Probiotics are a supplemental form of healthy bacteria used to recolonize the gut. The gut is home to trillions of microorganisms, the balance and composition of which affect everything from nutrient assimilation to immune health. You may need to supplement with probiotics if your gut flora has been compromised. There are a number of signs that indicate probiotics are helping.
Reasons to Supplement
When the gut flora become deranged – which can be caused by antibiotics, sugar, alcohol and a number of other common culprits – it can lead to diverse health problems, from autoimmune disorders to candida to depression. Digestive distress, immune dysfunction, skin disorders and mood issues are potential signs of gut dysbiosis, an imbalance of gut bacteria. Probiotic supplementation – along with changes in diet and lifestyle – can support a healthy gut and overall balance in the body.
Temporary Worsening of Symptoms
If you decided to supplement with probiotics because of chronic diarrhea, skin outbreaks or other acute symptoms, your symptoms worsen for the first few days or weeks of supplementation with probiotics. According to Probiotics.org, symptoms such as diarrhea, gas, bloating, rashes and acne are all signals that the healthy bacteria are recolonizing the gut. If symptoms last longer than 14 days, see your doctor to find out if you are taking the correct strains of probiotics for your specific condition.
If you tend to get yeast infections, athletes foot or chronic urinary tract infections, you may find that these conditions improve after beginning to supplement with probiotics. Other signs that probiotics are working include an increase in energy, stabilization of mood and a reduction in craving for complex carbohydrates.
Immune System Support
There is a body of scientific evidence to support the fact that probiotics can support immune function. According to research published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in February 2001, probiotic supplementation has been shown to regulate the immune system through the mediation of inflammation. A review published in the "Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology" in December 2008, notes that probiotic supplementation shows promise in reducing symptoms of allergies and asthma. Signs that probiotics may be working include a reduction in seasonal allergies, a decrease in the frequency of colds and the flu, improvement of atopic disorders like asthma and more host resistance to food borne infections.
If your symptoms remain the same or worsen after two weeks of probiotic therapy, talk with your health care practitioner to determine if you are taking a beneficial dose of an appropriate product. Call your doctor right away if you experience any kind of allergic reaction including itching hives, swelling or trouble breathing.
- Biologics: Targets and Therapy: Gut microbiota: Next Frontier in Understanding Human Health and Development of Biotherapeutics
- Probiotics.org: Probiotic Side Effects Explained
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Probiotics: Effects on Immunity
- Annals of Allergy, ASthma and Immunology: Probiotics for the Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis and Asthma: Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Probiotic By Mouth