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Do you take a probiotic supplement or purposely eat probiotic foods?

I have had some unrest in my GI tract lately. I was concerned that it might be related to my Type 1 Diabetes so I visited a GI Dr. She thought my issues might be minor and recommended I try Florastor and see if it helps reset my GI good health.

I did some reading and I had no idea that these yeast-based probiotics were so widely used for everything from GI issues to help battle the common cold. They also are recommended for folks suffering from stomach viruses (said to reduce symptoms) and for people who travel abroad.

In addition to the dietary supplements, some foods that can help keep your GI balanced are pickles (refrigerated), kimchi, probiotic yogurts, kefir, aged cheeses, sauerkraut, etc. Who knew?!

Do you take and find this supplement helpful? Do you purposely eat some of the above foods (or others) to maintain good gut health? This is new to me and I'm just curious what other's experiences are. Thanks!

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  1. Good topic! There have been many great things written about gut health, inflammation and immunity for decades.

    I always have lacto fermented foods in my fridge and eat them regularly as well as cook and bake with items that promote gut health ( upper and lower GI) with probiotic and prebiotic food. I eat an anti inflammatory diet.

    Also, I don't use all the bacteria and virus killing soaps and sprays in my kitchen either. I don't demand super sanitary conditions at all times by using hand sanitizer ( other than for high risk situations- flu season risk, etc).

    I don't ask my doc for antibiotics or eat foods likely containing remnants of them.

    All these other things effect gut health as well as just "feeding the good bugs in your gut"....it is important not to kill them off (once you grew them) too! :D

    2 Replies
    1. re: sedimental

      I'm curious - what is in your anti-inflammatory diet? Thanks.

      1. re: skytop

        There is a ton of information on the internet on chronic inflammation and diet. I follow mostly a primal diet, with an emphasis on low carb, limiting all grains, no sugar. But, also really important in inflammation is the use of cooking methods and herbs, spices and supplements. So, it doesn't do any good for inflammation to buy a nice organic chicken breast, dredge it in white flour and fry it in corn oil :)

        Everyone is different with how they tolerate some foods but mostly grains, legumes and dairy. If you have inflammation, it is best to eliminate those things, then add them back in to experiment.

        For example, I found that I tolerate dairy very well, legumes okay in very limited quantity and infrequently, and grains not well at all. Grains make me feel heavy, bloated, set off food cravings, and I get hungry within hours of eating them. I limit soy to mostly fermented soy. Eat clean meats.

        Here is a starter cheat sheet with at least an overview look:

        https://www.fammed.wisc.edu/sites/def...

      1. re: sedimental

        sedimental, thanks for the article. Wow! I should have known Michael Pollan would be all over this. I'm working my way through the article, there's a lot to digest (nice pun, right?), but its very interesting and informative.

        So, I suppose my microbiome is out of whack and needs re-populated. ;-)

        1. re: sedimental

          I recently read and love this article (referenced by another Chowhound thread). I am not new to this subject but the article will be a fundamental piece to how I manage my health for many years to come.

          For example, I now give my daughter more hugs and the Eskimo kiss after reading that.

        2. I'm on high dose antibiotics a lot. I take saccaromyces boulardi and other mixed probiotics several times a week while I'm on them. If you overdo them, you'll get bad pain from overgrowth, too. Helps a lot.

          I do eat probiotic yogurt, aged cheeses, sauerkraut and lots of veggies with fiber. Not eating grains or much sugar is the single most important thing, though. They really disregulate gut flora and feed overgrowth of some stuff.

          1. Oh gosh yes. Dedicated yogurt and fermented foods eater here. Gut health declines as you age, in addition to being affected by diet, medication, and just about everything else. Artificial sweeteners, yikes. Steroid medications, same. Pesticides, factory farmed meat, antibiotics, even NSAIDS.
            It's huge, and hugely related to so many aspects of health that we are just starting to acknowledge and understand. Do some research on gut flora aka "poop" transplants. There have been several articles in the media lately that have been really interesting that speak to the emerging understanding of the importance of gut health.

            This is "new" because the answers don't serve the medical and pharmaceutical establishment so it's not a message you are likely to hear broadly anytime soon.

            1 Reply
            1. re: splatgirl

              I've read about the poop transplants recently. Mind-blowing! And I hear what you are saying about Big Pharma and the medical community not wanting to shine a light on it. There's no money - yet - in it. At least not for them. However, I tip my hat to my GI who opted to go the conservative route and introduce me to probiotics first. No tests, no colonoscopy, no pharmacueticals.

            2. As well as liking a lot of fermented foods and including them in what we eat regularly, I ferment both milk and water kefir daily and drink it all the time. (Ingesting varied probiotic food and drinks will give you far more strains of beneficials than any supplement.)

              Paired with cutting grains out of my diet I've never felt better. My energy is up, my immune system is strong.

              I'm also a big believer in bone broth for gut healing.

              4 Replies
              1. re: weezieduzzit

                Another thumbs up here about the bone broth for recovery.

                1. re: vil

                  @ vil....what is bone broth please?

                    1. re: bcc

                      Cool, that page also explains exactly what I suspect were the reasons why it helps... I haven't read through the whole page or the links it refers to (giving further info on the benefits).. but am looking forward to reading through them when I have time!

                      Also I might consider adding a bit of vinegar as suggested to help with getting more minerals into the broth - I suppose it would not affect the flavour of the end result?

                      Grangie angie: what I mean by bone broths is in the very general sense - it can be pho broths (i.e. Vietnamese style), Cantonese broths (with chicken/pork, fungus and other medicinal ingredients), Korean style, or some hybrid. The more variety the better!

              2. I eat yogurt ocassionally these days. Not a big fan.

                I took Zygest Pro after my gallbladder turned against me in spectacular fashion. I was on weeks of serious antibiotics plus my system had to deal with a new constant stream of bile. It whipped things into shape pretty quickly. I'd buy it again in a second.

                1. I used to have an iron stomach and a healthy appetite that impressed a lot of people.. until a few years back when I had major illness and had to go through rounds and rounds of antibiotics. Now, suffering from very low appetite and frequent nausea, I take probiotics almost daily, on a rotation basis with the best brands I can find and afford, and bumping up the dosage when needed. It definitely helps.

                  Ever since, I have learned from experience, mine and others, that probiotics, by helping to maintain healthy gut bacteria, helps with the overall immune system, skin issues, inflammation, among many other things.

                  However, I also believe that the typical strains on the market are the ones that can be more easily cultured in the labs, and is only a small representation of the strains found in the human body. If your gut flora is in really bad shape, the commercial probiotics may help with symptoms but not help restore some of the lost strains (killed off by antibiotics). I am curious about how to restore those "human strains".

                  I have been getting my hands on live foods as much as possible - kimchi, saurkraut, natto, kefir, kombucha, raw milk and cheeses, skin-on raw produce (organic), even fish and beef. It is not easy, though, because a lot of the live/cultured food products are required to be "killed" (pasteurized) where I live.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: vil

                    It is all new to me, vil, but the reading I have done and what I have learned from my doctor have been so interesting. I too am grateful to sedimental for posting the link to that piece. So enlightening!

                    The probiotics have definitely helped me, but I'm still not completely back to normal. My dr. said that if, after a month on the probiotics, I'm not back to "normal" he will put me on an antibiotic in case I have some bad growth bacteria issues. I'm leery to go with antibiotics. All this reading has me concerned about them. I am not a fan of taking anything, least of antibiotics or other pharmaceuticals.

                    I'm still exploring. My husband travels abroad a lot and we have now started him on probiotics before he leaves for places like India, Brazil or China. I think there is much to be learned and I look forward to the reading and following the progress.

                    1. re: lynnlato

                      "Still exploring" and acknowledging there is still so much to be learned sound wise, as does being leery about taking antibiotics ;-)

                      Thanks for sharing, lynnlato. There is so much to be learned from everyone by connecting, so much wisdom to be gained here!

                  2. I can't say that I've "drunk the Koolaid", so to speak, but I know that we as a family are sick less (with either tummy problems or cold/flu type bugs) when we make sure we get at least a serving or two of yogurt every single day.

                    We recover faster when we do fall ill, too, particularly if we end up with sinus infection/bronchitis/other infections that simply need antibiotics. (Probiotics will help hold off the ugly side effects that antibiotics will wreak on your belly -- and help repopulate your gut with the "good guys" faster.

                    After a bout of food poisoning last year, hubby bounced back quickly with just a few days' of probiotic capsules.

                    I have noticed that I have far less heartburn and upset stomach, and just plain feel better.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: sunshine842

                      I have noticed that I have far less heartburn and upset stomach, and just plain feel better.
                      ~~~~~~~
                      Ditto. I've always eaten probiotic foods but lately I've increased my consumption after having to take several courses of antibiotics, and it wasn't until I just read your comment that I realized all those good bugs may be why my GERD hasn't been acting up recently.

                      My primary sources are kombucha, kefir & cultured yogurt. I adore kimchi but have to limit my serving sizes because of the sodium content.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        Hey GHG, Have you tried Bulgarian yogurt? If so, what can you tell me about it. Is it just the latest trend now that "Greek yogurt" has become so commonplace? Are the cultures used in Bulgarian yogurt superior to those in other yogurts? I came across this blog post:

                        http://whitemountainbulgarianyogurt.b...

                        I hadn't heard of Bulgarian yogurt before I read the blog post.

                        1. re: lynnlato

                          Bulgarian falls in the middle between standard yogurt & Greek-style in terms of thickness, and it's a little creamier because it's made with cream in addition to milk. But the one true defining factor that maks it "Bulgarian" is the specific bacteria used in the culture.

                          I think it's great to eat both & cover your bases in terms of a variety of probiotics, but bear in mind (particularly for you since carbs/sugars are an issue) that Greek-style yogurt contains nearly 3x as much protein.

                        2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          I recently came across the studied results that Koreans getting a high incidence of stomach cancer appear to be related to very high consumption of kimchi, and it is suggested it could be caused exactly by the high sodium content in kimchi...

                          Kimchi can be addictive. I also tried to culture my own kefir and yogurt but realize the dairy content might be also aggravating my other symptoms that are allergy related.

                          I have recently started trying to make my own kombucha. Still acquiring the taste for it but I find it is stimulating my appetite - a good thing!

                          1. re: vil

                            There is also water kefir as well as milk kefir. They are different "grains."

                      2. This is a fascinating thread.

                        Is there a yogurt/kefir drink that is both low in sugar and high in probiotics...any preferences on this board?

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: pinehurst

                          Just get plain, unsweetened kefir. The "sugars" listed in the Nutrition Facts on the label are the naturally-occurring lactose. That lactose gets converted to lactic acid by the probiotics through fermentation, and the increased acidity can actually have a beneficial impact on blood glucose levels and insulin response.

                          Obviously everyone responds differently so diabetics should monitor their glucose to be sure, but the "sugars" in unsweetened kefir shouldn't be a major concern for most people.

                          Lifeway is readily available in most areas, they have tasty plain, unsweetened varieties, and I like the fact that they're a privately owned company and not a subsidiary of one of the huge conglomerates.

                            1. re: pinehurst

                              BTW, the sugar labels on any fermented dairy have similarly lower carbs than stated, which account for the pre fermentation ingredients' sugars.

                              Yogurt, for instance, is almost sugar free after 24 hours of fermentation. When I was lactose intolerant, I found that it slowly becomes zero sugar the older it is and I now keep unopened yogurts months past their sell by date. I figured it out due to lack of symptoms except with fresher yogurts.

                                1. re: sedimental

                                  I had some antibiotics throw my system off a couple years ago, had pains for 3 months and dr. rec Align. I am a complete skeptic on any meds or diets etc but tried it and swear it is amazing. Highly recommend it..

                                2. re: mcf

                                  Very interesting, good point!

                                  1. re: mcf

                                    This is fascinating. So not to sound like some of the posts on General Topics, but...I can eat a yogurt that expired in say, April, and not get sick if it's unopened????

                                    1. re: pinehurst

                                      Or long before April. When you open the original seal, it will look and smell as fresh as any. Two nights ago, I age one from Jan or Feb.

                                      If you keep your fridge cold enough, anyway. I find I have almost no dairy or other spoilage with a very cold fridge.

                                3. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  ghg, how do you drink your kefir? Straight up w/ no mix-ins? I've never tried it, but have a friend who drinks it and I wasn't curious about it until now. Any suggestions?

                                  1. re: lynnlato

                                    I just sip it straight or pour some into the blender when making a protein shake. It's sour & tangy, which I find really refreshing - kinda like drinking liquefied sour cream ;) If you can't tolerate it plain, add a bit of your preferred sweetener or blend it into fruit smoothies.

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      Thanks! I love tangy. I'll pick some up this week.

                                1. I have started to eat greenwheat, freekeh, which is supposed to be high in probiotics and good for your GI tract. As well it has a low glycemic index. I am starting to pay more attention to disease fighting foods. This grain is quite nice, not starchy or heavy, like it very much.

                                  1. You might find some useful info by reading up on SIBO and FODMAPs. Best wishes to you.