- Heather Woodruff
Probiotics for Gut Healing and when you SHOULDN’T take Them
Our digestive tract is the center of your body, the core of all wellbeing… it is your EARTH. Like the earth we live on we need a balanced variety of living biology for it to stay happy and healthy. This is called our microbiome!
What is the microbiome?
There are huge microbiome colonies in multiple places in and on our body, but since we are talking gut health I am going to narrow in on the biggest one which is in our colon (aka: large intestine). This mostly consists of bacteria but there are also some yeasts and viruses. The microbiome in our colon is massive; bacteria here usually outnumber our own human cells 10 – 1 and each person can have around 1,000 strains.
Microbiome Health Benefits
It may seem weird and gross that we have so much bacteria living in and on us but I promise you my digestively challenged friends, these little guys are essential for creating a healthy non-inflamed gut as well as so many other health benefits.
Just to name a few…
Help break down nutrients we physically can’t and turn them into nutrients we can use (help us to digest!)
Keep bad bacteria from taking hold, causing disease this reduces the risk of gut infections.
Make certain vitamins like B12 and K
New research shows they also have a profound effect on other parts of our bodies, like our brain and mental health.
Are huge part of our immune system
What we know
Researchers currently don’t know what microbes make up an “optimal” gut microbiota but it appears that the healthiest individuals have a strong diverse microbiotia (meaning lots of different strains).
All of this amazing knowledge of the microbiome launched the creation of probiotics which are meant to keep our tummy full of beneficial bacteria. Seems like a win win, right? Sometime yes… but we are all very special and unique, as are our digestive systems especially when they are unbalanced. Which is why so people with IBS like symptoms report varying reactions in the body after taking probiotics. Some say it saved their painfully bloated bellies others say it sent them running to the bathroom even more. Some reported absolutely no noticeable difference.
Why is this? If you want these bugs to stick around and reap their health benefits you want to make sure you create a happy comfortable place to live/stay. Who wants to stay in a home infested by obnoxious house guests (aka: bad bacteria) or a house constantly going up in flames (gut inflammation). Sometimes it doesn’t matter how many probiotic capsules you take, those good guys are just going to head for the hills and go right through you until you calm that belly down.
It’s even thought that in cases of gut motility issues (constipation) or SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth) that probiotic supplements can cause bacteria colonization of the small intestine which is NOT a good thing. It’s estimated that 60% of those with IBS also have SIBO and this may actually even be the root cause to their chronic tummy troubles. If you found your tummy troubles getting worse with probiotics, I would definitely explore this further.
Should you Take Probiotics?
If you made it this far you may be more confused than ever about whether you should take probiotics or not. For anyone with severe, ongoing digestive issues that your medical doctor has not been able to pin point a root cause or if you were just given the blanket diagnosis of IBS, I recommend talking to a trained holistic/functional health professional about your specific symptoms so they can put together the ideal digestive healing protocol for you, which may include supplements, herbs or probiotics at the IDEAL time.
If you do decide to give probiotics a try be sure to get a quality brand with a good variety of strains (5+) and with a minimum 25 Billion CFU’s per capsule or dose. If you find you feel worse, definitely reach out for help.
And don’t forget about our amazing fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso, kefir, lacto fermented veggies, yogurt, etc. These are also amazing ways to keep our tummies stocked with beneficial bugs!
Give the good bacteria in your gut a lovely place to live by downloading this FREE 3 Day Meal Plan for IBS Flare-Ups (or chronic tummy trouble).