After a year and a half away from hot yoga, I rekindled my practice a few weeks ago. Masks were optional, so I could breathe easy, vaccines were required, and the powerhouse teacher — Brandon Scott, who we’ve spotlighted in the past — delivered the kind of guidance that simply can’t be imparted over Zoom. It was glorious, and I gave it my all. The next day, however, my body was in pain. Muscles that hadn’t been used in months prickled with soreness, and even a dreaded foam roller was of no avail. But something else unexpectedly helped: Probiotics. To be more specific a sample of Lyvecap, a probiotic blend I’d recently received from the brand’s founder, Yinka Davies.
But why did it help me so much? I had no idea, so I spoke with Davies and asked her to explain some of the science that goes into her product.
“The definition of probiotics is a live bacteria or yeast that when given to a host, meaning a human, in adequate amounts — which is the key — they have a beneficial effect,” said Davies, a pediatric gastroenterologist (a digestive health/gut doctor) who trained at Stanford and remains on faculty there. When I got her on the phone recently, Davies explained that she began her research in primary sclerosing cholangitis, a “rare liver disease affected by gut flora,” and ended up diving deep into the world of probiotics with full force, because these tiny organisms can have such an impact on immunity.
Davies’ education began as an undergraduate at the University Of Maryland, followed by medical school at Chicago Med School. She then went on to Children’s National Medical Center in Washington DC for pediatrics, and attended Stanford for her fellowship, where she remains on faculty. Treating patients with severe illness that was alleviated with the help of probiotics is a huge part of what inspired her to get involved in formulating probiotics herself.
“Nearly twenty years ago, as a newly trained gastroenterologist, I treated my first patient with dire clinical symptoms due to an unbalanced gut,” she remembered. “After using multiple probiotics it wasn’t until using the Claudio De Simone Formulation that the clinical symptoms resolved and we had a lab-documented change towards a healthy and balanced gut. Through this experience and countless more over my career, I realized that a balanced gut is critical for health and wellness.
But as she’s spent more time researching the importance of probiotics, Davies realized that a lot of what’s out there for consumers right now might have great marketing, but it wasn’t scientifically sound. Like, at all. “Because there’s no FDA regulations on probiotics, you could even make one at home yourself,” she explained. “As long as you don’t make any health claims, you can stick a nice beautiful label on it and stick it on the shelf. And that’s what we’re seeing, generally, on the market. What has to happen with a probiotic is you have to bring the right strains together, and those strains have to behave a certain way to change the game, immunologically, within the gut.”
Without federal regulations, companies with fantastic marketing are combining bacteria strains that haven’t been shown to improve health on their own, much less when thrown together, and sometimes these companies use bacteria that won’t even pass through gastric PH (read: stomach acid), so they have zero impact on the body’s system at all. In recent years, probiotic has become a buzzword, one of those catchall wellness words that people think will help them be “healthy” no matter what. But the lack of regulation means that’s not the case at all. Some of these “probiotics” are essentially no better than snake oil.
“As I dove deeper and deeper, I realized there’s a lot of smart marketing but not a lot of research out there,” Davies said. “And many of these companies have tons of money to pull the wool over the eyes of consumers. A probiotic is delivering live bacteria that when it enters into the host’s system will confer a benefit to the person taking it. That’s the gap right there; show me the data, if I take your probiotic, show me what the benefits are.”
Frustrated by the lack of accountability — and y’know, science — involved in most of the supplemental probiotics on the market, Davies decided to take matters into her own hands. She created Lyvecap probiotic formulation in two different versions: The first is called Strong and has been designed to help athletes with recovery, and the second, Balance, is simply to help boost immunity and gut health for any and everyone. And she went back to the source for Lyvecap formulations, tapping Claudio De Simone for the company’s probiotic sourcing for a full circle moment in her work.
“Lyvecap Strong has 200 billion bacteria that have shown to decrease lactic acid and increase cognitive ability,” she said. “And the studies are there to show that — we’ve done the data. Our other formulation, Lyvecap Balance, has 70+ peer-reviewed researched journals showing the efficacy. And Balance is a probiotic for the masses. Who should be taking a probiotic? Everybody. It’s your immunity. It’s protecting you from the perspective of taking a vitamin every day. You’re taking that insurance to balance your bacteria, and make sure that you’re able to withstand the viruses and the colds and the antibiotics if you needed them, to keep things in check.”
My own experience using Strong to help recover from hot yoga, and later, as part of a regimen to restore my legs after a renewed interest in running, was just as convincing to me as Davies’ strong convictions about using scientific formulations to help combat the faux probiotics flooding the market. But aside from athletes using probiotics to defeat lactic acid, the Balance formulation also works incredibly well for specific groups. Namely? People who are already experiencing digestive problems and food intolerance or sensitivities.
“Who would benefit the most are those who have intolerances and dysfunction and dysbiosis,” she explained. “Whether their presentation is IBS, or discomfort, what we’ve got to do is change the paradigm around that. What we need to do is keep you well. The people who should take it are those who are already ill, but what we should be doing is the prevention component — keeping you out of these doctor’s offices. How do we keep you well? Probiotics can be a big part of that.”
As for the name, Davies noticed that a lot of her patients were having trouble remembering to take the probiotics, so she inserted them into an easy cap that pushes down into a water bottle. After you engage the cap, and shake up the probiotics into the water, just drink the full bottle to get the full effect. With just a slightly fruity/citrusy taste, the probiotics aren’t sweet and contain zero calories, carbs or protein. And the “lyve” is a nod to the live bacteria.
All of the Lyvecap probiotics are made cold, shipped cold, and designed to be stored cold so the bacteria survives. The caps can be unrefrigerated for up to seven days without losing efficacy, but so many other probiotics don’t take this precaution of refrigeration, which is part of why they’re ineffective by the time they get to consumers. For Davies, Lyvecap is a chance to bring her cutting edge knowledge straight to consumers, to combat the false advertising that is unfortunately so common in the “wellness” industry right now, and to educate people about gut health.
After several years of living in a pandemic, the importance of immunity and overall well-being couldn’t be more clear. “Seeing the rise of unwellness, patients who aren’t doing well, and how the gut microbiome has an effect on that really led me to this journey of educating people,” she said. The importance of stabilized gut flora is really important because we’re seeing how much it affects overall wellness. This is important, this is your immunity.”
To learn more about Lyvecap visit their website here.