Sacharomyces boulardii

  1. Probiotics with antibiotics can slash infection risk

    Don't take antibiotics without taking this first

    I wouldn't dream of giving a patient an antibiotic without a probiotic supplement to balance it out even before new research proved the benefits of taking probiotics with antibiotics.

    The drug goes into the body and kills both good and bad bacteria, including the friendly bugs your gut needs for good digestion -- so it only makes sense to replenish your supply by taking  probiotics with antibiotics.

    Sadly, most mainstream doctors don't share my opinion on this just yet -- but that may be changing now that a major new study backs the wisdom of my common-sense approach.

    Take probiotics with antibiotics, and you can slash your risk of infection with Clostridium difficile, according to the new review of 31 strong studies.

    C. diff, as it's known, is a dangerous and even deadly superbug that causes severe diarrhea during and after antibiotic use. It's responsible for 336,000 infections and 14,000 deaths each year in the United States alone.

    Many of the victims are seniors, and almost all had recently taken an antibiotic -- but if you take probiotics with antibiotics, you can reduce your own odds of a C. diff infection by 64 percent, according to the study.

    The most effective bacteria for fighting off C. diff infections are Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei as well as a yeast called Sacharomyces boulardii -- but the trick here isn't just in getting the names right.

    You also need the right numbers.

    Many supplements promise several hundred million or even a billion colony-forming units (or CFUs), which certainly sounds impressive if you're not familiar with probiotics.

    But that's not even close to what you really need, especially when it comes to fighting a superbug such as C. diff.

    The new study finds you need a minimum of 10 billion CFUs, and I often recommend even more to help reduce the risk of infection and even for general daily support.

    I recommend taking a probiotic for up to a month after an antibiotic, in some cases longer. And these days, I often recommend a probiotic supplement for generally daily support even among people who aren't taking antibiotics.

    I had the full story on probiotics -- including what to choose, what not to choose, and common probiotic scams -- in the May 2012 issue of my Health Revelations newsletter. Subscribers can use the password in this month's issue to read it online.

    Not a subscriber? It's not too late -- sign up today and get your own password for complete access to my online archives as well as all my future issues delivered right to your mailbox.

  2. The deadly 'new' superbug -- and how to avoid it

    Going to the hospital is supposed to be the beginning of your recovery -- but for millions of us, it's the beginning of a nightmare.

    Close to 2 million Americans get infections in hospitals that they didn't have when they walked in, and close to 100,000 die of them.

    These people are literally killed by dirty rooms and careless care -- and new numbers from the CDC show that one bug in particular is responsible for a shocking percentage of those illnesses and deaths.

    Clostridium difficile, or C-diff for short, caused 336,600 illnesses in 2009 alone, more than double the 139,000 people infected by the bacteria in 2000. And the number of deaths from the bug has skyrocketed, from 2,700 in 2000 to more than 14,000 in 2009.

    People don't get C-diff at home. They don't pick it up in airports. And, no, they don't get it from dirty gas station bathrooms either. Nope. According to the CDC, 94 percent of all C-diff cases are connected to hospitals, nursing homes, and other care facilities.

    The bug is spread by contact with poop, which shows you the importance of washing your hands. And once it's on someone's hands, the spores can transfer onto walls, counters, doors, bedframes, and more -- and live on those surfaces for months at a time, resisting nearly every cleaner except for bleach.

    Inside the body, it's even stronger -- resistant to most drugs and even thriving after you take an antibiotic, since those meds will wipe out the friendly gut bacteria that can keep invaders like C-diff in check.

    Obviously, that means the best way to avoid C-diff completely is to avoid both hospitals and antibiotics.

    But that's not possible for everyone. Life happens. We get sick. We get hospitalized. And sometimes, even those of us who manage to avoid meds most of the time end up taking an antibiotic.

    And that's why you shouldn't wait to arm yourself -- take action now to protect your gut from everyday bacterial invaders, and you'll also make it better able to withstand the assault of an antibiotic.

    Dr. Mark Stengler, a leading naturopath, says that anyone taking an antibiotic needs a probiotic -- and not just any old off-the-shelf supplement (and certainly not the worthless little "probiotic" yogurts).

    Instead, take a probiotic that's actually been tested in human studies -- and even more importantly, keep taking it for at least a month after your antibiotic prescription has ended.

    Dr. Stengler added that the best probiotic for fighting C-diff is Sacharomyces boulardii -- so if you're spending any time in a care facility, be sure that one's at the top of your list.

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