Mind Your Microbiome

Mind Your Microbiome

When you have a holistic nutritionist, a pharmacist and a strong team supporting you through the process of  supporting your gut… What have you got to lose except for bad digestion?

When it comes managing your microbiome, we are the pros! Whether you’re dealing with gut issues like gas, bloating and constipation or if you’re suffering from symptoms of depression, anxiety or fatigue, they all have one thing in common. Your microbiome! At NutriChem we support your health from many different scientific approaches including diet, lifestyle, specific supplement protocols, and when necessary the deprescribing of medications.

For example, taking a Proton Pump Inhibitor (a group of drugs whose main action is a pronounced and long-lasting reduction of stomach acid production) for a long period of time, longer than 4 – 8 weeks, puts patients at serious risk for serious adverse health effects. The most common reasons a person would be prescribed a PPI is GERD, however the only long term indicated use of these drugs are:

  • Barrett’s esophagus
  • Someone being treated with an NSAID
  • Someone with the history of gastric ulcers

These prescriptions create life threatening side effects and disrupt the absorption of critical nutrients like vitamin B12, iron and magnesium, leading to muscle cramping, irregular heartbeat, pneumonia and hip fractures. PPI’s cause serious problems in your body’s most important system, the gastrointestinal system, also known as your digestive system.

The main action of a proton pump inhibitor is to reduce the amount of acid in the stomach to alleviate the uncomfortable sensations of GERD, heartburn and poor digestion. Here’s the catch, your body actually needs acid in the stomach for proper breakdown of food into smaller particles so your enzymes can further breakdown the food into absorbable nutrients for overall functioning of your body.

Insufficient digestion leads to reduced nutrient absorption and slow transit time resulting in constipation and harmful bacterial overgrowth in the gut. Not only that, adequate stomach acid is required to kill harmful bacteria and parasites from food before making their way into the body. Once our Holistic Nutritionists get the clients gut back on track through specific dietary protocols, our Clinical Pharmacist will support them along the way with our signature Deprescribing process.

Another microbiome disrupting prescription is antibiotics. Whenever patients at our pharmacy are starting a course of antibiotics, we always recommend probiotics to prevent some of their gastrointestinal side effects. However, there is mounting evidence that probiotic bacteria are safe and effective in a vast array of conditions beyond just antibiotic-induced diarrhea. Probiotics are just one type of microbiome supplement. There are also many prebiotic fibres that help to grow healthy gut bacteria and provide longer-lasting effects than probiotics alone.

At NutriChem we are advocates for your health, we want to help you answer the question whether these drugs are right for you and support you along the way.

Microbiome Supplements for Gut Health

Multi-Strain Probiotics containing 50 Billion CFU

A multi-strain probiotic containing a combination of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium is the foundation of a microbiome supplement regimen. Since we work with many patients that have food sensitivities and allergies, I prefer giving patients a hypoallergenic probiotic that is dairy-free, soy-free, and gluten free. With very sensitive patients, I would not start at 50 billion CFU daily. I would start low and go slow with the dosing, probably starting around 5-10 billion CFU and working up to 50 billion units daily. Many people may think this dosing is too high for daily consumption, but there is debate over the proper dosing of probiotics, and clinically we don’t tend to see real results at lower doses. I often try to get patients up to 50 billion units daily for maintenance of healthy gut bacteria, and much higher doses for specific conditions. Multi-strain probiotics have lots of clinical trials showing benefit in a wide array of conditions, including diarrhea, gastrointestinal conditions, acne, eczema, anxiety, and depression.  

Bioflavonoid Prebiotics

Bioflavonoids are a type of polyphenolic compound found in many fruits and vegetables. They are prebiotics occurring at the highest concentrations in the peels of citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes. Two bioflavonoid prebiotics in particular, hesperidin and naringin, have been shown to increase levels of the healthy bacterial groups Clostridium Clusters IVand XIV. These bioflavonoids are also potent antioxidants and confer cardiovascular health benefits as well. At NutriChem, we have a product called Factor 4 Fibre that contains both hesperidin and naringin in high doses and it is much better tolerated than classic prebiotic fibres like inulin. With patients who have acute gas, bloating, or irritable bowel conditions, our clinic always uses these bioflavonoids first since they don’t cause stomach upset, gas, or diarrhea the way some other prebiotics can. Hesperidin and naringin in Factor 4 Fibre are good “starter” prebiotics.

Oligosaccharide Prebiotics (FOS/GOS/XOS)

These prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that our body cannot digest but our gut bacteria digest and feed on. They include inulin, as well as a variety of other fructans like FOS, GOS, and XOS that are fermented in the gut. They are naturally found at high concentrations in vegetables like chicory root (which is the commercial source of inulin fibre), onions, and garlic, amongst many others. These prebiotics can be great for individuals with an already healthy gut looking to maintain healthy bacteria. If you don’t have any pre-existing gastrointestinal conditions and you want to anchor healthy bacteria from a probiotic, or simply maintain healthy bacteria in the gut, these can be very useful prebiotics. In particular, XOS is the most potent of the oligosaccharides and seems to be the best tolerated. However, it is very important to note that these prebiotics should be avoided in individuals with certain conditions like irritable bowel disease and SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) since they can feed unhealthy bacteria as well and actually worsen their symptoms.  

To help you get back on the road to good digestion, our Clinical Pharmacists and Naturopaths will guide you through the process, while our Nutritionists are equipped with the most up to date information on how to support your gut. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.


Mapping the Microbiome with Adam Livingston

In this webinar, map out the microbiome and it's various healthy bacteria and fibres that grow them. Hosted by Adam Livingston, PharmD, he will talk about the good ways to improve your microbiome health and how it's associated with many seemingly unassociated diseases.

As a Pharmacist, Adam definitely takes a more biochemical approach than just nutritional, but this webinar will also talk about nutritional treatments since they're so essential!  Other topics that are associated and will be discussed are how to improve adrenal health. A bit of everything for everyone!

The top things you'll take out of this webinar:

  • A clear definition of the microbiome and research on its importance in many diseases.
  • An outline of the microorganisms in a healthy microbiome vs. an unhealthy microbiome.
  • Protocols to improve the microbiome using diet, probiotics, prebiotics (fibres), and lifestyle (stress reduction, exercise, etc.)

Watch Now

The Digestion-Complexion Connection with Laura Mierzwa

The top things you'll take out of this webinar:

  • How the digestive system and microbiome support the skin
  • Which foods to eat to support a healthy microbiome
  • What products and supplements actually work
  • How lifestyle factors affect the health of your skin
  • How to support your skin from within

Watch Now

Does Your Microbiome Rule Your Mind? By Kent MacLeod

The top things you'll take out of this webinar:

  • Important links between digestive health, the foods you eat, and your moods and mental health
  • How certain foods cause anxiety and depression
  • Which bacteria are anti-anxiety
  • What common drugs could be causing more harm than good
  • How to get your energy back with proper diet and nutrition
  • Why cravings are sabotaging your weight loss plan and how to stop them

Watch Now

Are Food Sensitivities Sabotaging Your Health? By Lauren Duffell

Is the list of foods you are able to tolerate getting shorter?

Are you reacting to foods that you never have before?

Do you suffer from skin issues, headaches or gut problems?

The top things you'll take out of this webinar:

  • Signs of food sensitivities
  • The sneaky foods to look out for
  • How they contribute to stress, brain fog and fatigue
  • How to discover which foods you are sensitive to

 Watch Now

About Our Writers and Speakers

Dr. Adam Livingston, PharmD, is a clinical pharmacist at NutriChem Compounding Pharmacy and Clinic. He is NutriChem’s Deprescribing Program Coordinator. Adam’s areas of focus include medication deprescribing, gastrointestinal health, mental health, and addiction.

Laura Mierzwa is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Culinary Nutrition Expert. Using her roots in holistic nutrition, she has been helping clients with various health issues and has been creating healthy recipes for NutriChem's newsletter and blog. Laura specializes in offering personalized health solutions through one on one consultations and customized meal plans and recipes.

Kent MacLeod, Clinical Pharmacist, is NutriChem's owner and founder. Using his roots in biochemistry and pharmacy, he has been helping his clients with their health issues for over 35 years. He specializes in offering personalized health solutions based exactly on what a person's body needs.

Lauren is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who is passionate about using nutrition to support busy lifestyles and reduce stress. Lauren’s special interests include cardiovascular health, the microbiome, inflammation reduction, blood sugar support, anxiety and nervous system support.

1 comment

I have acid reflux disorder also IBS
Do you have a store in Ottawa Ontario?

Theresa Duval

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