What are probiotics?
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that support a well-functioning digestive tract and immune system.
The different microbes living in your GI tract can either promote health or disease.
Why Take a Probiotic?
Due to modern farming, ultra-processed foods, stress, antibiotics, and more, “bad” bacteria is increasingly outnumbering the beneficial bacteria in many people.
When “bad” bacteria outnumber the “good” it can lead to health issues. Taking a probiotic can help bring your microbiome back into balance.
Restoring beneficial microbiota to the digestive tract can help with GI issues, as well as other health concerns such as skin issues, asthma, allergies, and food sensitivities.
Should I Take a Probiotic?
I get this question all the time. The short answer is it can be helpful. The long answer is it depends on what is currently going on in your GI tract.
When it comes to your gastrointestinal tract, it’s not a good idea to throw random strains of probiotics or heavy-duty broad-strain probiotics at your digestive system without knowing your gut’s current situation.
If you grab just any off-the-shelf probiotic, you might just be throwing your money away or, at worst, causing more harm than good.
The benefits of probiotics:
Our gut bacteria can influence our health in many ways. Different microbes in the gut either promote health or promote illness.
Probiotics have a wide range of benefits from improving digestive health, improving the ability to fight illness, healthy skin, reduce asthma and allergies, and even improve mental health.
Good bacteria help our bodies produce vitamins (such as B12) and butyrate. They also crowd out bad microbes and help regulate the central nervous system.
Spore-based probiotics can improve gut permeability and reduce inflammation associated with leaky gut.
Targeted therapeutic use for conditions such as SIBO, H. Pylori, candida, GERD, and other GI issues can be an effective way of reducing symptoms and rebalancing the gut microbiota.
Some probiotic drawbacks:
Probiotics don’t actually colonize the gut, so once you stop taking them, their benefits may subside. You need prebiotics to aid colonization.
Some probiotics may slow down recovery of the gut microbiome after antibiotics. The jury is still out on this with conflicting evidence.
Taking the wrong kinds at the wrong time can do more harm than good.
Types of probiotics:
- Spore-based: Soil-based microorganisms formed from spores. Can reduce endoxin, lower triglycerides, reduce inflammation, Some strains include Bacillus clausii, Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus coagulans,. In studies on diabetes, researchers found that Bacillus subtilis decreased blood glucose levels.
- Beneficial Yeast: Saccharomyces boulardii is a beneficial yeast that helps correct dysbiosis including candida overgrowth, parasites, and pathogenic bacterial strains. Effective with E Coli, Salmonella, C Diff, Candida, as well as a range of GI conditions.
- High-dose, multi-strain: Often Lactobacillus-based. Can be beneficial for some, but cause issues for others. For example, studies show these strains to be beneficial for those with Hashimotos, but for those with SIBO, they can be problematic.
Probiotics for Daily Support vs. Therapeutic Use:
We used to eat a lot of fermented foods and be exposed to more healthy soil, both of these giving us more exposure to beneficial bacteria. Without these, we are lacking in microbiome diversity and probiotics can help make up for this.
Probiotics have a wide range of benefits from improving digestive health, improving the ability to fight illness, healthy skin, reduce asthma and allergies, and even improving mental health.
Using targeted probiotics for therapeutic use should be done with a qualified professional. Understanding therapeutic use is my job.
Therapeutic use of probiotics:
Here are a few examples of how various types can be supportive:
- SIBO: Studies show Bacillus clausii is beneficial for many SIBO sufferers (but not all!).
- Candida: Lactobacillus probiotics help to reduce oral, vaginal, and enteric colonization by Candida, improving symptoms.
- H. Pylori: Lactobacillus casei and S. boulardii greatly improve H. pylori eradication rates.
- GERD: Lactobacillus reuteri MM53 can improve gastric emptying and reduce GERD symptoms.
- UTIs: Studies show Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus Reuteri B-54 can prevent recurring UTIs.
Which probiotic should I take?
Not all probiotics are created equal. While many can provide health benefits, others are a waste of money.
Many supplement and food products claiming to be “probiotic-rich” are not strong enough to survive the digestive tract to be effective.
The most common types are from Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families. While they have benefits, stomach acid will likely kill them before they reach their destination.
A high-quality, spore-based probiotic is often the best option. They can survive the whole journey throughout the GI tract.
My go-to probiotic brands are:
These are the probiotics that I most often use in my practice and in my personal routine. I don’t think everyone should or needs to take a probiotic every day and, in fact, that can end up leading to another issue where there is TOO MUCH of a beneficial strain. Yes, there is too much of a good thing when it comes to probiotics.
If you’re interested in learning more about which probiotic might be best for you at this point in your health journey, you are always welcome to book a session with me.
If you’re ready to incorporate probiotics into your wellness routine, here are a few great options:
- Mitolife Probiotic and Endotoxin Reducer (use code CKN15 for 15% off)
- JustThrive Spore-based probiotic
- Thorne Sacro-B
Will a probiotic heal my gut?
A probiotic alone is not going to “heal” your gut. They are not a fix-all when it comes to digestive issues.
That being said, probiotics can be very supportive of the gut-healing process.
Other ways to support a healthy gut:
- Relax before meals.
- Chew your food
- Strengthen the gut lining w/ bone broth, collagen, gelatin, and l-glutamine. (code CKN10 for 10% off collagen and gelatin)
- Add fermented foods like kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut
- Reduce intake of PUFA & alcohol
- Reduce stress
- Work with a practitioner to clear infections like SIBO, parasites, and H. Pylori
- Individualized support is key!
- One probiotic won’t be right for everyone.
- The genus, species, and strain ALL matter.
- MANY other factors go into gut health then simply taking a probiotic.
- Consult a qualified healthcare provider who is well-versed in probiotics before beginning any new probiotic.
Tell me your experience with probiotics!
Do you have experience with probiotics? Which ones have worked for you? Let me know in the comments.
I am not a doctor, and I don’t claim to be one. I can’t prevent, treat, cure or diagnose illness or disease. The information presented on this website is not meant to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice, treatment or diagnosis. The purpose of this website is to share knowledge from my research and experience. I encourage you to make your own decisions regarding your health care based on your own research and relationship with your health care professional.
Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission if you purchase through that link, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my work!
- Oral spore-based probiotic supplementation was associated with reduced incidence of post-prandial dietary endotoxin, triglycerides, and disease risk biomarkers
- Assessment of the antidiabetic and antilipidemic properties of Bacillus subtilis SPB1 biosurfactant in alloxan-induced diabetic rats
- Efficacy of Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a meta-analysis
- Irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and the microbiome
- Bacillus clausii as a treatment of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
- Post-Antibiotic Gut Mucosal Microbiome Reconstitution Is Impaired by Probiotics and Improved by Autologous FMT
- A mixture of Lactobacillus species isolated from traditional fermented foods promote recovery from antibiotic-induced intestinal disruption in mice
- Efficacy and safety of probiotic-supplemented triple therapy for eradication of Helicobacter pylori in children: a systematic review and network meta-analysis
- Probiotic monotherapy and Helicobacter pylori eradication: A systematic review with pooled-data analysis
- Probiotics as Antifungals in Mucosal Candidiasis
- Probiotics to prevent urinary tract infections: the rationale and evidence