Healthy Digestion/Gut Check: Do You Really Need Probiotic Supplements?
Gut Check: Do You Really Need Probiotic Supplements?by Hannah Nguyen ● 18/01/2022 ● 5 min read
Your gut is like a garden.
Inside, different organisms live in harmony to create the perfect environment to nourish and protect you.
But just like any garden, your gut is prone to attacks, too.
There are weeds, bugs, and harsh chemicals whose primary goal is to disrupt the natural balance leading to infection and disease.
Unfortunately, most people think that taking probiotics will help address their tummy problems.
Well, we hate to break it to you, but that's not true.
And if you're not careful with how you take them, probiotics may even worsen the already fragile condition of your gut.
The Case Against Probiotic Supplements?
Also known as the "good bacteria,” probiotics take many forms, including dietary supplements, drinks, shakes, and even skin creams.
Currently, an estimated 3.9 million Americans use such products.
But what’s the reason behind the growing popularity of probiotic supplements?
You see, a human gut contains millions of microbes that help digest foods, process nutrients, and strengthen the immune system.
But stress, aging, medication, and an unhealthy diet, make the gut conducive to certain bacteria and pathogens.
The overgrowth of pathogenic microbes leads to several health issues such as bloating, constipation, unexplained weight gain, tummy aches, brain fog, and so on.
Unfortunately, most people think that probiotic supplements will somehow help the good bacteria outnumber harmful bacteria and address any health issues.
But as you will discover, later on, this kind of thinking will only bring more harm than good to your health.
Here are the reasons why:
Reason 1: Not all healthy people need probiotic supplements - A team of Australian medical experts gathered 27-years' worth of study involving gut microbiota changes, immune system response, GI discomfort, and female reproductive health.
The result of their study suggests that taking probiotic supplementation may only lead to short-term improvement in gut microbiota.
Additionally, the review failed to support the ability of probiotics to cause persistent changes in gut microbiota or improve the lipid profile in healthy adults.
In other words, you need to keep taking probiotic supplements.
Otherwise, your gut microbiota will likely return to its original, pre-supplementation status within a few weeks.
Another study from the Weizmann Institute in Israel argues that since each individual's gut is unique, consuming a standard probiotic bacterial strain may not be as effective as you expect.
The senior author of the study, Eran Elinav, reported, "Surprisingly, we saw that many healthy volunteers were resistant in that the probiotics couldn't colonize their GI tracts. This suggests that probiotics should not be universally given as a 'one-size-fits-all' supplement."
What both studies indicate is that taking supplemental probiotics, when you're healthy, to begin with, might just be a waste of your time and money.
Reason 2: Supplemental probiotics don't last long - Speaking of wasting money, most probiotics sold on the market don't survive well in your digestive tract.
In fact, 96% of probiotics instantly die upon contact with stomach acid.
Even if you buy a brand that features a time-delayed capsule, it won't be enough to protect the probiotics from the onslaught of your digestive juice.
Reason 3: They might be risky - A study involving 21 healthy volunteers revealed that taking probiotics after treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics may derail the participant's progress in achieving a normal gut microbiome.
Why is this so?
It's because some probiotic supplements contain bacteria that may be resistant to antibiotics.
This would mean that the antibiotic supposed to treat the illness will be ineffective and make the patient's condition even worse.
Some experts also warn people who require long-term hospitalization to cautiously use or entirely avoid the use of probiotics due to the increased risk of bacterial and fungal infection.
How To Make Your Gut A Healthy Internal ‘Garden’?
Just like any gardener, your priority is to make your yard more conducive to growing plants by detoxifying the soil, getting rid of invasive plants, and introducing more minerals.
Once the environment is conducive for growing plants, you can proceed with cultivating seeds.
It’s no different with your gut.
As long as your tummy is full of toxic, pathogenic bacteria, introducing more gut-friendly flora thru probiotic supplements will only make matters worse.
So what should you do, then?
First, you should detoxify your gut by flushing out waste, toxins, and harmful bacteria.
Next is to increase your intake of nutrients and fiber that serve as food for good bacteria.
In other words, make your tummy safe and liveable enough so that good bacteria can thrive and flourish.
Here are a few ways you can start right away to make your gut more attractive to good bacteria without relying on probiotic supplements:
Make your meals more diverse by eating low-sugar fruits, lean proteins, and leafy greens.
Feed your tummy with fiber-rich foods, including berries, beans, legumes, seeds, nuts, and whole grains.
Get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and stay hydrated.
Clear out your cupboards or refrigerator of saturated fats and artificial sweeteners.
Try fermented foods such as kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut.
Choose whole grain bread, pasta, and rice over white varieties for better digestion.
Practice mindful eating habits like chewing your food slowly, sitting down while eating, and not eating close to bedtime.
Practice breathing exercises or relaxation techniques to manage your stress levels.
- Have a broth-based meal once in a while to strengthen the intestinal lining, soothe the gut, and assist liver and kidney functions.
- Give your gut a well-deserved rest with intermittent fasting.
As you can see, there are simpler, more affordable options to support your gut health without relying on probiotic supplements.
You can even start at this moment and see beautiful results right away while saving you time and money.
Taking care of your gut isn’t different from taking care of your garden.
In both instances, the environment has to be conducive enough for friendly organisms to thrive.
So instead of diving straight to the probiotic rabbit hole, you’ll be better off with eating nutritious, fiber-rich foods and practicing gut-friendly habits medical experts have been recommending for years.