of 8 billion active cells in every capsule at time of expiry. This one-a-day formula is suitable for vegetarians and is shelf-stable – no refrigeration required!
For general use, adults can take 2 capsules daily with meals or as directed by a physician. For cold-like symptoms, take 1 capsule daily with meals or as directed by a physician. Take at least 2–3 hours before or after antibiotics.
Two key probiotic strains have been shown to support immune function to reduce the likelihood of cold-like symptoms and winter infections in healthy adults. Research suggests that Lactobacillus helveticus R0419 and Bifidobacterium bifidum R0071 support protection against winter infections and cold-like symptoms during acute physical or mental stress.
In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial (RCT) involving students taking final exams, those receiving B. bifidum R0071 daily had a greater proportion of healthy days and a 45% reduced likelihood of cold and flu during the six-week intervention compared to the placebo group. They also had shorter cold and flu episodes when they did occur. (3) In another RCT, L. helveticus R0419 taken daily for 14 weeks in winter shortened the duration of upper respiratory tract illness (URTI) in elite athletes by more than three days, and reduced symptoms compared to the placebo group. (4)
- Paturi G, Phillips M, Jones M, Kailasapathy K. Int J Food Microbiol 2007 Apr; 115(1):115-188.
- Paturi G, Phillips M, Kailasapathy K. Food Prot 2008 Apr; 71(4):796-801.
- Langkamp-Henken B, Rowe CC, Ford AL, et al. Br J Nutr 2015 Feb; 113(3):426-434.4. Michalickova D, Minic R, Dikic N, et al. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 2016 Jul; 41(7):782-789.
Relieve Indigestion, Nausea, and Vomiting
Good gut health isn’t all about probiotics. Ginger is a traditional herbal medicine that has been used for thousands of years for safe, natural relief of nausea and vomiting and to support digestive function in general.
How it works
Dozens of clinical trials have shown ginger’s positive effects on digestive health. Ginger extracts can help relieve indigestion, dyspepsia, digestive spasms, flatulent colic, and nausea; can support a healthy appetite; and may even help with nausea and cramping associated with menstruation. As a warming spice, ginger may also help to relieve symptoms of coughs and colds.
Why it’s unique
Nausea Relief from Webber Naturals is a highly concentrated 20 mg organic ginger extract that provides the equivalent of 500 mg of ginger in every chewable tablet. This extract is standardized to contain 5% gingerols, the bioactive anti-nausea ingredient found naturally in ginger.
Nausea Relief from Webber Naturals is ideal for tackling motion sickness, travel sickness, nausea and vomiting in pregnancy or after surgery, as well as dyspepsia and heartburn, and menstrual discomfort and associated nausea.
For general use, chew 2 tablets daily. To help combat motion sickness, chew 1 tablet 30 minutes before travel and every 4 hours as necessary, or as directed by a physician.
For post-operative nausea, chew 1 tablet an hour before surgery, and for menstrual cramping and nausea, chew 3 tablets daily two days before menses and for the first three days of menses.
In one clinical trial, people who took a ginger extract for four days had significant relief from pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting, compared to those taking a placebo. (1) In another trial, naval cadets who took 1000 mg of ginger had significantly less vomiting and cold sweats compared to a placebo group. (2) Ginger has also been shown to help relieve symptoms of productive and dry coughs and the common cold. (3)
- Saberi F, Sadat Z, Abedzadeh-Kalahroudi M, et al. Nurs Midwifery Stud 2014Apr; 3(1):e11841.
- Grøntved A, Brask T, Kambskard J, et al. Acta Otolaryngol 1988 Jan-Feb; 105(1-2):45-49.
- Mills S, Bone K. St. Louis (MO): Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; c2005.
For Sleep and Queasy Stomach
A natural formula with ginger and melatonin to improve sleep quality and relieve indigestion, nausea, and vomiting.
How it works
Melatonin is the neurohormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. As melatonin synthesis declines with age, supplemental melatonin can support improved sleep in older adults. Numerous studies show that melatonin supplements can help increase total sleep time and re-set your body clock if jet-lag or shift-work has disrupted your circadian rhythm. Melatonin can also help reduce the time it takes to fall asleep in people with delayed sleep phase disorder.
Ginger root supports digestion and has been clinically shown to help prevent nausea and vomiting associated with seasickness and motion sickness. Together, melatonin and ginger extract may prove to be a handy travel companion!
Why it’s unique
Travel Comfort from Webber Naturals is a convenient, all-in-one, natural, non-habit-forming formula with organic ginger and melatonin to relieve nausea, indigestion, and sleeplessness. Ideal for travel, this fast-acting supplement offers the equivalent of 500 mg of ginger to help with motion sickness or digestive upset, alongside 3 mg of melatonin to help re-set your sleep-wake cycle so you can get a restful night’s sleep.
For help with nausea, take 2 tablets 30 minutes before travel, or 1 hour prior to surgery. For jet-lag, take 2 tablets once daily at bedtime or while travelling to help you adapt to your new schedule. For menstrual cramping, take 3 tablets once daily at bedtime, for two days prior to menses and during days 1 through 3 of menses. Do not operate machinery or drive for five hours after taking melatonin. For use beyond four weeks, consult a physician.
Nearly one in three of us experiences sleep disruption, with one in 10 of us finding that poor sleep makes it harder to function during the day. (1) Research shows that taking a melatonin supplement 30–90 minutes before bedtime temporarily resets the biological clock, reduces the time it takes to fall asleep, improves sleep quality, and increases total sleep time in people with an altered sleep schedule due to jet lag or shift work. In one review, people crossing more than five time zones who took 5 mg of melatonin close to target bedtime fell asleep faster, slept better, and had significantly reduced jet lag. (2)
- Roth T. J Clin Sleep Med 2007; 3(5 Suppl):S7-S10.
- Herxheimer A, Petrie KJ. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2002;2:CD001520.
Probiotics to Prevent Diarrhea
Around 1 in 3 travellers are laid low by traveller’s diarrhea (1). This occurs largely because of water- and food-borne bacteria that upset the bacterial balance in the gut. Thankfully, probiotics can help keep these pathogens in check and help maintain and restore a healthy bacterial balance for good gut health when travelling to developing countries.
How it works
Select strains of probiotics provide on-the-go support for travellers. Bifidobacterium longum R0175, Lactobacillus helveticus R0052, and Saccharomyces boulardii probiotic strains have been found to reduce the risk of traveller’s diarrhea and can help restore balance to quickly relieve symptoms.
Why it’s unique
Travel Probiotic from Webber Naturals is a shelf-stable formula featuring three key strains to help guard against diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms. Each vegetarian capsule is guaranteed to provide 8 billion active cells at time of expiry. Travel Probiotic is available in convenient blister packs, ideal for when you are on the go.
Take 1 capsule daily, starting five days prior to your trip and for the duration of travel. For antibiotic-associated diarrhea, take 2 capsules daily or as directed by a physician. Take at least 2–3 hours before or after antibiotic and/or antifungal.
A meta-analysis of 10 randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled trials of 1,862 patients found that Lactobacillus probiotics reduced the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea by 65%. (2) Another meta-analysis of 34 randomized, placebo-controlled trials found that probiotics reduced antibiotic-associated diarrhea by 52%, reduced the risk of traveler’s diarrhea by 8%, and reduced the risk of acute diarrhea of diverse causes by 34%. (3) In another placebo-controlled, double-blind study, prophylactic use of S. boulardii significantly reduced the risk of traveler’s diarrhea in 3,000 Austrian travelers. (4)
- Pitzurra R, Steffen R, Tschopp A. et al. BMC Infect Dis 2010; (4)10:231.
- Kale-Pradhan PB, Jassal HK, Wilhelm SM. Pharmacotherapy 2010; 30(2):119-126.
- Herxheimer A, Petrie KJ. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2002; 2:CD001520.
- Kollaritsch H, Holst H, Grobara P, et al. Fortschr Med 1993;111(9):152-156.
What are probiotics good for?
Probiotics support good gut health and can have a wide variety of benefits, depending on the strain. In general, probiotics help support a healthy bacterial balance in the gastrointestinal and genitourinary tract.
Select strains have also been associated with reductions in antibiotic-associated diarrhea, traveller’s diarrhea, constipation, gas and flatulence, bloating, coughs, and colds, as well as Helicobacter pylori infections and even low mood and feelings of anxiousness.
What is the recommended dosage for probiotics?
The suggested dosage for probiotics depends on your individual needs and circumstances. Higher dose probiotics can be beneficial for addressing significant dysbiosis after antibiotic treatment, infection, and diarrhea, for example, while a lower dose is often suitable for everyday maintenance and support for gut health.
Studies typically report beneficial effects with doses over 3 billion colony forming units, assuming a guaranteed potency at the time of expiry for a probiotic supplement. Speak to your health care professional to find out the probiotic dosage that is right for you.
Do probiotics have risks or side effects?
Probiotics are generally considered safe; side effects, if they occur, tend to be mild and digestive in nature (such as gas or bloating).
More serious effects have been seen in some people, such as those who are immunocompromised, where probiotics might theoretically pose a risk of infection. Prior to using a probiotic, speak to your health care professional if you have any health concerns or conditions.
Are there any contraindications for probiotics?
Anyone who is immunocompromised or who has short gut syndrome should consult their physician prior to using probiotics.
Do you need to take probiotics with food or on an empty stomach?
Probiotics that are gastric acid resistant can be taken with food, while others need to be taken 2–3 hours before or after food.
Webber Naturals probiotic formulas feature gastric acid resistant probiotic strains, meaning they can be taken at any time and will still survive to reach the intestines intact for maximal benefit.
Do I have to refrigerate probiotics?
Some probiotic supplements lose potency unless refrigerated. Webber Naturals probiotic range features carefully selected shelf-stable strains that do not require refrigeration and have guaranteed potency right up to the expiry date.
What dose and strain(s) should I look for in a probiotic?
The recommended doses for probiotics range from 1 billion to 10 billion colony forming units (CFU) for supporting gut health and general health.
A multistrain formula containing a guaranteed minimum of 10 billion CFU is typically considered sufficient for maintaining beneficial bacteria populations and good gut health, but higher doses (up to 50 or even 100 billion CFU) may be helpful during antibiotic use.
As for strain selection, it is best to choose a probiotic formula specifically designed to offer support for your current health concern, whether preventing traveller’s diarrhea, relieving symptoms of IBS, or helping with the gut-brain connection.
Can you take a probiotic every day?
Yes! It’s a good idea to take probiotics regularly to help maintain and restore beneficial bacterial populations. Some beneficial bacteria are “transient,” meaning they do not form colonies in the gut and instead exert their beneficial effects as they pass through the system. As such, it is helpful to take a multistrain formula daily and to eat prebiotic and probiotic foods.
How long does it take for a probiotic to work?
Some probiotic strains have a generation time (the time it takes for the number of bacteria to double) of just 2–3 hours. This means that these strains get to work right away to help crowd out pathogens and support gut health.
Other bacteria take a little longer and tend to have the most impact after two to three weeks of regular use. And, some probiotics are transient species that do not form colonies in the gut, meaning that regular, daily intake is important to replenish the population.
For prevention of traveller’s diarrhea, start taking probiotics five days prior to your trip and continue for the duration of travel for full benefit.
Can you take probiotics with coffee?
Most probiotics are killed by intense heat, so it’s best not to mix or take probiotic supplements directly with a hot beverage or food. However, taking your probiotic with a cold drink or mixing it with cold food like yogourt or a smoothie, and then having coffee, tea, or a hot meal, is fine.
Are probiotic supplements really necessary?
Poor gut health is a common complaint and can have significant effects on quality of life. While some fermented and cultured foods contain probiotics, most of us simply do not consume these at a level sufficient to maintain a healthy bacterial balance, let alone restore beneficial bacteria or guard against pathogen overgrowth. Taking a daily probiotic for general maintenance can be beneficial for many people, while tailored formulas have been shown to help with specific health concerns such as traveller’s diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and IBS.
Can probiotics be taken with antibiotics?
Yes! In fact, it’s a good idea to take probiotics when taking antibiotics as this helps to replenish beneficial bacteria and reduce the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Be sure to take probiotics 2–3 hours before or after taking your antibiotic medication, however, as many broad-spectrum antibiotics kill probiotics if taken simultaneously.
Who needs probiotics?
Everybody! We all need a healthy balance of bacteria to support and maintain good health. Probiotic supplements can help maintain and restore a healthy microbiota, especially in cases of antibiotic use, infections, diarrhea, or other health concerns.
Probiotics are also particularly helpful when travelling to an area where food and water may be contaminated with pathogens, and can also help support digestive function and the gut-brain axis during times of stress.
Which probiotics are best for IBS?
Probiotic IBS Support from Webber Naturals is a unique multi-strain formula clinically proven to help reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Each vegetarian capsule provides 7 billion active cells composed of proprietary Lactobacillus, Bacillus, and Enterococcus strains to restore and maintain the intestinal microbiota and support gastrointestinal health.
Where to Buy Webber Naturals Probiotics
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