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Scarily delicious, this Frankenstein Matcha Smoothie is filled to the brim with fruit, veggies, and probiotics! Made with organic matcha powder originally, you can substitute in spirulina powder if you wish! You can also keep this recipe gluten-free by using gluten-free chocolate chips and cookies!

Frankenstein Matcha Smoothie

Ingredients

1 cup Lifeway Banana Protein Kefir
1 medium banana, sliced and frozen
1 generous handful of organic baby spinach
1 tsp organic matcha powder
½ tsp vanilla extract
Fresh banana slices, to garnish
Mini chocolate chips, to garnish
Crushed chocolate cookies, to garnish

Lifeway Protein Kefir Banana

Preparation

1. Add the kefir, frozen banana, spinach, matcha powder, and vanilla extract into the pitcher of a
high-powered blend. Blend on high until smooth, then set aside.
2. Carefully place one chocolate chip in the middle of one slice of banana to create the smoothie’s
eye. Repeat for the second eye. Stick the “eyes” to the inside of a glass.
3. Pour smoothie into glass and top crushed cookie crumbs. Slurp and enjoy!

*Recipe courtesy of Lifeway Kefir.*

Is the thought of heavy game day fare on Super Bowl Sunday leaving you feeling super stuffed just thinking about it? Give fan favorite apps and dips a makeover by substituting Lifeway Kefir as a healthier alternative! These three ‘perfect-for-game-day’ recipes include Roasted Red Pepper Dip, Basil Pesto Hummus and Kefir Crab Dip!

Kefir - Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Red Pepper Dip

Lifeway’s creamy Farmer Cheese mixed with roasted red peppers make for an easy and delicious probiotic-packed dip that you won’t be able to put down.

Ingredients

½ cup Lifeway Farmer Cheese
¾ cup roasted red peppers, chopped
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ a lemon, squeezed

Preparation

Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl. Mix together by hand until desired consistency is reached.

Kefir Crab Dip

Kefir Crab Dip

Are you crazy for crab dip but not for the copious calories? Then we’ve got a recipe for you! Lifeway’s Farmer Cheese brings all the flavor and none of the guilt to this creamy, probiotic-packed appetizer.

Ingredients

2 tsp Lifeway Plain Low Fat Kefir
½ cup Lifeway Farmer Cheese
6oz crab meat
2oz cream cheese
2 Tbsp pickled banana peppers
¼ red onion chopped
½ a lemon, squeezed

Preparation

Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl. Mix together by hand until desired consistency is reached.

Kefir - Basil Pesto Hummus

Pesto Kefir Hummus

This flavorful pesto hummus is probiotic-packed with no preservatives or artificial flavorings. After one bite, you’ll never go back to store-bought brands.

Ingredients

¼ cup Lifeway Plain Whole Milk Kefir
2½ cups cooked chickpeas (drained and rinsed, if canned)
2 Tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
¼ cup pickled banana peppers
½ tsp garlic powder
2-3 Tbsp basil pesto to taste
½ a lemon, squeezed
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Combine all ingredients into a food processor and blend until creamy. Serve with warm pita bread, crudités or crackers. This hummus also makes a great sandwich spread!

*Recipes and images courtesy of Lifeway Kefir.*

Vitazorb Purple BottleThe company’s motto is “You Are What You Absorb” and it is so, so true – when nutrients, vitamins and minerals can be properly absorbed from your food, and waste products broken down properly, it means a healthier (and happier!) you! “Mom” recently had the opportunity to try a new chewable probiotic supplement called Vidazorb®, which offers several chewable varieties of probiotics to aid in gastrointestinal health. For those unfamiliar with the overall health benefits of probiotics, you may wish to visit the Vidazorb website to learn more!

Vidazorb® is available in 5 distinct formulations for both children and adults, including:
 
Plus – Vanilla Flavor
 
+OPC – Pomegranate Flavor
 
Super C – Orange Pineapple Flavor

The Super C, +OPC and Plus varieties all tasted great – easy to chew and swallow, and “Mom” loves that this particular brand of probiotics does not require refrigeration, which is wonderful for traveling. For those who travel to other countries frequently, taking a probiotic supplement daily is a must to help with traveler’s diarrhea!

Vitazorb Orange Bottle

If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of probiotics, or to locate a store near you, visit Vidazorb.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this piece.*

Women’s Immune Health: Choosing The Right Probiotic

Women today are constantly making choices to balance their busy lives and with cold and flu season in full force, it can be a challenge to maintain good health. Fortunately, one way women can help themselves stay healthy is by taking a daily probiotic. Also referred to as friendly or good bacteria, probiotics are not drugs or vitamins but are live microorganisms that can benefit human health.1

Women have unique, individual needs and not all probiotics are created equal, so it can pose a challenge when trying to decide which probiotic is the best choice for you. Here’s a checklist of what to look for when choosing a probiotic:

• Does the probiotic contain a proper blend of bacteria strains to support a woman’s needs? Be sure to look for Lactobacilli, which support urogenital health and aid in proper digestion, and Bifidobacterium, a normal inhabitant of the intestines that has gastrointestinal benefits and supports healthy immune responses.2,3,4

• Is the probiotic protected from harsh stomach acid? Stomach acid is a major threat to probiotic survival.5 It has been estimated that as few as 20 to 40 percent of certain probiotic bacteria survive passage through the gut.5 Look for one specifically designed to help the probiotic survive its journey.

• Is the probiotic suitable for vegetarians? Some probiotics may not be suitable for vegetarians because their gelatin capsules are made from fish bones and skin.6

• Does the probiotic manufacturer specify a colony-forming unit (CFU) level through the end of shelf life? The number of live bacteria in a probiotic supplement typically decreases as the product progresses through its shelf life. Choosing a product that specifies a colony-forming unit (CFU) level “through the end of shelf life” rather than “at time of manufacture” can help provide reassurance that the product contains live probiotics.7,8,9

If you’re a woman trying to promote your digestive, feminine and immune health, you may want to consider Provella™, a unique probiotic dietary supplement that helps restore and maintain balance of good bacteria to support digestive and vaginal health.*

Taken once-daily by mouth, Provella™ tablets contain a proprietary blend of six bacteria strains that include: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus reuteri and Bifidobacterium bifidum.

The patented controlled-release technology in Provella™ helps protect its good bacteria from harsh stomach acid and is designed to help ensure that live bacteria get to the intestines where they can begin working. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), good bacteria that normally reside in the intestines may help the body defend itself against infection and maintain proper digestive health.10

Provella™ is available without a prescription behind the pharmacy counter at retail pharmacies nationwide and on the drugstore.com™ website. For more information about Provella™ and to access cost-saving coupons, visit www.provella.com.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

1. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine “Oral Probiotics: An Introduction.” Accessed October 2, 2012: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction. htm.
2. Lactobacillus. MedlinePlus Web site. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/ 790.html. Accessed October 2, 2012.
3. Acidophilus. Mayo Clinic Web site. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/lactobacillus/NS_patient-acidophilus. Accessed October 2, 2012.
4. Bifidobacteria. MedlinePlus Web site. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/891.html. Accessed October 2, 2012.
5. Bezkorovainy A. Probiotics: determinants of survival and growth in the gut. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001;73 (2 suppl): 399S-405S
6. Vegetarian Probiotics. LIVESTRONG.COM Web site. http://www.livestrong.com/article/382955-vegetarian-probiotics/. Accessed September 18, 2012.
7. Benefits of Probiotics in the Management of Gastrointestinal Disorders. Power-Pak C.E. http://www.powerpak.com/course/print/108027. Accessed October 2, 2012.
8. Kligler B, Cohrssen A. Probiotics. Am Fam Physician. 2008;78(9): 1073-1078.
9. http://www.usprobiotics.org/faqs.asp. Accessed 6/1/12.
10. National Institutes of Health “DNA of Good Bacteria Drives Intestinal Response to Infection.” Accessed October 2, 2012: http://www.nih.gov/news/health/oct2008/niaid-02.htm

*Article courtesy of NAPS. Imge ourtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.*

Stop! Don’t reach for that second sugar cookie this holiday season! Instead, choose a protein-rich and all-natural snack that is just under 200 calories! Rickland Orchards Greek Yogurt Bars makes it easy to curb your sweet tooth and stay energized through the season and into the 2013 without compromising on nutrition and great flavor!

Lighter on the waistline, “Mom’s” family found the bars to be quite tasty! Our favorites included Strawberry and Cherry Almond, but truly each bar is quite delicious. The toddler in the family gobbled hers up so that was the real taste test!

Rickland Orchards Greek Yogurt Bars are the first shelf-stable Greek Yogurt product, and combine all-natural ingredients (fruit, Greek Yogurt, nuts and granola) to create a delicious and nutritious on-the-go snack, making it the perfect healthy holiday snack for busy parents, excited children, stressed-out students and anyone attempting to stay healthy during the holidays. They are easy to throw in a purse, lunchbox, gym bag or car – offering everyone a mess-free and portable way to snack. Need a taste of the tropics this winter? Try the Toasted Coconut flavor!

Layered with the finest granola, real fruit and nuts, and authentic Greek yogurt, the bars are available in eight distinct flavors, including:

Blueberry Acai
Cherry Almond
Toasted Coconut
Cranberry Almond
Apple & Honey
Orchard Peach
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter
Strawberry

Rickland Orchards Greek Yogurt Bars contain all-natural ingredients, 5g of fiber, 7g of protein (except for Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter which offers 10g of protein), and probiotics. The best part? Each bar is under 200 calories!

To learn more about Rickland Orchards Greek Yogurt Bars, visit RicklandOrchards.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this piece.*

‘Tis the season for heavy, multi-course meals; too many fatty and sweet desserts; and one too many cocktails spent toasting the holidays. It’s a lot for a tummy to handle all at once, and for the digestively sensitive, it can produce a state of virtually perpetual bloating from November through January. Most attempts to remedy the side effects of too much cheer come after the fact, and may be too little, too late. Beat the belly bloat this holiday season, and choose to “go goat” instead! Redwood Hill Farm and Green Valley Organics make the only kefirs with Flourish – a custom blend of 10 live active probiotic cultures for optimal digestive tract and immune system health. Swap plain kefir for cream, buttermilk, evaporated or condensed milk in just about any holiday recipe to shave off unwanted calories, fat, lactose and cholesterol in everything from eggnog to mashed potatoes, holiday quick breads and so much more. “Mom’s” favorite use of Redwood Hill Farm Plain Kefir is to make moist, delicious banana bread!

Here are 4 reasons to “go goat” from RD Tamara Duker Freuman:

1.Goat’s milk is naturally lower in lactose than cow’s milk, making it easier to digest for people who are mildly lactose intolerant. In addition to its lower lactose content, goat’s milk is also widely regarded as being more easily digested than cow’s milk for other reasons. Scientists are still trying to figure out why this seems to be the case; some research points to a possible role of anti-inflammatory carbohydrates called oligosaccharides that are present in goat’s milk dairy, or to differences in the protein and fat structures.

2.Goat’s milk contains more of the amino acid tryptophan than cow’s milk, making it a great bedtime snack. Tryptophan is the precursor for serotonin, the neurotransmitter produced by our brain that trigger feelings of calm and sleepiness. Instead of a glass of warm cow’s milk before bed, why not try out a glass of Redwood Hill Farm goat milk kefir?

3.Goat’s milk dairy is as good of a source of calcium—if not better—than cow’s milk dairy. Not only is dietary calcium important to protect bone mineral density as we age, but it seems to have a preventive effect against colon cancer.

4.Unlike other calcium rich foods, goat’s milk actually seems to enhance iron absorption! This may make goat’s milk dairy a good swap for cow’s milk dairy among people who suffer from chronically low iron levels or anemia.

Have you ever had yeast infections, urinary tract infections or bacterial vaginosis? While it’s not a pleasant experience, more than 75 percent of women get such diseases due to an imbalance of bacteria. Luckily, the use of probiotics may help treat and prevent such infections.

Lactobacillus — a protective type of good bacteria — prevents bad bacteria from growing and producing chemicals like lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide within the vagina. If bad bacteria begins to overcrowd, the risk grows for UTIs, bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, sexually transmitted diseases and even preterm labor.

To combat urogenital infections, many women use common over-the-counter treatments. Unfortunately several of these are not effective and can even be detrimental by increasing harmful bacteria. Instead, research has shown probiotics may be the solution.

Compared to international markets, the U.S. is far behind on probiotics, but we’re slowly catching up. For example, probiotic vaginal suppositories and probiotic tampons are used in Asia and Europe to strengthen women’s defenses against infection.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

Do you feel the need to urinate often, experience pain during urination or have cloudy urine? These are all symptoms of a UTI. Usually antibiotics are recommended to treat the infection by fighting bad bacteria, including the most common bacterium to cause a UTI: E. coli. Antibiotics wipe out all bacteria, both good and bad, so taking probiotics promotes the growth of good bacteria faster if you’ve taken or are on an antibiotic.

Women are more likely to develop a UTI than men, and half of the women who do will have recurrent infections. Recent research shows recurring UTIs are reduced greatly by treatment with probiotic vaginal suppositories.

Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection. While antibiotics are again frequently prescribed for treatment, they only provide relief for 40 percent of women. Reports show taking probiotics in vaginal suppositories or by eating live-culture yogurt may be the new treatment for BV.

What to avoid in order to battle BV:

• Smoking
• Using IUDs
• Douching frequently
• Having sex with multiple partners
• Using spermicides

Any women with recurrent BV or yeast infections, or who are taking antibiotics, should add probiotics to their diet.

Yeast Infections

At least three in four women, particularly those with diabetes, will likely experience a yeast infection at least once in their lifetime. In one study, women who ate live-culture yogurt once a day had fewer yeast infections and normal vaginal balances. Those who ate yogurt without the live cultures had abnormal vaginal pH levels throughout the study.

You may ask, “When do yeast infections occur?” Most often after antibiotic treatment, steroid use, while using birth control pills, during times of high stress or with frequent douching. Instead of solely taking an antifungal medication, probiotics such as L. acidophilus, L. rhamnosus and L. fermentum can treat and prevent future yeast infections.

Please Note: Always consult your physician before adding a supplement — including probiotics — to your diet.

Take care of your vaginal health, and start taking probiotics. Dr. Challa recommends the gourmet probiotic Probulin. Use promo code “Challa” on your order to receive 25 percent off at http://www.probulin.com/.

About the Author

Dr. Shekhar Challa is a board certified Gastroenterologist, Co-producer of probiotic video game Microwarriors: The Battle Within, and author of the new book Probiotics for Dummies. www.drchalla.com.

*Image: Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Keeping your child healthy at day care can prove tricky at times. With a group of children playing and eating together for several hours, your child is bound to come into contact with some bad bacteria that can make him or her sick.

According to the hygiene hypothesis, children who are exposed to a variety of bacterial and viral infections, or have older siblings, are more likely to have stronger immune systems as they build tolerance for certain types of bad bacteria.

Adding Probiotics to the Diet

To make sure your little one has optimal protection, try incorporating probiotics into his or her diet. Through various studies, we’ve learned certain strains of good bacteria are best for children’s immunity, such as:

• Bifidobacterium bifidum
• Bifidobacterium lactis
• Lactobacillus acidophilus
• Lactobacillus reuteri
• Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG
• Saccharomyces boulardii (probiotic yeast)

If you’re looking to give your child probiotics, be sure to read the labels on any kids’ chewables or drink mixes to see if any of these good bacteria are listed in the ingredients.

Another great way to introduce probiotics into your child’s diet is through natural foods found primarily in certain fermented or dairy products. While supplements give you larger doses of probiotics in one dose, natural foods are still a great way to boost your child’s immune system. As you’ve probably heard, yogurt with live cultures is a good source of probiotics, and, even if your kid is a picky eater, you’ll probably have a good chance of getting him or her to eat it.

Several studies show that probiotics benefit children in day care centers in the following ways:

1. Infants fed a formula supplemented with L. reuteri or B. lactis had fewer and shorter episodes of diarrhea.
2. Lactobacillus GG may reduce respiratory infections and their severity in children in day care.
3. Children who consumed the drink DanActive experienced a reduction in the incidence of common ailments that included sinusitis, flu, diarrhea and ear infections.

Don’t Forget the Prebiotics

Prebiotics are also available in certain supplements and a variety of foods. Prebiotics, as opposed to probiotics, are fibers that help your body break down other foods and eliminate the waste. These include bananas, onions, asparagus, garlic, legumes, whole grains and seeds.

For a total listing of what to pack in your kid’s lunch box, check out “Probiotics For Dummies” (available now). Chapter 12 provides 20-plus probiotic and prebiotic recipes to use in your own kitchen.

Bacteria to Avoid

While bad bacteria still abounds no matter what the environment, there are at least a couple of them to truly avoid if you have a child in a day care center.

Escherichia Coli – Usually referred to as E. coli, this bacteria can be found in contaminated food or water. Young children, as well as older adults, are at a higher risk of complications due to E. coli, even life-threatening issues such as kidney failure.

Common sources of food contaminated with E. coli include: fresh produce (water used to irrigate crops can be contaminated), ground beef or raw milk.

Shigella – Most common in children ages two to four, this bacteria causes bloody stools and diarrhea and can be contracted through contaminated food or beverages, swimming in contaminated water or coming into direct contact with feces.

When changing diapers or helping toddlers with toilet training, it is crucial to practice good hand-washing techniques

Please Note: Always consult your physician before adding a supplement — including probiotics — to your or your child’s diet.

The final way to protect your child from bad bacteria is to protect yourself as well. Taking probiotics will help you reach optimal health and boost your immune system, decreasing your chances of spreading diseases to your little one. Dr. Challa recommends the gourmet probiotic Probulin. Use promo code “Challa” on your order to receive 25 percent off at http://www.probulin.com/.

About the Author

Dr. Shekhar Challa is a board certified Gastroenterologist, Co-producer of probiotic video game Microwarriors: The Battle Within, and author of the new book Probiotics for Dummies. www.drchalla.com.

*Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

The Little Known Nutritional Benefits Of Probiotics

Probiotics are one of many types of nutritional supplements and products lining the health food store shelves and gaining more mainstream traction. Basically, these are products that contain microorganisms that are good for the body, and most of them are naturally occurring in the human gastrointestinal tract.

It is well-known that probiotic supplementation is good for digestion, as it is the responsibility of the microflora in the intestines to keep everything in balance and functioning smoothly. Some of the nutritional benefits of probiotics are not as well known.

Yeast Infections

Scientific studies in 2003 and 2010 showed probiotic supplementation significantly decreased the colonization of Candida albicans and inhibited the growth of other pathogens. Additional studies have been done with various species of the lactic acid bacterial family. Acidophilus, perhaps the best known member of this family, occurs naturally in the body and serves primarily in this capacity of maintaining a good balance of microflora and yeast.

Helpful bacteria species include:

• Lactobacillus (L.) reuteri
• L. rhamnosus
• L. acidophilus

Skin Conditions

The skin is extremely sensitive to dietary, emotional and environmental stresses. Bringing the microflora in the body into balance is an effective tool in clearing up skin problems. Research has shown that probiotics are good for:

• Acne
• Sun damage
• Aging
• Complexion
• Sensitive skin

Probiotics may be applied topically or taken internally.

Cleanse Rebound

While many are aware that taking antibiotics can destroy even the bacteria in your body that are necessary for digestion and good health, few realize that natural supplements will do the same thing. Garlic, oil of oregano, and any deep cleansing program deplete the body of some of its most important natural resources.

The results of taking such supplements or cleanses may leave behind a sensitive stomach, dragging energy, and digestive discomfort from bacterial die-off. A high-quality probiotic with multiple species will aid in restoring natural balance and energy to the body.

Stress Recovery

High stress will deplete the body of important nutrients, including healthy microflora. When stressed, adding a probiotic may reduce the signs of stress in the hair, skin and body.

Immune System Support

Harmful bacteria are at the bottom of most contagious sickness, but they can be neutralized by adding the helpful bacteria available in a probiotic formula. Different kinds of bacteria require different environments in the body to survive. A healthy gastrointestinal tract will not permit harmful bacteria to gain a foothold.

1. M G Romeo, D M Romeo, L Trovato, S Oliveri, F Palermo, F Cota, P Betta. “Role of probiotics in the prevention of the enteric colonization by Candida in preterm newborns: incidence of late-onset sepsis and neurological outcome.” J Perinatol. 2011 January; 31(1): 63–69. Published online 2010 April 22. doi: 10.1038/jp.2010.57

2. Siver, R. (1964). “Lactobacillus for the control of acne.” The Journal of the Medical Society of New Jersey, 58 (2): 52-53. http://www.natren.com/pages/skincare.html

3. Blitzer, Ilana, “Probiotics: can bacteria benefit skin?” Self, Dec 2006.

About the Author

John Micheal is a freelance writer, designer, and marketing director. He enjoys working outside in beautiful San Diego, California and loves to hear ideas and make them happen. Drop him a line at [email protected]

The Pros of Probiotics

By Tamara Duker Freuman, RD, CDN (www.TamaraDuker.com)

All of a sudden, it seems that probiotics have invaded every aisle of the supermarket. But if you’re still confused about what probiotics actually are and why they’re so beneficial, then read on!

Your intestines are home to billions of friendly bacteria belonging to hundreds of different species that perform a host of useful functions. Some manufacture Vitamin K or biotin (a B vitamin). Some digest the fiber in your diet and release mildly acidic byproducts that help you absorb calcium and iron—and possibly even reduce your risk of colon cancer. Some stimulate the growth and proper development of new cells in your intestines, while others stimulate the intestines’ immune tissues to produce antibodies against harmful invaders. Still others spread out to prevent harmful yeasts or food-borne bacteria—like salmonella, E. coli, campylobacter and shigella—from being able to gain a foothold, multiply and cause infection. Emerging research is even investigating a possible role of diverse ecosystem of bacteria in preventing food allergies and obesity. As you can see, a diverse, thriving community of these critters in your gut is a very important thing for good health!

The community of beneficial bacteria that live in your intestines is collectively known as your “gut flora.” The beneficial bacteria you eat to help boost the gut flora’s population are called “probiotics.”

So how does one help cultivate a diverse and well-populated gut flora? There are two main ways:

• Be a good host: Feed the probiotics a high fiber diet to keep them healthy and thriving; and limit your use of antibiotic medications to those that are truly medically necessary.

• Invite others over: Eat foods that contain a variety of live, active probiotic species and strains known for their different health benefits on a regular basis… and do so especially after taking a course of antibiotic drugs.

Since so many of us have a hard time eating enough fiber in our diets, eating probiotic-rich foods is an important strategy for overall health. Cultured dairy products—such as yogurts and kefirs—are among the tastiest, most convenient and time-tested vehicles for delivering a daily dose of probiotics.

Redwood Hill Farm goat milk kefirs and Green Valley Organics Lactose Free yogurts and kefirs all contain Flourish®: a proprietary blend of 10 different live & active probiotic strains. Each strain was selected for its unique and complementary role for flavor development and health promotion. Together, they’re responsible for the terrific, signature “tang” of the products they’ve cultured, their smooth and creamy textures, and the health benefits they deliver!