What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are bacteria that are know to be beneficial. Everyone has bacteria in their gut, and everyone has some good bacteria and some bad. How much good and much bacteria you have can determine how well your gut works.
When we are born, and pass through the vaginal canal, we ingest our first bacteria. Breast milk is a great source of beneficial bacteria, and this help our digestive tracts fully populate with bacteria. As we go through life we pick up more bacteria, good and bad.
Taking a probiotic supplement ensures that you have plenty of the good bacteria. The good bacteria performs important tasks, like breaking down food and chemicals that we can’t breakdown ourselves, assimilating vitamins for us and bulking up stools. Bad or pathogenic bacteria can produce toxins, cause diarrhoea consipation and cramping, and cause inflammation.
Who Could Benefit From Probiotics?
If you were born by c-section or you were not breast-fed, then you may have never developed a healthy balance of gut bacteria. A good probiotic supplement may be very useful.
Antibiotics are used to kill harmful bacteria, however, they also kill the good bacteria too! Whenever you take a course of antibiotics ensure that you also take a course of probiotics during and after antibiotic treatment. Take your probiotic 2 hours after the antibiotics. I.e. if you take the antibiotic at 8am, 12pm, 4pm and 8pm, then take a probiotic at 10am, 2pm, 6pm and 10pm. This will be a higher dose than is suggested on the label usually. Continue the probiotics for at least a month afterwards.
A healthy microbiome can help you to resist holiday illnesses. It’s a good idea to take a probiotic for 2 weeks before and during your holiday.
A common factor in IBS is imbalanced gut bacteria. This may not be the root cause of the issue, but research has shown that soil-based probiotics can improve symptoms.
Gut bacteria is affected by many factors, including stress, artificial sweeteners, pesticides, food poisoning, medications, detoxes, sugars and refined carbs and more. With this in mind, taking a daily probiotic is likely beneficial for most people.
Probiotic bacteria are beneficial for more than just your gut by the way! They help to keep your immune system strong and to prevent urinary tract infections and thrush!
Who Shouldn’t Use Probiotics?
If you have Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth or SIBO, then you should not take probiotics until this infection has been cleared. You can read more about SIBO here.
Those who are severely immuno-compromised, for example if you are going through immune suppression therapy, should not take probiotics.
If you have histamine intolerance then you should be aware that certain strains of bacteria can be histamine producing, whilst others can be histamine blocking. Therefore, the type of probiotic you choose is vital!
How To Choose a Great Probiotic
The are a few problems with many probiotics.
1. They are often too low in bacteria. Research has shown that a probiotic supplement should contain at least 10 billion bacteria to have a therapeutic effect.
2. Many do not make it past the stomach acid and those that do can release the bacteria in the wrong part of the digestive tract. We want to bacteria to reach the large intestine.
3. Many probiotics do not contain live bacteria. The bacteria needs to be alive in order to be beneficial.
4. Many do not contain a broad spectrum of bacteria. We have more strains of bacteria in the gut than we are able to count! So taking a probiotic with just one strain of bacteria in is unlikely to be useful!
5. Some probiotics contain prebiotics too. Prebiotics are great but it’s generally best to be able to control the level of prebiotics you’re ingesting and some people are extremely sensitive to them!
The word probiotics often makes people think of yoghurt drinks. These are not ideal however as they are high in sugar, low in live viable bacteria and also expensive.
There are a handful of probiotic brands that I recommend. What I recommend to each client depends on their individual requirements. The brands below are my favourites:
Need Additional Support?
Digestive health is complicated and it’s incredibly difficult to tackle digestive issues without support, as gut healing needs to be approached in a methodical way.
I’m a registered nutritional therapist and specialise in digestive healt. I work with clients, at my clinics in Essex and Suffolk, and also online via Skype, to help them identify what’s causing their health problems. I work with people like you to construct a simple yet effective plan for healing the gut and body.
Click here to find out how you can improve your health for good.