7

votes

Under what circumstances should a person take probiotics?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 13, 2011 at 6:00 PM

Is there any reason for a normal healthy person (meaning not showing any symptoms, no problems with stress, etc.) to take probiotics? Or are there some specific conditions where it is more beneficial to take them? I won't be listing any conditions that I have because I'd rather see what I can apply myself to based on people's answers.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 14, 2011
at 03:35 PM

Exactly! I'm very suspicious of anything that's been extracted from the food source. I realize we can't have it 100% but I feel strongly you have to try to do it with food not pills.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on December 14, 2011
at 04:32 AM

And there's the rub. Personally, I'm not going to pay for something that merely because it isn't "going to hurt you." The probiotics that have helped me were not pills. They were food.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on December 14, 2011
at 04:30 AM

Yes to this. I still maintain that much of the talk about probiotics is woo woo.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on December 14, 2011
at 04:28 AM

Probiotics were associated with flatulence and incomplete elimination of stools. Yogurt and kombucha were associated with regularity and perfect stools. This is not meant to be perfect science. Just my observational noodlings. I should note that many of the probiotic brands that come "highly recommended" were avoided because they contain soy. I am allergic to soy, so these brands cannot be vouched for or against.

F92e4ca55291c3f3096a3d4d3d854986

(11698)

on December 14, 2011
at 03:49 AM

um, bloating and gas.

8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

(6259)

on December 14, 2011
at 03:41 AM

I would say it depends on the Probiotic brand, quality, and type and what type of health issue you are trying to resolve. Chris Masterjohn told me he tried everything for his eczema including Paleo, GF/CF, for a year and the only thing that worked for him was soil bacteria in probiotics! Of course cultured, especially homemade is great but don't know if they carry soil bacteria?

Medium avatar

(10663)

on December 13, 2011
at 11:31 PM

Could you elaborate more on how the yogurt was effective?

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on December 13, 2011
at 08:29 PM

Ok, I guess it started coming back to me... I took a little comfort from this study (because PPIs contain phthalate enteric coatings): http://www.nature.com/ajg/journal/v104/n6/abs/ajg2009122a.html

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on December 13, 2011
at 08:27 PM

Ok, I guess it started coming back to me... I found took comfort from this study (because PPIs contain phthalate enteric coatings): http://www.nature.com/ajg/journal/v104/n6/abs/ajg2009122a.html

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on December 13, 2011
at 08:24 PM

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1382668909000027

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on December 13, 2011
at 08:22 PM

This might be a starting place (I remember starting here): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2649248/

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on December 13, 2011
at 08:15 PM

@Melissa, no great links. You'll find some discussion on google. A while ago, I dug up some industry data and called up a few supplement companies to ask what kind of phthalates they were using. I tried researching health effects of those particular phthalates but found no study of them whatsoever. Certain other types of phthalates used in pharmaceuticals (like PPIs) have been studies in small human trials and no smoking gun was found.

Medium avatar

(10663)

on December 13, 2011
at 08:14 PM

Ooh thanks for the info about the phthalates, Jay. Melissa, I've found this website on some more info: http://www.sailhome.org/Concerns/BodyBurden/Burdens/Phthalate.html. The phthalate that is used to coat supplements is CAP for controlling drug release in the intestines.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 13, 2011
at 07:44 PM

@Jay, when I say probiotics I'm talking about food not capsules because I agree with your point re: supplements.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on December 13, 2011
at 06:42 PM

any links to more info about the phthalates?

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8 Answers

5
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 13, 2011
at 06:06 PM

I take probiotics in food form (water kefir, home-made yogurt.)

You have to define healthy. It's a little hard to believe that there are many people who have totally healthy gut flora in today's environment and that includes those of us taking probiotics. Everything's against us because we live in an artificial environment which is both "too sterile" and toxic and we eat food that is widely considered inferior compared to even 50 years ago.

Now, if you define healthy as symptom free that creates a reasonable group but I haven't known that many people who always feel high energy, cheerful, well rested, etc.

The nice thing about probiotics is, if you happen to have a healthy community of gut flora the probiotics aren't going to hurt you. Just as with overall nutrition, I believe the best choice is real foods vs. a pill or capsule. And home made is definitely better than any commercial product.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 14, 2011
at 03:35 PM

Exactly! I'm very suspicious of anything that's been extracted from the food source. I realize we can't have it 100% but I feel strongly you have to try to do it with food not pills.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on December 14, 2011
at 04:32 AM

And there's the rub. Personally, I'm not going to pay for something that merely because it isn't "going to hurt you." The probiotics that have helped me were not pills. They were food.

4
4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on December 13, 2011
at 06:25 PM

Because there is much more that we don't know about human biology than we do know, I think otherwise healthy should not take any supplements, except those for which a compelling argument can be made that such supplement is needed to return the person to a more "paleo" state. For example, vitamin D is lacking in our modern lives for people that spend all day working inside. Another argument might be made for certain minerals potentially lacking in our food because of soil depletion or geography. With respect to probiotics, humans used to eat more fermented foods prior to the advent of refrigeration. That said, fermented and preserved foods are a neolithic thing, more than a paleo thing, in that they helped stretch the fall harvest (think: agriculture) through the winter. Paleolithic tribes were probably less likely, or even unlikely, to eat such foods. Moreover, to the extent this is the argument, why not just eat fermented foods and not take probiotics?

One additional negative with many commercially available probiotics is that they come in phthalate "enteric" coatings. Although there is currently no evidence that the specific type of phthalate used causes birth defects or other problems, there is not much evidence that they don't either. And, generally, there is not a whole lot of difference between the chemical structure of one phthalate as compared to another... I try to avoid them wherever possible.

My personal experience with probiotics is limited. They helped me once with a minor but chronic sore throat (had it for months). I broke open a New Chapter (non-enteric) probiotic, mixed it with water, and gargled... The sore throat disappeared within half an hour of the first and only treatment and did not return again... I thought that was compelling evidence... Aside from this one positive experience, however, the only thing I have ever noticed from actually swallowing probiotics (and I've tried a few brands, including ones that sport enteric coatings) is bloating and gas. I do not now take them.

Medium avatar

(10663)

on December 13, 2011
at 08:14 PM

Ooh thanks for the info about the phthalates, Jay. Melissa, I've found this website on some more info: http://www.sailhome.org/Concerns/BodyBurden/Burdens/Phthalate.html. The phthalate that is used to coat supplements is CAP for controlling drug release in the intestines.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 13, 2011
at 07:44 PM

@Jay, when I say probiotics I'm talking about food not capsules because I agree with your point re: supplements.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on December 13, 2011
at 06:42 PM

any links to more info about the phthalates?

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on December 13, 2011
at 08:27 PM

Ok, I guess it started coming back to me... I found took comfort from this study (because PPIs contain phthalate enteric coatings): http://www.nature.com/ajg/journal/v104/n6/abs/ajg2009122a.html

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on December 13, 2011
at 08:24 PM

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1382668909000027

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on December 13, 2011
at 08:22 PM

This might be a starting place (I remember starting here): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2649248/

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on December 13, 2011
at 08:29 PM

Ok, I guess it started coming back to me... I took a little comfort from this study (because PPIs contain phthalate enteric coatings): http://www.nature.com/ajg/journal/v104/n6/abs/ajg2009122a.html

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on December 13, 2011
at 08:15 PM

@Melissa, no great links. You'll find some discussion on google. A while ago, I dug up some industry data and called up a few supplement companies to ask what kind of phthalates they were using. I tried researching health effects of those particular phthalates but found no study of them whatsoever. Certain other types of phthalates used in pharmaceuticals (like PPIs) have been studies in small human trials and no smoking gun was found.

2
Medium avatar

on December 14, 2011
at 02:54 AM

From everything I've read probiotics help some people, don't help others, and some people can't tolerate them at all such as myself. What's just as important as the source of bacteria is your source of food for all your bacteria. Fecal transplants are so effective because they provide the patient with anaerobic bacteria that can't survive in the presence of oxygen and therefore can't be put in a probiotic. If you're healthy and eating a paleo diet you don't need probiotics, especially if you're having fermented foods and drinks.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on December 14, 2011
at 04:30 AM

Yes to this. I still maintain that much of the talk about probiotics is woo woo.

1
9d741bcbe702044635f2ce3078043054

(1435)

on December 14, 2011
at 02:13 AM

My common sense test says they are neither harming nor helping a healthy individual. Our guts are full of multiple species of bacteria, all in competition for the available nutrients. Bacteria multiply extremely quickly, so they will achieve a level of balance depending on your diet (a high fat diet will probably result in a different "mix" of species than a high carb diet.

Probiotics may be useful if you have just made a major change to your diet and want to jump start the bacteria. But multiple doses shouldn't be necessary. Likewise after antibiotics have been taken and have disrupted your gut bacteria.

The anecdotes I have read around fecal transplants support this somewhat. It appears that multiple treatments are not ordinarily required. Once introduced, the bacteria will flourish if nutrients are there.

1
1586db0f16b2cef51ee4e71ab08ad1a2

(965)

on December 13, 2011
at 11:10 PM

I don't see any reason for anyone to NOT eat sauerkraut. :)

F92e4ca55291c3f3096a3d4d3d854986

(11698)

on December 14, 2011
at 03:49 AM

um, bloating and gas.

0
531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

on December 13, 2011
at 08:49 PM

I think probiotics are a sham. I have experimented extensively with different brands, and also with Kombucha and various yogurts (the ones with culture and milk as the only ingredients) and found the latter to be far more effective.

8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

(6259)

on December 14, 2011
at 03:41 AM

I would say it depends on the Probiotic brand, quality, and type and what type of health issue you are trying to resolve. Chris Masterjohn told me he tried everything for his eczema including Paleo, GF/CF, for a year and the only thing that worked for him was soil bacteria in probiotics! Of course cultured, especially homemade is great but don't know if they carry soil bacteria?

Medium avatar

(10663)

on December 13, 2011
at 11:31 PM

Could you elaborate more on how the yogurt was effective?

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on December 14, 2011
at 04:28 AM

Probiotics were associated with flatulence and incomplete elimination of stools. Yogurt and kombucha were associated with regularity and perfect stools. This is not meant to be perfect science. Just my observational noodlings. I should note that many of the probiotic brands that come "highly recommended" were avoided because they contain soy. I am allergic to soy, so these brands cannot be vouched for or against.

0
6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on December 13, 2011
at 07:20 PM

I recently started Bio-Kult probiotics with the hope that it will help my asthma condition. Since going Paleo, my allergies have improved markedly, but I still have exercise and weather induced asthma. I've recently read some research indicating that allergies and asthma, among other conditions, begin in the gut, so for me, it is worth a look-see.

0
6714718e2245e5190017d643a7614157

on December 13, 2011
at 07:04 PM

If possible try to get beneficial bacteria in your system through your diet by eating fermented foods, such as homemade kefir (milk or water), homemade sauerkraut (or kimchi), or drinking kombucha. Eating real food is usually better than taking supplements.

The book "Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods" by Sandor Katz has lots of good fermentation ideas.

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