Not all bacteria cause disease. Many bacterial strains are beneficial and work from inside your gut to help keep you healthy. Probiotics contain specific strains of bacteria that support the microbiota living within your body and you, the host. As probiotics initiate work to maintain a more balanced microbiome, symptoms may sometimes be experienced. These symptoms are normal and indicate that the good bacteria are working to restore a healthy balance in your gut.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that deliver health benefits to the host when consumed in sufficient amounts. They are primarily bacteria that help increase digestive capacity and support the immune system to improve overall health. The main job of beneficial bacteria is to promote a healthy microbiome within the gut.
Two of the most beneficial probiotics for gut health, immune system function, and the promotion of proper digestion are S. boulardii and L. rhamnosus GG.
♦ S. boulardii works on your body to provide excellent benefits to your health. It promotes a healthy immune function, enhances digestive function, and works directly on your immune cells. It also helps maintain healthy antibody levels in your body to enhance immune system strength. In addition, S. boulardii is quite sturdy and well-equipped to travel through the digestive tract.
♦ L. rhamnosus GG is found naturally in the gut and works to promote digestive health. Lactic acid production encourages the development of beneficial strains. This probiotic also increases the production of short-chain fatty acids as a result of digesting fiber from your diet, which is beneficial to digestive health in several ways.
The genus of microbes known as Bifidobacteria are also essential to digestive health. They perform various functions that stabilize the microbiome and break down essential phytonutrients in your food. They also produce several essential compounds, including vitamins, short-chain fatty acids, and organic acids. The many types of Bifidobacteria also support the gut and immune system.
The most commonly recommended dosage of probiotics is between 10 and 20 billion CFU (colony forming units) per day, but that highly depends on the specific strains of microbes and the medical indication. Clinical studies usually use a dosage sufficient for inducing measurable digestive and immune benefits, which is normally a dose between 1 and 100 billion CFUs (a range of 2 orders of magnitude, 109-1011). A higher potency, in many cases, has been linked to more digestive and immune benefits. Yogurt, for example, contains only about 107-108 CFUs of probiotics (you would have to eat ten yogurts of 108 to get to 109).
In addition to the right dose, choosing a brand of probiotics with clinically studied ingredients and multiple strains is important. For example, Complete Probiotics Platinum pprovides 51 billion CFUs consisting of 11 potent probiotic strains and naturally-sourced ingredients. This doctor-formulated product delivers broad-spectrum digestive health, promotes immune system health, and ensures effectiveness through a proprietary blend and delayed-release capsules.
Probiotics play an essential role in digestive and overall health. Most bacteria in your body live in the gut; this is the primary location where probiotics are sent to work. The presence of certain strains of bacteria works to support a healthy gut. Optimal health relies on eubiosis, a term used to describe a balanced microbiome. In all, probiotics help promote a healthier gastrointestinal environment and have been shown to promote eubiosis.
It is interesting to note that the majority of your core microbiome is established in the first year of life. About 80% of it is difficult to modify, while the other 20% is more variable. One way to help this variable microbiome is to supplement your diet with probiotics.
Consider that a healthy gastrointestinal tract centers around the ability to digest, absorb, and assimilate nutrients. Not breaking food down properly and overeating can overwhelm your digestive system. Undigested food will either be fermented by bacteria or leaked into the body, leading to an unwanted immune response. Probiotic supplements are an effective way to support eubiosis, improve digestive function, and maintain good health.
The body is constantly exposed to a variety of microbes as well as everyday toxins. The body’s immune system is responsible for initiating a low-grade response to clear these toxins from your system. This immune response is what allows your body to stay healthy. The gut initiates this response, and if not properly maintained, immune-mediated problems can occur. As the central hub of the immune system, the gut is essential for maintaining a finely-tuned immune system. Probiotics have been shown to promote this.
When taking probiotics, it is not uncommon to experience symptoms similar to a detox. These symptoms can be mildly unpleasant at first. It is important to understand that this is normal and might indicate that the probiotics are working to promote proper digestive function and overall health.
The potential side effects of taking probiotics include:
♦ Abdominal pain
♦ Mild nausea
♦ Mild rash
The process by which probiotics support the breakdown of food can result in the temporary production of gasses and specific metabolites that may be absorbed into the bloodstream. Within several days, these will be expelled from the body, and your microbiota will adjust. Until then, you may experience some gassiness, bloating, and other mild symptoms as a result. We always recommend consulting a healthcare practitioner before adding a new supplement to your routine, however, seek medical attention if your symptoms are severe or if you experience vomiting, respiratory distress, or fever. However, those instances are extremely rare (probiotics are used extensively and considered very safe).
Headaches also may result from the release of metabolites into the bloodstream or the shift in the microbiota. The mild precipitation of bile acids may cause mild skin irritation and itchiness. Again, this is considered normal, and part of the therapeutic window opened when probiotics are introduced into a dysbiotic environment. As unpleasant as these symptoms are, they are signs that your body is being cleared of harmful substances and unhelpful bacteria. This therapeutic window of detox symptoms varies by individual. Still, in most cases, people see improvement within a few days to a week.
Taking probiotics is an effective way to enhance digestive and immune health. It is important to stick with your supplement schedule. You may find ways to ease the symptoms associated with taking probiotics. The best ways to do this include:
♦ Stay hydrated: Drinking water regularly helps flush everyday toxins and metabolites from your body.
♦ Stay active: Exercise cleanses the skin through sweat and promotes circulation, which helps the body cleanse itself more efficiently of everyday toxins.
♦ Take your probiotics with meals: Probiotics have better survivability when ingested with a small, non-acidic meal (e.g., almond milk, oatmeal).
♦ Take high-quality supplements only: Lower quality products may not include the right strains and may contain artificial fillers and unnecessary ingredients.
Many people experience unpleasant symptoms such as everyday bloating, occasional diarrhea, constipation, and gassiness. These can be indications that your gut microbiome is unbalanced. Complete Probiotics Platinum™ helps maintain a healthy balance and support your immune system. As these powerful probiotics work to aid your gut and enhance your digestive and immune health, there can be mild side effects, so please be mindful. Mild detox symptoms are possible when taking probiotics, but this is considered natural and temporary and could be a way of letting you know that your health is headed in the right direction.
Dr. David Kahana
Dr. David Kahana is board certified in Pediatrics and Gastroenterology through the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP), as well as Medical Nutrition through the National Board of Physician Nutrition Specialists.