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Gut Health - Navigating the World of Probiotic Supplements - Part I

Do you know what the difference is between all of those bottles of probiotics on the shelf? We know that navigating the supplement world and the various probiotics on the market can be confusing especially with the probiotic market growing rapidly and new supplements coming out all the time. It can be hard to know what to take, what to spend, and when you actually need one.

Let’s start by talking about who should take a probiotic.

A probiotic is worth considering if you:

· Have taken antibiotics in recent years

· Eat processed foods

· Live in an urban area

Given our Western diet and lifestyle most people have a compromised microbiome. Even if you are generally healthy you can likely benefit from taking a probiotic but who’s better off without them?

A probiotic is not a good idea:

If you are an individual with SIBO (Small-Intestinal bacterial overgrowth) an overgrowth of lactic acid in the small intestine. When more bacteria are thrown in the mix even as a probiotic or in the form of fermented foods it can be more harmful than helpful. In this case you would want to remove the overgrowth before adding in a probiotic.

If you are immune compromised, you will want to avoid probiotics. If you're immune system is depressed it can be a bad idea to add in bacteria even if it is the good kind because it can overload the body.

I’d like to stress the point that probiotics should be thought of as preventative not a treatment for any condition. Always consult and follow the advice of a medical professional when looking into what is best for you.

So, what can you expect when you first start taking a probiotic?

You might feel more gas, bloating, and discomfort – this can be the good bacteria waging war on the bad producing detox type symptoms. This is usually a signal that the probiotic is working, however if the effects are to uncomfortable you may want to lower your dose. If lowering the dosage doesn’t help, the probiotic you are taking might not be the one for you.

One thing to remember is that every person’s microbiome is different, so there is no one-size-fits all “best” strain when it comes to probiotics. Bio individuality applies here. The biggest allie for you is awareness. There are many types of probiotics so you need to pay attention to your body and what works for you.

A benefit of taking probiotics is you’ll have more regular and well-formed stools but if they are loose in the beginning or if you feel constipated either of those symptoms might be due to the changes taking place in your microbiome. This should not last more than a week. If the discomfort is too strong, again try lowering your dose and work up to the recommended dosage or stop taking that probiotic all together.

So, which one is best for you? In next weeks blog we'll discuss the five main things to consider.

Remember always consult with your doctor before taking or trying a probiotic supplement to make sure they are right for you.


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