Many newcomers to the health scene or those battling stomach troubles are quick to jump on the probiotic bandwagon, but how do you separate fact from fiction regarding such a complex subject?
Attending certain webinars or speaking engagements gives you really valuable insight as to how effective supplement and product marketing tactics really are on the American public.
By simply listening to the questions from the audience, the speaker can gauge just how gullible people can be and you can almost hear the most popular catch phrases and one liners in their sincere questioning.
But, can you blame them?
Once a health topic goes viral, you can watch the slick salesman come out of the woodworks to get people to buy their product. We saw this with probiotics 3-5 years ago and you are seeing it with CBD oil now.
So what are some truths about probiotics and what claims are simply marketing hype?
Keeping reading to educate yourselves around the complex realm of the microbiome and probiotic supplementation.
1. Simply eating fermented foods and drinking kombucha is enough.
While this seems easy enough, and for most people may initially help get them moving in the right direction, pickles and kombucha may not help those with severe or chronic intestinal inflammation and disruption.
It is true that eating fermented foods and drinking fermented drinks can help nourish your existing gut flora and perhaps get the diversification of your microbiome moving towards a healthier blend, but don't expect these types of foods to improve digestive enzymes, kill unwanted pathogens and parasites, or magically seal up your leaky gut.
2. They must be kept cold and remain in the refrigerator to work.
While some formulations are best kept cold for their ingredients to be most effective, it is not always true that the opposite is ineffective. Some products have taken the time and spent the money to figure out how to create an effective, shelf stable product without having to keep it on ice while being shipped to you.
And it doesn't hurt for those cold probiotic companies to attempt to expose their warm competitors to try and get a leg up on sales either. Do your own research to see which formulas would be best kept cold and which don't need to be based on their proprietary blend.
For example, Culturelle makes a fantastic daily probiotic and you can just get it off of Amazon. Yet, on the other hand, if you have been taking probiotics for some time, you can invest in more specific, high end brands such as SEED.
3. Keep changing probiotics until your symptoms disappear.
This one goes in line with number 2, above. While it is always best to assess how you feel when taking a supplement as opposed to just listening to the marketing, continuing to change supplements while attempting to remove your symptoms is a futile approach.
You may need further investigation and knowledgeable questioning in order to get to the root cause of the digestive issue or to simply short cut your road to healing.
If you are interested, I know a Functional Medicine guy...
4. More probiotics is always better.
Well, wouldn't the supplement companies love if this were actually true.
But the reality is that more is not often better. Sometimes if people have low diversity or population of healthy microbes in their gut, taking a higher CFU probiotic can really help.
But the harsh catch with that is if they have significant overgrowth in their small intestines (where gut population should not be) they will feel awful with the introduction of a higher strain probiotic formula.
5. You must match your genetics and poop data exactly to the probiotic recipe in your supplement.
Cool, sexy gut products are currently flooding the market.
Companies such as Viome make some fairly seductive promises with their science and marketing, but the reality is, we really don't know enough about all the different percentages of microbes to make definitive claims about what is best for everyone.
These tests can be really informative with how you are currently processing your existing diet, but don't expect the report to give you an exact diet to achieve a six pack. It doesn't work that way.
These tests are also non-diagnostic. Which means that if you do have something growing in your gut that shouldn't be there, they don't use the type of testing that can measure the DNA of potentially harmful microbes. That would require targeted PCR or Quantitative PCR testing and not just the rRNA sequencing.
6. Probiotics only help your digestion
While they can help some symptoms of poor digestion, there are many other factors at play for properly digesting food from your mouth to the toilet.
When probiotics aren't enough, people should look at more in depth lifestyle and dietary factors that could be at play. More advanced testing can also expedite this process of trial and error.
What types of symptoms can advanced stool testing help?
- Acid reflux (GERD)
- Abdominal pain
- Mood disturbances
- Depression or anxiety
- Brain fog
- Joint pain
- Chronic sinus and allergy issues
Want to learn more?
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