“Yeah, Aaron’s dad gave us kefir that he made, it tasted really good but then we were all sick the next day.” A friend explains his first experience with probiotic-rich naturally fermented water kefir to me. Some people take probiotics, or probiotic-rich fermented food, and then assume that they’re allergic to it, or it isn’t good for them because they have a reaction.
Today I’m going to share 5 things you need to know before taking a high-quality probiotic. I’ve gotten lots of questions about what probiotic I take lately, and I feel like I need to explain a little bit as I recommend probiotics.
I take Bio-kult (I buy it on Amazon), it’s recommended by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, and it’s worked well for our family. There are lots of quality probitics, but I personally stick with this one and Blue Bonnet Acidophilous just because they’ve worked well for our family.
I have trust issues with supplements, and I will only take supplements when I can see a noticeable difference when I take them vs when I don’t. I have tried a few drugstore brand supplements (usually picked up alongside an antibiotic prescription) in the past, and I didn’t see a difference when I took them vs when I didn’t, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t actually have any live probiotics in them.
If you’re not seeing a difference in physical or mental symptoms (everything from eczema to anxiety can be tied to gut health and probiotics) I would encourage you to re-evaluate the kind that you’re taking.
If you’re taking Bio-Kult, here are the things I want you to know first.
1. Start slow.
When starting Bio-Kult, or another high strength probiotic, start with just a dusting – about 1/10th of the capsule, once a day. Every few days increase your dose until you achieve the dose you want to stay at, or your symptoms stabalize. If your symptoms are exacerbated, go down to a lower amount and try again in a few days or a week or a month – it’ll be very individual.
I have worked the kids up to take 2 capsules a day (I open them and put them in applesauce cups), I take 4. I have the baby just take acidophilous, I think that Bio Kult is too aggressive for him, and he can get some through my milk. I started him on acidophilous when he was about a week old and was spitting up often, it helped with the spit up and I’ve kept him on it.
I’ve heard of people being stuck at just 1/10th the capsule of Bio Kult for months at a time – more is not always (or even usually!) better.
The most common ‘side effect’ (I put that in quotes because it’s not really the same thing as a side effect from a pharmaceutical drug) from starting Bio Kult too fast is constipation – this is because the aggressive strains of beneficial bacteria go to work killing off the bad bacteria. This dead bacteria then is in your colon, and your body can’t keep up with getting it out, so you get stopped up.
Another ‘side effect’ is often stomach upset. When the pathogenic bacteria are killed off, they release toxins into the blood stream and the body can have a purging response to this – trying to get rid of the toxins in any way possible.
Hopefully I haven’t totally scared you off from using a high-quality probiotic – they are tremendously useful in reestablishing a healthy digestive tract, but they also need to be treated respectfully.
Just because something is natural and good doesn’t mean that you should take high doses! And with billions of beneficial microorganisims in each tiny capsule, it’s easy to take more than is beneficial at this specific time!
2. Don’t neglect probiotic-rich foods.
Even though commercial probiotics contain many strains of beneficial bacteria, naturally fermented food like sauerkraut, contain even more. Don’t fall into the trap of neglecting the beneficial microorganisims available to us through food in favor of just taking a pill. Try to include probiotic-rich food with every meal.
3. You’ve gotta poop.
As we talked about in #1, when the good bacteria start killing off the bad bacteria in your gut, a bunch of toxins can be released into the blood stream. We want to clear all this bad stuff out as soon as possible, so do what you need to do to prevent constipation.
Some things that will help: Start slow with probiotics to manage die off, epsom salt baths (see #4), drinking fresh juice (without the fiber – the dead bacteria is already providing plenty of bulk for your poop), using a squatty potty for good poop-posture, and making sure you’re drinking enough fluids.
4. Make sure you’re using epsom salts in the tub.
To process toxins being released by killing off the bad bacteria, our body needs sulfur and magnesium, both of which many of us are deficient in. An easy way to get these minerals gently is through epsom salt – through the skin, not the digestive tract. Adding 1/2 a cup or 1 cup of epsom salts (they’re cheap, and found in the pharmacy section of nearly every grocery store or stores like CVS) to your bath – or just plugging up the tub portion of the shower and standing in epsom-salt water while taking a shower – will increase your magnesium and sulfur so that you can detoxify.
5. If you take too much, take a charcoal.
This shouldn’t be used often, since charcoal (you can find charcoal here) binds to the vitamins and minerals in your digestive tract as well and can cause deficiencies if used often, but if you take too high of a dose of probiotics and notice an exacerbation in symptoms, you can take a charcoal and it will bind to the excess probiotic and your symptoms will calm down again. Just remember to take a much lower dose next time :)