I have been taking probiotic powder for many years. The new research on gut bacteria recently, and hype around probiotics, makes it imperative for consumers — and those of us with IBS or IBD, — to know why and how we should take the supplements.

Here is an excellent article by Michael Pollen from the NYTimes. (Photo above by Hannah Whitaker for the New York Times. And styled by Emily Mullin.)

I am a big proponent of getting vitamins and minerals from diet, and vitamin D from the sun, but sometimes we may be compromised (like missing the most important segment of small bowel, the terminal ileum, as in my/Dede’s case), and need to supplement. Probiotics are found everywhere in our diet — fermented food is a great source — wheat, coffee, bananas, onions, garlic, honey, and of course, yogurt and kefir.

The grocery stores and markets are rife with disclaimers of “Probiotics! Added to Everything!” So, what do we do? How do we know what is best?

I asked my co-author, Jessica Black, ND, to come up with a simple description I can pass along to our followers and readers…. Here is what she wrote, and I hope it is helpful:

Probiotics are essential to proper GI function. Probiotics help maintain a healthy barrier between what we ingest and what gets through to our blood stream. Probiotics play a large regulatory role in the GI lining immune system, which sets the stage for the immune system balance throughout the rest of the body.

Probiotics restore proper gut ecology – the proper balance of all important microorganisms lining the GI tract.

I also excerpted the section in our book on probiotics, and feel free to send an email to request a PDF of the full article (dede@livingwithcrohnsandcolitisbook.com).

Last, but not least, my brand is called UltraFlora “Synergy” probiotics made by Metagenics (I buy from the naturopath, but here is link: http://www.metadocs.com/products/detail.asp?pid=86

It is a 50-50 blend of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis, a highly viable and pure strain, also dairy-free and gluten-free. It has 15 billion live organisms, and needs to be refrigerated in order to retain its efficacy.

Good luck! Questions or comments welcome, of course.