Can Probiotics Hurt Me
For most healthy people, probiotics dont cause any harm. They are generally considered safe and are often given a try to see if they could help with various medical conditions. Theres a lot of research around the topic of probiotics. Scientists are trying to determine when and how they should be used, as well as how effective they are. Talk to your healthcare provider before starting a probiotic supplement because there are some cases where you shouldnt be taking them. Its always best to have the conversation first before starting a new supplement.
What Do They Do
Among other things, probiotics help send food through your gut by affecting nerves that control gut movement. Researchers are still trying to figure out which are best for certain health problems. Some common conditions they treat are:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Infectious diarrhea
- Diarrhea caused by antibiotics
There is also some research that shows they’re useful for problems in other parts of your body. For example, some people say they have helped with:
- Skin conditions, like eczema
Types Of Probiotics For Dogs
Probiotics for dogs come in several forms. Some dog foods even include probiotics in the list of ingredients.
If you look at the guaranteed analysis section on a package of dog food with probiotics, you will see the type and quantity of bacteria added.
Species-specific strains include Enterococcus faecium and Bacillus coagulans. Other probiotic strains that have helped improve stool quality and consistency in dogs include Bifidobacterium animalis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus.
Dog probiotic supplements are produced as powders, capsules, and chews. Each are labeled with recommendations on dosage and frequency of use.
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Digestive Issues That May Benefit From Probiotics
Although more research is needed to determine the best strain for each condition, and the most effective dosage, preliminary research shows that probiotics may be helpful when dealing with a variety of gastrointestinal issues, such as:
Diarrhea: In a meta-analysis last updated in 2019, researchers from the Cochrane Collaboration found that in cases of acute diarrhea, taking probiotics helped diarrhea go away one day faster than it would otherwise. Probiotics can slow gastrointestinal contraction to stop diarrhea, explains Strealy.
Constipation: In a meta-analysis published in July 2017 in the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, researchers found that taking probiotics improved constipation in elderly people by up to 40 percent. Probiotics can alleviate constipation by decreasing transit time and making stools softer and easier to pass, says Strealy.
Gassiness, cramping, and irritable bowel syndrome : According to a study published in February 2018 in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, probiotics can relieve lower gastrointestinal symptoms in people with IBS including pain and cramping, bloating and gas, and diarrhea.
Lactose intolerance: A study published in June 2019 in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found an overall positive relationship between probiotics and lactose intolerance, although some strains of probiotics were more effective than others.
What Are The Side Effects And Risks Of Probiotics
Supplements play an important role when the diet is not adequate to supply our needs. In the case of probiotics, one’s diet is the ideal source for probiotics. These are live bacteria and need to be carefully monitored, stored, and combined for the health benefits that one would be taking them for. At this time, probiotic supplements are not monitored in the U.S. the way that food or medication is. They fall under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 . This requires that the dietary supplement or dietary ingredient manufacturer be responsible for ensuring that a dietary supplement or ingredient is safe before it is marketed. The only time that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration may get involved is if action is needed to be taken against a manufacturer after the supplement is marketed and then found to be unsafe. This means that as much as we may know about probiotics, we can’t be certain of the safety or content of the supplements available to us.
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How Long Do Probiotics Take To Help Constipation
If you are taking high quality probiotic supplements, improvements may appear between 1-4 weeks. However, we have had patients see dramatic changes in as little as 48 hours.
For example, Rachel struggled with IBS-C for most of her life, often only having a bowel movement every 5-6 days, even with a good diet in place. She also struggled with low mood, eczema, daily headaches, and other symptoms. She tried dozens of different natural treatments with little success. Rachel began Probiotic Triple Therapy, and her constipation improved within 48 hours.
Over time, she noticed that her mood was better too. After the initial period on the protocol, she was able to reduce her dosage and only take type 2 probiotics, Saccharomyces Boulardii.
Improvements like Rachels dont come as easily for everyone, so make sure to try the therapy for at least three weeks to observe any changes. Even small improvements show that probiotics are having a positive effect on your gut microbiome composition.
Side Effects And Risks
Probiotics are considered safe for most people. Studies dont report major risks involved with taking them.
The most commonly reported side effects of probiotics are gas and bloating. If you have severe reactions, including abdominal pain, reduce your daily CFU intake and slowly increase again over time.
Always talk with your doctor before beginning a new health supplement. Before giving probiotic supplements to your child, talk to their pediatrician. Premature infants shouldnt take some probiotics.
Probiotics might not be recommended for people with chronic illness or a weakened immune system. Dont use probiotics to replace prescription medications without first consulting your doctor.
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How To Choose The Right Probiotic
When looking for probiotic products, look for a supplement with the following features
Multispecies and multistrain probiotic: The product should contain different bacterial species and multiple strains of bacteria.
Differentiated products tailored to your needs: Different digestive issues warrant different probiotic strains. Therefore, for optimal benefits, try to seek out a probiotic that is tailored to the specific health outcomes you are trying to achieve.
Clinical studies: The probiotic and its claims should be backed by clinical studies using the final product. This will ensure that you are buying a product whose effects have been studied and proven.
Human strains: Only human bacterial strains can colonize your gut . Other bacteria, such as bacteria found in fermented foods such as yogurt and in soil-based probiotics, cannot colonize the gut and usually pass through your body within a few days. For lasting positive effects, you want to make sure that you have human strains that can colonize.
Free of animal proteins, allergens and fillers: It is recommended to choose a probiotic that is free of dairy and other animal proteins, gluten, soy and yeast to ensure you are taking a clean product.
Delivery mechanism: When you ingest your probiotic, the probiotic travels through the harsh, very acidic environment of the stomach before it reaches the small and large intestine.
What Types Of Foods Have Probiotics
The full list is quite robust, but below are 7 of the most common foods containing probiotics:
While it would be great to keep ourselves in a steady supply of probiotic foods, stocking the shelves with the above items consistently wont be the cheapest endeavor. So if cost or consistency is an issue, we recommend getting your probiotics through a supplement or nutritional shake. Its way easier to budget in, stay consistent, and ensure youre getting the right daily dose. And, oftentimes, you can find supplements with additional health benefits.
Which leads us to
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Probiotics For Gut And Immune Health
A huge portion of your immune system is in your gastrointestinal tract. The same is true for your dog.
Viruses and bacteria can enter your dogs body through their mouth. By helping to maintain a healthy balance of probiotics in their gut, you can help support both your dogs immune system and a healthy intestinal tract, among other things.
Wondering how to incorporate probiotics into your dogs healthcare?
First, lets start with the basics.
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How Do Probiotics Work
The main job of probiotics, or good bacteria, is to maintain a healthy balance in your body. Think of it as keeping your body in neutral. When you are sick, bad bacteria enters your body and increases in number. This knocks your body out of balance. Good bacteria works to fight off the bad bacteria and restore the balance within your body, making you feel better.
Good bacteria keeps you healthy by supporting your immune function and controlling inflammation. Certain types of good bacteria can also:
- Help your body digest food.
- Keep bad bacteria from getting out of control and making you sick.
- Create vitamins.
- Help support the cells that line your gut to prevent bad bacteria that you may have consumed from entering your blood.
- Breakdown and absorb medications.
This balancing act is naturally happening in your body all of the time. You dont actually need to take probiotic supplements to make it happen. Good bacteria is just a natural part of your body. Eating a well-balanced diet rich in fiber every day helps to keep the number of good bacteria at proper levels.
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More Regular Bowel Movements
An imbalance in the composition of good bacteria in your intestine can contribute to irregular bowel movements. For example, frequent diarrhea can be a sign of pathogenic bacteria present in your intestines. A high-quality probiotic will help bring more good bacteria into your gut so that they crowd out the bad bacteria.
Constipation, on the other hand, can be due to low mucus production or low motility of your intestinal muscles. Certain probiotic bacterial strains are known to increase mucus production, which can regulate constipation.
What Can Cause An Imbalance In Natural Probiotics
- Diet plays a huge role in determining the balance of healthy bacteria in your body. The normal Western diet has strayed way too far from what I would consider normal food. Processed foods loaded with sodium and sugar are just downright harmful. On top of that, few people consume enough raw fruits and vegetables to maintain the proper alkalinity in the body.
- Medications may also disrupt your balance. Steroids, chemotherapy, antibiotics, and certain pain killers just to name a few.
- Infections. Harmful bacteria, parasites, and viruses will wreak havoc on your balance.
- Environmental chemicals or chemicals in the food supply.
- Too much sugar will feed the toxic bacteria and decrease the healthy bacteria.
A little too much sugar for my taste!
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Can I Use Probiotics To Help With Medical Conditions
There is currently a large amount of research happening around the idea of what probiotics can do for your body. Even though there are a lot of possibly positive outcomes, researchers are still working to find definitive answers about how probiotics can help with various conditions.
However, there are some medical conditions where probiotics may help. This can vary between people meaning that what works for one person may not work for another. These can also vary based on the certain probiotic that is taken.
Some of the conditions that might be helped by increasing the amount of probiotics in your body include:
- Upper respiratory infections .
What The Research Tells Us
Although there is some indication from the research evidence that probiotics may help to treat many common health issues and pneumonia ), so far, we can only say with confidence that probiotics are beneficial for improved digestive health.
Medications , stress, diet and other factors can alter the ratio of good to bad bacteria in your gut, causing infection and disease. This happens more often than you might think: antibiotics are one of the most prescribed medications in Canada and the US . Theyre important and effective in killing infection-causing bacteria, but they often end up killing a lot of good bacteria, upsetting that important balance and giving dangerous Clostridium difficile bacteria a chance to cause severe diarrhea and other bowel diseases, sometimes with fatal results .
Thats where probiotics like Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus casei and Bifidobacterium lactis come in. Research evidence shows that probiotics given to children and adults taking antibiotics successfully lowers the risk of C. difficile-associated diarrhea . Thanks to results from these and other studies, probiotics are now recommended and commonly prescribed for people who are taking antibiotics, particularly as they are relatively inexpensive and safe for most people .
As for the other health benefits of probiotics? Time and evidence from ongoing research will tell.
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Beware Gut Symptom Triggers
Some people find particular foods cause them problems. Acidic foods, such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, salad dressings and fizzy drinks, can trigger heartburn, while wheat and onions may cause irritable bowel syndrome.
And if you cannot digest lactose, the sugar in milk, youâll develop wind and diarrhoea after drinking milk or eating dairy products, including cream, cheese, yoghurt and chocolate.
Try to stay away from foods and drinks that trigger your digestive symptoms. Keep a food diary to work out which foods cause your symptoms.
The Best Way To Benefit From Probiotics
You can get probiotics from a variety of foods or supplements.
If you want to buy a probiotic supplement, then there is an with thousands of customer reviews.
Live probiotic cultures are often found in fermented dairy products such as yogurts and milk drinks. Fermented foods like pickled vegetables, tempeh, miso, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut and soy products may also contain some lactic acid bacteria.
You can also take probiotics as tablets, capsules and powders that contain the bacteria in dried form.
However, be aware that some probiotics can be destroyed by stomach acid before they even reach the gut meaning that you get none of the intended benefits.
If you want to experience any of the health benefits discussed above, its important that you consume adequate amounts.
Most of the studies showing benefits used dosages of 1 billion to 100 billion live organisms or colony-forming units per day.
More about probiotics:
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Can Probiotics Cause Constipation
Not in most cases, but it can happen. For example, taking Saccharomyces boulardii in large doses can slow down digestion and might not be appropriate if youre trying to speed up your gut transit time.
Most research suggests probiotics, especially Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, increase gut motility. But to paraphrase one study, probiotics are living organisms that produce many different metabolites and interact with many different cells. We have no way of knowing or understanding why results may vary in a small number of cases.
Your best bet is to stick with a supplement formulated with species and strains specifically.
Probiotics Explained: What To Know Before You Buy
A gastroenterologist explains what probiotics really do and whether they’re worth the money.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria found in foods or supplements.
Gut health is seriously buzzy in the health world right now and one thing that’s almost always a part of that conversation is probiotics. Take a walk through any health store or pharmacy and you’re likely to see rows and rows of different kinds of probiotic supplements promising to improve digestion and your overall health. And they aren’t cheap, often costing upwards of $20 or more per bottle. In fact, the probiotic push is so high, the market is expected to reach $73.8 billion by 2024.
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Simply put, probiotics contain live bacteria that are meant to help populate “good” bacteria in your gut microbiome. The idea behind probiotics is that a healthy gut microbiome can be conducive to better overall health and may help specific conditions like irritable bowel syndrome or even vaginal yeast infections. But, the science behind these bugs is quite controversial and a lot of studies are still underway to fully understand how they work.
To shed some light on the topic, I tapped a gastroenterologist and gut health expert, Dr. Will Bulsiewicz to explain how probiotics work and help you figure out if they are right for you.
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How Should People Take Probiotics
The requirements for a microbe to be considered a probiotic are that the microbe must be alive when administered, it must be documented to have a health benefit, and it must be administered at levels to confer a health benefit. A rule of thumb often cited is to take at least a billion colony forming units daily.
These are live microorganisms that will not provide the promised benefits if they don’t remain alive. The manufacturer and consumer must pay close attention to the conditions of storage at which the particular microorganism will survive and the end of their shelf life. The potency will indicate the number of viable bacteria per dose, and the purity has to do with presence of contaminating or ineffective bacteria.
The other thing to remember is that these microorganisms are not all created equally. In fact, the genus, strain, and species all need to be the same for the results that found in the study to be the results that one hopes to achieve when taking it. For example, with the strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, the genus is Lactobacillus, the species is rhamnosus, and the strain is GG. If any one of those is different in your supplement, you may not attain the same results.