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Almost Done with the Whole30(60)!

26 Mar

So we are almost done with our challenge now, and I haven’t heard from too many of you lately.

How are things going?!

What has been the biggest challenge for you to date?  Have you figured out any good ways to get past this challenge?

What has been your biggest insight so far?

For myself, my first time through the Whole30 it was that I wasn’t as “tolerant” of dairy as I thought I was.  I generally stay away from the stuff, but sometimes like a little feta mixed into salads for saltiness and texture.  

Any new favorite foods?

After trying the Whole30, I discovered that I actually really liked zucchini and beets.

Any big Whole30-approved attempts for Passover or Easter?

If only there was an easy way to make gluten-free Matzo right?

What have you been cooking?

Here are my latest attempts in the kitchen:

Spaghettin Squash Bolognese

Spaghettin Squash Bolognese

New York Strip and Carmelized Mushrooms with Braised Greens and Pureed Yams

New York Strip and Carmelized Mushrooms with Braised Greens and Pureed Yams

We’d love to hear from all of you as we wind down to the end of the challenge.  And stay tuned for a post this weekend on how to navigate the post-Whole30 landscape and get back to the “real world”.

Hint: it doesn’t involve adding back in MOST of those foods

This food stuff is great!

19 Feb

We had a nice turnout on Sunday at the Mountain View Farmer’s Market (and apparently a couple near misses – sorry to those we didn’t get to chat with).  Kendra and I were there handing out recipes and answering questions, as well as getting awesome insights from other challengers.  While the morning started out kind of cold and foggy, we were blessed with nice sunny morning to walk around and pick up delicious produce other well-sourced foods.  For those that were present, what did you pick up?  Any new and exciting ingredients that you are looking forward to trying?  If so, please share those in the comments!  I bought two new foods that I am very excited to try – ground goat meat and yucca – stay tuned for pictures and recipe for how I prepared these.

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Additionally, we have had some great looking food pictures from clients near and far (we have a couple correspondent challengers from at least as far as Chicago!)  Without further delay, here are those great photos.  Hopefully they will get you thinking about other foods and combinations you can try.

How are we doing otherwise, everybody?  We are now a full 2 weeks into the challenge.  What has been the hardest part/easiest part?  Any foods you thought you “didn’t like” that you now can’t get enough of?  Any new favorite cooking methods?  Are we remembering to spice our dishes so that they are exciting and tasty?

Please add your thoughts and reflections to the comments below.

Clearing up a few questions regarding the Whole30 (60) Challenge

7 Feb

We’ve had great participation from many of you on the challenge so far; as well as some awesome success!

  • 4 pounds lost in the first 3 days
  • 7 pounds lost in the first 2 days
  • More awareness about food choices
  • Being more vigilant about reading food labels

There has also been some really good conversations that have led to questions that might help all of you:

Can I cook with wine, beer, etc?

When you cook with alcohol, the ethanol (what makes it boozy, and what we are avoiding) is burned off, so not present anymore.  With that said, beer and most spirits DO contain grains, so they should still be excluded.  For flavor, it is OK to cook with wine and grain-free spirits (tequila)

What if I don’t want to eat eggs every day for breakfast?

Eggs are a great option for breakfast – they are packed with protein, are quick, can be cooked in a number of different ways, and lend themselves to a vast number of different flavors.  With that said, though, they do not HAVE to be your food of choice for breakfast.  I often find myself eating leftover chili for breakfast, or sausages that I have grilled up the night before.  In essences, it is important to get away from the constructs of what “breakfast foods” should be.  They can be anything!  Play around with how you season your foods, and you might just find that your ideal breakfast is actually seared chicken thighs rubbed with cinnamon and coriander along with sauerkraut and avocado.

Maybe a little Salmon Hash instead of eggs for breakfast?

Maybe a little Salmon Hash instead of eggs for breakfast?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m really hungry.  Why isn’t this working?  You said I would be full.

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Often times when eliminating grains and legumes from our plates, we forget to refill that space with more vegetables, and possibly larger portions of protein.  Make sure that you are getting in AT LEAST 2 different vegetables at each meal (even breakfast).  What I always say is, “set your protein, and then FILL your plate with vegetables.”  This will add satisfying protein and fat to your meal, and physical bulk in the form of fibrous veggies to keep you full.

Why is my thirst “off”?

Since we have eliminated ALL processed foods, your sodium intake has probably dropped immensely.  Because of this, you might not be as thirsty as you were previously (salt craves water in the body).  What you CAN do, is salt your foods a little bit, as you’ll need a little anyways.  You are also taking in more vegetation, which also has a good amount of water inherently in its composition, possibly keeping your thirst down.  

You might also be MORE thirsty.  As the grains and starches have been removed from our plates, our bodies will naturally release water (partly responsible for the great early weight loss).  This will make us more thirsty as we try to recreate that internal hydration status that we have become accustomed to.

Keep the questions coming, and keep hammering those tasty Whole30 meals!  The pictures have been looking great, as well as all of the enthusiasm.  Please let us know if you have any questions along the journey.

Introducing the Whole 30 (and 60) Day Challenges

31 Jan

There has been some chatter in the gym recently about a new version of the Whole30, and the cryptic post on our facebook page last week.  I am here to tell you that it is indeed upon us!  WE WILL BE STARTING MONDAY FEBRUARY 4TH.  This challenge will be more involved, as well as more life-changing than the last couple challenges that we have run.  Additionally, this one will be a true challenge, with winners awarded prizes at the 4 and 8 week marks!

As you can tell from the title, it will not only consist of a 30 day challenge, but also a 60 day challenge (4 weeks and 8 weeks).  Why are we adding a second 4 weeks you ask?  At FIT we preach not only healthy eating and lifestyle changes, but also making those changes sustainable and long-term.  This is your chance to take our encouragement and put it into practice.

While the general template for the eating strategy will follow the Whole30 of challenges past, this time around the goal is to see not just who can make the most improvements to their health, but also who can get the most aesthetic and physique change.  We are challenging all of you to commit to 2 months of clean eating, smart exercise, and healthy lifestyle changes and see who comes out on the other side looking better.

And now for the rules:

Eliminate the following foods:

Grains and grain like foods (including quinoa, couscous, etc)

Legumes (including soy and peanuts – shell beans like snap peas and green beans are ok)

Sugar and artificial sweeteners (Fruit juice is an acceptable sweetener, but nothing else)

Dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese, butter [ghee is ok])

Alcohol

 

What we are asking from all of you:

Pre, 4-week, and post-challenge progress photos.

These pictures should be taken in as LITTLE CLOTHING AS YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE.  This is important.  How else will you tell if you have made progress?

This is what I’m talking about

Take the picture without your head, so that we can judge them impartially

The pictures should be submitted to “challenge@focusedtrainers.com”.  The pictures will stay private and be used to judge the winners.

Contribute weekly to the FIT facebook page and/or blog at: blog.focusedtrainers.com

This can be in the form of pictures, recipes, reflections about how the challenge is going for you, or just simply questions.  Tracey and I will do our best to answer all questions the day they are asked.

You can also email your contributions to your trainer, and he or she can get it up on the blog for you.

The goal here is to get as much interaction between all of YOU so that you all get the most out of the challenge.

While you have to enter a name and email address to comment on the blog, the email address will not be public, and the name can simply be a first name (or middle name?) if you are concerned about posting anonymously.

Attend in-person meetings/meals throughout the challenge

We will be hosting events in and out of the gym with sample food throughout the 8 weeks.  This will be an opportunity for all of you to share – in person – recipes, trials and successes, as well as ask us questions directly and see how WE eat with recipes to try.

These meetings will be occurring every OTHER week, sometime during the weeks of:

2/11, 2/25, 3/11, and 3/25

We will be announcing the exact date, location, and format, at least a week in advance so people have time to add it into their schedules.

Submit $30 to the front desk at FIT

This small fee will be used to reward the winners.  We have set up a line item so we can bill you directly for it, or you can bring in cash or check for us.  Prizes will be announced once we know how many challengers we have.

 

OK I think I hit all of the major bullets.  Again, we are starting this coming Monday, February 4th, so get all of your off-limits foods out of the way while rooting for the 49ers.  We are excited to have you join us for this exciting new nutrition challenge.  As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask – either here on the blog, or directly to me at “matt@focusedtrainers.com”

 

Good luck to all of you!  I’m looking forward to hearing about all of your great progress!

Egg Yolk Consumption: Article Review

3 Sep

Spending several years in a medical setting, I have become acquainted with reading research studies and identifying the conclusions and ramifications – even if they are not completely the same as those published by the authors in the paper.  There has been a study discussed in the news recently that has piqued just this interest in me – perhaps you have heard of it: “Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque.”

In this study, published in the journal Atherosclerosis, Spence and his colleagues wanted to examine the link between egg yolk consumption and atherosclerosis.  The authors point out that this has, for some time, been a controversial issue, with previous studies falling on both sides of the debate – some state that eating egg yolks raises serum cholesterol while other studies saw no change.  In an effort to identify whether or not eggs are, in fact, deleterious to cardiovascular health, Spence, Jenkins, and Davignon decided to look at a different marker in examining risk for cardiovascular disease: total plaque area.

That’s a lot of science to start out this article, so I’ll back track a little bit.  While we might debate its validity, cholesterol is still a leading indicator for risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.  Generally speaking, cholesterol values can be broken down into high-density lipoprotein (HDL – “good” cholesterol) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL – “bad” cholesterol).  As LDL increases as a proportion of total cholesterol (or often times as a ratio compared to HDL and/or triglycerides), the risk for disease increases.  Because the effects of egg yolk consumption on cholesterol have been equivocal up to this point, the authors must have wanted to use a different variable, hence measuring total plaque area.  

So why did this study get me worked up?  Firstly, it was the inflammatory headline that ran on CNN: “Egg yolks as fatal as cigarettes”.  Secondly, when I sat down to read the study, the authors made some pretty broad generalizations and gross over simplifications.  To start with, in order to identify egg yolk consumption over time, the authors culled information from “lifestyle questionnaires” from patients “at the time of referral” to a vascular prevention clinic after transient ischemic attacks or strokes.  Simply put, the authors asked patients how many eggs they had eaten through their lives on a questionnaire.  These were patients who had already had an transient ischemic attack or stroke (A transient ischemic attack – or TIA – is when blood flow to a part of the brain stops for a brief period of time. A person will have stroke-like symptoms for up to 24 hours, but in most cases for 1 – 2 hours.  A TIA is felt to be a warning sign that a true stroke may happen in the future if something is not done to prevent it.).  Inferring anything about lifestyle or dietary habits of healthy individuals based on the presentation of sick individuals is extremely confounding and usually not very accurate because of physiological changes brought on by the disease process.

The other problem with how Spence and his colleagues collected the data was with their dietary recall.  The average age of the subjects in the study was 62; how was someone expected to remember how many eggs they had eaten throughout their life, let alone even what they ate last week?  As fitness professionals, we are intimately tuned into our nutrition, but I for one, can’t even recall what (let alone how much) I ate last month.  Additionally, egg consumption was the only dietary variable that the authors examined.  I would highly doubt that most people eat eggs in isolation of other foods, and for that matter, wouldn’t these other foods possibly contribute to – OR – take away from accumulation of plaque in the arteries?

OK so those are the fatal flaws of the study on it’s surface.  What next?  The authors wanted to relate any atherosclerosis brought on by egg consumption to previously known plaque producers.  So what did they do?  They compared eating eggs to cigarette smoking!  How are these two habits AT ALL comparable?  One habit is a known carcinogen, destroyer of lung tissue, and HIGHLY addictive.  The other, however, is a complete food uniquely designed to sustain life.  Can you tell which one is which?

If you’re still keeping up, the authors showed that increasing egg consumption ran almost parallel to cigarette smoking with regard to accumulation of arterial plaque, with both showing a direct exponential relationship as consumption (or smoking frequency) increased.  WOW!  So maybe eggs are pretty bad for you huh?  The general consensus that we, as a staff, drew from this study was that it really only relates to those already at risk for coronary heart disease and/or strokes.  We make recommendations to clients with respect to their nutrition and eating habits for improving their health and fitness.  We do need to keep this study in mind when making those recommendations, but for the vast majority of our clients who have not experienced a cardiac episode or stroke, or are at risk for them, this study is not all that relevant.

What does this mean for all of you?  Keep eating those eggs!  Eggs contain a multitude of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients that are hard to come by from other foods (choline anyone?).  Additionally, they are a great source of easily digestible protein needed for recovery from workouts and keeping the body health.  While eggs do contain cholesterol (about 200mg per egg) your body NEEDS cholesterol to function properly.  Everybody needs cholesterol to maintain a healthy balance of all number of hormones, including the sex hormones, which many researchers believe are important for maintaining vitality.  Do, however, make sure that these eggs are part of a healthy meal full of ripe brightly colored fruits and vegetables.  And be sure to peruse the archives of the blog, as there are several great tasty egg recipes throughout.

If this got you all worked up over egg consumption, check the following rebuttals to learn more about it from very well informed scientists, researchers and nutrition consultants:

Mark’s Daily Apple

Zoe Harcombe

Outside Magazine

Chris Masterjohn (Weston A Price)

Score one for the Paleo Diet

6 Mar

Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet May Help Some Children With Autism, Research Suggests

Research recently out of Penn State University provides more support for some of the therapeutic effects of a Paleo Diet – exclusion of gluten and casein (wheat and dairy protein, respectively).

It seems that exclusion of gluten and casein may be beneficial for individuals on the Autism Spectrum.  The authors also noted that there might NOT be outward symptoms of allergies or food intolerances, but that the negative interactions from these foods still exists.

 

And some general information from WebMD about gluten/casein-free diets for ASD

WHOLE 30 vers 2.0 (10/1 – 10/30)

24 Sep

 

 

 

 

 

 

VERSUS

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just in time for your Halloween prep, we are launching another Whole 30 challenge!  This updated version will have many more recipes for you all to try, as well helpful daily feedback through this blog.  Come back daily for new food and information to help you along during your challenge.

Details

Challenge will run from October 1 – October 30, 2011

This challenge is designed to spur us on in our quest toward optimal health. Nutrition is the most significant component in attaining health and fitness goals. A nutrition strategy based on consuming whole foods with minimal processing – primarily vegetables, meat, fruit, nuts and seeds – will move you many steps forward in the direction of long term health and life long vitality.

Beginning October 1st, and continuing for the ensuing 29 days, we challenge you to eat only high quality, nutrient dense foods and to eliminate the following from your diet:

grains
legumes
dairy
sugar
alcohol
caffeine

Post all questions, concerns, suggestions, or ideas directly to this blog.

Informal weekly meetings (Wednesdays at 7pm) at FIT will be held to discuss various food preparation question or other related concerns.  Food items will be provided to give you an idea of different meal options.  Each meeting will last roughly 45 minutes and any Whole 30 related question is on the table.

10/5: Breakfast

10/12: Snacks

10/19: Post-workout Snacks

10/26: Dinner

 
Most often when presented with the “what not to eat” list, we receive a resounding, “What can I eat?” Here is a brief list of some of the nutrient dense foods that will make up your diet.

green vegetables- are filling and loaded with nutrients
quality animal proteins – pastured eggs, chicken, pork; grassfed beef; sustainably caught seafood
fruit – no more than 2 servings/day, ideally berries
nuts and seeds – again, only a few servings/day. 1 serving is typically the amount that fit in the cupped palm of your hand
avocado and olives make excellent snacks
coconut milk
jerky made without sweeteners

If you have any questions about the challenge, or would like to join, please post a comment on this post, or contact Matt directly at matt@focusedtrainers.com

Thank you for all of your participation, and good luck!

What Do You Value

20 Jun

I was listening to a discussion between two strength coaches the other day talking about the excuses they hear from people regarding exercise and nutrition, and it got me thinking.

What are your priorities in life and where do exercise and nutrition fit in all that?

One of the most often used excuses is, “I don’t have time”.  But this raises an interesting counter-question in my mind: don’t have time for what?  Everyone is dealt the same 24 hours in the day, and it is really a matter of how your prioritize those hours.  Some will tell you that family comes first, or that work must be a priority, and those things are ok.

But everyone also has to eat.  Why not make those meals good ones?  Food has taken on almost mythical properties in our culture, purported to assist in any and all that ails you: Ice cream heals a broken heart, wings and beer make watching the game more fun, vegetables cure cancer, rice and sprite calm an upset stomach, chocolates and oysters help to set the mood.  I think you get my point.

In reality though, food’s primary role is to fuel your body and mind from day to day.  That is not to say that there aren’t better (and worse options).  My approach to food has always been to eat foods that are either of the earth or on the earth, and as close to their natural state as possible.  Examples you ask…

Vegetables, fruits, tubers are all OF the earth.  Animals, of course, are ON the earth.

The question I used to get from the high schoolers I worked with was about the natural-state clause: Grilled chicken thighs with the skin on are much closer to nature than those deep-fried and breaded wings you just gobbled down.

So what foods are the better ones?  In a recent nutrition seminar I attended, I heard the most succinct qualifier for which foods one should eat – those that move you closer to optimal health.  While there are health claims made about almost any food under the sun (twinkie diet anyone?) there are obviously more nutritious and healthful foods out there; there are foods that while superficially benign, are actually responsible for all sorts of negative consequences under the surface.

Shouldn’t we all be trying to provide our bodies (and brains) with the best foods we can?  Maybe that means forgoing the pizza because it’s quick, and instead spending the extra time to grill the steaks and veggies you have sitting in the fridge?  It might take a little bit of planning on the front end, but the benefits will be much more long-lasting (UC-Berkeley journalism professor and food writer, Michael Pollan, has spoken at length about the hidden costs – medical, environmental, etc. – of quick processed foods, and that spending more time and money preparing healthy foods will actually be cheaper in the long run).


So I bring you back to the earlier question: where do you place your priorities?  I know for myself, a good meal is only a great meal if it actually makes me healthier for eating it.

Gall Stones = Celiac Disease?

9 May

A few weeks ago, around four o’clock I received a phone call from my lovely girl friend stating she had mid-back pain since 11 o’clock.  She said that the pain had not minimized at all throughout this time and was accompanied by shortness of breath and slight nausea

At first we thought it might have been from some sort of muscle pain caused by a workout or holding something heavy for a long amount of time, but muscle pain would have minimized in five hours and she had not exercised strenuous enough to cause such pain.

After a couple more questions concerning what she had eaten for breakfast, I regretfully suggested that she might have gallstones.  She had no idea what those were or what might have caused them. Long story short and an ultrasound later, she was positive for gallstones.

The occurrence of gallstones has bewildered scientists for some time, and many within the scientific community believe that it involves an inherited mis-management of cholesterol by the liver.  For example, according to the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center’s informational brochure on gallstones, “when there is too much cholesterol in the bile, it forms crystals which gradually enlarge to form stones. The amount of cholesterol in bile has no relation to the blood level of cholesterol.”

However, this explanation does not get to the root of the matter of what actually causes the gallstones to appear in the first place.  We eat cholesterol in food, such as seafood.  We manufacture cholesterol naturally in our liver.  So, why would it suddenly create gallstones?

 There is a theory in the world of science that gallstones are created in individuals that have undiagnosed celiac disease.  Celiac disease is defined as an autoimmune disease caused by gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and millet.  Grains contain a variety of proteins, some called lectins.  According to this theory, over time these lectins damage the villi on the wall of the small intestine.  When the intestinal wall is damaged, the chemical messenger that tells the gall bladder to release bile into the small intestine, called cholecystokinin (CCK), is not released.  When this signal is blocked, we do not properly digest our foods, particularly fat and protein. The lack of bile released allows cholesterol crystals to form in the gall bladder, which leads to gall stones.

Usually individuals with gallstones have their gall bladder removed and they may return to their old way of eating, which in this country consists of a high-carbohydrate, grain-based diet.  However, if the gluten-allergy-gallstone hypothesis is true, the sensitivity to gluten does not end even when the gallbladder is removed. Celiac patients still have sensitivity to gluten.  Just because there is less bile available to create the gallstones, reminding an individual of this sensitivity during a painful gallstone attack, the autoimmune disorder still requires nutritional caution.  Additionally, these people are at greater risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjögren’s, multiple sclerosis, vitiligo, Huntington’s, etc., which would require a gluten-free and/or lectin free diet, i.e. removing all grains, legumes and dairy.

Therefore, if the gallstone-celiac disease theory is correct, gall bladder removal may be viewed as a partial remedy to the problem.  Individuals may want to consult with their physician concerning a celiac test to determine if he/she may be diagnosed with a gluten-allergy.

 Personal Note

On a final note, this will be my last newsletter article for a while, due to time constraints in pursuing new challenges in the Wellness coaching world.  I have appreciated all of the dialogue and feedback over the last 8.5 years.

Probiotics and Their Uses

9 Mar

Probiotics are a group of live microorganisms and yeasts that may beneficially affect the body by improving the balance of microflora (i.e. bacteria that are naturally occurring in the small and large intestine, mouth and vagina). The scope of this article will focus on the benefits of probiotics for a healthy and balanced digestive system.

Thus far, scientists suggest that a healthy human digestive tract contains about fourteen various genus of microorganisms, making a grand total of approximately 400 types of bacteria that reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and promote a healthy digestive system. The largest group of probiotic bacteria in the intestine is lactic acid bacteria, of which Lactobacillus acidophilus (found in yogurt) is the best known. However, there are other species of Lactobacillus that have also been shown to be beneficial, such as L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus, L. casei and L. bulgaricus.

The Function of Microbes in the GI Tract
The gastrointestinal tract of animals represents a complex ecosystem in which a delicate balance exists between the intestinal microflora and the host. The host and microflora live in a synergistic environment – the host providing a comfortable environment for the microbes to survive while the microbes thrive and produce beneficial metabolic byproducts that aid the host’s GI tract and immune system. This synergistic relationship begins to develop while we are babies, starting at delivery and continuing during breastfeeding and receiving kisses from family and friends.

The inhabitation of microbes in a developing GI tract has been hypothesized to not only be important in the neonatal period and during infancy, but also in an individual’s health throughout life. The small intestine is lined with lymph nodes that support our immune system. The byproducts and metabolites of the intestinal microflora developed during infancy are important for maturation of the immune system, the development of normal intestinal form and structure, and to maintain a chronic and immunologically balanced inflammatory response. The microflora reinforce the barrier function of the intestinal lining, helping to prevent the attachment of pathogenic microorganisms and the entry of allergens.

Some members of the microflora may contribute to the body’s requirements for certain vitamins, including biotin, pantothenic acid and vitamin B12.  Alteration of the microbial flora of the intestine, which may occur with the use of antibiotics, disease, and aging, can negatively affect its beneficial role. This is where the potential benefits of supplementing with probiotics may help to balance or re-balance what has been destroyed.

When to Use Probiotics
If you believe that probiotics may be beneficial for your condition, but you do not know what to look for on a product’s label, here is what the current research suggests:

Diarrhea
Among the probiotics, only S. boulardii, Enterococcus faecium and Lactobacillus species have been useful in preventing antibiotic-related diarrhea. S. boulardii appears to be the most superior form of treatment when diarrhea is caused by Clostridium difficile, a bacterium often associated with antibiotic related diarrhea. The results of some early studies suggest that probiotics found in yogurt may help prevent diarrhea caused by antibiotics. However, more studies are needed to confirm that yogurt is effective. To offer benefits, the yogurt must contain active cultures.

Anti-Inflammatory for GI Conditions
Because of a reduced fecal concentration of various probiotics in individuals with active ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, active pouchitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and irritable bowel syndrome, researchers have noted that probiotics may be beneficial for individuals with these conditions. However, thus far, the
results have been inconclusive and more research is needed.

Allergies
Some lactic acid bacteria, including L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus, L. casei and L. bulgaricus, have demonstrated immuno-regulatory effects that may help protect against some allergic disorders. There is some evidence that some of these probiotic strains can reduce the intestinal inflammation associated with some food allergies, including cow’s milk allergies among babies.  Research has shown that breastfed infants given Lactobacillus significantly improved atopic dermatitis or eczema, compared with infants not exposed to this probiotic.

Anti-Carcinogenic
There are in vitro studies, as well as animal and some preliminary human studies suggesting that some probiotics can bind and inactivate some carcinogens, which can directly inhibit the growth of some tumors and inhibit bacteria that may convert pre-carcinogens into carcinogens.  L. acidophilus and L. casei have exhibited the latter activity in human volunteers. There is some preliminary evidence that L. casei may have reduced the recurrence of bladder tumors in human studies, although confirmatory trials are needed.  Animal work has suggested that some lactic-acid bacteria may help protect against colon cancer.  Again, more research is needed.

Summary
The effectiveness of probiotics is dependent upon their ability to survive in the acidic stomach environment and the alkaline conditions in the upper small intestine, as well as their ability to adhere to the intestinal lining and to colonize in the colon.  Some probiotics, such as L. casei, L. rhamnosus, and L. plantarum, are better able to colonize than others.  A major problem is that there are many probiotic products available, and not all of them have been tested for every potential treatment listed above. These products contain various Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains and combinations of probiotics and prebiotics. Additionally, typical doses of probiotics range from one to ten billion colony-forming units (CFU) a few times a week.  Because of the inconclusive data of probiotics, the optimal number of CFU’s for a healthy GI tract is unknown. Trial-and-error may be needed to find the most beneficial dose, but there is very little risk in overdosing.  Usually probiotics are well-tolerated, unless you have a prior condition that may warrant caution.  Discuss the use of probiotics with your physician or healthcare provider.  The animal and in vitro studies continually show there may be more benefits of probiotics to help with the delicate balance of our bodies.