When It Comes to Probiotics, More Species are Better

There are many recent studies focused on the effects probiotics have on a myriad of health conditions and challenges. One overarching truth that seems to be emerging from this growing body of evidence is that, indeed, probiotics are good for us. Our health and wellbeing are directly tied to the microbiota in our guts.

But there is another interesting development that is worth noting; there are a number of studies that, taken together, strongly suggest multispecies probiotics prove more effective than probiotics of a single strain or only a couple strains.

In a review published in the Journal of Food Microbiology by H.M. Timmerman, et al., the authors concluded there was enough evidence to suggest multispecies probiotics are more efficacious than single strain or even multistrain probiotics.

A single strain probiotic (called monostrain in the article) – defined as a probiotic supplement containing only one strain of beneficial bacteria.

Multistrain was defined as a probiotic supplement containing more than one strain of beneficial bacteria from the same species or at least of the same genus.

Multispecies contain strains from more than one genus.

We are often asked why Tula’s®CocoKefir™ works so well. Perhaps the answer to the question lies in the fact that, not only do our products contain 7 beneficial strains, they come from 5 different genera and interact synergistically with each other. We know this to be true because they worked for our daughter, they work for us, and we get calls and emails every day from customers who tell us they work for them.

This being said, we do not mean to imply that single strain probiotics are not helpful. We encourage people to get as many different strains of known beneficial bacteria in their diet as possible. In nature, biodiversity serves to promote a healthier ecosystem. The same is true in our bodies. If you take a single strain probiotic supplement, try taking it with CocoKefir™ to give it a boost. The same nutrients that feed the beneficial bacteria in CocoKefir will feed those found in your probiotic supplement.

Because, as always…Good Health Begins in the Gut.

Timmerman, H.M., et al. (15 November, 2004) Monostrain, multistrain and multispecies probiotics – A comparison of functionality and efficacy. International Journal of Food Microbiology. Vol. 96, Issue 3, p.219-233. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168160504002855

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Grain Free, Dairy Free Chewy Power Bars

This highly versatile recipe can be adapted to suit your families needs, a tasty way to start the day!

Adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie

Ingredients:gluten free power bar

1 cup quinoa flakes (gluten free rolled oats work as well – be wary of the glycemic load)

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup  puffed quinoa or puffed amaranth (rice puff cereal would work, keeping in mind the glycemic load)

1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp quinoa flour (or flour of choice)

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp alcohol free vanilla extract

2 tbsp coconut oil

1/3 –  ½ cup CocoYoTM

1-2 packs stevia or 1-2 tablespoons Lakanto or  liquid sweetener (to taste)

2 tbsp pumpkin puree or nut butter or additional CocoYoTM

Mix-ins: dried tart cherries, hemp hearts (for protein),  shredded unsweetened coconut, chopped walnuts, etc.

 Method: Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine first 5 ingredients, mix well. In a separate bowl, combine last 5 ingredients (starting with 1/3 cup CocoYoTM). Stir wet into dry and continue to add the additional CocoYoTM  or pumpkin puree until mixture is nicely coated and evenly wet. Use a sheet of parchment paper to squish evenly into a parchment-lined 7×5 pan (or double the recipe for a 9×13). Press the mixture firmly into the pan. Cook 18 minutes. Cool in the fridge for at least ten minutes before cutting into bars. If stored at room temperature, consume within 3-4 days. 

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Wanted: Real Coconut Water – Not Concentrate

Do you ever wonder if your favorite coconut water drink is real coconut water? You should. Here’s why.

Under federal regulations and guidelines, coconut water is treated like a fruit juice. Of course we know it isn’t a fruit juice, but we’ll let that inconsistency go for the time being.

100 % Juice

A typical juice label in the U.S.

Beverages that contain fruit juices (remember we are talking about coconut water here) are required to state how much juice they contain as a percentage of the total volume of the product. For example, a package label might say “30% juice.” A reasonable person would take this to mean that 30% of the contents of the package are juice and 70% other ingredients, such as water perhaps. (Be careful relying on “reasonableness” when it comes to food labeling laws; there are many inconsistencies in our food code.)

A label that states “100% juice” does not, in all cases, mean that 100% of the contents are real juice. Juice concentrates are allowed and are often used. The FDA maintains a table of Brix values for most juices.

“What is Brix?” you ask.

Brix is a unit of measure for the concentration of the solid constituents in an aqueous solution. More specifically, it is a measure of the sugar content of a liquid – expressed in Degrees Brix (ᵒBx). The higher the ᵒBx, the more sugars are dissolved in it. It is commonly used measurement in wine production and, as you are currently learning, in juice production.

So, a bottle of orange juice that states “100% juice” can actually be a mixture of filtered water and orange juice concentrate, mixed to 11.8ᵒBx. (21CFR 101 Sub. B §101.30)

“Why is that a problem?” you ask.

First, concentrated sugars, even if they are concentrated fruit sugars, are metabolized within the body in the same way a refined sugar is. Concentrated orange juice will spike your blood sugar in the same way refined table sugar or high fructose corn syrup will. They cause your pancreas and endocrine system to work harder creating insulin to cope with the increase in blood sugar. Concentrated juices may play a role in the increase in the number of people with diabetes in our country today.

Secondly, nutrients in concentrated juices are not as bioavailable as those found in fresh juices. Orange juice from concentrate will not nourish the body in the same way fresh squeezed orange juice will.

“What does all this have to do with coconut water?” you demand.

powdered coconut water by worradmuThere are companies in Southeast Asia that produce coconut water concentrate (referred to in the industry as CWC) and sell their product to coconut beverage manufacturers in the federal guidelines allow coconut water manufacturers to label their products as “100% coconut water” as long as they mix the CWC with filtered water to a minimum concentration of 5ᵒBx.

The same deficiencies inherent to concentrated fruit juices apply to CWC. Blood sugar spike and stress on the pancreas and endocrine system will be more pronounced with a coconut water concentrate. Nutrition will be compromised.

So, that coconut water you’ve been drinking may actually be a reconstituted coconut concentrate.

This is not to say all coconut water manufacturers use CWC in the manufacture of their products, but some do.

Young coconutAt Tula’s®CocoKefir™ , we never use CWC. In fact, we don’t even use bulk, pasteurized coconut water (another commercially available version). We extract real, raw coconut water from whole coconuts, one by one. This is a time consuming and expensive process, but our testing has proven that this is the only way to deliver high concentrations of thriving, viable probiotics, as well as bioavailable nutrition.

We’ve never tried to ferment CWC and we never will. Admittedly, we have had bulk, pasteurized coconut water suppliers urge us to test their coconut water and we have, reluctantly. The results were not good. The probiotics did not grow to the same high levels as they do in our fresh coconut water and the flavor was terrible. The testing proved to us what we intuitively knew; the best coconut kefir comes from fresh, raw coconuts. That is what we use and that is what we will continue to use – no filtered water, no pasteurization, no CWC.

We are committed to this way of doing things because we know – Good Health Begins in the Gut.

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Chocolate Whoopie Pies & Pumpkin Filling

Our family enjoyed this fun holiday cookie, gluten free, dairy free and sugar free!

Adapted from Elana’s Pantry

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

Ingredients Chocolate whoopie pie

- 1/4 cup coconut flour

- 1/4 cup cacao powder

- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

- 3 eggs, organic if possible 

- 1/4 cup coconut oil

- 1/4 cup Lakanto

- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla stevia or alcohol free vanilla extract

Method

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pulse together dry ingredients in a food processor.  Pulse in wet ingredients until smooth. Using a tablespoon sized spoon, scoop the batter into 16 portions and onto prepared baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 7 to 9 minutes. Cool for 1 hour. 

Pumpkin Whipped Cream

Ingredients

- 1 can coconut milk (be sure not to shake up the can)

- 1/4 cup freshly roast pumpkin or canned pumpkin puree

- 1 tablespoon Lakanto

- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

- 12 drops vanilla creme stevia or teaspoon alcohol free vanilla

Method

Scoop solid cream off the top of a can of coconut milk (you can refrigerate the can to make this a little easier). Place the coconut cream in a high powered blender or Vitamix. Add pumpkin, Lakanto, cinnamon and stevia (or vanilla) to blender. Puree on highest setting. Mixture should be thick, occasionally stop the blade and scrape down sides. Continue to puree until smooth. 

Assemble the whoopie pies by filling the chocolate cookies with the pumpkin whipped cream. Enjoy!

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Highest Quality Standards in Coconut Kefir


When you are purchasing a bottle of raw coconut kefir, how do you know it is a safe, high quality fermented food that contains the billions of living probiotics you expect?

There are regulations that mandate food products contain the ingredients and nutritional content they claim under U.S. FDA Food Code. However, fermented foods and their probiotic content present an area where the Food Code is not up-to-date. Subsequently, there are not specific rules and regulations that mandate fermented foods state or deliver the concentration of viable probiotic microorganisms in them. Some manufacturers of fermented foods choose to make claims anyway. Among these are a few that make claims that are egregious and not achievable from a scientifically reasonable perspective; some claim they contain more probiotics than they actually do. The Food Code does not require third party testing and/or accurate record keeping of these manufacturing processes.

Quality CheckedAt Tula’s®CocoKefir™, we utilize a higher standard with you, the customer, in mind. This ensures we are making coconut kefir that is not only safe, but also ensures our products do contain the concentration of probiotics we state they do, provided they are consumed before the “best by” date printed on each bottle. The standards we utilize are called Current Good Manufacturing Practices for Dietary Supplements (cGMPs). These are a strict and detailed set of requirements of the methods, facilities and controls used in the manufacturing, processing and packing of dietary supplements. These requirements form a set of rules and guidelines that are more rigorous than those recommended by the FDA for the manufacturer of foods. Some key elements of this method of production include utilizing written records of every step involved with the manufacture of our products with two people signing off on each step along the way as well as certified third party lab testing of the ingredients and components of our products.

What does all this mean? It means that every action or decision made in the production of our coconut kefir demands two sets of eyes to confirm the action or decision was made correctly and signatures and records are maintained for a period of one year from the “best by” date on each bottle. It also means, at Tula’s®CocoKefir™, we use a third party lab that is certified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to ensure Tula’s®CocoKefir™ contains its probiotics in concentrations that meet or exceed what we state on the bottle.

Tula’s®CocoKefir™ is the only commercially available raw coconut kefir that is made to these high quality standards.¹ So when you purchase a bottle of our coconut kefir, you can be assured you are getting the safest, purest and most powerfully probiotic coconut kefir possible.

Tula's CocoKefir Line of ProductsBut don’t let all the pomp and circumstance lead you to believe our products are not made the way you want them made. We still make our coconut kefir in small batches with the same kinds of basic methods we used back in the days when we made it in our kitchen. The only difference is the level of assuredness that the process is working perfectly every time.

Additionally, Tula’s®CocoKefir™ and CocoYo™ are approved by Ashley Koff Approved, Weston A. Price, and accepted by the Feingold Diet for ADHD. We don’t use preservatives, stabilizers, unnatural flavors or other additives. We use real organic juices to flavor our coconut kefirs. Our products do not contain gluten, dairy, or soy. Our ingredients are all real foods.

So, enjoy, and know that you are doing your body a favor by promoting a healthy microbiome within.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Healthy Holiday Tips

Out With The Humbugs, In With The Good Bugs

We are beginning the coldest part of year. With it brings a busy holiday and cold & flu season. Between the parties, the not-so-gut-friendly food and the stress holidays can bring, it is important to ramp up our immune systems. 70% of our immune system lies in our gastrointestinal tract, therefore it is important to keep the GI tract healthy and happy.

When too many sugary foods are consumed, a yeast overgrowth can occur, resulting in an inflamed GI tract and a weakened immune system. In order to bolster our body’s natural defenses, it is best to avoid these foods and replenish good gut bacteria.

Encourage healthy gut flora and keep your immune system strong by loading up on non-starchy vegetables, healthy proteins and fermented foods. If you’re craving something sweet, try using all natural stevia.  CocoKefir and CocoYo are an excellent source of probiotics without the burden of dairy and gluten, they will help curb your sugar cravings and aid in digestion of all the holiday meals!

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Fermented Foods vs. Probiotic Pills – Which is Better?

 

We know probiotics are good for us. They have been proven in studies to not only be an integral component of digestive health, but a key component of immune function and brain function as well. However, weeding through all the available options would be easier if we knew a little more about them. Fermented foods contain probiotics, but rarely state on the label how many beneficial bacteria are present. Probiotic pills claim many billions per pill. Which is better?

The answer to that question depends on what you are looking for from a probiotic.

First we need to define some terms…

Colony Forming Unit (or cfu) – Unit of measure of the number of probiotics that may live and reproduce to colonize in the gut.

Dysbiosis – Condition when the G.I. microbiome are populated predominantly with unhealthy, pathogenic bacteria and fungi. When a microbiome is “dysbiotic,” the range of species present is less diverse and is mainly made up of bad yeasts such as Candida Albicans and bacteria such as e. coli and/or clostridium difficile, which cause adverse health problems when overgrown.

Healthy Microbiome – A microbiome with a large population of beneficial bacteria and fungi as well as a diverse range of healthy microbial species.

Lyophilization – A freeze drying process used on probiotic bacteria to make them shelf stable. This process starts with living probiotics. Once lyophilized, they are no longer living. They are not dead either. Rather, they are in a dormant state – a state of hibernation. Once ingested into the body, they must go through a complex metamorphosis to “come back to life” and become viable again.

Microbiome – The collective whole of all the bacteria and fungi present in your gastrointestinal (G.I.) tract. It can also be thought of as your inner ecosystem.

Probiotics – Strains of bacteria and yeasts that are known to confer a health benefit to the host (the person who consumes them). Not all bacteria and yeasts are bad for humans; probiotic strains are good for humans.

If your objective is to populate your gastrointestinal tract with the healthiest microbiome possible, then fermented foods are your best option. Not only are the probiotic bacteria and yeasts found in these foods thriving and viable at the time of consumption, they are also swimming in a food matrix that supports them. Fermented foods are a complex “soup” of living bacteria, fungi, enzymes, and nutrients. Once ingested, the nutrients and enzymes in these foods not only help the probiotics thrive in the G.I. tract, they will also support healthy bacteria already present in the gut.

A key concept to keep in mind when thinking about probiotics is their viability at the time of consumption; this is when it really matters.

Manufacturers of probiotic supplements lyophilize their probiotics, put them in a capsule and then state the number of colony forming units (cfu) contained in the pills “At the time of manufacture.” There are two main benefits to this method of probiotic delivery: First, it increases the shelf life. This makes it easier for retailers to offer these products and makes their sale more profitable for both retailers and manufacturers because there is less waste due to spoilage. Second, they travel well. Have you ever tried to carry a liquid onto an airplane? Don’t bother unless you are taking the tiniest of bottles.

However, the big question is…How many of these probiotic cells survive the metamorphosis, once ingested, then come back to life to thrive in the gut? Certainly, many do, but how many is unknown. Also, probiotic pills do not contain the nutrients and enzymes to help the probiotics grow in the gut. Feeding and supporting the probiotics in a pill will be much more dependent on the foods consumed with them.

When choosing a probiotic, it is important to stay focused on the true goal – the health of the “host.” Overemphasizing a single piece of the decision puzzle, looking solely for high cfu counts for example, will not necessarily help you achieve your goals. Similarly, when it comes to our health, convenience doesn’t always equate to best possible outcome.

Fermented foods are a more effective way to get your probiotics, from a biological perspective – and that is the perspective that matters in this case. Isn’t it?

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