GROW: The Book
Are probiotics good for you? Which are best? Should you take them everyday or only when taking an antibiotic? What do they do for your body? How much is best? Is there to much?
Probiotics maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria in you gut helping to eliminate or counter bad bacteria. They can relieve diarrhea from antibiotics but may also help to relieve symptoms of constipation by allowing for better digestion. It is suggested that probiotics might help with candida infections or urinary tract infections. Probiotics might help reduce systemic inflammation. Some cases of IBD or IBS may improve with the addition of probiotics into the treatment plan. (see below about health conditions)
A RDA of probiotics is generally considered to be between 1-10 billion CFUs (colony forming units) daily. As to which are best, I am not familiar with brands of probiotics so can't make any suggestions on that.
I'm a big fan of getting your nutrient intake from food. There are a number of good sources of probiotics in food. Yogurt, miso, tempeh, kefir, kimchi, real (not cultured) buttermilk, kombucha, naturally fermented pickles and some cheeses. But these products are not all created equal. Check your labels to make sure there are enough live bacterial cultures in the products that you are buying. Or make your own. Really big fan of sauerkraut. Love it! Because many probiotic foods are acidic, this helps to aid digestion.
There are also prebiotic foods which help to feed that probiotic culture that you are introducing. Bananas, apples & custard apples, garlic, onions & leeks, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, burdock & chicory roots, dandelion greens, jicama, barely, oats & wheat bran and flaxseeds.
Even if you eat well, there may be times that you may need to take supplemental probiotics. If you aren't eating properly for some reason (stress, Illness, disaster situations), then this is a time that you might need to take a supplement.
If you choose to take a supplement of probiotics, then you should start with a lower amount and work your way up. If you start with a very high dose and your intestinal tract is not accustomed to having large amount of probiotic material, then you might experience some bloating or gas. This doesn't usually occur with food probiotics. Supplemental probiotics also need prebiotic foods to help feed the culture. People with underlying health conditions should consult with a doctor or other health practitioner before starting a program of probiotics.
I hope that answers your questions but please ask if you have any other questions or concerns.
Yes, yes it does answer all my questions! Thank you for this wealth of knowledge!! This is great
Thank you for your response @torey, it is very thorough. I have been attempting to balance my gut biome and have noticed a marked improvement with the addition of pre and probiotics..
Ditto on what Torey said. I have glass each daily of water kefir and kombucha, and eat all sorts of fermented pickles and kraut... a few years ago I was shucking oysters and clams and eating the raw, wait deep in the salt marsh... environmental agent pulled up and told me they were closing the bed due to fecal coliform.... big sewage spill... yeah, that is disgusting... but I didn't get sick!
@Judson Carroll lucky you that you didn't get sick. Yuck!! I have noticed a difference taking probiotics but have never taken prebiotics.
I agree with everything Tory said. Making your own probiotic food and beverages is not that hard and so much more cost effective than buying it. A good beverage to start with is rejuvelac and a good food is saurkraut. Both are super simple and good confidence boosters. Before you know it you'll have jars fermenting all over the house :)
I agree with Torey as well. You can look up a list of prebiotic food and eat two a day from that list and change it up to increase the biodiversity. Also eating fermented food and change which ones your eating. Also get as many root veggies as possible.
To sum up eat 2 prebiotic foods, one fermented, and one root everyday. Change often to increase the biodiversity of you microbiome. I hope this helps!
@torey your knowledge is astounding and for that, I am greatful.
As usual @torey comes through. :-)
Good points by @judsoncarroll4 and @Cornelius.
I think the point about diversity of what we eat and how we eat cannot be overemphasized. High Fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners have been shown to disrupt the healthy flora of our digestive system, I like the advise of eat a rainbow of colors of food, but this is not Skittles or other artificially colored things. (Can't seriously call Skittles food.)
I would like to thank everyone for their kind words. It is all of you who are making me a better herbalist; sending me back to my books as well as doing online research to find answers to questions that are posed. So thank you all for the inspirations!
I tried kombucha...it was awesome! It was flavored and very interesting!
Here's website by a lady that I think just about knows EVERYTHING about probiotics! GO check her out!
I have been trying to get more good stuff into my gut. I made Beet Kvass this fall, it's just beets, ginger and lemons (limes I didn't have lemons and wasn't making the 25+ miles to the store one way) that you let sit to ferment it's almost ready so I'll post the end result. I also made Kimchi it's still working. I was reading on boasting your immunity with the fermented food.
I do feel better when I'm taking a probiotics, I think if you have to buy something don't buy the cheap ones, spend a little bit more money and get something good. Or better yet get it from food.
I think probiotics are essential for good gut health. Our brains and guts are interconnected and an imbalance between them has been said to be a contributing factor in depression. Our gut microbiome is important for our health. For probiotics I consume a half cup of plain whole milk yogurt everyday that includes the essential bacteria. Some "yogurts" don't actually contain any probiotics so it's important to check the labels. I also make my own sourkraut which is a great source of probiotics. Also it's important to "feed" the probiotics with prebiotics. A great form of that is inulin. Burdock root is high in it as long as it's eaten fresh.