If you are dealing with IBS, or constipation and diarrhea, and you’re eating yoghurt and fiber, you may be doing more harm than good.
Here are 4 problems to this approach:
- Dosage – the amount of probiotics in a common products, like yoghurt, are too low to be beneficial. You need at least 10 billion colony forming units (CFUs), and even better, strains that have been researched to withstand stomach acids.
Even with medical grade probiotic products that may contain up to several hundred millions CFUs, it may still be a drop in the bucket comparing to the total number of bacteria you have. Humans have trillions (a million of a million) probiotic cells. While introducing researched probiotic strains in a supplement form may be beneficial, it usually is not the end-all be-all with health problems like IBS.
- Probiotic products typically assume that you have normal levels of stomach acid and intestinal movements. Many people, especially those who have digestive problems, do not have normal levels of stomach acid. In addition, medications that reduce stomach acids such as Nexium and even Tums are one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States and patients discontinuing these medications may not return to normal stomach acid levels. Lastly, chronic stress, bad nutrition, and poor eating hygiene often lead to reduced stomach acids and intestinal movements. If this is the case, the introduced probiotics may colonize in the small bowel instead of the large bowel, leading to small intestine bacterial overgrowth, which is believed to be the root cause of many health problems.
- Most yoghurt products market themselves for the benefits of probiotics, but not only do they usually not contain enough bacteria to make a difference, the problems actually include:
- Antibiotics may be mixed into the feed of the cows that make the milk and this comes out in the milk.
- Added sugar or artificial sweeteners that can be harmful.
- Artificial flavors and additives that can irritate the gut further.
- Residual lactose, as commercial yoghurts are fermented only for a short period of time. The remaining lactose can lead to bloating, flatulence, and more digestive problems.
- Lactic acid bacteria isn’t the only thing that is beneficial. In fact, they can cause trouble like very severe diarrhea for some people. For these people with preexisting gut bacteria imbalances, introducing lactic acid bacteria may not be a good idea.
- Other factors like mental/emotional stress and chemical exposures can mess up your gut bacteria and digestive system, no matter how many probiotics you take. This may be why you still have IBS.
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