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Probiotics are supplements you take to create better gut health. There are varying opinions regarding the extent to which probiotics benefit health, but most medical professionals believe probiotics do more good than harm and are worth consideration. Some even believe adding a probiotic to your supplement routine can prevent illnesses that range from IBS to depression.
Some indigenous diets are already high in probiotics because they include many fermented foods, but the traditional western diet lacks these good bacteria-providing foods.
Benefits of Probiotics
Probiotics include trillions of microorganisms that go to work in your gut. They are helpful and keep the bad bacteria in your gut in check. They benefit the immune system and many people claim they feel better when they take a probiotic.
Potential benefits of adding a probiotic supplement to your diet include reducing your risk of:
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- H. pylori
- Digestive tract infections
- Vaginal and urinary tract infections
- Eczema (a benefit that appears to be only beneficial for children)
- Recurrence of bladder cancer
The majority of people who use probiotics do so to deal with digestive disorders. They help relieve all kinds of digestive issues, including diarrhea and constipation. At least one research study has shown that taking a probiotic increases the number of weekly bowel movements by approximately 1.3. People also report softer, easier to pass stools.
Probiotics have also been shown to reduce the incidence of antibiotic-associated diarrhea by 60 percent.
It’s important to understand that most probiotics in the United States are sold as dietary supplements. That means they don’t undergo the same scrutiny as medications and drugs. Consumers must do their own research to determine if they are buying a product from a reputable manufacturer. After review, some probiotics were shown to have far fewer microorganisms than their labels claimed, so shop with caution.
We reviewed the top 5 microbiome test kits for testing your gut health. Read Now.
What are Personalized Probiotics?
If using a standard probiotic offers health benefits, it would stand to reason that using one customized for your own health is even better. But is that the case?
Mapping your own gut microbiome allows you to design a probiotic that is specifically designed to suit you.
For some, the best way to achieve optimal health is to get the probiotics you need by eating a diet high in fermented foods. But this isn’t possible for everyone. Not to mention not everyone enjoys the taste of fermented foods. And for people with the condition known as leaky gut, fermented foods might worsen your situation.
What is Leaky Gut?
Leaky gut occurs when inflammation in your digestive system is so bad that it causes it to be permeable. It’s usually linked to eating a bad diet, drinking too much alcohol or using too many pharmaceutical drugs, or drinking poor quality water. When your gastrointestinal lining is permeable, things meant to be absorbed in the gut seep out and pass through the blood to other parts of the body.
Taking a probiotic may decrease intestinal permeability and “cure” leaky gut. But in some cases, bacteria introduced into the gut make the problem worse. This is the case for people who tried a probiotic supplement or added fermented foods to their diet and experienced negative results.
Many people believe the negative reaction occurs when a probiotic isn’t designed for your body and lifestyle. Maybe it interacted with another supplement you’re taking or it didn’t mix well with your medication. Using a personalized probiotic would alleviate this problem because it’s designed with your personal circumstances in mind.
The final verdict is still out on probiotics and how helpful they are, but many in the medical community believe solid scientific proof is on the way.
The National Cancer Institute featured a study showing specific gut bacteria can determine a patient’s responsiveness to certain immunotherapies. The EPMA Journal published findings that showed personalized probiotic therapies enhance the gut-brain axis, and reduce the risk of autoimmune concerns, diabetes, and cancer.
How Do You Get a Personalized Probiotic?
You can’t just walk into a supermarket or health food store and find a probiotic designed for your personal needs. You’ll need to work with your doctor and undergo testing or you can test from your own home. The latter option is more cost-effective. One of the best tests available is the Thryve because it reveals what you need to know to make smart choices about the probiotics you take.
Once you have your results, you can choose your own personalized probiotics with the support of your doctor or on your own.
Before you choose your probiotic strains, you’ll need to rule out health issues like candida. Understanding your gut’s microbiome might also allow you to heal your leaky gut and incorporate probiotics into your diet via fermented foods.
The Ultimate Guide for a Healthy Gut. Read our 2021 Guide.
Harvard Health Publishing. “Health Benefits of Taking Probiotics - Harvard Health.” Harvard Health, Harvard Health, 13 Apr. 2020, www.health.harvard.edu/vitamins-and-supplements/health-benefits-of-taking-probiotics.
“Gut Bacteria Affect Immunotherapy Response.” National Cancer Institute, Cancer.gov, 5 Feb. 2018, www.cancer.gov/news-events/cancer-currents-blog/2018/gut-bacteria-checkpoint-inhibitors. Accessed 26 Aug. 2019.
“Specific Gut Bacteria Can Help or Hinder Cancer Treatments.” New Atlas, 5 Nov. 2017, newatlas.com/gut-bacteria-cancer-treatment-success/52056/. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.