Probiotics 101

by in gut health February 27, 2020

Man do we love our probiotics!

Probiotics have become a staple in the supplement cabinets of patients all over. And what’s interesting is that we’re still really only in our infancy as far as understanding the depth to which probiotics can impact our health.

Do you have questions about probiotics? Here are some quick notes for you:

1. You can generally think of probiotics as “pro-biome (microbiome)” and can shift the vibe of the house party I mentioned in a previous post.

2. Probiotics can also alter bacterial health of the vaginal tract, upper respiratory tract, oral mucosa, skin, and almost anywhere else in the body! It’s kinda creepy to think about but also fascinating how these little guys manage to crawl there way around the body to the places they are needed.

3. A lot of my patients ask about quality when it comes to the probiotics. Most of the probiotics on the market are pretty okay. If you can imagine probiotics coming in a grade A line and a grade B line, most of the over-the-counter probiotics are grade B. That means they’re still really good and are often manufactured by the same companies that make the grade A probiotics. Grade A probiotics are typically the ones you can only get through a healthcare provider.

4. There are many different strains of probiotics and it can get confusing which ones might be best for you; soil-derived, refrigerated, shelf-stable, 1 strain, 12 strains, which strains, how many billion units? The thing to keep in mind is what I said earlier: our understanding of probiotics is still limited. Pretty much any product you get will be okay, but may lack some of the extra specificity you need as an individual. Enter: Your personalized health plan provided by your Naturopathic Doctor!

5. It’s been found that most oral probiotics only stay in the digestive tract for one day. That means that in order to continue reaping the benefits of probiotics, people do need to take them every day.

6. Most people find probiotics to be beneficial. They can increase the number of human friendly bacteria, which can improve gas and bloating, upset stomach, indigestion, diarrhea and constipation. And that’s without the Pepto. Also, because gut health is at the root of pretty much every other aspect of health, probiotics can be part of a foundational support program to deal with inflammation, sensitivities, mood fluctuations, etc.

7.There are some people that probiotics aren’t helpful for, and can in fact experience worsening symptoms of gas and bloating. For these people, they likely already have an unhealthy amount of bacteria in their guts, most likely in the small intestine. In these cases, adding more bacteria to an already overloaded party, makes for a very crowded and rowdy situation. An example of this is a condition called SIBO, which I will talk more about in a future post during this series.

Do you take probiotics? How have they impacted your life? If you know someone who might benefit from knowing more about gut health and probiotics, make sure to share this post with them!