Protein shakes may cause symptoms of gastrointestinal discomfort, including gas, bloating and diarrhea, due to incomplete digestion. This may be due, in part, to the fact that most protein powder supplements contain substances isolated from dairy milk. Individuals who experience lactose intolerance may find themselves susceptible to unwanted side effects. Consider adding these probiotic, or friendly bacteria, supplements to your diet to decrease gas when drinking protein shakes.
The most well known strain, lactobacillus bacteria, is used to make fermented foods like yogurt, kefir and aged cheeses. Once in the intestines, lactobacillus bacteria feed on nutrients and fibers to fuel their life cycles. In return, they produce lactic acid, digestive enzymes and other substances that improve digestion, support immunity and prevent gastrointestinal disease, according to Life Extension Magazine. Common lactobacillus strains include L. acidophilus, L. reuteri, L. rhamnosus, L. casei, L. bulgaricus and L. plantarum. These probiotics may prevent gas when drinking protein shakes by giving off digestive compounds that aid in the breakdown of lactose sugars and protein peptides.
Like the lactobacillus strains, bifidobacterium are found in fermented foods and may support healthy digestion through their life processes. Probiotics also help to edge out pathogenic or disease-causing microorganisms that also colonize the intestines. Viruses, molds and harmful bacteria can cause imbalance in the intestinal flora, setting up the right conditions for disease, according to "The Probiotics Revolution" by Gary B. Huffnagle and Sarah Wernick. Common strains include B.bifidum, B. lactis, B. breve, B. longum, B. infantis and B. animalis.
Saccharomyces strains are actually a form of yeast, though they are still considered probiotics. For example, you will find these strains in commercial probiotics like Florastor. Another important role of probiotics in the intestines is to edge out harmful yeasts competing for dominance. Pathogens like candida can cause yeast infections, inflammation and digestive discomfort. Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces boulardii represent the most common strains of this class, according to USProbiotics.org.
There are so many different strains of probiotics that no one source can attempt to provide an exhaustive list. Scientists and researchers constantly discover and rename new species and they continue to evolve their understanding of the way these organisms impact human digestion and health. The Streptococcus strain include S. thermophilus, S. oralis and S. uberis, which may also be beneficial for preventing gas and bloating. Lactococcus lactis is yet another strain that may aid in digestion. A spore-forming probiotic known as Bacillus coagulans may accelerate the development of a healthy intestinal flora, according to "Optimizing Digestive Health" by Lane Lenard PhD.
- Life Extension Magazine; Optimizing Digestive Health; Lane Lenard, PhD; January 2009
- "The Probiotics Revolution;" Gary B. Huffnagle, Sarah Wernick; 2008
- National Institutes of Health; National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine; An Introduction to Probiotics
- American Society for Microbiology; The Scientific Basis for Probiotic Strains of Lactobacillus; Gregor Reid
- BiologyOnline.org; Probiotics