Probiotics 101

Asked on March 09, 2015
Created November 12, 2013 at 7:39 AM

It???s almost universally agreed upon that probiotics are beneficial to your gut. Without the tremendous amount of bacteria covering our bodies inside and out, a lot of which is friendly, we would very quickly pass away.

Probiotics is no where near a perfect science, yet, but certain cultures have had probiotic foods as staples of their diets for generations with little to no documented negative side affects. Kimchi in many parts of Asia. Raw yogurt, cheese, and milk throughout Europe and raw sauerkraut in the United States.

Health Benefits

Certain strains are showing to have different or complimentary health benefits. Possible health benefits:

  • Urinary Tract Health
  • Crohn???s disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome Improved
  • Oral Health
  • Strep throat and Tonsillitis Defense
  • Emotional Well Being
  • Improved Brain Activity (fun fact there???s neurons in our guts)
  • Diarrhea/Constipation Remedy
  • Treatment of Yeast Infection and Bacterial Vaginosis
  • Defense from Infection and Pathogens
  • Relief from Acne and Eczema
  • Improved Allergies
  • Anti-Inflammatory and in Effect Anti-Aging

For strains, no matter which strain if the live organisms count isn???t in the billionsit???s most likely not going to be effective. Lactobacillus (the most researched strain) acidophilus and bifidobacteria are the most common types.

Dosage is a question I???ve been really actively looking into. Some self proclaimed experts suggest to take 10-15 times the recommended dosage (which my spider sense is telling me that???s mainly because they sell probiotics! ha). Personally I recommend taking twice the recommended dosage to colonize for the first week or way better take approximately 25 billion organisms of the most diverse strains (while still good quality) you can find for the benefits you???re looking for.

Currently experimenting with different types/brands of probiotics and I???ll go into more depth on the benefits for each strain and a few good brands in the near future.

Now I???m going to cover soil based organisms, certain benefits/effects different strains have, and references.

First thing about soil based organisms, there has been some evidence that if you don???t have a healthy gut flora already (more good bacteria than bad) soil based probiotics may do more damage and possibly become pathogenic. If you???re just starting with a probiotic regimen and have had an arguably unhealthy diet in the past recommend steering clear of these in the beginning simply from the perspective of risk/reward, go more toward the lactic acid probiotics. When you???ve done a regiment of lactic acid probiotics, not been on antibiotics, and eating a relatively clean diet soil based organisms may have even more benefits than the lactic acid based probiotics.


Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli (most studied strain families): treatment/improving allergies, lactose intolerance, eczema, acne, improved digestive health

Immune System Support: Bifidobacterium lactis HN019, Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC55730, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium lactis Bb-12

Treatment for Diarrhea: S. cerevisiae (S. boulardii), Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), Lactobacillus casei DN-114 001, Lactobacillus acidophilus CL1285 plus Lactobicillus casei Lbc80r


  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15106189
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19584499
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16313688
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16126048
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23474283
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?cmd=Link&dbFrom=PubMed&from_uid=21352578&holding=f1000%2Cf1000m%2Cisrctn
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=Probiotics
  8. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm
  9. http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/changing-gut-bacteria-through-245617.aspx
  10. http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update0905c.shtml
  11. http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/46/Supplement_2/S96.full
Thoughts? Comments? Use fermented foods? What strains/brands of probiotics does everybody use?

Medium avatar


on November 20, 2013
at 10:00 PM

I tried kombucha once too. Ever since then (as in starting the day I tried it) it's been a daily tradition. I just don't feel right without my kombucha. I can't believe I was missing out on this all my life!

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Medium avatar

on November 12, 2013
at 05:02 PM

This is really something we paleo health aficionados need to take more seriously. It's got to be at least as important as our beloved macronutrient ratios. I've heard of some really transformative probiotics stories.

I'll add my own here:

I recently underwent (another) course of antibiotics after a dental implant. I knew I wasn't ready for them and had a really bad feeling about it but did as my doctor said (a mistake we all make some times). My digestive system was just finally coming into balance for he first time in many years, though not ideal. Sure enough, by the end of the week I was wrecked by the antibiotics. Over the following few weeks things went progressively down hill rather than recovering (I'm guessing because I was being colonized by pathogenic bacteria).

It culminated in a week of terrible constipation and major discomfort and complete loss of appetite. This was followed by a day of diarrhea and a couple days of very loose stools (probaly due to all the stool softeners and magnesium I had that week to no avail) during which I ate almost nothing but probiotics and prebiotics. I was on a diet of potatoes, krauts, yogurts, kombucha, mild veggies, broths, and fatty meats. It was working. Day by day I felt better and eventually I felt great!

It seems like that did the trick! All I had to do was take advantage of the purging period by overpopulating my gut with the good guys to crowd out the bad guys. I'm still eating a diet relatively heavy in prebiotics and probiotics but starting to normalize things and my digestion/bowel habits/appetite/mood/whole life has been going pretty great for over a month. In fact, my digestion and bowel habits are the best they've been in years! Of course, that's in no small part because I've been pretty strict about my diet this past month.

I'm hoping that the fragility of my balanced gut flora will wane with time and I'll be able to go back to a relatively un-restrictive paleo diet and merely enjoy fermented foods as a garnish. Luckily, I do enjoy the ferments.



on November 22, 2013
at 03:28 AM

The interesting part of a rich flora is that mineral absorption increases. For example in an apple all of the pectin is calcium pectate. Break the pectin, get the calories and the calcium. The pH also decreases binding minerals to absorbable molecules, as minerals tend to be from the LHS of the Mendeleev table.

Also interesting that what we know about fermentable fiber goes completely against the paleo narrative of Grok eating fruits/roots with higher mineral content. In fact, he was eating fruit/roots with higher indigestible fiber, which is useful and detoxifying but which decreases mineral absorption. There is no doubt that the ratio fermentable/non fermentable has increased in modern fruits. I think modern fruits are just fine, as are modern roots. They were selected because they help human health better than their wild counterparts, not worse.



on November 21, 2013
at 04:49 AM

If kombucha and kefir are not your ticket, there are always roots from the garden, washed some but still with bits of black in nooks and crannies. You get the pre-and the pro- in the same shot, specially if your garden has a lot of organic matter.

Medium avatar

on November 13, 2013
at 03:53 AM

Kefir keeps DW's digestion agreeable to those oh-so-necessary greens. Especially broccoli. Why she can eat kale so easily and have so many issues with broccoli, I have no idea.

That same Kefir keeps me less... well... gassy. In another way <_< I tried kombucha once, but I'm not into alcohol-fermented tastes, so that's once every... six months. I'd have to have a severe issue for that.

Medium avatar


on November 20, 2013
at 10:00 PM

I tried kombucha once too. Ever since then (as in starting the day I tried it) it's been a daily tradition. I just don't feel right without my kombucha. I can't believe I was missing out on this all my life!

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