Probiotics—They Are Everywhere, But Should You Take Them

Who doesn’t get lost in the aisles of supplements at the grocery store?  On the one hand, it’s nice that everything is labeled for you depending on what interests you—brain health, gut health, mood etc. But on the other hand, do you really need that supplement and is that really the amount that will do the trick?

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Most of my clients who take probiotics that I did not prescribe, don’t seem to notice a difference in their gut or overall health. 

Here’s why:

  1. The probiotic doesn’t make it past the stomach and small intestine where the acid and bile do a nice job of breaking everything down,
  2. The probiotic makes it to the colon where it’s greeted with a whole lot of other bacteria that won’t give up their spot in the ring, 
  3. The probiotic is useless due to manufacturing causes,
  4. It’s the wrong strain of bacteria

 

There is a way to solve all of the above scenarios, and here’s how:

  1. You need a good enteric coated probiotic that can survive the first stages of digestion.
  2. Identifying the current bacteria landscape before adding in more bacteria can insure proper repopulation for greater health outcomes.  Please see my previous article on tests that can help with that.
  3. Research shows that most of the probiotics found in typical yogurts and supplements are not effective, so getting a probiotic that has science behind it showing that it does in fact repopulate the gut bacteria is key.  I don’t prescribe any probiotics that are typically found on the store shelves.
  4. Going back to point #2, when you don’t know that you’re adding to the gut, you can make things worse.  Not everyone experiences this, but if someone has an underlying bacterial imbalance, adding more bacteria to the equation can make things worse!
 Courtesy of iStock Photos from Diabetes Daily

Courtesy of iStock Photos from Diabetes Daily

It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t drink kombucha or have your dairy/non-dairy yogurts found in the stores—there’s a host of other benefits to these foods!  Just don’t necessarily assume that it will make a direct impact on your gut.  It’s a little more complicated than that, but you can still experience the joy and health perks of these foods.  

Here’s my approach to prescribing probiotics:

  1. Get a general history and baseline for gut health
  2. Rule out food allergies and sensitivities
  3. Order the appropriate test to check for inflammation, indigestion, and bacterial imbalance
  4. Assign an appropriate anti-inflammatory and/or anti-microbial treatment to get rid off the imbalance
  5. Then, add in the probiotic based on on step “c” and “d” 

If you have any questions on the topic or want to learn more about how you can improve your digestion, nutrition, or want to know if the supplements are working for you or not drop a note at info@proactivehealthnd.com

In Health,

Dr. Elena

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