When I broach the topic of probiotic supplements with clients, they often just want to get down to the nitty gritty...
"Tell me the name of the supplement I should take."
Unfortunately, it's not that easy.
Just like every body is different, every probiotic supplement is different. What works for my body might not work so well for you.
Instead, I teach them how to find the right supplement for them by understanding what to look for and who should be taking probiotic supplements.
Today, I'm sharing 3 things everyone should know before taking a probiotic supplement.
1) Determine if you are someone that should or should NOT take a probiotic supplement
Who Should Take Probiotic Supplements?
If you have taken antibiotics in recent years...
If you ever eat processed food...
If you live in an urban area....
If you are a person that has no major health conditions...
probiotics should be in your routine.
Who Should NOT Take Probiotic Supplements?
If you struggle with any of these health issues, probiotic supplements should not be in your routine unless specifically instructed to by your doctor...
SIBO and haven't removed the overgrowth
You are immune compromised
Other major chronic disease
Ok, now that you have decided if a supplement is a good option for you, here are two other things to know...
2) Probiotic supplements can not override an unhealthy diet
Throwing a probiotic into your routine and not doing anything else to support a healthy gut is like trying to heal a gunshot wound with a bandaid. It's better than nothing but it won't do all that you need it to.
Probiotic supplements will only get you so far. And frankly, we still don't know all we need to about supplements and their efficacy. Researchers are just starting to collect info about how our body and gut uses probiotic supplements and, though things look good and helpful, we still don't know for sure that they are as beneficial as we hope.
Start by increasing the amount of real food you consume, throw in more fiber and fermented foods, stay active, and manage your stress first, and if you want to, tryout a supplement. But the supplement is the cherry on top, not the sundae.
3) Choose quality over CFU count
Ok, this one seems to be really confusing for people.
The CFU's are the number of live bacteria in the probiotic. You will notice a lot of probiotics tout their high number of CFU's, but really the type of bacteria and the quality of the supplement is what matters. If you are looking at a Lactobacillus + Bifidobacterium combination, you want about 1 billion CFUs or more, but you don't need much more, like so many of the packages/marketing will tell you.
Finding a high quality supplement is what really counts. Look for products that have bacteria, maybe plants, and minimal additives, binders, and fillers. If you see maltodextrin, artificial sweeteners, colors, and/or salicylates, pass on that probiotic. Also, look for supplements that are gluten free, dairy free, and vegan, if that is important to you.
Additionally, you want a probiotic that is encapsulated. Encapsulation will help keep the bacteria living and help it travel through the intestinal tract. Your probiotic shouldn't need refrigeration if it is encapsulated. Often times probiotics that are refrigerated cost more, when in reality, if it's encapsulated and a high quality probiotic, it shouldn't need that. Opt for a less expensive option.
Most importantly, pay attention to how the probiotic supplement makes you feel. It's ok if you have some mild digestive disruption for the first week of the supplement, but by the end of week two, you want to be feeling good. If you have major issues, that's an indicator that the supplement isn't right for you.
And of course, check with your doctor before starting any new supplement.
I hope this helps if you have been on the fence about starting a probiotic supplement! Leave any additional questions below!