Contemplating Probiotics

When deciding if you are going to start eating or taking probiotics there are a few things you should keep in mind to know what are the right options for you.

  • Probiotics are generally a short term solution

When taking probiotics they are not going to solve your digestive or related problems for good. In order for them to work you need to have a good clean diet filled with foods that will not upset the ecosystem in your bowels. Probiotics will help compensate for issues that show up but they are not a substitute for a good diet that is free of inflammatory fats, refined sugars, animal meats, and many of the standard ‘unhealthy’ foods we often crave. If you start probiotics, expect your symptoms to come back if you stop them and do not also clean up your food choices.

  • Fermented foods vs. live probiotics vs. not live probiotics

When choosing between food sources or supplement the choice is generally easy for most. For myself I prefer to not use manufactured supplements whenever possible. It may take me a little more time to make a fermented food but I can often find good quality ones in stores if I am busy one week. Using fermented foods is easy if you find ones you enjoy and can easily add into your daily food choices.

When it comes to using live or not alive probiotics (similar with refrigerated and not refrigerated) there is a lot of debate in the natural medicine world on the best options. Personally I am of the opinion that everyone’s digestive systems are different than one another and one product that works well for one person will not work well for another. I recommend starting with a live, refrigerated probiotic that is of high quality (not something cheep). Spend a little bit more money on your first bottle so you feel confident you are going to get results. Once you know what your body feels like with a real good probiotic then try some other options and see what also gives you the same results. Better to know what you need then not know and think it isn’t giving you any benefits.

  • Be sure to add them into your diet slowly

If you add probiotics into your diet quickly or start with a full dosage of your supplement you might find you are very uncomfortable for a while. Start with a few spoonfuls of your food or 1/2 of a capsule so your body can slowly adjust to its new gut flora.

  • Enertic coated supplements

Another thing that is debated in the natural medicine world is if enteric coated probiotics are necessary for them to be beneficial. What enteric coated means is that there is a coat on the capsule that makes it so that it will survive the digestive acids of the stomach and release its contents only for absorption in the intestines. This may be necessary because it is possible that the stomach acids will significantly damage the probiotics.

However, we know that probiotic foods still have significant benefits to the digestive system and they pass through the stomach acids no problem. Just like with determining if you best need fermented foods, live, or not alive probiotic supplements, determining if you need enteric coated probiotics should be done on an individual basis. If you find that you are not getting the benefits you want with a regular capsule, try one that is enteric coated. Not all probotics are created equal so you may need to try many till you find one that fits your needs and lifestyle. Best of luck to you!

Jillian Carnrick, founder and manager of The Dancing Herbalist, has a Masters of Science Degree in Herbal Medicine, practices as a nutritionist, and is a Certified Personal Trainer and Exercise Is Medicine Professional through the American College of Sports Medicine. The Dancing Herbalist posts on this blog every Thursday. For more of our posts, join us on Patreon. Jillian also presents regular live classes in The Dancing Herbalist’s home herbalist courses online. For more learning opportunities or to work one-on-one with Jillian with her wellness and herbal consultationsvisit The Dancing Herbalist.com.

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