230 – Probiotics for Respiratory Health – My Interview with Neil Levin

Certain probiotics aid seasonal respiratory challenges

Allergy Support

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In this interview with Neil Levin, we are going to discuss several important topics relative to probiotics. There is so much more to the story of probiotics that most consumers know. There is also much more to story of NOW Foods probiotics and you are going to learn alot about how their probiotics are brought to the market. Why should you have confidence in NOW products? Actually why should you have confidence in any particular company? This is an important topic because the quality of your supplements is determined by the companies like NOW and the companies that supply their raw materials. This is one of the biggest issues facing all aspects of the nutritional products industry. Why should we trust a company? What do we need to know to have confidence in the quality, science, safety and effectiveness in any particular product?

Respiratory Care
We are going to explore these topics by looking more closely at a new probiotic by NOW. We will explore the science of NOW Respiratory Care Probiotic.  Respiratory Care Probiotic is a probiotic combination featuring L. acidophilus NCFM®, which has been used in over 60 scientific studies. When used alone or in combination with B. lactis Bl-04, NCFM® has been shown to support a robust and balanced immune response to seasonal respiratory challenges, as well as to support an active lifestyle. NCFM® can rapidly populate the intestine and adhere to the intestinal wall, which is helpful for use during and after temporary disruptions to intestinal microbiota. Remember, nutrients are not drugs and do not treat diseases like respiratory allergies. Supplements like probiotics are natural bacteria that provide a functional benefit that supports respiratory health. Don’t confuse nutritional support with drugs. They are not the same.

Specific strain and species
NCFM is a specific strain of bacteria. What is emerging in the research of probiotics is that each strain is unique. There are many different variations of bacteria and these differences account for the many different reported effects. NCFM has been studied and used for many years but was only available through health practitioners. That exclusive use has expired and now that specific probiotic is now available in NOW Respiratory Care. This specific combination is only available through NOW. So if you have seasonal immune issues you should consider this particular probiotic. As you look at probiotics in today’s market you will see many bacteria with specific designations. These specific strains are the ones that are being studied and you should be able to learn more about the specific strain and its specific benefits. This will become the norm going forward. These distinctions between strains may seem confusing at first but ultimately it will be valuable to consumers, to be able to understand the specific benefits of specific strains and combinations of bacteria.

Here’s how probiotics are classified: from Wikipedia:

Lactobacillus Acidophilus

  • Domain: Bacteria
  • Phylum: Firmicutes
  • Class: Bacilli
  • Order: Lactobacillales
  • Family: Lactobacillaceae
  • Genus: Lactobacillus
  • Species: Lactobacillus Acidophilus
  • Strain: NCFM – (this is where the action is.)

Laboratory and Technology
One of the surprising things that I learned about NOW is that they have their own in house labs with 150 employees. That is the type of commitment that NOW has made to the science and technology of supplement manufacturing. This is a serious operation. Companies don’t invest like this unless they are committed to the science of high quality products. As Neil describes, NOW was the first supplement company to invest in a RiboPrinter.


This expensive equipment is used in food industry to identify specific bacterial contamination. In this novel application, NOW is using the RiboPrinter to identify all raw material bacteria they use in their products. Bacteria is confirmed coming in and bacteria is confirmed in finished goods. As we go forward, with probiotics found everywhere in the marketplace, it will become more and more important that companies are able to confirm the actual strains and amounts that are in their products and perhaps as importantly, confirm that there is only the bacteria listed on the label in the product. Don’t assume that this is always true.

Shelf Stability
One of the hotly debated topics in the world of probiotics is whether so called shelf stable probiotics are somehow inferior to refrigerated probiotics. Can shelf stable probiotics be relied upon to give the full potency at the time of expiration or best by date? If some products are shelf stable and some are not, how will you know as a consumer. In this case Neil provides the answer for NOW products. In this case, NOW probiotics are tested for potency at the expiration. They are also subjected to temperature of 120 degrees and remained viable and potent. In one revealing comment, Neil stated that moisture is the big enemy of shelf stability because it is moisture that will activate the dormant bacteria. Therefore moisture resistant packaging becomes an issue.

So this interview covers a lot more than just respiratory health. It touches on aspects of probiotics that you don’t normally think about. Part of our purpose here at HealthQuestPodcast.com is to help you learn about the distinctions in the marketplace. The more you know, the better choices you will make. Better choices lead to better outcomes. You always have options so seek to develop a nutritional program that works for you. The best product is the one that works for you. Be diligent in your research, choose wisely, and commit to learning about your health, your medicine and your nutrition.

About Neil Levin
Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA is the Senior Education Manager and a product formulator for NOW® Foods. He is a board-certified clinical nutritionist with a diplomate in advanced nutritional laboratory assessment. The U.S. Natural Products Association (NPA) presented Neil its Industry Champion Award in 2008 for “people who have made notable individual contributions to the natural products industry above and beyond what is expected to achieve commercial success.”

Neil’s interviews and articles are published in magazines and newspapers. He has been featured in many radio interviews and television news reports. Neil blogs at www.honestnutrition.com; is on Facebook (Honest Nutrition) and Twitter (neilelevin).

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