Probiotics, any idea what they are or what they do?

Imagine your gut like a garden.

Probiotics are the seeds.

There are a wide range of seeds that can be sown and every garden needs new seeds regularly.

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So, what are they?

Probiotics are live microorganisms that are believed to have benefits for our health when consumed.

There are many types of microorganisms, with the most common bacteria belonging to groups called Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium and within these groups are many, many other bacteria.

Different probiotics have different effects and are required for different symptoms/conditions. If one Bifidobacterium strain improves diarrhoea, for example, it doesn’t mean another strain from that group will have the same effect.

Where to find them:

  • fermented foods

  • live yoghurt and

  • supplements.

FERMENTED FOODS hold a firm place in cuisine from almost every culture, but they are becoming more popular in the West because of their proposed health benefits, particularly in the gut.

While research remains limited, some benefit to gut health has been demonstrated:

  • Kefir is believed to be effective in the eradication of H.Pylori, while sauerkraut on severity of IBS and kimchi on gut bacteria

  • Fermentation reduces toxins. Sourdough fermentation can increase the tolerance of certain carbohydrates in people with bowel disorders (e.g. IBS).

  • It contains microorganisms which may compete with ‘problem some’ bacteria

If you fancy giving it a go, @theculturedclub has an excellent book and online courses to help you get started.

If you know me by now, you know that I focus on food first, leaving little need for supplements. However, in their absence, SUPPLEMENTS can be beneficial.

It is easy to get confused by the wide range of probiotic products available.  This is made even more difficult as evidence remains limited. Specific strains have shown benefits in:

  • antibiotic associated diarrhoea and after antibiotic use

  • treatment of IBD, IBS

  • acne, asthma, arthritis, cholera, cystic fibrosis, dental infections, diabetes, general gastrointestinal health, hypertension, pancreatitis and weight control (although studies are sparce)

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How to choose the correct one

Choosing a probiotic requires much more consideration such as

  • the amount and types of strain(s) needed for the treatment or prevention of a particular condition/symptom- specific strains have been more effective in treating different symptoms. For example, Saccharomyces Boulardii has been shown to be beneficial in treating diarrhoea.

  • the dosage needed. This changes for age, condition, if you are taking other medications or if you are in hospital or immunosuppressed.

  • dietary requirements of the client- gluten or lactose intolerant.

  • quality- there are so many brands, with many unfounded health claims.

It is advisable to always consult a trained practitioner before taking any supplementation.

Conclusion

There are simply not enough scientific studies on fermented foods, particularly tempeh, kombucha, miso or kimchi, and probiotics to suggest clear benefit for our health. However, many people have found great relief and reduced symptoms whilst taking probiotics- either food form and/or supplementation.

Fermented foods, for example, are the cornerstone of cuisine in many cultures. They do not rely on evidence to validate their use, but these traditions are handed down through generation.

In addition, while probiotic supplements, for the average person, are not believed to cause any adverse effects, some groups are exceptions, such as seriously ill patients, neonates, or immunocompromised. Therefore, it is advisable to always consult a trained practitioner before taking any supplementation.

I can help you

Do you still find yourself confused? Do you have any of the symptoms/conditions mentioned and think probiotics could be useful for you?

Maybe you need guidance and support to address these symptoms. I can help you understand and navigate your symptoms and together we can identify the root cause. Simple steps can have the greatest gains.

Your first simple step is booking a FREE 15 minute call to discuss how we can achieve your health goals click here.