What: This very second there are hundreds of billions of micro organisms living inside your Gastrointestinal tract. They help you by digesting your food and assisting in the absorption of nutrients. Probiotics are the live ‘friendly’ version of these bacteria that you want working inside your guts. Probiotic supplements come in many shapes and sizes including capsules, powders and yogurt mixtures and can contain different strains of bacteria. The most famous strain is Acidophilus (as found in Yakult) but there are many different types to choose from. The trick is finding the one that gives you the best results.
Why: A very large proportion of people living with CFS/ME suffer from some form of irritable bowel, experiencing bloating, gas, discomfort and intolerance’s to certain foods. The idea is by putting friendly bacteria back into the gut you increase the chance of re-establishing effective digestion, reducing inflammation, allowing the body to properly absorb nutrients from food and ensuring the immune system is able to function properly. As apparently over 80% of your immune system is found in the gut. So basically consuming probiotics is a one way to get your stomach back on track and create the conditions for a return to health. However, according to a leading CFS/ME specialist it takes up to 12 months to repopulate your gut bacteria. So get started and be patient. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.
How Much: This depends on the instructions for the probiotic you choose. When in capsule form its usually around two per day. In yogurt form, around a small bowlful. Start slow and build up because many people have adverse reactions to certain strains of probiotic bacteria.
My Experience: (25/04/2011) I have tried about 10 different types of probiotics over the last 5 years with varying results. Most of them made my gut symptoms worse and one in particular induced severe stomach cramps. This was disappointing as I really liked the idea of balancing out my gut flora. Then about a year ago I came across Progurt which the company claims is the only human strain of probiotic bacteria on the market (the others all being cultured from bovine and sheep sources). The product is expensive and requires you to purchase a special Progurt making yogurt incubator. However in my case it has produced good results and was well worth the money. After 2 weeks of taking it each day (I now include it for breakfast in my superfood smoothie) my gut symptoms improved and my bowel movements became regular. Even though it is made from dairy it is one of the few supplements I’ve taken that produced a noticeable improvement in my condition in a short period of time. Other brands that have been recommended to me include VSL 3, Floractiv and Mutaflor.
Learn more about Progurt here (I have no affiliation with the company).
Have Probiotics worked for you? Leave a comment telling us which ones you have or haven’t had success with!