Are Probiotics Good for You? And Other Frequently Asked Questions

Posted by


What Are Probiotics? This post provides answers to all your frequently asked questions about probiotics. By Lianne of

As a nutritionist (and one who frequently recommends probiotics), I get a lot of questions about probiotics. Here I have compiled the most frequently asked questions and offered you my answers to help guide you in making good bacteria a part of your health routine.

What are probiotics anyway? 

Probiotics are the supplement form of the beneficial bacteria that should live in our intestines; small and large. Bacteria is everywhere, internal and external.

How do they work?

There’s much talk about having a healthy gut environment or gut microbiome, that’s speaking to the balance of good and bad bacteria that’s found in the gut. Ideally we want around 80% good guys covering the intestinal wall. We will always have a certain percentage of bad in the gut. The goal is to crowd out the bad guys with the good.

Why do you need them?

Taking antibiotics, poor eating, medications, poor diet and sugary foods, alcohol and stress all affect the good to bad balance in a negative way.

From birth to death, and everywhere in between, probiotics are essential for everyone. Having a good balance boosts your immune system, reduces the chance of allergies in babies (which is huge), reduces obesity, helps with absorbing vitamins and minerals, eases depression and helps mental illness, reduces colic in babies, helps reduce arthritic symptoms of inflammation and pain and seriously reduces IBS symptoms in sufferers.

How do I decide which one is right for me?

It’s all about the numbers. And strains.

For babies, formula or breastfed, a study showed that 10 billion CFU of four specific strains called LAB4 reduced the potential for allergies (food and pollen) by 47% and allergic eczema by 57%. Reduction in the risk of colds, flus and length of sickness was also seen. For pregnancy and adults starting on probiotics, I recommend 25 billion CFU found in HMF Intensive. For post antibiotic treatment, I suggest 100 billion CFU found in HMF Antibiotic Care. While taking antibiotics I suggest Physica Flora Syntropy. For constipation, I recommend either HMF Intensive or Flora Syntropy (email us to order Flora Syntropy).

What I recommend to my clients and use myself and with my kids.

I recommend Genestra’s HMF range because it is human strain, that’s what the H stands for “Human Micro Flora.” I’ve studied, followed and learned from the formulator of the HMF range, Dr. Nigel Plummer PhD, about probiotics. I also use the Physica probiotic products; Flora Syntropy and Saccharomyces boulardii Forte. Flora Syntropy can be taken while taking antibiotics as the strain survives the bacteria-busting antibiotics.

To refrigerate or not?

Some strains need to be kept in the fridge and some don’t. Some need to be taken with food and some don’t. When you purchase your probiotics, ask these particulars. HMF products need to be kept refrigerated as well as taken with food.

Fermented foods are great for your gut but don't replace a good probiotic. Learn more in this blog on SproutRight.comCant I just eat yogurt?

Organisms used for food fermentation have trained and adapted to ferment foods. Over generations of fermentation they lost some of the attributes of good bacteria. If you need a probiotic, take a supplement and back it up with fermented foods. Relying solely on fermented foods to build up good bacteria after antibiotics, to help yeast infections or IBS may not get you there fast enough or with the effectiveness that will impact overall health. Keep eating and drinking fermented foods for overall health and wellbeing, but take that supplement alongside.

Do I have to take it forever?

The short answer is yes. Every time you have a bowel movement, billions of bacteria are lost. Optimal health comes from a healthy gut. You can go from taking higher levels to lower levels, and more maintenance levels, but it’s good to take all year around.

Still unsure? Reach out and we will help you find the most appropriate probiotic for your situation.

Photo Copyright: wollertz / 123RF Stock Photo
Photo Copyright: grinvalds / 123RF Stock Photo

How to Pack a Safe and Healthy Picnic this Summer

Posted by

How to Pack a Safe and Healthy Picnic in Summer - Great Tips in this Blog from Nutritionist Lianne Phillipson-Webb of Sprout Right

Summer is synonymous with outdoor eating. As we hit the patios and poolside, and round up the cooler for a day at the park it’s time to make the most of the stunning weather, sunshine and freedom of being outside. The heat of summer, however, is also an ideal breeding ground for harmful bacteria when it comes to packing a picnic. An improperly packed and prepared for picnic has the potential to make you and your little ones sick. You might think, “That potato salad is fine out for a few hours.” but you are taking a big chance with your health. Perishable food stored for more than 2 hrs (1 hr in heat above 32 degrees celsius) outside of 4 degrees celsius (the temp of your fridge) puts you at an increased risk for gastrointestinal upset and bacteria food-borne illnesses, which in children can have quite worrying and serious consequences. Here are some easy and important steps to take to keep everyone happy and safe.

Perishable Food Should Be Kept Cool
Pay attention to meat and dairy products, as well as other perishable foods including poultry, meat, seafood, bean dishes, dips, salads (with or without mayo), cold cuts, soft cheeses and cut produce in your picnic lunch. Be sure to pack these in an insulated cooler, with ice all around, to keep the food’s environment at 4 degrees celsius or lower (the temperature of most fridges).

Here’s a helpful trick for knowing if the environment is cool enough: pack a ziploc bag full of ice. If the ice is melted inside the bag when you check, the environment is no longer 4 degrees celsius or lower.

Some Foods You Can Keep Out of the Cooler
If space in your cooler is at a premium, there are some foods that should fare just fine outside of a cool environment. Most produce is fine unrefrigerated before it is cut or peeled and with so much in season right now, it adds colour and nutrition to your spread. Cherries, grapes, peaches, plums, figs, berries, whole melons, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, snap peas and avocado. You can also pack whole grain crackers, cured meats and aged cheeses (aged more than 2 years), and most uncut produce outside of a cooler bag.

Add Ice to Your Water Bottle to Help You Stay Hydrated (and Cool Down)
While a glass of chardonnay is a wonderful idea for a picnic at the park, the reality is that with the hot sun beating down on you your body might better appreciate a glass of cold water. Pack your water bottle full of ice before you leave the house so your water stays cool longer (and is better able to cool you down), add some cucumber, mint and berries to give your drink some extra zip.

For picnic ideas, you might find this video helpful. My daughter and I are making rice paper wraps.
You might also like to download our free camping meal plan for cooler meal ideas or read this blog for more helpful ideas.
Photo Copyright: halfpoint / 123RF Stock Photo

The Truth About Trans Fat

Posted by

The Truth About Trans Fat on

They are in the news again and here’s why we need to pay attention. They are trans fats and, yes, this is the bad kind.

What are Trans Fats and Why Are They Bad for You?

Trans fat – also called trans fatty acid – has been shown to raise levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol while also lowering HDL (good) cholesterol. Trans fat can be found, in small naturally occurring amounts, in dairy and meat. But most trans fat is manufactured by man, created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil so that the fat remains solid at room temperature. There is a key advantage to adding trans fat into food during processing: it takes longer to spoil, and so extends the shelf life of foods. It can also make food taste better. Unfortunately, by lowering good cholesterol and raising bad cholesterol, trans fat when consumed too often can contribute to health concerns including cardiovascular disease.

Trans Fat is in the News Again

Now that we are becoming more and more aware of the dangers of trans fat, countries are catching up and creating regulations around the sale of foods with trans fat and appropriate labelling. Unfortunately, Canada is slow in getting on board and reflecting healthy eating in food policies. The U.S. Food and Drug administration recently issued a statement that manufacturers are to phase out the use of hydrogenated oils in their products within 3 years. Some people are worried that this, combined with Canada’s absent policy (we have an honour system in place that has been effective so far), might mean these products will hit shelves in Canada more and more. Will we become inundated with trans fat filled food? We should be concerned; many people don’t know about trans fat and how to avoid it.

So Here is a List of Food to Be Cautious Of

– Margarine;

– Deep Fried Foods (many fast food stops use hydrogenated oil in their fryers);

– Processed and packaged baked goods;

– Snacks like microwave popcorn, chips and corn chips;

– Many convenience foods, including taco shells and cake mixes);

– Ready to eat frozen foods.

Many foods now include the label “trans fat free.” Be cautious; in the US, any food with 0.5 grams or less of trans fat can use the label “free.” Limit your intake of dairy and meat, which also contains small amounts of naturally occurring trans fat.

With resources from

Photo Copyright: tobi / 123RF Stock Photo

5 Tips for Avoiding Calories at Your Summer BBQ

Posted by

5 Tips for Avoiding Calories at Your Summer BBQ on SproutRight.comSummer and backyard bbqs go hand-in-hand; there is no better way to spend a warm summer evening than sharing food and drink with friends while enjoying the outdoors. While summer fare can be healthy – nature’s bounty of fruits and vegetables is highest in the Canadian summer months – potluck bbqs also present challenges to the conscientious eater. And it can be easy to be tricked by so-called healthy fare (think salads loaded with creamy dressings, veggie trays with a high-fat dip option and the family favourite potato salad). Here are five tips for maintaining balance this summer, and maybe even slimming down while enjoying time with family and friends.

Eat Consciously

A 2013 study into summer bbq consumption in the UK found that most people are consuming upwards of 3,000 calories at a backyard bash. What!? That’s about a day and a half’s worth of food for the average woman. While high fat options might be part of the problem, so is the temptation to graze mindlessly while you are chatting with your Aunt Susan, or laughing over your third summer cocktail with your best friend. And the study revealed, many people aren’t filling their plate just once, but going up for round two and even three.

Eat consciously when you are at any social gathering. Separate conversation from eating as much as possible. Instead of dipping into a chicken wing while your brother recounts his latest adventure, stop, and just listen to him. Head to the buffet with the sole intent of nourishing your body, and eating mindfully. Wait 10 minutes after eating before heading up for more. You may think “I’m hungry” when in fact, you really aren’t.

Follow the 80:20 Rule

If your social calendar is full of backyard bashes, find balance in your eating when not out being social. If dinner will be with a few friends, make lunch protein-rich (because it will fill you up) and lighter in calories. Try a serving of salmon on a bed of greens, for example. And when you are at the event, choose the healthiest foods for the majority of your plate, but squeeze in a treat or two so you feel satisfied. It is all about moderation, not abstinence.

Watch for Hidden Calories, Salt and Sugar

Sometimes people are unsure of what the healthiest choices are at a potluck event. And some foods are masters of disguise – salads filled with creamy dressings put on that they are healthy, when in fact that mayonnaise dressing is full of unhealthy fat. Store-bought dips, slaws and even hummus, can be filled with salt, causing us to exceed or daily limit and retain water towards belly bloat. A common culprit for unchecked calories? Drinks. Ice Tea and lemonade are delicious, but store bought varieties contain way too much sugar.  Alcoholic beverages count toward your daily calorie count too – with a glass of wine coming in around 150 calories, and some summer cocktails exceeding 300 calories. Drink and eat mindfully, and be conscious that so-called healthy food may not be healthy at all. Stick with whole foods if you are unsure – undressed vegetables, fruit and grilled meats.

Get Active, Get Outdoors

Here in Canada, summer weather offers the opportunity to become more active: with more daylight hours and warmer temperatures. It is a great time of year to try out a new outdoor sport like rowing, paddle boarding, and running. Join a class, team or club to keep you motivated.

Maybe swap out your backyard bbq for a friendly game of ultimate frisbee. Or incorporate a game of volleyball into the event festivities. Get the kids together for a game of tag. Not only will everyone burn calories before consuming foods that may contain more calories than you are used to, but people bond over movement. Create memories that don’t involve Grandma’s cheesecake.

Put the Emphasis on the Social

Getting together with friends and family should be about getting together and connecting. The food comes second. Don’t hang out at the buffet table! Move around and talk with people. Put the emphasis on the social, and not about eating. You don’t need a cocktail or a full plate of appetizers to have a chat with your friend! Once you open up to socializing, and not eating, you develop a relationship with food that is centred around nourishment, and not dependency.

Cleanse the Body, From the Inside Out

And lastly, take advantage of nature’s summer harvest and focus on eating a nourishing, mineralizing and cleansing diet by increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables. Many people find following any kind of diet in the summertime difficult. By eating more salads, raw fruits that are in abundance and raw seasonal vegetables, it’s like a mini cleanse. It’ll naturally help to cut back on carbs, all you need to do is increase protein. Periodically re-set your diet. It helps you to feel better about yourself and in yourself. Breakfast smoothie, chia pudding or oatmeal in the morning, loads of fruit and vegetables throughout the day, and a supper of lean protein and vegetables. Alongside your 2L of water, of course.

Don’t fall victim to the summer bbq and pack on the pounds. Try these 5 rules for living well (and feeling great) this summer. Whatever your goal is – eating well, losing weight – focus on bringing balance to your diet and enjoying summer for everything it has to offer…away from the buffet table.

You Might Also Like to Read:

Eat more than your greens: Make it a rainbow!

Healthy Summer Picnics

Photo Copyright: bialasiewicz / 123RF Stock Photo

Why I Drink Lots of Water

Posted by

I drink water. A lot of water. And not much else. Staying well hydrated, especially in the summer months is very important. And there’s nothing better to turn to than H2O.

I was intrigued by a study out of Australia that said, “Humans need to maintain fluid balance and need to drink water when required, but should also consider fluid in unprocessed fruits and vegetables and juices. There is further evidence that water and a well-balanced diet does far more than water alone,”. I totally disagree. Let me explain.

Although there’s the odd food diary that I see (my clients complete one before meeting for a consultation) packed fruits and vegetables that might offer enough water, but it’s the minority. I believe in our current collective general health, especially with diabetes skyrocketing, there isn’t enough fresh foods on the plates of the average North American. The article suggested that a baked potato was 75 per cent water, but that water needs to help the fibre from the potato to move through the digestive system. It’s unlikely to have much leftover once it’s done that job to hydrate other organs. Moreover, I don’t often see a baked potato eaten over french fries.

Processed food has become the norm for most families. Packages fill pantry cupboards and frozen dinners crowd out fresh meat in most freezers. To say that considering fresh fruits and vegetables for water intake would leave most at a hydration disadvantage. Don’t get me started about how much coffee most people drink in a day over a large glass of cool water. Most ride a caffeine high all day long.

Not Drinking Enough?

Symptoms of dehydration include headache, constipation, lethargy, dry skin, dry eyes and mouth, cracked lips, muscle soreness, fluid retention, low blood pressure and fast heart rate. If you suffer with any of these, give the eight glasses a try and see what happens.

When you Need More Water

In addition to drinking water to quench your thirst and fuel your day-to-day, there are a lot of situations when extra water is required.

Exercise that makes you sweat; hot yoga, brisk walking or running in the heat, cycling, team sports such as soccer or football all increase the need to replenish water.

Climate; hot or humid weather, indoor heating that can dry skin out, and high altitudes.

Heath; fever, diarrhea and vomiting can all result in fluid loss and dehydration, especially dangerous for the young and elderly.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women; water requirements increase during pregnancy and while breastfeeding as large amounts of fluid are used to produce breast milk.

With most people finding it hard to cram in the recommended 5 – 10 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables a day, the situations above would require at least double that to maintain hydration. It’s unlikely to happen. So it’s why I still turn to my glass of fresh, cool water to keep my body well hydrated, my skin looking great and me feeling my best. Keep water handy in a glass bottle or glass, and flavour it with mint, citrus or berries whenever you want a little extra zing.

And make sure to replenish well in the summer months. You just aren’t likely getting enough from your diet alone.

You might also like to read:

Eat More Than Your Greens … Make it a Rainbow

Healthy Summer Picnics

Leapfrogging Gone Wrong

Posted by

Last summer my daughters and I went to visit my family in the UK for a month. Whenever we go, we stay for at least three weeks so we can catch up with friends and family. My parents’ home goes from calm, neat and tidy to a whirlwind of children, toys, laughter and a whole lotta mess.

I like to sit down and talk with my kids before any trip to find out what each of us would like to do while away. It helps manage expectations and potential disappointment. Unanimously Legoland (with them, not me) came up, as did the Miniature Village and a few favourite shops and afternoon tea. Not on the list, but a great idea was the Olympic Park – home of the London 2012 games. A friend of my older sister suggested it so we thought it sounded like fun.

Leapfrogging Gone Wrong on - 1

A few days after we arrived, we headed into London on the train and then made our way across the city on the London Underground to the Olympic Village. We first checked out the Aquatic Centre. We were a group of six adults and six kids. They tried to fill up the stands as we all tried to imagine what it must have been like when the athletes were competing and fans were cheering them on. It was a fantastic experience.

On our way to our Marks and Spencer picnic lunch, all the kids were leapfrogging over the upside-down “U” bicycle park area. The scene went from laughter and fun to screams and a piercing cry from my eldest daughter. She had not made it over completely, and fell to her knees and hit her head on the metal of the “U” shape in front of her. Little did we know, the grounds of the Olympic Park was cement with tiny pebble stones embedded into it. Tiny pebble stones that are as sharp as your chef’s knife. One knee was sliced straight across and about a centimeter deep, the other one looked like it had been attacked by a blender. Once I realized that the knee with the slice across it looked so pale because I was looking at such a deep cut, I squeezed it back together and didn’t let go for the next two hours. The other knee was bleeding so we slapped on what we had and a friend took care to place pressure to that one. Then I noticed the robin’s egg sized hematoma becoming large above her left eye. She was in agony and holding her face. Thank god her eyebrow caught her fall otherwise her face would have looked like her knees.

Leapfrogging Gone Wrong on - 2

As I often do, I had put my tube of Arnica (a homeopathic remedy made from Arnica Montana) in my purse that morning. So that’s the second thing that I reached for. Knees first, Arnica second. For the whole of my kids’ lives, when they’ve fallen or hurt themselves, they know someone needs to run for the Arnica. I started giving her a dose every 15 minutes and didn’t stop (that’s known as an acute or hyper treatment). I quickly ran out, but I’ve shared with my sisters the importance and usefulness of arnica for bumps, bruises, muscle & joint pain caused by overexertion, falls, injuries and much more, so they carry it around with them everywhere they go too.

Unfortunately, the first aid team wasn’t much help as we waited over an hour for an ambulance, but they did offer a silver blanket as she went into shock. Arnica helps with that too.

After spending the afternoon at the A&E (accident and emergency as it’s called in the UK), her eye was already turning blue and purple but thankfully the swelling was going down.

Back at my parents, I continued giving her arnica tabs (I had Arnicare from Boiron Canada) for the next five days along with cream and gel applied locally. You can’t put the cream or gel on open wounds so I put it around the cuts on her knees.

Can you believe the next day was our day to go to Legoland?! We had everything planned and the last thing that anyone wanted was to disappoint Logan after such a horrendous day, so off we went. Everyone looks turns pushing her in a rented wheelchair and there were a few rides she had to miss out on because she couldn’t bend her knees. We did get to jump the line because of the wheelchair, so that was a massive bonus that she was pretty happy about. The most important ride was the cars. The course is just like real roads but in miniature. Bending her knees to get into her car was tricky but she was pleased that she didn’t have to miss out on her favourite ride.

Leapfrogging Gone Wrong on - 3

Leapfrogging Gone Wrong on - 4


She healed much faster than anyone thought possible and after a week, her ever-changing bruised eye went through every colour of the rainbow, and she was finally in the yellow and fading stage. The pain was less every day and when it did hurt, she asked for more arnica because after she took it, she felt better.

Leapfrogging Gone Wrong on

Kids are going to have falls, bumps, and broken bones. Not that arnica replaces medical attention, but it’s my go-to when my kids (or the dog, my friends or even me) get hurt. Arnicare (by Boiron) relieves your muscle aches and pain while assisting the body’s natural healing process.

If you haven’t tried it yet, there’s some more information at Boiron Canada. This may also become a staple in your purse or diaper bag.

Share with me your experience with Arnicare. I’m sure if you use it, you’ve had one or two!

Children’s Discovery Centre in Toronto – Now Open!

Posted by

Children's Discovery Centre in Toronto is now open, featuring Eat Street by Sprout Right's Lianne Phillipson-Webb

The Children’s Discovery Centre, in Toronto’s Liberty Village, is now open! Lianne has curated “Eat Street,” a place for children to explore and learn the science of nutrition.

Breakfast Television recently did a live eye segment at Children’s Discovery Centre. You can watch all of these clips for a tour of the brand new centre.

Eat Street

Mini City


Art Hive


Tickets are $13 and the centre is open each day from 9:30am to 4:30pm.

For more information visit Children’s Discovery Centre online.

Skin Care Through the Ages: How to Get That Glow

Posted by

Sprout Right's Lianne Phillipson Webb shares tips for getting that glow from food, at any ageThis spring, I’ve partnered with the Canadian Health Food Association to develop a natural skin-care routine for each decade. From your 20s to your 50s, your skin-care routine needs to change right along with you, to ensure you continue to glow from the inside out.

Let’s start with the 20s

Acne can often be a concern and rather than use harsh products, I recommend raw or unpasteurized honey. It is packed with nutrients and antibacterial enzymes. You can use it as a mask – find a recipe here. Look for a good quality honey at your local health food store.Use the “Find a Retailer” tool on to find one near you!

You may be on a budget during this decade and not eating as much of a variety as your body needs, so be sure to add in a multi-vitamin and mineral so your body is getting everything that it needs.

Here’s another helpful tip for your 20s, when you might be wearing party makeup frequently: coconut oil is a fantastic make-up remover!

Into your 30s

Big changes can happen in your 30s. Family and a new busy life means that eating a great diet each day doesn’t always happen. Try to focus on a diversity of fruits and vegetables, and where possible reach for these foods rich in Vitamin C, which is essential for collagen production (what gives your skin its suppleness). Vitamin C – rich foods include oranges and other citrus fruits, bell peppers, dark leafy greens and berries.

Protect your digestive system and boost your immune system for healthy glowing skin. Take a probiotic daily. It will make your tummy feel good, keep your body strong and healthy and calm irritated skin because it helps to reduce inflammation in the body.

In our 40s we are facing fine lines

We shouldn’t fear our forties, but embrace this time for the vitality and confidence it can give us. It is a time to really go natural with skin care, and to choose products that care for our skin gently.

Start from within: focus on a diet full of antioxidants to fend off free radicals that are associated with aging. Greens, beta-carotene, selenium and fibre-rich vegetables are essential. Eat a rainbow every day to ensure a good balance.

Drink plenty of water to keep the skin moisturized from within.

Into our 50s 

This can be a time of change, as menopause hits. Shifting hormones can often mean dry skin so it is especially important to moisturize. I can remember my mom commenting as she went through menopause that she felt like a shrivelled up prune. I recommend Argan oil from Morocco. You may have seen it in hair products, but research shows that it helps improve elasticity in the skin of post-menopausal women.

CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant that you can take as a supplement, and has the added benefit of being great for heart health and memory.

Supplementing with Vitamin D is also important, as the skin’s capacity to produce vitamin D from sun exposure is reduced as you age.

Natural beauty products (including those you make yourself), a strong diet and the right supplements can go a long way towards giving you healthy, vibrant skin at any age. And so can the natural glow of a life full of joy. This is a great time to remind you to manage your stress levels, get plenty of sleep and embrace every part of your journey.

For more information on healthy skin, from within, visit

Watch Lianne’s segment on CTV’s Canada AM.

You might also like to read:

6 Foods to Add to Your Diet to Prevent Heart Attack, Cancer and Stroke

The Truth Behind Probiotic Yogurt

Posted by

The Truth Behind Probiotic Yogurt What's In that Stuff? on the Sprout Right blog. SproutRight.comAre you going to take the Activia challenge? The makers of this probiotic yogurt want you to eat 2 cartons of the stuff each day for 4 weeks. The claim: it will improve your digestive system and combat minor upsets. The advertising message: you can happily belly dance or hula hoop your way through the day while eating yogurt.

Do you believe it? Will you give it a try? Here is why I am going to ask you to re-consider.

(This isn’t an attack on this particular product, though I do use it as an example. My concern is with products like this that claim health benefits from consuming what is a pretty unhealthy product. I want to show you a better way, in hopes that you grow more mindful of big business advertising messages and how they can be misleading).

What a Probiotic Yogurt Promises

It’s 3pm and your healthy lunch is grumbling it’s way through your digestive tract. You are experiencing bloating, gas and bowel disruption (possibly diarrhea, or maybe constipation). Is this a normal occurrence for you? You may have been stuck with the label “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” in the past, or maybe you just know you are always a little bit more flatulent than the general population. Do you live with it? Or are you lured by the happy, bright better way offered by advertising campaigns that promise big results with a simple menu addition.

The quick and delicious fix a probiotic yogurt like Activia promises is very appealing to the many people who suffer from digestive concerns.

All yogurt, a fermented food, contains probiotics or bacterial cultures that populate the gut with the good guys to fight the bad, including parasites and yeast. Learn more about yogurt, fermented foods and probiotics by reading one of our past blog posts.

Activia, the manufacturer’s website states, contains a third strain of bacterial culture: bifidobacterium lactis. According to clinical nutritionist Josh Gitalis, this strain cannot be produced by the human body. It is, in fact, found and derived from the feces of animals like rats and chickens. Yuck. What’s more, because the bacteria does not naturally grow in the human body, it only sticks around for a short period of time. The bottom line, you might experience digestive relief while consuming the probiotic yogurt, but it won’t be there once you stop eating it.

Are probiotic Yogurt’s Bandaids for a Real Problem?

Not only will your relief be short-lived, a result that suggests it is more of a band-aid than a permanent solution, but often what the solution is masking is the root of a deeper problem. We should all eat a diet rich in probiotics for optimal health, gut health included. But if you are continually experiencing bowel upset, including feeling “irregular,” there are likely some deeper issues at play: do you have enough fibre in your diet? are you consuming too much sugar and other processed food?, do you have undiagnosed food sensitivities?, is stress to blame? When we reach for a ready-made, packaged solution we place a cover over the real issues so that we don’t really have to face up to what is happening deep down. A better strategy – for a feel-good that lasts and lasts – is to find out why you are experiencing digestive troubles. Sound simple? It is, really.

And why else shouldn’t I eat this?

Yogurts like Activia are marketed to us as healthy products. I would argue they aren’t a healthy choice. One container (100g) of Activia contains between 10 and 22g of sugar, depending on the flavor. That is equal to between 2 and 5 teaspoons of sugar! As a point of comparison, women should consume no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar in a day. If you have two containers of Activia, like the manufacturer wants you to, that’s your sugar intake maxed out on two small snacks that likely won’t fill you up. That’s healthy?! Your body does not need this extra sugar. And wouldn’t you rather have it in a more indulgent way?

If you are having digestive concerns, you probably can benefit from a probiotic. I recommend a supplement, which will allow you to get the levels that are actually beneficial. I also recommend enriching your diet with fermented foods like kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut and your own homemade yogurt. Trust me, it tastes better, even without the rat poop!

What’s In Your Coffee? Should You Try Bulletproof Coffee?

Posted by

What's in Your Coffee? Is Bulletproof Coffee Right for You? Lianne of Sprout Right takes a look at this trend.

Full disclosure: I have tried to drink coffee. It makes me go shaky and funny, so I don’t. There are times that I wish I did–to give me a boost or just the taste, but I refrain. I have many, many clients who are addicted to coffee. The mere thought of coming off it makes them skaky and funny. I do think that most people are better off without it. I see that it makes people crabby, post coffee high, it dehydrates, lacks enough nutrients to make up for it’s over consumption and can be a big negative for people suffering from adrenal fatigue or a cortisol (stress-hormone) imbalance. I do often have to suggest many of my clients steer clear of coffee, or limit their intake for a healthier start to the day. They avoid the highs and lows of energy and mood that exacerbates cravings and the grab-and-go busy lifestyle.

Now there is a new trend that’s been around town for a bit and it’s called Bulletproof Coffee: have your morning cup of joe and blend it with some (grass-fed) butter and a substance called MCT oil. This recommendation is part of a greater diet prescription “discovered” and championed by Dave Asprey, a formerly overweight Silicon Valley entrepreneur.

Asprey’s book, The Bulletproof Diet, suggests you drink this special java blend in place of breakfast for a fat-busting, energy-providing start to your day. And of course, according to Aspery, this is a secret to fast weight loss. His book contains some other “secrets” but outlines essentially a high-fat paleo diet that warns against certain (he claims) problematic substances found on produce, such as mycotoxins on most coffee beans (so he recommends you purchase his mycotoxin-free coffee beans).

I have heard that this special buttered coffee is mighty tasty and I have no doubt. Butter, after all, does have a way of making most things taste good! I won’t be on this bandwagon, although it’s trendy amongst some “healthier” types.

Here are some things that concern me about this bulletproof trend:

  • Some of the recommendations in The Bulletproof Diet do appear to be made with ulterior motives–and bottom line–in mind. Aspery claims most coffee beans contain a mold called mycotoxin that can diminish your mental and physical performance. Conveniently, of course, his company sells a mycotoxin-free coffee and it is quite expensive. There is little evidence that your regular store-bought coffee contains any of this mold, as the coffee industry has known about it for years and takes extra measures to manage its growth;

  • A shot of butter first thing in the morning gives your body a dose of saturated fat (not the best kind of fat) minus any nutrients. Breakfast is an opportunity for a big meal of carbs for energy, protein to sustain you and yes, some fat. My concern with adding butter to your coffee is that you’ve just used up your quota for the day. Then what? No more fat for the day–unlikely.

  • Nothing but coffee for breakfast! You better believe I don’t think this is a good idea. Your body has been fasting all night long and needs substance to kickstart your day. You need to stoke the fire for long-lasting energy. You might save calories at the beginning of the day (leading you to lose weight in the short-term) but the reality is that many of us will find that skipping breakfast leads to disordered eating later in the day (enter the 8pm snack-a-thon);

  • MCT oil is part of the prescription and so it is worth spending a moment understanding what this is. MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides. Most of the fat we eat is actually of the long-chain variety. It takes longer for this fat to be burned as fuel and is easily stored. But medium chain (coconut oil is an example) can be processed and used by the body more quickly. Some people claim that MCT oil helps burn fat. I like coconut oil and think it is a healthy addition to your diet, in modest quantities as it is high in calories. I am just not sure I believe it is the miracle cure to weight loss.

If weight loss has you turning to a Bulletproof Coffee, or the thought that it’s going to give you a buzz that lasts longer, I think there is a better way. There really isn’t a secret to weight loss or sustained energy: it’s about balance. Burning fat happens when you have a good muscle mass and watch your eating. MCT oil may help to sustain that, but it’s not the magic bullet that so many are looking for. Quick fixes are usually just that… quick fixes. And fads …. well they fade in time and leave many of us feeling betrayed.

The best way, we’ve found, is to make one simple change, regularly. If you can’t do this on your own, then get the counsel of a good health team. Accountability and sustaining change is more than half the battle.

The bottom line … I’d skip the buttered coffee. If you really want to try it, make allowances in the rest of your day for the added saturated fat, don’t look to it as a cure for any weight troubles and make sure you are also consuming some slow-burning healthy food in the morning so as to avoid a roller coaster day of energy, mood and cravings. And the evening snack attack!

If you want to give it a go, here’s the original recipe from the source:

At least 1-2 tbsp unsalted grass fed butter (organic works too).

1-2 tbsp of MCT oil (Asprey has his own blends that are stronger than coconut oil) Use coconut if it’s all you have.

1-2 cups (250-500ml) of hot coffee brewed with low-toxin beans using a metal filter (like french press or gold filter drip).

Make your coffee as usual. Pre-heat blender or hand blender with hot water to get it warm. Tip it all out and pour pre-made coffee in and add butter and oil and whizz until frothy.

Want to read more about Bulletproof Coffee? I found these resources helpful:

Photo Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo