I want this post to be super brief but informative enough to help navigate the complex world of gut flora. Let’s talk about the skinny on probiotics and gut health. Most of us by the time we are adults have taken many rounds of antibiotics. And if your youth was anything like mine, pediatricians prescribing antibiotics for ear infections, strep throat, sinus infections, and the like rarely if EVER suggested probiotics to run concurrently with the round of antibiotics. Consider the number of times you took antibiotics throughout the years and there is no doubt that your good gut bacteria has taken a hit. If you’ve been diagnosed with leaky gut, autoimmune disease, or candida, or consume excess processed foods and sugars, you can pretty much count that as a guarantee. HOWEVER, the above information makes it sound like everyone needs a probiotic, which isn’t always the case. If you have lots of digestive symptoms, it COULD be related to lack of good bacteria but it could also be related to SIBO or small intestine bacterial overgrowth. This is where it gets tricky. If you do not have money to get tested for SIBO, you can often tell by trial and error (I am not necessarily recommending this as I am not a healthcare provider). So if you noticed that taking probiotics seems to HELP your symptoms, it might very well be because you need them. If you notice they exacerbate gut symptoms, it could mean a few things. For one, you could have SIBO. But it could also mean that you are starting to crowd out candida and be experiencing die off. Like many of you, I am far too familiar with the “worse before better” process of healing. So stopping probiotics right away might not always be the answer either. Working with your practitioner so they can monitor your symptoms can be very telling, as sometimes a few weeks of more intense symptoms can lead to improvement and even resolution of some. I have a few RULES OF THUMB when it comes to taking probiotics FOR MYSELF:
- I only use multi-strain probiotics. I do not prefer to take single strain probiotics (acidophilus only for example).
- I do take probiotic breaks. I will finish a full bottle of whatever product I am using at the time and then take a few weeks off. I do think that long term probiotics can be helpful but I am also of the opinion that the body needs a break to “figure things out” for itself. Taking breaks is something I have found to be helpful in self-regulation over the years I’ve been healing.
- Rotating brands is something else I’ve found to be really important. Just like with antibiotics, I feel that probiotics should not remain consistent over the long term. Rotating out different combinations of strains helps to introduce a variety of flora that are helpful.
Here I’ve included some of my favorite probiotics that I have personally used and continue to rotate. There are others I’ve tried which are ok also but I didn’t necessarily feel they were as great as I had heard people say. For that reason and others I have included my top picks. I am taking the first one right now until it runs out and then I will start back with one of the other two listed after I take a few weeks off. Keep in mind some probiotics need to be refrigerated while others are shelf stable. Be sure to identify which is which before paying unnecessarily for refrigerated shipping! For Adults: http://amzn.to/1s1DbhJ (soil based multi-strain) http://amzn.to/1VeDeCn (multi-strain sachets) http://amzn.to/1TzA8rw (multi-strain capsules) For Kids: http://amzn.to/1TzyiXs (whole food based chewable) http://amzn.to/1s1DbhJ (soil based multi-strain) Photo credit: www.probiotics.org