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Your complete guide to probiotics and why you need them.

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Probiotics.  One word.  Bombdiggity.  My most favourite pack full of the good stuff, bacterial rich essential in ya fridge medicine and something I highly recommend to all my patients.  You see, we had a mad time overdosing on antibiotics sadly and now, we’ve needed to do a 360 and come back to strengthening wellness, not necessarily mending illness.  It’s not just antibiotics though, the pill has equally contributed – if not more so.  I talk about gut health and probiotics quite extensively in my Debunking Ovulation download mostly because the pill has collectively stuffed up our gut health something major.  And if that’s not enough of an issue, antibiotics, stress and our ever so toxic lifestyles have come along and been major contributors too.  Seems as though up until recently we’ve had things around the wrong way.

Perhaps you’re not sure where to start?  Perhaps you love the idea but equally the idea of bacteria is so funky it makes you squirm?  I want to make things super simple and give you a little guide to how to tackle your gut health and probiotic needs.  After all, fermented foods and probiotics have been around since Noah was putting his finishing touches on the Ark!

Here’s why you need probiotics:

  • 80% of your immune function is formed by your healthy gut – this helps protect you from viruses and infections (especially after antibiotics where all the good and the bad has been cleared out leaving your body so open to infection, it’s scary)
  • They’re the bee’s knees for managing gut health – think Irritable Bowel Syndrome, reflux, heartburn (all signs your digestive system is totes unhappy).
  • Because it is like a big hug from your inners, it helps to treat the root cause of pain, gas and bloating meaning the symptoms are also addressed
  • Promotes happy bowels
  • Addresses leaky gut
  • Attacks infections like Candida and prevents yeast overgrowth to treat and prevent thrush
  • Maximises your guts ability to absorb essential vitamins and minerals

Like all supplements it can be tricky to work out what’s actually quality and sift through the rubbish products that are out there.  There are some wonderful over the counter products (and I’m in no way affiliated to these kids – just sharing what I know).  As a practitioner, I like to stick to quality practitioner prescribed products mostly, however I’ve used over the counter varieties from time to time.

In the clinic we prescribe Metagenics.

Over the counter I recommend BioCeuticals or Life Space.

There’s also little differences between various products.  The probiotics that are drum dried require refrigeration.  Those that are using a newer technology known as freeze drying do not need refrigeration.

Here’s what you need to know about the various strains:

  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus – successfully treats diarrhoea (especially good whilst travelling), treats skin conditions like eczema and food allergies in infants.  It is useful for respiratory infections and anxiety.  This little beauty goes to work in the digestive tract to balance intestinal microflora.
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus – supports general immune function
  • Lactobacillus plantarum – IBS, diarrhoea, relieves bloating, intestinal pain and inflammation
  • Bifidobacterium lactis  – constipation and IBS.  This strain enhances cellular immune response.
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae – effective to treat dysbiosis, improves digestion and useful for inflammatory bowel disease and post viral chronic fatigue.

Now there are of course more than these varieties, however these are the most common strains that you’ll come across.

What about fermented and probiotic food types?

Of course, I always advocate for making my own probiotics rich food because you are getting a vast range of strains in each food AND they are much cheeper and easy to make.

  • In kombucha (fermented tea) you’ll find – Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Acetobacter, Lactobacillus plus a few others like Brettanomyces and a few other strains specific to Kombucha.
  • In sauerkraut – Pedioccous and Lactobacillus
  • In kefir grains/yoghurt – a HUGE variety including Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, Psuedomonoas, Streptococcus as well as yeast varieties also in Kombucha like Saccharomyces plus a few others.

There are other types of fermented foods available – think kim chi and water kefir.  All are wonderful for gut health.

Need some guidance on making these foods.  Check out my healthtalks episode on probiotics here.

Want to get started – check out Alice Nicholls kombucha start up kit here.

Are probiotics safe?  

Hells yeah.  If they weren’t, you nor I would be here.  Not only are they safe, they are ESSENTIAL.  Probiotics up until the 1950’s (when the fridge became a household item) were a diet staple and it’s fair to say kept the population healthy.  With the introduction of the fridge, we no longer needed to preserve and pickle our foods but we lost this very powerful healing and health maintaining food.

People ask me all the time about probiotics and pregnancy.  I’m not here to tell you what to do – you need to make the choice that feels right for you.  But I will say this, the baby will directly inherit the mothers gut health and so if there is some compromise there, it may be a good idea to consume a supplement or food if you feel comfortable.

What about pre-biotics?

Pre-biotics are food for probiotics found in many foods like onions, beans, various legumes and some other produce like asparagus.  They are also found in fibres like psyllium and slippery elm (two key ingredients in my gentle body cleanse shakes – watch out for the next round in September!)

How do you know you need a probiotic?

Unless you’re superhuman or from mars, you do.  We need to be continually supporting our digestive health.  It’s a constant work in progress, and like all wellness, there is no endpoint – it’s all about the journey!

I say to patients, if you’re unsure where to start, a broad spectrum product will absolutely support your needs.  Remember, you have many types of bacteria present in your gut and so honing in on just one strain is like taking a single vitamin as opposed to multivitamin.  Various strains work together to support overall gut health and colonisation.

Bottom line is this – if your gut can’t absorb nutrients from the food and drink we consume then it can’t do it’s job properly – converting nutrients eventually into hormones!  Fix your gut and fix your life.  It really does all start here.

Leave a Comment

21 Responses to “Your complete guide to probiotics and why you need them.”

  1. Alyssa OFlynn

    Thanks Nat! 🙂 xx

    Reply
  2. Nic

    Great article, thanks Nat. What’s your opinion on Carla Oats GLOW and DETOX….every organic online shop seems to rave about them. I take Dr Ohhira Probiotic from Japan….my integrative Dr Emerson says it’s worlds best probiotic! Xx

    Reply
    • Zoe

      Hi Nic,
      Sorry I don’t want to put down your comment but I just wanted to put the info out there. I just looked up the Dr Ohhira probiotics and in the ingredients is listed carrageenan, safflower oil and caramel colour. I personally stay away from vegetable oils and colours but that doesn’t mean you have you. The main worrying thing is the carrageenan. It has been linked to cancer… Again I’m not having a go or anything just wanted younto be aware of it all. I’m currently trying to find a good probiotic and it’s so hard because I look at not only the probiotics included but the other ingredients and what the capsule is made up of. So hard!

      Reply
      • Nic

        OMG, I just looked it up too and you’re right Zoe, all those things are listed under ‘other ingredients’ . When you’re paying $500 for a consultation you think you could trust what you’re told! I’ll def be asking about this at my next appt. Not happy 🙁 Thank you Zoe for taking the time to share this info, I really appreciate it. Xxxxxxx

      • Zoe

        That’s ok Nic! I’m glad you took it the right way, I was so scared I would offend you but I thought well if it was me I’d like to be told! Hope you get some answers! Xoxo

  3. Elle

    Hi Nat,
    Thanks for the wonderful info! I was wondering if you know of any good supplements/foods that are quite high in Bifidobacterium lactis? I’m already eating quite a bit of sauerkraut but realising that doesn’t have a high BL count.
    Thanks! 🙂

    Reply
    • Nat Kringoudis

      Hi Elle, I think focus on not just one strain but all strains plus a pre-biotic. Remember they all work together and of course it can take up to 16 months for bacteria to fully culture and return to a healthy state. I’d continue doing what you are already doing.

      Reply
  4. Anna

    Hi Nat, can I drink kombucha while breast feeding?

    Reply
  5. Adriana

    Hi Nat
    I’ve been taking Metagenics probotics for years, however, I don’t feel it’s enough as I still have gut issues. I would love to trial fermented food such as above, but I’m worried I will react to then with my dairy intollerance. Can you give me more info on this?
    Also my 5 month old has had reflux since birth and constipation since starting solids (only fruit and veg) a month ago under our pediatrician’s recommendations as she has presented with egg and soy allergies through my breastmilk. My question is how can I help repair her gut health?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Nat Kringoudis

      Hey Adriana – I suggest you watch the probiotic videos on the site- there are two. One that shows you how to make them and another that will answer your questions. Here it is http://www.natkringoudis.com/because-healthtalks-loves-your-guts/

      Reply
    • Naomi Lee

      Hi Adriana – can I jump in here at say that my daughter’s terrible constipation at 6-months old was solved by giving her Metagenics brand probiotics for young children. We had to up the dose *very* slowly over a couple of months from a very small dose to the recommended dose on account of its immediate effect! She went from screaming-with-pain weekly bowel movements to a very healthy once-or-twice daily routine. I was so relieved. (Interesting, my daughter also suffers from soy and dairy intolerance which, as you would know, inflames the bowel lining – and I suspect it erodes the gut flora). Hope this helps. I’m afraid the medical profession were not very helpful (prescribing laxatives – aarrgghh) and I had to work this solution out for myself

      Reply
  6. Deny

    Hi Nat. Great info! Thanks! I was shocked to read that some probiotics contain harmfuls… Do you know anything about the wagner probiotica? I’ve read the ingredient list and it seems to be kosha… so hard when you’re trying to put the right stuff into your body and they put additives in that cause more harm than good… Any insights would be graciously appreciated 🙂

    Reply
    • Nat Kringoudis

      Deny – I’m a huge fan on those that I’ve suggested because I’ve used them. I’m not familiar with wagner probiotics – but when in doubt, make your own for sure x

      Reply
  7. Olivia

    I have been suffering from candida and the horrible symptoms for years now and tried everything! it wasn’t until a couple of months ago I started eating sauerkraut and kefir and wowee! In 2 months most of symptoms have disappeared, I can’t believe it, the first couple of weeks were horrible, the symptoms got 10 times worse but I stuck it out and now I feel great, I will continue to eat these foods for the rest of my life they are seriously a god send! still not completely symptom free but I’m sure I will be soon 🙂 thanks so much Nat your website led me to this path xxxx

    Reply
  8. Katie

    Hi Nat,

    Thanks for this – am starting to get into probiotics so really appreciate the lowdown. My question is – I am not sure at what time of day to take the probiotic? I have bought some but find myself avoiding taking them because I’m not sure if whether having them at the same time as food makes them ineffective!? I was trying to have them before breakfast and wait a while before eating however this isn’t always practical!

    Reply
  9. Hannah

    Thanks Nat!! I love this post & the videos… I may have missed it but I am still confused about how much per day, can you please clarify? I drink about 150ml of Kombucha, is that enough? How much sauerkraut and kefir? Thank you!!

    Reply
    • Nat Kringoudis

      It does depend on the individual. I would say anywhere from 1 glass upwards per day. I know Sarah Wilson drinks 1L per day!!

      Reply
  10. Chantelle

    Hi Nat,
    Just wanting to clarify that probiotics are safe to take during pregnancy? Thanks.

    Reply