If you consider taking a probiotic mix, either alone or in combination with prebiotic support, I believe that you will be more prepared and on your way to a successful outcome if you equip yourself with the following tips:
- You have more bacteria in your gut than there are humans on Earth. They are as fussy, temper-driven, and stubborn as the humans you share this planet with.
- Since you decided to look into taking probiotics, you perhaps already think that in the world of your gut there are bad bacteria instead of good bacteria. Or, you just wiped your gut bacteria out with a round of antibiotics and know you need to repopulate. You may also already have many proofs that you are right. The best plan to re-balance the good and bad bacteria in your gut is to overwhelm the bad bacteria with good bacteria. This will force the bad bacteria to fight and, eventually, loose the battle (and then be pooped out!).
- When you take a probiotic mix, it is like igniting a war. The existing bad bacteria factions form alliances against the new comers, they will take control of certain gut regions and “fire” at any enemy (i.e. good bacteria) that is different from their tribe(s). The consequences of such a conflict are felt by areas far away from the actual war-zone. It will be the same with your body. Not only that you may be cramping, gassy, and restless, but your body may have a physiological reaction as well. You see, if Earth can “feel” most of the stupid stuff us, humans, do, then your body does feel what your gut bacteria, collectively called your gut flora, are doing. This is a needed change. If you do not get rid of the bad bacteria, they will get rid of you – it is that simple!
- Each of us has a unique gut flora – some are balanced and healthy, others not so much. Chances are that, if you figured or were told that you need a probiotic, your gut flora is very far from balanced. Thus you may experience initial discomfort right after taking the first dose of probiotic and/or increasing your fiber intake. In fact, unless you are a vegetarian – in which case your gut flora is likely in better shape – fiber intake (i.e. prebiotic) is very necessary. Fibers allow the growth of beneficial bacteria (probiotics). As soon as the good bacteria find the fiber in your gut, they will start a party. There will be music and noise! If your body is accustomed to them, you won’t notice it, but if you did not have them in numerous counts (which likely you didn’t), then your system is not used to all their activity and their party will annoy you. Hang in there, it will get better. Any unpleasant reactions (gas, noise, slight cramping etc.) should be temporary and go away as your body gets used to the healthy routine. Often it takes a while for your body to acclimate to all these changes, so it’s normal to notice a difference in the way you feel until your system adjusts. Importantly, if you increase the dose in the future, you may re-experience this acclimation period again.
- If you feel that you cannot deal with this accommodation period, but you are comfortable retrying a lower dose, then go straight for half of the amount. You can try this for a few days, see how you feel and allow your body to acclimate. Then work your way up to the recommended initial dosage. If you are taking a probiotic supplement along with a prebiotic powder, it would be a good idea to decrease the fiber prebiotic dose as well. Remember that this is in fact the beginning of a detoxification period. As I was saying above, replacing the bad bacteria with the good ones is a WAR in your gut. Many of the bad ones must die in order for the good ones to grow. When the bad ones die, the left overs of their bodies in your environment are toxic for your gut. This may cause imbalances in the amounts of water in your gut leading to drastic changes from diarrhea to constipation, depending on which bacteria are being affected, because the body is trying to wash them off and take them out. So, stay well hydrated by drinking lots of water during the day (up to one gallon or 4 liters overall). Water will help your body get rid of what you don’t need to keep.
- Remember that all you experience is a sign that your gut flora, or microbiota, is changing. This is analogous to basically changing the all humans on Earth! This is a work in progress and you need to be patient, it may take days or weeks. Hey, at least it is faster than humans populating Mars! Think of it this way: the further you are from the correct mix of good bacteria, the more difficult will be and the more discomfort you will go through to bring them to the right balance. Be patient!
In the end, I hope you find this information helpful. Pro- and pre-biotics are some very unique kinds of drugs. Not only that you put something new into your system, but you put in something alive. In order for this to go well and safe, you must do it properly. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. Only do this under a clinicians supervision if you have, or were ever told you have impaired immunity as a result of a disease condition or temporary immunosuppressive treatment that you receive (such as chemotherapy). If you underwent gut resection or are pregnant or nursing, you must only proceed under a properly trained clinician’s guidance. If you are in doubt of whether or not taking a probiotic or prebiotic is right for you, ask in the comments or in the forum or better yet contact me by email.
If you are ready to browse for a supplement with probiotics that works for you, check Dr. Alice’s Shop/Probiotics.