A common question I get asked in clinic is whether one needs to take probiotics…and my response has always been the following:
“Asking me if you should take probiotics is like asking me if you should eat food, or take vitamins – what I mean by that is that the term “probiotics” is very broad as there are many different strains available to take, and it depends on your goals as to what strains you should be taking.”
But a recent review has made me change my response a little.
The research into probiotics is all very new, as is the development of many types of probiotics available on the market.
Research has shown that taking probiotics may be beneficial for health by increasing certain strains in the gut. However it’s also been shown that increasing certain strains could cause harm to another person’s gut…and in a third person, there could be no change at all as their guts resist the probiotics.
I used to applaud doctors who encouraged patients to take a course of probiotics alongside, or following, a course of antibiotics – but now I’m not so sure.
Yes, antibiotics are damaging to the gut. Some antibiotics are known to completely eradicate certain strains in a person’s gut – strains that can never re-appear, even with a course of probiotics. So it may not be so wise, after all, to take a course of probiotics following antibiotics.
What can one do then?
The review I referred to above discussed how many people are looking for that magic pill, and probiotics seem to have come under this umbrella in recent years.
Unfortunately, there is no magic pill for health.
The key is to consume as diverse a diet as possible, filled with fresh vegetables, some fruit, good quality proteins and fats.
While I have personally have taken probiotics on and off over the years, and have prescribed clients to do the same, I encourage you to tune into your body to figure out for yourself whether you are feeling better, worse, or no different from taking probiotics. Each person will be different…and if you don’t notice anything – perhaps ditch them, and look to your food intake for some improvements to your health.
My personal challenge is to try to add something different to my weekly food shop to add some diversity to my diet and I challenge YOU to do the same.
To a more diverse diet, and better health 🙂