Saturday, January 14, 2017

Here’s What Happened When I Took Probiotics For 30 Days

Probiotic supplements claim to improve digestive and immune health, but how can you know if they really do what they say? I decided to do a 30-day probiotic experiment to test out these claims.

The facts about probiotics

Your gut contains more than 100 trillion live bacteria, known as probiotics. Although bacteria are generally regarded as a bad thing, probiotics are considered “good bacteria” and are essential for a healthy digestive tract and immune system function. The body does a good job of maintaining its own probiotic levels, but certain things like an unhealthy diet, undue stress or a harsh round of antibiotics, can cause imbalances or disturbances in your natural “good bacteria”. That’s where probiotic supplements come into play. In one small capsule, you can reintroduce billions of live cultures with diverse strains to your gut.

My 30-day test

Although I eat a pretty healthy diet and exercise regularly, I decided to take a probiotic for 30 days to see what all the hype was about. Specifically, I paid very close attention to changes in my digestive tract or immune system. Although I had seen the research on the benefits of probiotics, I was pretty skeptical about taking any type of supplement (since they are not regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA)). Yet, I did my homework and found that there was little to no downside to taking a probiotic. Before we dive in, I want to note that my experience is completely anecdotal and may not be the same for everyone. 

My digestive health

A recent survey conducted by Renew Life probiotics found that two in three women are not willing to talk about their digestive issues. Given that we all experience digestion on a daily basis, I thought it was important to open up the lines of communication about this taboo topic. As a healthy adult with a good diet, I didn’t have many digestive issues before starting a probiotic regimen. However, I do occasionally experience an upset stomach and heartburn after eating too much heavy or greasy food, like pizza. During my 30-day trial, I continued to stay regular without many digestive issues. Nevertheless, I still encountered an uncomfortable belly after indulging in too much pizza. It’s a common misconception that you can undo an unhealthy diet with supplements, but probiotics only provide health benefits when they supplement a healthy diet.

My immune health

I’m the type of person who gets a cold every time the seasons change or if I’m around a sick person. If I’m preparing for something really important—like a marathon—I take mega-doses of Vitamin C to ward off sickness. With 70% of the natural immune system found in the digestive tract, new research suggests that a probiotic may be more beneficial to the immune system than any vitamin. During my 30-day trial, the seasons changed from fall to winter, and I was around a sick baby at the holidays. I didn’t take any other supplements but the probiotics and miraculously, I didn’t catch a cold. I consider that an immune system success!

Will I recommend probiotics?

I had a great experience while taking probiotics, and I will definitely recommend that my clients add them into their daily routine. But for those who don’t want to pop a pill everyday, probiotic-rich foods, like kimchi, sauerkraut and kefir, can be added to the diet to provide the same benefits. The gut deserves just as much love as the rest of your body, so feed it accordingly.

Natalie Rizzo, M.S., R.D., is a media dietitian, food and nutrition writer, spokesperson and blogger at Nutrition à la Natalie.



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Guest Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Salad

Inline_Buffalo Chicken Salad Landscape 1As ‘Real Food Dietitians’ and long-time readers and fans of Mark’s Daily Apple, we’re beyond excited for this incredible opportunity to share our simple and out-of-this-world Buffalo Chicken Salad recipe with you (a big thanks to Mark & team!). This recipe is Primal and Whole30-friendly and made with the NEW PRIMAL KITCHEN™ Ranch. You can’t go wrong with the irresistible combination of buffalo chicken and ranch dressing.

Our Buffalo Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps are far from hard or boring. This recipe was inspired by our popular Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken and created using Primal Kitchen Ranch and the Primal Kitchen Mayo made with heart-healthy avocado oil—the healthiest and cleanest ranch dressing and mayo on the market. Without hesitation, we give both the PRIMAL KITCHEN™ Ranch and PRIMAL KITCHEN™ Mayo our Real Food Dietitian stamp of approval!

This is a super simple and delicious make-ahead recipe, perfect for using up leftover chicken. You can now say ‘no thanks’ to eating a boring leftover chicken breast—phew! We’re huge fans of simple, make-ahead recipes, and these Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps definitely fit the bill. Again, less time in the kitchen means more time doing what you love. Feel free to whip up a batch, store it in an airtight container in the fridge, and enjoy as a tasty Whole30-friendly lunch served in a crisp lettuce leaf or on top of a bed of greens for the next 3-4 days. Yum!

Buffalo Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

Total Time: 10 min

Servings: 4-6 

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp Franks Original Red Hot Sauce
  • 3 Tbsp PRIMAL KITCHEN™ Mayo
  • 3 Tbsp PRIMAL KITCHEN™ Ranch Dressing
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 2 ¼ cups cooked chicken, cubed (about 1 pound uncooked)
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced
  • ½ cup carrots, shredded or diced
  • 3 diced green onion, chopped
  • Butter lettuce or green leaf lettuce leaves for wrapping or mixed greens for serving

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl mix together the hot sauce, mayo, ranch and garlic powder.
  2. Next, add the cooked chicken, celery, and red onion and mix until well combined.
  3. Serve in a lettuce wraps or on a bed of greens and top with carrots and green onion. Dash with additional hot sauce for a little more kick.

This recipe is:

  • Grain-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Dairy-free
  • Soy-free
  • Whole30

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Speaking of make ahead recipes, our best tip for thriving on and sustaining a real food diet without food boredom or countless hours in the kitchen is to have a plan and prep ahead. Whether that means spending a few hours on a Sunday, jamming out to your favorite tunes while planning and preparing meals for the week ahead or spending a little time each night, we know that this will make your life easier, healthier and more delicious.

We both like the weekend meal prep concept where we each spend a few hours on a Sunday prepping foods. Yes, this does take a good chunk of time out of our day but it’s worth it, we promise. It results in a fridge full of nourishing and delicious foods that are ready-to-eat for the days to come. Jessica preps meals for her family of 4, while Stacie preps meals for her and her husband – the only difference is the amount of food that’s prepared.

Here are the 5 steps we take to complete a weekend meal prep:

Take inventory of what you have on hand. This will help to reduce food waste and keep food cost in check.

Create a plan for the week. We share 2 NEW recipes on our blog each week so be sure to head over there for some delicious recipe inspo. We even have a section of 10 ingredient or less recipes to keep things real simple.

Make a grocery list of items you need and then get your shoppin’ on. We like to do our grocery shopping on Friday or Saturday with our first stop being the Farmer’s Market depending on the time of year. There you will find the best quality produce and meats, and it’s always great to support your local farmers and growers whenever you can.

Unload and put away groceries. Wash produce and complete as much chopping and prepping as you have time for – this will make for a quicker meal prep.

It’s time to prep! Start with a clean kitchen, making sure you have several containers cleaned and ready to be filled. Feeling overwhelmed? Keep it simple. Start with just 5 items. You can always add more to the list next week once you’re in the groove – and a mid-week mini-prep on Wednesday or Thursday evening can go a long way toward making things easier as you slide into the weekend.

We hope you found these meal prep tips to be helpful and easy to apply to your Primal lifestyle. We can’t wait for you to try our Buffalo Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps. If you like this recipe and these tips, be sure to check out our blog for more ‘good stuff,’ and come hang out with us on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest!

Yours in health,
Jessica & Stacie
The Real Food RDs

Jessica Beacom and Stacie Hassing are the Registered Dietitian Nutritionists behind The Real Food Dietitians website and blog. They create gluten-free and Paleo-friendly recipes that are designed to be big on taste and short on ingredients, so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time doing what you love. You can find more recipes as well as nutrition, health and meal planning tips on their blog at The Real Food Dietitians.

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Clean Eating Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore Recipe

Clean Eating Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore Recipe

I recently spent several weeks prepping my house so I could show it and sell it. It was an ordeal because half my cooking tools/gadgets were packed and my kitchen always needed to be in perfect,… Read more →



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