What you’ll learn:
- When taking probiotics may not be a good idea
- What makes gut bacteria important
- The different strains in a probiotic and what they do
I get this question quite often. It’s a very good question and I feel like depending on who you ask, the answers are different. I hope to keep this quite simple for you and to share a few analogies that may increase your understanding of what these bacteria are and why they are so important to our health. Let’s dive in shall we?
The first thing we will begin speaking on is whether or not taking a probiotic for life is necessary. The answer to this question is it depends. First and foremost health is not a linear process. If it were, we could likely treat a majority of the people the same. Because we are all different and our microbiome is as identifying as our fingerprint, it really depends on your specific need. I know the question you are about to ask. “Well, Jess…how do I know what I need?” I wish I had an easy answer for you on that, but it would take a little more digging and understanding of your health history to know these details. Generally speaking, most of us are missing some key players. The only way to know which for sure, is to get stool testing.
For my clients, I take them through a pathogen purge where we rid the microbiome of potential pathogenic overgrowths (I call weeding) and we begin reseeding with specific strains after that. If a client does not tolerate a certain probiotic well, then we typically introduce a different one. The difference in those I’m about to explain shortly.
Ok, let’s get into the players shall we? Because I think most people get military analogies, I’m going to explain and present in that fashion.
Lactobacillus (5-6 strains)
Like the Marines and are responsible for “the first assault”
Bifidobacterium (2-4 strains)
Like an Army Core of Engineers who are responsible for building infrastructure, bifidobacs’ job is to colonize and stay
Like Navy Seals or Army Rangers are built to withstand volatile conditions and harsh environments, bacillus are the special forces arm of the good bacteria peacekeeping unit
All of these strains are necessary for ideal functioning of our gut and immune system. You can think about it as a soccer team, or a baseball team, or whatever team you want. When you showing symptoms of gas and bloating, food allergies, autoimmune conditions, etc, it is likely that all your players are not out on the field. You have some spots missing. Your first baseman and pitcher are out. Your point guard isn’t playing. You get the picture. It’s hard to compete and get the job done when you’re competing a couple people down. In this case it could be millions or billions of people down! In this case, yes, supplementing some probiotics may be worth it. But even still, if you supplement with the wrong one and add to a potential overabundance, you may not react well. That is when you may try a new probiotic that better suits you.
Ok, so when is it not good to take a probiotic? For those who have been diagnosed or may think they have something called SIBO or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, it may be best to hold off on a probiotic. Why? Because with people that have SIBO, there is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine and taking a probiotic may only magnify the issue. It is important to begin reducing the number of bacteria in the small intestine first and then you may consider adding in a spore forming or SBO (soil based organism) probiotic where they make it to the colon and reside there. They do not feed the SIBO like that of Lactobacillus.
So, the answer to, “Do I need to take probiotics for the rest of my life?” If your microbiome and immune system are functioning optimally and you are eating fermented foods to help expose yourself to natural probiotics I would say no. You do not need probiotic supplementation. Not unless you were to get a surgery or take an antibiotic for some reason, then considering some supplementation may be necessary.
If you have further questions, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or head over to the contact page and you’ll find a box to insert your question there!