The most important factor that determines our gut health (and thus our overall health) is the intestinal microbiota. This is also referred to as the “gut flora”, “gut microbiota”, or “gut microbiome”.
The gut contains over 100,000,000,000,000 (one hundred trillion!) microorganisms from a thousand different species; there are ten times more microbes in the human body than there are human cells, and together, those microbes have one hundred times more genes than the human genome does. It’s not inaccurate, then, to say that at a cellular level, we’re more microbe than human.
Among other things, the gut microbiota promotes normal gastrointestinal function, provides protection from infection, regulates metabolism, and is home to the majority of immune cells.
How to keep your gut microbiota happy—and yourself healthy
As I mentioned in the 9 Steps To Perfect Health eBook, there are several steps you can take to improve your gut health:
- Avoid foods and chemicals that irritate the gut
- Eat plenty of fermentable fibers (starches like sweet potato, yam, yucca, etc.)
- Eat fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kim chi, etc.
- Treat any intestinal pathogens (such as parasites) that may be present
- Manage your stress
- Get plenty of sleep
When diet and lifestyle changes aren’t enough
For some, these steps may be enough to maintain a healthy gut throughout life. However, there are many aspects of modern life in the industrialized world that are harmful to our gut health. These include:
- An increase in cesarean births
- A decrease in breastfeeding
- Overuse of antibiotics, especially during childhood
- Overuse of stomach-acid-suppressing medications
- A diet high in refined foods and low in fiber
- A reduced intake of fermented foods and beverages
- Chronic stress
- Sleep deprivation
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we’re unable to escape all of these influences. And of course some of them—like whether we were born vaginally or via cesarean, whether we were breastfed or given formula, and how many courses of antibiotics we received as a child—were never in our control to begin with.
How the right probiotic can help
This is where probiotics come in. A high-quality probiotic can give your gut another layer of protection and support in a world that is inherently hostile to gut health.
However, not all probiotics are created equal. In fact, there’s a tremendous variation in the quality and efficacy of the products you can buy at your local store or on the internet.
Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to choose a good probiotic, so they may end up spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars over the years on a product that isn’t living up to its claims.
This is a topic that is close to my heart. As you may know, I suffered from a chronic, digestive illness for almost ten years—which is what inspired me to do this work. During that time I tried just about every probiotic that I could get my hands on. I poured over hundreds of studies about probiotic bacteria in an effort to find the strains that would be the most effective. And over the last several years in my clinic, I’ve experimented with numerous probiotics in my work with hundreds of patients.
I’d like to share what I’ve learned over all of those years with you about choosing the best probiotic. That way you won’t have to spend the hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars I did to get this information!
My favorite probiotic—and why
After years of research and trial and error, I’ve discovered a product that has become one of the most potent tools I use in my clinic for promoting overall health. It is by far the most effective probiotic I’ve ever used; it works in a wide range of conditions; and it is well-tolerated even by people that normally don’t do well with probiotics.
It’s called Prescript Assist, and it’s the product my family and I take and I recommend for my patients and my readers. There are several reasons I prefer Prescript Assist to other products I’ve tried:
- It survives the passage through the stomach so it can get to the large intestine, where it belongs. Other products use unproven manufacturing techniques to force fragile bacteria through the hostile, acidic environment of the stomach. In contrast, the strains of bacteria in Prescript Assist form seed-like structures which insulate them from stomach acid and digestive enzymes and allow them to thrive in the large intestine.
- It contains 29 different strains of beneficial bacteria. Many products contain only two or three strains of bacteria, while as many as 1,000 different species of microbes inhabit the human gut. The higher number of strains in Prescript Assist better reflects this microbial diversity.
- It is shelf-stable. In fact, lab testing has demonstrated that over 95 percent of the organisms in Prescript Assist are still viable after two years—without refrigeration. This makes it more convenient to travel with, and more likely you’ll take it consistently.
- It contains a prebiotic called leonardite. This means that you’re not only putting good bacteria into your system, you’re giving that bacteria the food it needs to survive and thrive. And studies have shown that prebiotics themselves have beneficial impacts on mood and cognitive function.
- It’s backed by sound science. Prescript Assist is supported by a peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial—the gold standard of medical evidence—including a one-year follow-up study, verifying long-term efficacy and safety.
- It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan. Many people with mood and cognitive or behavioral disorders also suffer from gluten and/or dairy sensitivity. Prescript Assist is hypoallergenic and suitable for people with a wide range of dietary preferences.
How much should you take—and for how long?
One capsule once a day is a good long-term maintenance dose. If you feel great and have no health complaints, this is the dose I’d recommend.
However, if you have any symptoms at all—not just digestive symptoms, but any symptoms—I’d suggest taking one capsule twice a day until you start to see some improvement in those symptoms.
As I explained in the 9 Steps eBook, abnormal gut microbiota is associated with an astonishing variety of symptoms and diseases. This is why I address gut health with every patient that walks through my door, regardless of whether they complain of digestive problems.
Many of my patients choose to take Prescript Assist on an ongoing basis, as a protective measure and because they prefer how they feel while they take it. This is the approach I take myself and with my family.
Is there anyone that shouldn’t take Prescript Assist?
Probiotics in general, and the soil-based organisms in Prescript Assist in particular, are remarkably safe to take for just about anyone, including pregnant and nursing women.
The one population I do not recommend Prescript Assist is kids under two years of age. Babies and young toddlers do not have fully developed gut flora yet, so Prescript Assist isn’t a good choice for them.
A special offer for members of the ChrisKresser.com community
As a gesture of gratitude for joining this community, I’d like to offer you a 40% discount off your first order of Prescript Assist.
To take advantage of this, simply click on the button below to go to the product page in my store, and use the coupon code “CKHEALTHY-020216” during the checkout process.