If you’re a longtime PD reader, you know that we believe in healthy living inside and out. We don’t shy away from discussing unglamorous topics, such as vaginal steaming and adult acne, because we recognize and appreciate the role our bodies play in our holistic health. Today, we’re looking at digestion. More specifically, we’re asking the question, should you take a probiotic?
Most of us who have suffered some sort of digestive illness, whether it be a bout of the flu or severe IBS, have likely heard of probiotics. In fact, a lot of us have probably taken a probiotic at some point in our lives. I’ve been known to take a round of probiotics whenever I’m traveling or recovering from the stomach flu. My decision to take a probiotic has always been motivated by a “just for good measure” approach, which my mom instilled in me at a very early age. But beyond the placebo effect, I’ve wondered whether probiotics are really as effective as they’re marketed to be.
As it turns out, the answer is ‘sometimes.’ All of us already have hundreds of trillions of bacteria located in our large intestine, most of which serves a vital role in mitigating bad bacteria, supporting immunity, and aiding in digestion and nutrient absorption. However, when we lose a majority of the good bacteria (as a result of a poor diet, antibiotics, excessive sugar consumption, etc.), the microflora in the large intestine become unbalanced, causing a variety of health issues. That’s where probiotics come in: they’re said to rebalance the colon (put the bad bacteria at bay) and promote digestive health. Of course, this is a very rudimentary look at the role probiotics play, but important to know before making an investment.
Which probiotics are proven to be effective?
While there hasn’t been any scientific consensus about the efficacy of probiotics on the whole, there is much evidence that some probiotic formulas work better than others. For example, the bacterial strains lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus, both of which are commonly present in commercial yogurt, are destroyed by the acidity of the stomach before even reaching the intestinal tract, effectively removing any of their purported digestive benefits. On the other hand, some products contain Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, both of which have been shown to provide some measurable improvement to a person’s digestion.
Obviously, I’m not a proponent of dairy-anything, so a lot of today’s probiotics in edible form won’t do. Thankfully, there are some vegan yogurts, probiotic drinks, and sauerkrauts that are on the market, but I often find that they’re too sugary and/or tasteless. So, what’s a girl to do?
I recently had the opportunity to try LoveBug Probiotics, a new probiotic on the market. What’s special about this company is that all of their probiotics are manufactured with Bio-tract® technology, which, unlike other formulas out there, is designed so that the probiotics will survive passing through the stomach and make their way to the intestinal tract. All LoveBug products are made in the U.S. without GMOs, yeast, gluten, sugar, lactose, soy, wheat, iron, chemicals, preservatives, or artificial colors, making them allergy-and vegan-friendly.
The company currently offers three different probiotics:
–Colds Suck, which bolsters the immune system (especially great during the fall and winter months!)
–Yeast is a Beast, which is designed for women who experience recurrent UTIs and yeast infections
–Here’s the Skinny, which helps with issues originating in the digestive system
I chose Here’s the Skinny, since I’m still trying to restore my digestion from some issues I had during the worst of my eating disorder. I loved that the pills weren’t in capsule form because this offers a controlled release of the active ingredients and is more effective. I was very impressed with the improvements in my digestion that I experienced over the course of the month I took the probiotics. While I still don’t think I’ll take a probiotic regularly, I will absolutely turn to LoveBug whenever I’m experiencing issues with my digestion.
Do you take probiotics? Are they effective?
Related: Could You Have Low Stomach Acid?
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Photo: Molly Lansdowne