AFT: Questions About Probiotics

Question from Chad in San Marcos, TX

What brand of probiotics do you recommend? And for how long do you suggest taking them after eliminating h pylori with the supplements you recommended?

This is a great question, Chad, and an area where we are often misguided by marketing.  Many people don’t really need to use probiotics every day.  It’s more about the terrain of your intestinal environment than it is about how often you are taking probiotics.  If the terrain is right, beneficial bacteria will colonize if you provide any type of boost at all.

However, if you experience chronic diarrhea, or sometimes even a single case of diarrhea, you may have just fried your good bacteria and dumping more probiotics into your body is sort of like throwing children into a volcano.  That doesn’t mean that you don’t need probiotics if you lean toward a frequently loose stool, you’re the person that actually needs them the most.  However, you do need to fix the loose stool issue or your efforts aren’t going to bring the result you’re looking for.  I don’t think sending your beneficial bacteria to a flaming death is your goal, but that is basically what happens with most cases of chronic diarrhea. (If you’ve read any of my books, you have an understanding of why diarrhea normally occurs and how to fix it, so I won’t cover that here.)

What about the rest of us who don’t shoot soup out the back door every day?  Let’s say you’ve done the work to overcome an H. Pylori infection, or you just completed a round of some antibiotic that would have wiped out all your good bacteria, along with whatever it was you were trying to kill.  Or maybe you’ve just never used a probiotic before and you’d like to make sure you have a healthy level of beneficial bacteria.  The good news is, in most cases, it doesn’t really matter what brand of probiotic you use.  I know I often talk about how so many supplements that are available to consumers are total crap, but it’s pretty hard to screw up probiotics.  If you buy something from a quality health food store, you’re probably on track.  Another thing I tell clients is to use more than one brand.  Give yourself a variety of bacterial strains so there is a better chance to find something that will colonize successfully in your gut.

Most people don’t need to use five or six varieties at once, but if you just use more than one, or even change brands from time to time, you’ll be doing yourself a favor.  I also like to see people take probiotics away from food.  First thing in the morning, or just before bed is best, in my opinion.

I find that most people can use probiotics for about a week at a time and be successful.  If you have a case of diarrhea, you might want to view that as a reason to start over.  Every few months or so, I will sometimes do a few rounds of probiotics just to ensure I’m on track.  Most people, however, don’t need to use them on a daily basis, indefinitely.  Instead, simma down and know that if you replenish with a variety of strains, the good bacteria will colonize as long as the terrain is right and you’ve corrected any chronic diarrhea issues. Sure is fun to end a post on diarrhea.

Yours In Health,

F#ckin’ Tony

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