Although I’m not a supplement pusher, I do believe that there are a select few supplements that everyone can gain benefit from. Probiotic supplements and foods are one of them, especially if you have been on antibiotics (even if it was a long time ago).
You might wonder why we “need” supplements of any sort, considering our health was vastly better 50 years ago before anyone took supplements. There are many factors that play into this fact, but here are some larger points: Our environment, food supply, lifestyle and culture are not the same as 50 years ago. We are more stressed, have less time for self care and food preparation, have limited or no access to good quality, micronutrient dense foods, and are exposed to thousands of toxins in our environment on a daily basis. All of these factors increase the demands of our body. Our bodies intricate systems, used to keep up alive and well, are greatly dependent on micronutrient support, found in our foods.
What are Probiotics?
- Beneficial bacteria and yeasts that live in the gut. Our gut is lined with trillions of bacteria (both good, neutral and bad). Our gut is 80% of our immune system.
What do They Do?
- Keep the bad bacteria, yeast and fungi in check
- Help properly break down foods and absorb nutrients
- Produce vitamins
- Protect us from pathogens
- Prevent diseases (by way of supporting neurological and immune systems)
- Vital for good gastrointestinal health
- Play a role in gene expression
- Play a role in our bodies inflammatory response
Where do We Get Them?
- We colonize our gut bacteria while in the womb and during the birth process ( vaginal birth only)
- We eat them and drink them from sources like:
- Fermented foods and beverages (kombucha, yogurt, keifer, lacto fermented vegetables like saurkraut, kimchi, pickles)
- Microorganisms in the dirt, found on your vegetables from a local farm or your yard
Why do We Need to Replace Them?
- They are constantly being killed off by these top two offenders:
What is a Good One to Take?
- I recommend getting a regular dose of probiotics from one or more of the food sources listed above, in addition to a supplement
- The two brands that I tend to use the most are Prescript Assist (free samples from site, available) and VSL#3
- VSL#3 (packet form only) is sometimes covered by insurance. You need a prescription written for it. Most doctors have no problem doing this. It is available at the pharmacy at Walgreens and CVS. You need to ask for it, because it’s a refrigerated product. It’s shelf stable for at least 2 weeks.
How Much do I Need?
- Dosage is very individualized and depends on symptoms, current diagnoses and previous health history
- I recommend using the food sources on a daily basis. It only takes 2-4 Tbs to obtain the benefit from the lacto fermented veggies. Keifer is higher in probiotic content than yogurt and makes a great addition to a smoothie (watch the sugar content though!).
What if I Don’t Feel Well When I Take a Supplement or Eat Fermented Foods?
- Since the beneficial probiotics kill off the overgrowth of bad bacteria, it can cause you to feel unwell for a short time. The bad bacteria release toxins which your body needs to clear from your system. If you have alot of “die-off” of bad bacteria at once, this can cause symptoms.
- If you experience moderate gastrointestinal distress or flu like symptoms, you can either ride it out for 2-3 days until is dissipates on its own, or you can decrease your dose and build back up slowly.
- The capsules can be opened and sprinkled on cold or room temperature food, allowing you to control the amount you get per day (you may start at a half capsule and build slowly to two)
- There are some situations where probiotics and/or fermented foods can cause more harm than good. Some of these include if you have undiagnosed or diagnosed SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) or a histamine intolerance.