Digestive issues– who wants to talk about them?! Not me. But strangely enough, my husband was recently watching a documentary on the Kennedy family and their private home movies which repeatedly referred to JFK’s bouts with ulcerative colitis. This disorder plagued him from the time that he was young, and if I did not already know the end of the story, I would have assumed that it would have kept him down.
The truth is, many of us suffer from digestive issues. Therefore, probiotics have grown in popularity as a way to control all of these disorders. Probiotics provide good bacteria, which can fight the bad bacteria that can lead to stomach and bowel upsets. Probiotics can also boost our immune system, and assist us in losing weight. If you would like more information on probiotics, what they do, and why they are important, check out this favorite article that explains it best: The Right Probiotics for Your Stomach Problems and More.
Recently I got the chance to try out some higher-grade probiotics called VSL#3 The LivingShield. VSL#3 is a medical food designed for the dietary management of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis (UC), or ileal pouch (IP), and is intended to be used under the supervision of a physician. Unlike some other over-the-counter, lower-grade probiotics that can be used by anyone, this product is really for those who have been diagnosed with a digestive ailment.
Since I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome a while back, I normally drink plum juice, eat prunes, eat cereal and oats for fiber, take fiber pills, and take store-bought probiotics. Even with all of that, it is still difficult to control my condition and get the results that I desire. So I was excited to try out these better probiotics.
You may be asking what makes these probiotics better than the ones that I have from the local health food store. Well, it’s all in the numbers. The kind that I was taking previously had 25 billion viable cells in each capsule; the VSL#3 has 225 billion per serving (2 capsules). That is about 28 times stronger than the average probiotic, and 100 times more potent than Align, a popular brand in probiotics. These pills are shipped and stored cold in order to maintain the maximum active potency of the cultures. And they contain 8 different strains of beneficial bacteria, including the all-important acidophilus.
I started taking these probotics during the holidays, and they managed to keep my system in check throughout that stressful time and beyond. They seemed to provide the results that I was lacking when taking the lower-grade probiotics. I think they have also played a role in helping me to maintain and build upon the weight loss that I had started previously. I have lost up to 5 pounds more since taking these pills, despite some questionable eating habits both during the holidays and since. I know others, too, who have lost weight simply through the use of probiotics. Additionally, I have not experienced a lot of the bloating that I normally deal with.
VSL#3 is over-the-counter, and you can obtain the product by ordering online at the VSL website, by phone at (866) GET-VSL3, or through participating pharmacies that stock the refrigerated product. There are three different options available, including a flavored powder, an unflavored powder, and the capsules that I took. VSL#3 offers one of the lowest costs per CFU (colony forming unit) of bacteria amongst all probiotics, and since probiotics in general are not cheap, it makes sense to go with the one that provides the best results. The probiotics that I normally take cost $32.99 for only 30 lesser-strength capsules, while a bottle of VSL#3 capsules is only $52 for 60 capsules (twice as many in quantity and much better in strength). You can also get a discount by ordering 2 or more. It is going to be difficult for me to go back to the lesser-grade versions, so I am thinking that I may have to start purchasing these instead. Also the fact that those other versions are not refrigerated really makes me question their effectiveness.
There is plenty of information located on the VSL#3 website, including medical research studies that have been conducted regarding the usage of VSL#3 and specific product details, so if you suffer from digestive issues, I would definitely recommend checking them out further. Your digestive system will thank you for it.
Disclaimer: Though VSL Pharmaceuticals and their associates provided me with the referenced probiotics samples and related information to use during this product trial, I was not coerced or directed to make the commentary featured above, and all thoughts are completely my own. Additionally, I was not paid for completing this review.