General Health & Well-beingHealth & NutritionWomen's Health

The Skinny on Probiotics




The Skinny on Probiotics


The human gut is home to over 100 trillion microorganisms. We have so many microorganisms living in us that only 1 out of 10 cells in our bodies is our own. It stands to reason that the delicate balance of this microscopic flora would have huge effects on our health.

Recent studies have shown promising links between having the right balance of gut flora and being a healthy weight. It is known that diet also has a huge impact on the type of flora inhabiting our intestines. Combining these two facts can be the key to your weight loss.

It seems that a diet high in plant foods has 3 ways it interacts with gut flora:

First, the fiber that’s found only in plant foods is digested by the good flora in your gut. This process releases propionate. You probably don’t care to know all the fancy names, but you should care about what this short chain fatty acid does for you. It has 3 main functions directly related to your weight: it decreases cholesterol; slows your digestion by making you feel fuller longer; and inhibits the formation of new fat cells.

The digestion of fiber from your plant intake also forms a second short chain fatty acid called butyrate. Butyrate inhibits the growth of cancer cells in your colon and has amazing anti-inflammatory properties.

The third way plant foods work with your gut flora to curb obesity is by feeding good bacteria and starving the bad.

In a study of the flora in thin people versus obese people, it was found that skinny people have a higher amount of bacteroidetes in their colon and obese people have a higher amount of firmicutes. It is known that polyphenols found in fruits, green tea, and vinegar promote the growth of bacteroidetes and suppress firmicutes.

Wow, that was a mouthful! To put it in plain English, plant food grows gut flora that makes you thinner while hindering the growth of gut flora that makes you fat. Sorry for all the big words, but some of you, I know, will want to check my sources. I have two links below that give more in-depth explanations and cite the pertinent research.

One of the easiest ways to help sustain this bacteria in your gut is with a probiotic. A probiotic is a supplement that provides healthy live bacteria to support your digestive system.


So, the question is: should I take probiotics or not?

Most people will benefit from taking a probiotic, but equally important is to front-load your diet with a lot of plant-based nutrition.

I have also long told my clients that not all probiotics work the same for everyone. Just like bioindividuality when it comes to food, the same logic applies to the kind of probiotics you should take.

Lactobacilis acidophilus is better after taking antibiotics and for preventing bladder infections in women. Lactobacillus plantaris is great for its anti-inflammatory properties and is best for people with inflammatory bowel conditions like Crohn’s. And in the same way that your body becomes resistant to strains of antibiotics, the same can happen with probiotics, so rotating different strains of probiotics is necessary.

If you have been following me long enough, you know how I feel about seasonally cleansing your body and resetting your digestive system. The fiber and polyphenols in your fruits and veggies will work with the probiotics and your morning elixir (a lemon water recipe) to do all the wonderful things that new research is showing to be true.  The Lemon Water Elixir stimulates digestion, releases toxins from the liver, jumpstarts your digestive enzymes, and is loaded with vitamin C.


To make Lemon Water Elixir, mix:

1 cup room temperature water

Juice from 1 lemon

1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon raw honey OR a couple drops of stevia (optional)

Dash sea salt

Dash cayenne pepper
Nothing can replace eating a healthy diet loaded with a rainbow of fresh, clean plant food, but when things don’t feel right, a good round of probiotics just might do the trick – and help shed a few kilos, too!

In Egypt, you can find probiotics here ( and here (

You want at least 5 billion live cultures and two different strains of bacteria in your supplement.

Sources: part 1 of three (follow the links to get to the research)

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Dana Dinnawi

Dana Dinnawi is an Integrative Nutrition health coach specializing in empowering women to improve their health and family life. She received her training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she studied more than one hundred dietary theories and a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. She can be reached through her website and Facebook page.

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