Should Probiotics Be Taken With Food?
There is considerable confusion and debate over how to best
take probiotics, the beneficial bacteria that are so critical to our immunity
and digestive health. Some natural
health practitioners recommend that probiotics be taken on an empty stomach to
avoid provoking a fresh release of caustic digestive secretions (which includes
bile salts, digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid).
Others point out that our Creator designed the human stomach
to maintain a very low pH (high acidity) at all times, not only to facilitate
protein digestion and mineral absorption, but as a front line of defense
against pathogens that enter the body through the mouth. Furthermore, since our natural intended
source of probiotics is raw and/or fermented foods, it seems obvious that we
were designed to derive our essential flora from our diet.
It is interesting that God doesn't use microencapsulation
technology or enteric coating to deliver probiotics through the harsh
environment of the stomach and into the GI tract. Like everything in nature, it is a numbers
game; and to the survivors go the legacy.
When probiotics are ingested whether in raw or fermented foods or in
supplements not all of them make it to the lining of the intestine where they
perform their vital role in health.
In recent years, growing interest and research into
beneficial bacteria has produced probiotic strains that are more acid and
temperature stable. Strides have also
been made in the area of microencapsulation so that phthalates and other toxic
substances are being used with less frequency, but again, with few exceptions
(such as systemic enzymes or highly specific probiotic strains and applications), those types of delivery systems are not necessary.
As to the ongoing debate over whether probiotics
are best taken with food, what is most important is that they are taken, and
regularly. A healthy balance of
intestinal flora is one of the most foundational of all criteria for efficient
digestion, strong immunity and vibrant health.