Talking To Your Health Care Provider About Probiotics
How To Use Adult Probiotic
Follow all directions on the product package. Refer to the label directions for your specific product to see if the dose should be swallowed whole, chewed, sprinkled onto food or mixed with liquid. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Some probiotic products may contain live bacteria . Antibiotics may prevent these products from working well. Take any product containing live bacteria at least 2 to 3 hours before or after taking antibiotics. Follow the directions for your specific product.
If you are taking this product for diarrhea due to antibiotics, do not use it if you have a high fever or for more than 2 days, unless directed by your doctor. You may have a serious problem that requires medical treatment.
If your condition persists or worsens, or if you think you may have a serious medical problem, seek immediate medical attention.
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Side Effects Of Probiotics
The common side effect of probiotics is increased digestive discomfort, such as bloating or gas. This is typically short-lived and resolves in a few days of regularly consuming probiotic supplements or probiotic foods.
More serious side effects are possible, but extremely rare. The bacteria or yeast that is consumed as a probiotic supplement can enter the bloodstream and cause infection. Those who are at increased risk of infection include immunocompromised patients, premature infants, those with short bowel syndrome, anyone with central venous catheters, and patients with cardiac valve disease.
It is, of course, important to discuss any supplementation with your healthcare provider.
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How To Properly Take Probiotics With Antibiotics
Note: This is a guest post from Jamie Morea
Even the healthiest among us will likely have to take an antibiotic at some point in our lives whether its for strep throat, a tooth infection, or as a pre-surgery prophylactic.
The truth is that antibiotics are life-saving medicines, but they can do a number on our overall health.
From diarrhea and yeast infections to more serious inflammatory and immune conditions, antibiotics arent without their side effects.
The good news is that if you do need antibiotics for a bacterial infection, you can take steps to support your body during the process to minimize negative health consequences, including taking probiotics with antibiotics.
Whats The Best Probiotic Weve Tried
Haha, trick question!
Heres the thing If youve been following along, youll know that reviewing probiotics would be a lot of smoke and mirrors and not really a fair deal. Perhaps my family had a great experience with a certain probiotic, but that doesnt necessarily mean its right for you.
We have tried and continue to rotate many different brands and strains of probiotics. So how can I say what the best probiotic is? I really cant.
But I can say that certain strains are more well-researched for humans and that some companies do a much better job of making sure the probiotic gets through the stomach acid, for example, actually impacting your gut, instead of selling you expensive pills full of nothing effective.
- walk through all the probiotics my family has tried over the years
- tell you logistically what we like about it because there are some differences in how theyre delivered
- discuss the purposes and research-backed evidence for each strain included
- and share any other personal notes
That way you can choose for yourself what youd like to try and hopefully find the best probiotic for your family.
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Probiotics For Males And Females
The effects of probiotics may be different in males and females.
In a 2014 study, researchers gave males and females with obesityLactobacillus rhamnosus. The results suggested that females lost weight and fat during the trial, and that they maintained the loss after study completion. The males in the study, however, did not.
A different study in people with Salmonella infection suggested that the effects of taking Lactobacillus plantarum varied according to sex. Although the study authors saw little evidence that this probiotic can treat Salmonella, they noted how males and females experienced the symptoms and clearance of the infection differently.
Scientists need to conduct more studies to establish whether or not probiotic therapy should be different depending on a persons sex.
shows that people with obesity have lower bacterial diversity.
A small 2019 study found that people following a low calorie diet for 15 weeks had changes in their gut bacteria. They also had a reduction in bacteria associated with atherosclerosis, which occurs when the arteries become clogged with plaque.
The links between weight and gut bacteria could indicate that probiotics may be able to support weight loss.
Some suggest that supplementation with synbiotics, using strains such as Lactobacillus gasseri, cause weight reduction in large independent studies. Adding certain fibers may increase these effects.
What If We Dont Need To Take Probiotics At All
Our ancestors certainly werent popping pills full of living bacteria. However, in most healthy cultures, humans have a long history of consuming fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and more.
If your diet is rich in fermented foods AND youre exposed to healthy soil bacteria , you might be okay without purchasing a supplement.
Dr. Ken Brown notes that some people dont actually do well on probiotics.
For example, folks with SIBO tend to feel worse with probiotics, because they already have a problem of too much bacteria, saying, If we just throw more bacteria down there, thats the opposite of helpful.6
And heres one I didnt even know. Health hacker Dave Asprey cites research about people who are overweight having a higher correlation of higher lactobacillus bacteria. Researchers havent figured out why that is, but he plays the skeptic saying, Until we figure that out, Im not going to take something that is found in high amounts in people who are overweight.
On the other hand, not every probiotic supplement has lactobacillus bacteria strains. So that may be something to keep in mind as you make your choices, particularly if you struggle with weight.
The bottom line is that bacteria are going to proliferate and inhabit our human bodies, whether we do something about it or not.
Our goal is to have more helpful bacteria probiotics than harmful bacteria . If we can achieve this without a supplement, thats great.
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What Is The Gut Microbiome
Our digestive tract is home to trillions of bacteria as well as fungi and viruses these are known as the gut microbiome.
The makeup of this biome is largely genetically determined however, it is heavily influenced by several factors such as whether we are born naturally or by cesarean section, if we were breastfed, our use of antibiotics, and our exposure to chemicals, pesticides, and other toxins.
Scientists now know that this microbiome is critical to our overall well-being. Some call it our second brain. Small imbalances can cause significant changes to our mental health and in the appearance of our skin and has been linked to almost every known condition such as Alzheimers disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Type 2 diabetes.
An imbalance may also cause constipation, diarrhea, skin rashes, yeast infections, and a suppressed immune system. Your likelihood of putting on weight also comes down to your microbiome and the influence it has on your response to insulin and thyroid gland function.
Supplements Are A Self
Supplements are not required to be approved by the FDA before being sold or marketed. Supplement companies are responsible for having evidence that their products are safe, and the label claims are truthful and not misleading . This is an innocent until proven guilty model that works in favor of the supplement companies, not consumers.
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Take Probiotics To Reduce Antibiotic
Diarrhea is a common side effect of antibiotics. However, preliminary research suggests that taking probiotics may help prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea .
For example, one review of 17 studies found that taking a probiotic may reduce the risk of developing AAD by 51%.
Moreover, some antibiotics can leave you more vulnerable to certain infections, like Clostridium difficile . This is a bacterial infection that can cause diarrhea, an inflamed colon, and, in severe cases death.
However, preliminary research found that taking probiotics may help prevent diarrhea from C. diff infections, though the correlation was weak. For example, based on a review of 31 studies, researchers report that one case of diarrhea for every 42 C. diff-infected patients may be prevented from taking probiotics.
As for what type of probiotic to take, one option is a yeast called Saccharomyces boulardii CNCM I-745, sold under the brand name Florastar. This probiotic supplement is used to help prevent and treat diarrhea.
Those who are immunocompromised may not benefit from probiotics and should discuss other options with a doctor.
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What Are Some Of The Benefits Of Taking Probiotics During Pregnancy
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are similar to the good bacteria that live in your gut. Research suggests that probiotics may offer a number of health benefits, including reducing the risk of certain infections and alleviating symptoms of digestive problems.
Probiotics are also thought to play a role in maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Some studies have found that taking probiotics during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of developing preeclampsia, a condition characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine.
The advantages of probiotics for pregnant women are extensive and have an impact on the following areas:
- Occasional constipation
- Morning sickness
Probiotics may also help to prevent premature labor and relieve symptoms of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. While more research is needed to confirm these effects, probiotics are generally considered safe for pregnant women. Talk to your doctor about whether probiotics may be right for you during your pregnancy.
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How Does This Information Come Into Play When Shopping For Probiotics
We can draw a few conclusions from this information. First, there is a minimum amount of daily probiotics that is necessary to achieve most of the desired probiotic benefits, but that amount is much lower than most probiotic companies suggest. Second, the probiotic variants with tens of billions of CFU per serving are providing far more than is necessary for general gut health. This could mean they are better suited for those suffering from chronic digestive conditions, but it could also mean that higher CFU counts are necessary to compensate for poorer survival rates. Its impossible to say without seeing survival research for a specific brand. Unfortunately, it seems few companies have performed research on survival rates, so only a few companies have this information publicly available. Finally, the rotaviral diarrhea example demonstrates that more is not always better. CFU counts matter, but only to a point. Elements like timing, survival rates, preexisting conditions, diversity of strains, and individual microbiota composition can all have an impact on the needs of an individual and the effectiveness of a probiotic. Its important to consider all of these factors when searching for a probiotic supplement.
1Bertazzoni, E., Donelli, G., Midtvedt, T., Nicoli, J., & Sanz, Y. . Probiotics and clinical effects: is the number what counts?. Journal of chemotherapy , 25, 193212.
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How Long Should You Take Probiotics
Probiotics have been shown to be safe to use long-term. One study found that long-term use of probiotics led to beneficial changes in the gut microbiome.
Like dosage, the duration for taking probiotics varies depending on the bacterial strains and specific product. Some conditions, like acute diarrhea, may not require long-term use of probiotics to see positive effects.
Modern lifestyle exposes the gut microbiome to many factors that can negatively impact your gut flora. Stress, a diet full of sugar and processed foods, alcohol, and certain medications all negatively impact the gut microbiome. Incorporating a high-quality probiotic supplement into your daily wellness routine can help maintain a healthy gut microbiome and promote overall health.
When looking for a probiotic to incorporate into your daily routine, look for a probiotic supplement with multiple probiotic strains and species that is supported by science and clinical studies.
If you experience ongoing side effects from probiotics such as bloating and gas, it may be a good idea to take a break from probiotics and ensure you are taking the correct strain and dose.
It is a good idea to talk to your healthcare practitioner before starting a probiotic supplement to understand the best strain, dose, and duration for your health needs and goals
Diversity Is Your Best Friend
Your gut is diverse, so your probiotic should be too. Look for a supplement that contains multiple strains. This is sometimes listed as a proprietary blend, although with blends, you lose the transparency of knowing how many CFU each strain contributes.
Inferior brands might contain only one probiotic species such as Lactobacillus acidophilus. Look for the beneficial strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, and you may also see species like Streptococcus thermophilus and Saccharomyces boulardii, among others.
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The Best Way To Combine Probiotics With Antibiotics
If youre taking antibiotics, I highly recommend taking them with probiotics. In fact, researchers suggest that taking probiotics as early as possible with antibiotics is best for decreasing antibiotic side effects such as antibiotic-associated diarrhea [15
Here are some tips on how to get the most from your probiotic supplement when taking antibiotics.
Conditions That Benefit From Probiotic Supplementation
Based on current research, the following gastrointestinal diagnoses benefit from probiotic supplements:
Antibiotics can sometimes create an imbalance, or dysbiosis, of microbes within the microbiome and trigger frequent loose stools, aka diarrhea. The goal of probiotic supplementation is to re-establish balance within the microbiome. To create this balance, research has shown that the use of Saccharomyces boulardii, a yeast-based probiotic, taken within 48 hours of the first dose of antibiotics can reduce the risk of antibiotic-induced diarrhea.
The AGA recommends that if a person is concerned with the cost of probiotics, and is not at risk for Clostridium difficile, a bacterial infection in the gut that impacts those who are immunocompromised, then they can go without supplementation as antibiotic-induced diarrhea is a temporary condition.
Some people with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases such as Crohns and Ulcerative Colitis may eventually need to have their entire colon and rectum removed. This is done via a procedure called Ileoanal anastomosis or J-pouch surgery. Once the J-pouch is in place, there is a risk of an infection known as Pouchitis.
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Issues To Be Aware Of
If you’re considering trying probiotics, there are a few issues you need to be aware of.
Probiotics are generally classed as food rather than medicine, which means they don’t go through the rigorous testing medicines do.
Because of the way probiotics are regulated, we can’t always be sure that:
- the product actually contains the bacteria stated on the food label
- the product contains enough bacteria to have an effect
- the bacteria are able to survive long enough to reach your gut
There are many different types of probiotics that may have different effects on the body, and little is known about which types are best.
You may find a particular type of probiotic helps with one problem. But this doesn’t mean it’ll help other problems, or that other types of probiotic will work just as well.
And there’s likely to be a huge difference between the pharmaceutical-grade probiotics that show promise in clinical trials and the yoghurts and supplements sold in shops.
Page last reviewed: 27 November 2018 Next review due: 27 November 2021