I recently answered a media query for health professionals on the best ways to improve your immune system. I was NOT made aware that I would be put on a supplement website. If you know me, I’m NOT a big fan of MOST supplements. I received no form of remuneration other than my website being posted on their website. Between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 supplements in the US are adulterated. This means they:
- Don’t have what they say they have on the label
- Don’t have any active ingredients they say they have
- Have other active ingredients that can be dangerous. Some sports supplements contain steroids and STRONG stimulants, which can result in a collegiate athlete having a positive drug test and losing eligibility…and/or die from the stimulant and/or get the negatives of steroids.
- Are not guaranteed to have the amount of the ingredient stated on the label
- Could be pure white sand (silicon dioxide) when you thought you were getting creatine or probiotics. That’s some expensive sand that went in one end and out the other!
Supplements are not regulated until someone experiences an adverse effect AND reports it. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer selling you the supplement to ensure quality control. This is completely laughable that this is allowed, but the alternative is using taxpayer money to increase government bloat programs on an elusive market as it is, since these companies come and go fast. Some third parties will certify supplements, including NSF and ConsumerLab. If you think I’m making up these statistics, I invite you to do your own research at ConsumerLab!
The panel of health experts has 85% good advice for promoting immunity, if you would like to check out the quote. Those that I do not agree with include those who recommend probiotics for everyone. As you see, registered dietitians are not in agreement on this. I don’t understand how gut bacteria in a capsule that are supposed to survive in an alkaline environment in the large intestine can make it past the extreme acidic environment of the stomach alive and set up camp lower down the tract where they promote immunity. Unless they’re using special capsule technology, the bacteria in these capsules probably die before they do any good.
The bacteria would also have to compete with existing microorganisms in your colon, which have already set up camp based on your diet, exercise, stress levels, etc. You would have to continually consume these capsules to compete against the bacteria down there that your current diet supports. The bacteria are called the gut flora, gut microbiota, microflora. Did you know there’s a 90% cure rate for irritible bowel syndromes with fecal transplantation? Just get over the ick factor.
I think it is MUCH more important to consume a variety of different types of indigestible carbohydrates, ie fiber, as these are considered “prebiotics,” which is what the bacteria ferment. You would get these from eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (the food components in our diet with fiber). Try to eat various colors and textures of vegetables. I am not in the school of thought that everyone needs to take a probiotic. There may be some cases where it could possibly help, but I think it is secondary to the big picture of consumption of more types of prebiotic fibers, which will select for certain species of bacteria.
The bacteria in the gut have coevolved with us through natural selection. If you supply the appropriate food ingredients, they self-select for the limited real estate in your colon. It’s like living in on an island. Only those who can thrive in the area will be there based on the food present while waging war against other strains of bacteria for space. The bacteria that enjoy a processed food diet that is low in plant fibers will flourish in the guts of those who eat those foods.
The gastrointestinal tract is not just for digestion and absorption. It is an endocrine and immunity organ. It responds to relative energy deficits and surpluses in the body through diet and exercise, which also selects for different types of bacteria. This is a relatively newer area of science that is just now being charted.
For these reasons, I am not a germaphobe. There are many good bacteria that I do not want to get rid of, which can happen through excessive antibiotic use and being overly antiseptic. Don’t get me wrong: I still believe food safety is important for the general public that may have a weak immune system with limited varieties of bacteria present who cannot literally stomach any new invaders that cause foodborne illness. People should throw out spoiled food and not take risks with food that has been left out, cooked to the proper temperature, or reheated to the proper temperature.
Other opinions I really disagree with on the quoted expert panel:
- I don’t believe you have to take glutathione, cysteine, and vitamin C in supplement form three times a day as one of the “experts” recommends. Sounds like he wants to sell some supplements!
- Probiotic supplement pushers. We were just fine without taking these many years ago. You cannot get healthier than a non-disease state by consuming supplements, in most cases.
- We don’t all need to be popping magnesium. Just because it is a component in physiological and biochemical systems does not support the recommendation you need to start supplementing without clear evidence of deficiency in real lab tests. Don’t get me started on real lab tests. That’s another blog post, but in short, there are a lot of sham lab tests out there that support a set agenda. This woman has a conflict of interest that is pretty evident also.
- You cannot “alkalise [sic-British]” your body. The blood pH is strictly maintained between 7.35-7.45 (slightly basic) via bicarbonate excretion of the kidneys and carbon dioxide release in lungs, which reduces the carbonic acid produced from the carbon dioxide produced at the end of glycolysis in the transformation of pyruvate to acetyl-CoA. If your blood isn’t in this range, you likely are in a serious disease state, such as respiratory or kidney failure.
Janice Maras had a good quote. Shout out to her.
If you have any comments feel free to post below.