Did you know that bacteria can help you maintain good digestive health? It may be hard to understand how this works as we all know that germs can cause diseases. We take antibiotics to kill them. We use anti-bacterial soaps and many other methods to prevent germs from creeping silently into our systems.
Our body has a bacterium, that is a fact, but not all of them are bad. We have ‘good’ bacteria that are considered helpful because they help keep our guts healthy. This is where probiotics come in.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that can be found in fermented foods, beverages or dietary supplements. It has the capability of preventing and treating some illnesses and promoting a healthy digestive tract and immune system. Studies have shown that probiotics can help maintain the balance of good bacteria in the gut for overall well-being.
One of the best-known sources of probiotics is yogurt. You can also find it in sauerkraut, dark algae, dark chocolate, and pickles. The Japanese miso soup made from fermented beans or grains also contains probiotics. Kimchi, a dish from Korea made with fermented cabbage, is also a good source of probiotics.
There are many food sources where you can get probiotics, but you also have another option. Take a look at probiotics in the form of nutritional supplements. Should you get tired of eating the food mentioned above or if they are unavailable to you, it is good to know that you still have options.
If you have some serious digestive issues you want to improve, then dietary supplements would be your best choice. They can provide the right amount of probiotics that you would not easily get from yogurt or kimchi.
VSL #3 is a high-potency, probiotic medical food known to have the highest concentration of good bacteria. It is designed specifically to help people who suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), and ulcerative colitis.
- Provides a daily fortified boost of powerful probiotics
- Contains eight live freeze-dried probiotic bacteria
- Clinically-proven medical food supplement
- Vegetarian capsule
- Free from most allergens
- Kosher and Halal certified
- Has GRAS (generally recognized as safe under the conditions of their intended use) status
VSL #3 is considered as medical food and not a drug. Medical food is described as specifically formulated for the dietary management of diseases or conditions with distinctive nutritional needs that cannot be met by diet alone. It must be prescribed by physicians intended for the specific dietary management of a disease or condition.
VSL #3 is one of the most efficient probiotic supplements in the market today and works well not only for gastro-intestinal related conditions but many other inflammation-related disorders as well.
An imbalance in the normal levels of flora in your body can be due to stress, poor diet or disease. VSL #3 can help you restore and maintain that balance and keep your digestive tract healthy. Moreover, since there is a strong connection between the bacteria in your stomach and your immune system, VSL #3 can greatly enhance your immune responses to certain diseases such as the flu.
Aside from the diseases mentioned above, VSL #3 can also help protect from inflammatory bowel diseases, including Crohn’s disease. Studies also show that it is an effective supplement to prevent several forms of diarrhea, including antibiotic-associated diarrhea, acute diarrhea, and traveler’s diarrhea.
It can also help you avoid getting antibiotic resistance, which is “one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today” according to the World Health Organization. Furthermore, it can increase the effectiveness of antibiotics and help prevent the bacteria in your body from becoming resistant.
VSL #3 can also help you in managing your weight. Some studies show weight loss in people who have regular intakes of probiotics. There are also studies that link gut health to mood and mental health. Some strains of probiotics can improve anxiety, depression, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and memory. More reasons to take your daily dose of probiotics.
VSL #3 can also help repair “leaky gut” which is a condition wherein undigested food particles, toxic waste products, and bacteria leak through the intestines and flood the bloodstream due to damage on the stomach lining. It also helps decrease the chances of bacterial translocation, food-particle entrance into circulation and inflammatory immune responses.
Even if you don’t suffer from any of these existing digestive problems, VSL #3’s good bacteria is sure to help balance your gut function leading to proper intake of nutrients.
One of the main factors that make this an effective supplement is the number of live bacteria in one capsule. Each capsule contains 112.5 billion live lactic acid bacteria, more than enough to supply the gastrointestinal tract with ideal quantities and types of good bacteria. These bacteria go straight to the walls of your GI tract and create a barrier that protects the inner layer of your stomach from the bad bacteria and other harmful substances that can cause inflammation by modulating intestinal defense mechanisms.
VSL #3 has the highest dose of probiotics and is one of the most researched probiotic supplements on the market. No doubt, this is a very effective treatment for IBS and ulcerative colitis. With 450 billion CFU, it was the first strongest probiotic to be ever released. There is also a version with 900 billion CFU for every dose which may require getting a prescription for.
Different people and different types of conditions require different amounts of live bacteria, so it is always a good idea to ask a doctor about the right dosage for you. It is better to start with a low dose and gradually increase it. This will help you avoid the side effects.
The efficiency of VSL #3 is dose dependent. Some people may need a low dose, while those with serious problems will only show improvement when administered with high doses. It can be bought over the counter with no need for a prescription. It comes in different formulations as follows:
- Packets of powdered probiotic bacteria containing 450 billion live bacteria
- Capsules containing 112.5 billion live bacteria
- Junior packets containing 225 billion live bacteria
- DS – double strength packet sachet containing 900 billion live bacteria (prescription only)
VSL #3 is a combination of these strains:
- Bifidobacterium breve
- Bifidobacterium longum
- Bifidobacterium infantis
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus paracasei
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus
- Streptococcus thermophiles
VSL #3 combines these eight tested strains instead of just testing each strain in laboratory studies and then combining them in one product. Each strain has something good to offer, and VSL #3 has captured them all and blended them in one highly efficient capsule.
VSL #3 is safe, natural, and effective, but there are precautions you should know about before you start using it. It is always recommended to consult your doctor before taking any supplement. First, you need to know how much your body needs.
Having high amounts of live bacteria may prove to be too strong for some people so it is good to consult a doctor first. Also, VSL #3 is expensive. You may think twice before starting a regimen using this. If you do not have any stomach issues or any bloating, it is not recommended to spend a huge amount on this kind of product. But if you do not mind the costs, by all means, treat yourself to a healthy digestive tract system.
VSL #3 requires refrigeration which makes it unsuitable for frequent travelers. Also, this contains a trace amount of dairy, so if you are lactose intolerant, this could be more harmful than helpful in the long run.
There are some recorded side effects of the VSL #3 which vary from individual to individual. The most common being bloating and gas which were only felt at the start of intake. There were also reports of a mild abdominal discomfort as the body and the GI tract adjust to the new microflora balance.
Some other side effects are sensitivity to light, eye discomfort, chest pain, and skin irritations. These are possible but do not always occur.
VSL #3’s trademark description is “The Living Shield,” and it could not be more fitting. It amazingly shields the stomach from bad bacteria and effectively does wonders for most gastrointestinal diseases. Being marketed as medical food, this supplement meets the high standards and has undergone rigorous studies and research that assure you that VSL products are safe and efficient.
This is expensive but should not be a deal breaker as your digestive health is vital to your happiness. You will see and feel progress, and as with most things, probiotics take time to work. Remember that patience is the key. When you do see an improvement, you can reduce your dose and use it as maintenance.
Digestive tract diseases are common among adults, and it would not hurt to start protecting yourself from them at an earlier time. A good dose of at least a billion CFU every day can prevent any future problems and ensure your healthy overall well-being.