Want to know the truth about Probiotics?
The gut is EVERYTHING. In fact, it’s been called the “Third Brain” and it’s the home to our very important and necessary immune system. It’s so important that the FDA is finally deciding to put some money into studying what is now called: the Microbiome. This is a fancy word for our gut and all of its processes! Imagine, just a few years ago, doctors were graduating from school without ever having to take a single nutrition course…scary.
But it also explains why so many doctors don’t bat an eyelash when prescribing antibiotics when there are gut issues, even though antibiotics are often a cause of gut issues! But they simply don’t know what else to do! Now we know – nutrition and gut health impacts everything from physical health to mental health to our very own resilience. There is no denying this anymore.
And yet for everything we thought we knew about what makes a gut healthy, in a few months it seems we had in fact, no clue. And that includes all the latest research with probiotics, prebiotics, and the microbiome. And I’m sorry, but I will give you a heads up that reading through this post is going to make you question everything you thought you ever knew about probiotics…and sadly, how much money you have wasted on them! So if you like your current paradigm, then stop reading now!
Just a couple of facts:
- Probiotics, generally speaking, come more often than not in strains of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. And even though they are being offered in incredibly high numbers these days, these two species are only 2 of more than 1,000 strains of bacteria living in the gut and things get highly competitive in there! These are not the only strains you need in order to be healthy. But they have been the easiest to produce in a lab and therefore much of the research on probiotics have been on these two strains.
- Probiotics are transient. They do not recolonize the gut with good bacteria. When you stop taking them, they leave. Period.
- Probiotics are only as good as the host who carries them. If your gut is in need of tremendous repair, then those probiotics are going to leave far quicker than if you have only a mild disruption in your gut flora.
- Probiotics hardly make it past the environment of the gut and into the small intestine, where they are needed. The bile and hydrochloric acid of the stomach kills a large percentage of probiotics on contact.
- The only reason probiotics help us is by creating lactic acid. The lactic acid is what makes the environment in your gut happy to be home to good bacteria, and unhappy for the bad or opportunistic bacteria. How do they do this? They need food to eat, they are alive after all. What can they eat? Lactobacillus primarily eats lactose! So if you aren’t eating dairy, then all those 50 billion lactobacillus acidophilus aren’t getting any food to eat and therefore aren’t producing any lactic acid!
- Due to all the challenges faced by consuming probiotics in a supplement form, quantity is important. You need a LARGE quantity of probiotic strains to make even the tiniest of impact in an imbalanced gut. The reason for this is because you will need to crowd out the bad bacteria in order to rebalance. I’m talking at least 4 billion cfu (colony forming units).
Now, what the heck to do about all of this information? Let’s break it down…
1. You need Prebiotics with your probiotics! Prebiotics are a group of carbohydrates that cannot be digested by the human body and are therefore designated as food for the probiotics – and this is how they will repopulate your gut! (Even if you drink several glasses of milk per day, I bet it’s pasteurized and therefore just a vehicle of milk sugar and milk protein.) To get these prebiotics, you want to eat a lot of soluble fiber as some if it will ferment in the large intestine and create the most delectable food for your good bacteria (yay, lactic acid! Goodbye bad bacteria!)! And if you are not eating a lot of these foods, or if you have had a history of antibiotic use, then please, please take what are called Synbiotics…they have BOTH pre and probiotics in them and will give you what you need.
2. You have got to manage your stress. Believe it or not, stress kills good gut bacteria! And it kills some of the best and most prolific strains, nonetheless! Mindful eating goes a long way. If you feel even remotely stressed out, just wait a little while to eat. Eating when we are stressed also reduces the amount of nutrient absorption from our food! Our guts are smart, after all: if you are running from the woolly mammoth, how can you be trying to digest your food at the same time?
3. Find the strains of probiotics that can survive the heat and acidity of the stomach! One of the currently most researched strains that can carry out this magnificent act and has been used worldwide for many years is called the bacillus genus. They actually contain a little protein coating that can withstand harsh environments and they travel easily (which is how I got to know them in the first place!). Check out GoMegaSpore.com. They are pioneering a new way to repopulate the gut using spore biotics and people have been having some remarkable health turnarounds by making only that one change to their regimen.
My favorite gut rebalancing protocol? Depending on how out of balance your gut flora is…
- Mindful Eating
- Making HALF of each meal vegetables! Include veggies with both soluble and insoluble fiber. Also, making sure to eat at least one piece of fruit each day
- Including fermented foods in your diet daily such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, kimchi, etc.
- Supplementing with probiotics!
If you are still having symptoms after all this, consider eliminating some foods that are common culprits of intolerance (gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs) and sugar while you are at it simply because sugar is SO IRRITATING, even to a healthy gut but most especially to an already irritated gut.
And last but not least, order labs. Ask me about the Microbiome test kit! With this kit you will learn everything from food intolerances to autoimmune conditions to general immunity and absorption. It also tests for good bacteria, bad bacteria, parasites, and yeasts! It gives you a snapshot into the health or lack of health of your micro biome so that you know the best move to make from here. It is a means to stop wasting time and money and get better faster because rather than making a bunch of guesses as to the cause of your discomfort or ill health, we can know exactly where to begin. And the great news about these test kits, they are much more affordable than jumping into the food allergy tests!
What are your thoughts and experiences with probiotics? Leave your questions and comments below!