August 15, 2017
There are a lot of food labels that have been used by companies over the decades. Some informative, some deceptive. Some terms are regulated, while some are not. Other companies use trending labels for a product that has little to do with nutrition. For example, candy that say 'non-fat' or a sugary cereal that says 'whole grain'.
Learning what a label means is important, but also knowing how they apply to the specific ingredients in the product. For example, there are many companies that have hopped on the Organic trend. However, being organic doesn't make the product healthy. Organic sugar is still sugar - so bad ingredients are still bad regardless if they are organic or not.
PROBIOTICS - WHAT ARE THEY?
Probiotics are essentially microbes, a beneficial microflora found in your digestive system. From nutrient absorption to immunity, many chronic conditions can be traced to an imbalance of the bacteria in your gut. Probiotics can be naturally found in "live" foods - such as Yogurt, Kefir, Kombucha and Sauerkraut.
STILL, READ THE LABEL
Even if the product contains probiotics, beware if they go out of their way to say 'live and active cultures' as this may be similar to the 'whole grain' trick. But worse, many products that claim to be probiotic are not healthy. Why? They are heavily sweetened. This is particularly the case with Yogurt and Kefir. If you are looking for foods with active cultures, make sure you understand the label and look for added sugars. Remember the total recommended added sugars for a woman is 25 grams, and 36 grams for a man PER DAY.
Another option is probiotic supplements. There are many different types, and a good supplement will always have an expiration date and list all the bacteria types. Often the dosing in a quality supplement, as well as the variety of bacteria is higher than a typical yogurt and you skip the sugar.
ADDRESSING HEALTH ISSUES
There are many imbalances that can be corrected by bringing your gut biome back into balance. Asthma, acne, immune system problems, mood, lack of energy,brain function - there are a lot of symptoms which can be traced to an unbalanced gut. A balanced gut may not be the ultimate source of a particular issue - but you'll still be better off by having one, and you can rule it out if conditions persist.
Over prescribing antibiotics has become a problem which is leading to the creation of super bugs which are resistant to these drugs. But from time to time, we may need to use antibiotics to overcome a bad case of sickness. Many experts recommend getting the gut back into balance afterwards as soon as possible, and usually a more intense probiotic dosing is required.
Prebiotics are also helpful if you need to fast track your gut to health, as these are foods that probiotic bacteria like. Onions, garlic and not too ripe bananas are good examples.
IS PU-ERH TEA PROBIOTIC?
Technically - no. While Pu-erh undergoes fermentation during it's aging or ripening phase, and there are beneficial bacteria present, the heat of the boiling water would destroy any active microbes. Pu-erh tea has unique properties because of fermentation, which includes digestion, but it is not something that will seed your gut with probiotics.
SO WITH THAT, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PROBIOTIC TEA?
We would consider Kombucha a form of probiotic tea. There are many articles that show you how to make it. You can use quality loose tea and add a little flavor or sweetness with natural fruit or juices. Kombucha is a live product that contains active cultures.
But, you might be asking - is there a probiotic tea in a dry form (loose leaf or bagged)? Up until recently the answer would have been no. However there is a product called BC30, which is a new type of additive manufacturers can add to food to make them probiotic. This can be added to anything - baking mixes, pizza dough, and yes - tea. Bigelow and Replublic of Tea are companies with a line of probiotic tea containing BC30. BC30 adds strains of bacteria, and claims that their unique process allows the bacteria to survive baking and boiling. However, we remain skeptical. A recent report in the Wall Street Journal mentions there are few studies on the spore forming varieties found in many foods with BC30.
But one thing is for certain - food makers are embracing it because its an easy way to boost profits. Other beverage companies are using flavored water with a special cap that allows drinkers to push in powdered probiotics. Regardless if your are drinking tea or water, your per serving cost will be much higher if you simply drank regular water and took a supplement.
SKIP THE BAGGED PROBIOTIC TEA AND PROCESSED FOOD
Honestly, there are so many better and cheaper ways to get probiotics than pay extra for a limited variety of tea that contains BC30. And it makes no sense to get a probiotic muffin mix when it has lots of sugar and refined flour.
SUGAR, THE ANTI-NUTRIENT AND BAD BACTERIA FERTILIZER
Sugar is fuel for bad bacteria. Think of your gut like a lawn. If you fertilize the lawn properly, the grass will grow green and thick. If you do not, weeds will compete with the grass and start taking over. Prebiotics and low sugar foods are considered ideal fertilizer for probiotic bacteria. Reducing added sugars and even natural sugars if you are trying to get your gut into balance will deny bad bacteria of food.
IMPROVE DIGESTION WITH TEA
Often people who have a gut imbalance will have poor digestion. Pu-erh tea is one such tea which has been shown to improve digestion. There are also Cleanse teas, which incorporate herbs like senna that help with elimination. It is important though, that if you take any tea that promotes weight loss - to understand that senna is not supposed to be used indefinitely. But herbal teas for cleansing and detox, if purchased form a reputable vendor (NEVER EVER buy from Instagram or Facebook marketing companies) and dosed properly can help with getting things moving, and along with Pu-erh tea - which will pave the way to complete digestive restoration.
STAY NATURAL AND DEVELOP A PLAN
Most health problems are life style problems - giving your diet a checkup and making modifications periodically is ideal. There is no one size fits all solution, but learning and understanding and not relying purely on labels is the better way to go.