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  • Dr. Brittany Jeffries, ND

All About Probiotics

I get asked about probiotics all the time by patients for themselves and for their kids! Probiotics are awesome but not everyone needs to be taking them. We usually think of probiotics for digestive health but they actually are beneficial for more than just your digestion!



What are probiotics?

Probiotics are good bacteria that live in our body. Bacteria often get a bad name for causing infection and harm but not all bacteria are bad! Good bacteria live in our digestive tract and have an impact on our overall health. Probiotics help ensure a healthy balance between the good and bad bacteria within our body. There are actually more bacteria living in our body than human cells! That’s insane!

Who may benefit from probiotics?

Many different conditions can benefit from taking probiotics. Digestive complaints are usually the focus but our skin, brain and genitourinary system all benefit from probiotics.


Conditions that may include treatment with a probiotic include:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

  • Eczema

  • Anxiety and depression

  • Recurrent UTIs

  • Upcoming foreign travel

  • Current or recent antibiotic use

Probiotics help promote healthy digestion to properly digest food and prevent constipation and diarrhea. Recent research has found that there is a significant link between gut health and brain function. This means that probiotics may have an influence on brain health, specifically in anxiety, depression, OCD and autism-spectrum disorders. Bacteria also live in our genitourinary tract and may play a role in UTI prevention by altering the normal flora in the vagina. Our digestive health is often reflected on our skin and probiotics can help resolve some of those issues including eczema.

Probiotics and antibiotic use!

Antibiotics are a used to kill bacteria or at least slow their growth. Antibiotics kill the bad, unwanted bacteria but they also kill the good bacteria. Probiotics are great for replacing the good bacteria killed by antibiotics. Using probiotics during and after antibiotic use can help prevent completely wiping out the good gut bacteria. Probiotics also reduce the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea by maintaining a healthy gut flora. Make sure to take your probiotic a few hours after the antibiotics. Taking them together means the antibiotic kills your probiotic.

What to look for in a probiotic?

It is important to know that not all probiotics are the same. Different strains have different effects and are used for different conditions. An ideal probiotic for after antibiotic use is one that contains a variety of strains. Probiotics to target gut health are different than probiotics for geniturinary health or brain health so check with your naturopathic doctor about what probiotics are right for you! Reading the label is important when looking for a probiotic. The package should say “Live Bacteria” for the most effective probiotics. These are usually found in the refrigerated area! The label will list the strains in the formula and the CFU (colony forming units). CFU’s in the billions is awesome otherwise the probiotic is not strong enough. Reading labels in key!


If you have any questions about probiotics and if they are right for you, consult with your Naturopathic Doctor.


You can find me at Helix Integrative Health in Kelowna (778-484-4359) and at Paradigm Naturopathic Medicine (778-475-3822) in Vernon.



As always, this post is not designed to diagnose or treat you, but instead to give you something to think about. Please book a consult with a naturopathic physician prior to changing, starting, or stopping medications or protocols.



References:

Akpınar, Hale. “Probiotics for Gastrointestinal Diseases.” Probiotics and Prebiotics in Food, Nutrition and Health, 2013, pp. 308–324., doi:10.1201/b15561-16.

Didari, Tina. “Effectiveness of Probiotics in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Updated Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis.” World Journal of Gastroenterology, vol. 21, no. 10, 2015, p. 3072., doi:10.3748/wjg.v21.i10.3072.

Hill, Colin, et al. “The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics Consensus Statement on the Scope and Appropriate Use of the Term Probiotic.” Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, vol. 11, no. 8, 2014, pp. 506–514., doi:10.1038/nrgastro.2014.66.

Johnston, Bc, et al. “Probiotics for the Prevention of Pediatric Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2004, doi:10.1002/14651858.cd004827.

Wang, Huiying, et al. “Effect of Probiotics on Central Nervous System Functions in Animals and Humans: A Systematic Review.” Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, vol. 22, no. 4, 2016, pp. 589–605., doi:10.5056/jnm16018.

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