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Published on September 17, 2021

How to Take Probiotics for the Best Health Benefits

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How to Take Probiotics for the Best Health Benefits

Probiotics are a popular topic among health enthusiasts and medical professionals, alike, and rightfully so! As individuals seek to improve their health by becoming advocates for themselves, probiotics are often a good choice to become part of their new health-focused regimen.

However, there are some ways that will allow you to maximize the health benefits that you can get from probiotics. Read on to learn more about how to take probiotics for the best health benefits.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics

are living bacteria that provide countless health benefits when ingested. These bacteria are naturally occurring in the gut but can—and should—be replenished through external means. The gut contains beneficial bacteria that make up the microbiota and plays a key role in maintaining health in both the body and mind. A healthy gut keeps the digestive process working smoothly, which prevents free radical and toxin build up in the body known to lead to many acute and chronic illnesses[1]

It is also thought that probiotics secrete substances that trigger the immune system to react more strongly, thereby preventing pathogens from being able to take root and cause illness.[2]

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Can You Take Too Many Probiotics?

Taking too many probiotics is not a common issue. For those who have taken too many probiotics (and each person will need to find their own tolerance level), they will likely experience gut disruptions and gastrointestinal side effects.

Probiotics are generally safe regardless of the amount taken, and any side effects are generally mild. It is impossible to take a toxic level of probiotics. The most common side effects of taking more probiotics than you can tolerate are gas, bloating, and diarrhea. These side effects can be treated individually and are generally corrected after 24 to 48 hours and stopping the probiotics until they are resolved.

It can be tempting to discontinue probiotic use altogether after a negative experience out of fear of another bad reaction, but simply reducing your dose and taking your probiotic as directed should prevent further issues. It is important for those with a weakened immune system or serious illness to discuss probiotic use with their healthcare provider before starting a probiotic regimen.

Can You Take Prebiotics and Probiotics Together?

As probiotics grow in use, prebiotics is beginning to get attention as well. Prebiotics come in supplement form but can also be fiber-rich foods that feed good gut bacteria. Probiotics replenish the good bacteria in the gut while prebiotics maintains the gut microbiome by feeding the good bacteria we have in the gut. Because of this relationship between prebiotics and probiotics, it is perfectly acceptable to take them together. However, if your diet already contains healthy, fiber-rich foods then you will likely not require prebiotic supplements.

Prebiotics contain fibers and natural sugars that encourage the growth of essential gut bacteria. They are easy to digest and keep the gut in balance. Prebiotic foods contain fiber and can include bananas, garlic, and dark leafy greens. Probiotic foods contain live cultures and include miso, some yogurts, kimchi, and sauerkraut.[3]

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You can learn more in my other article: Prebiotic vs Probiotic: What’s the Difference and Why Are They Important?

Can You Take Probiotics While Pregnant?

When carrying a child, a mother wants to create the safest environment possible. This is a time where the mother-to-be will begin integrating new and recommended health practices like exercise, supplements, and new diet habits. One question that is asked by pregnant women is whether or not probiotics are safe to take while pregnant. The benefits of probiotics are well documented, and many pregnant women want to know if probiotics will benefit them as well.

Pregnancy may be a good time to integrate a probiotic into your regimen simply due to the increased potential for an imbalance in gut bacteria that pregnancy naturally produces. Stress, medications, diarrhea, and vomiting as well as certain diet choices can cause bad bacteria to overrun the gut and lead to a dampened immune response, inflammation, fatigue, and more.

The simple answer is yes, probiotics are generally safe to take while pregnant. However, it is always recommended to discuss any introduction or discontinuation of supplements with your healthcare provider.

Many studies have shown that not only are probiotics safe to take while pregnant but also that they can add great benefits for mother and baby. A 2019 study by Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology found that the pregnant women’s gut microbiota improved through probiotic supplementation and that her immune system was enhanced.[4]

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During pregnancy, the pregnant mom’s immune system will go into a dampened state as the body works to protect and grow the fetus. This places her at greater risk for common illnesses she may have been able to fight off naturally before. Therefore, integrating a probiotic into her supplement regimen may help keep her and her baby safe from unwanted and avoidable illness.

One important factor to consider when taking a probiotic during pregnancy is the quality of the product you are purchasing. Not all probiotics are created equal. To maximize benefits while also avoiding unnecessary ingredients, it is crucial to choose a high quality and reputable probiotic.

When Is the Best Time to Take Probiotics?

As with many supplements and medications, there are certain times and factors that can change their efficacy, for good or bad. Research shows that the best time to take a probiotic is 30 minutes before a meal.[5] Consistency is key when it comes to taking a probiotic and experiencing as many of the potential health benefits as possible. This means that it is necessary to take it daily to ensure routine and regular replenishment of the gut’s bacteria.

The stomach is a highly acidic environment, which can make it difficult for many supplements to pass through in their most bioavailable form. The same is true for probiotics. Look for a high-quality probiotic that uses time-release tablets to deliver its bacteria safely to the gut.

The composition of your meal can also help or hinder your probiotic’s efficacy. A large meal will move more slowly through the stomach and trigger more stomach acid production. If your probiotic is taken along or prior to this type of meal, the probiotic will move more slowly and be exposed to a hostile environment for longer.

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The Bottom Line

When taking a probiotic, the most important thing to consider is product quality. Carefully read packaging and websites to ensure you are getting a product that is safe, pure, and effective. Look for a probiotic that will release its bacteria slowly and deliver them safely past your stomach acid.

Probiotics have been shown to support the immune system, prevent gastrointestinal issues, combat side effects from chronic conditions, and give extra support during pregnancy. These are just a few from a long list of scientifically backed benefits. Regardless of your motivation, just about every individual can benefit from adding a probiotic to their supplement and health regimen.

Lastly, here’s my recommendations on probiotics: 7 Best Probiotic Supplements (Recommendation and Reviews)

Featured photo credit: Christopher Campbell via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Lisa Richards

Nutritionist, Creator of The Candida Diet, Owner of TheCandidaDiet.com

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Last Updated on August 25, 2021

3 Steps to Get Rid of a Candida Overgrowth

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3 Steps to Get Rid of a Candida Overgrowth

Are you wondering how to get rid of Candida overgrowth? First, let’s look at what Candida overgrowth is and how it affects your body. Then, I’ll show you the three steps to get rid of it!

What Is Candida Overgrowth?

Candida albicans is a species of yeast that lives naturally on your skin and in your gastrointestinal tract. Normally, Candida is kept in check by your “friendly” gut bacteria, but sometimes, it can multiply out of control.

The resulting infections can cause pain and inflammation throughout the body, both on the skin and in the gut or genitals. Candida overgrowth is most often noticed on the skin, mouth, and vaginal infections.

An intestinal Candida overgrowth can inflame and weaken the walls of the intestines, releasing toxic byproducts that may lead to many different health issues, from digestive disorders to depression.[1]

What Causes Candida?

Candida overgrowth can be caused by a high-sugar diet, antibiotics, chronic stress, the contraceptive pill, chemical exposure, and diabetes. Usually, several of these dietary and lifestyle factors combine to trigger an overgrowth.

Antibiotics are perhaps the most common culprit for Candida overgrowth. Just one course of antibiotics can destroy many of the beneficial and friendly bacteria that live in your gut. This can leave your body defenseless to harmful bacteria and fungi, such as the fast-growing Candida yeast.

What Are the Symptoms of Candida?

Overgrowth symptoms

can include fatigue, brain fog, digestive issues, sinus infections, recurring yeast infections, mild depression, joint pain, and much more. All of these can be linked to an imbalance in the gut flora.

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Here some of the most common Candida overgrowth symptoms. You may have just a handful of these, or you may have most of them.

1. Fatigue

Your gut is where nutrients are broken down, processed, and absorbed. If Candida has expanded its colonies to the point where it affects this balance, your digestion can suffer. Foods can pass through your gut without being properly broken down, so you won’t absorb the nutrients they contain. Over time, this can lead to fatigue as your body simply doesn’t get the fuel that it needs.

Candida overgrowth is associated with deficiencies in important nutrients like essential fatty acids, magnesium, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin B6. Low levels in any of these nutrients, especially magnesium, can lead to fatigue.[2]

2. Brain Fog

Candida’s metabolic processes produce a wide variety of chemicals, many of which are toxic to us. These include a neurotoxin named acetaldehyde, the same chemical that causes hangovers. The liver can become overworked as it struggles to process larger amounts of acetaldehyde.[3]

This build-up of acetaldehyde, ethanol, and other toxins can slow down various processes in your body, particularly those of your nervous system and brain. Confusion, difficulties with memory, and poor concentration are typical signs.

3. Digestive Issues

A Candida overgrowth can both cause—and be caused by—poor gut flora. As well as weakening your immunity, this can really affect the way that your body digests food.

Those good bacteria that normally reside in your gut are a crucial part of your digestive system, responsible for the processing of starches, fibers, and some sugars. When a healthy gut microbiome is overwhelmed by an opportunistic pathogen like Candida albicans, the small and large intestine can start to function suboptimally.

Digestive issues related to Candida can include diarrhea, gas, bloating, constipation, cramps, nausea, and more. Researchers have linked Candida overgrowth to Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, gastric ulcers, and duodenal ulcers.[4]

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4. Recurring Yeast Infections

Repeated vaginal yeast infections are a clear sign that something is wrong with your microbiome. More than 75% of women will get a vaginal yeast infection during their lives, and almost 40% will have two or more yeast infections. Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection will vary from person to person, but they can include itching, swelling, white discharge, pain during intercourse.[5]

5. Oral Thrush

The same environmental changes that cause an intestinal overgrowth can also lead to an oral Candida infection. If you take antibiotics or eat a high-sugar diet, they will change the environment in both your gut and your mouth, making both locations more appealing for the Candida fungus. Signs include white bumps or lesions on your tongue, throat, or elsewhere in your mouth.

3 Steps to Get Rid of a Candida Overgrowth

There are three indispensable parts of any Candida treatment plan: a low sugar diet, natural antifungals, and good probiotics. These three things help deprive Candida albicans of the food it needs, prevent it from colonizing your gut, and restore a healthy balance of good bacteria. Avoiding foods that cause inflammation can also go a long way towards recovering your gut health.

Here are three steps on how to get rid of Candida overgrowth.

1. The Anti-Candida Diet

The Anti-Candida diet is a low-sugar, anti-inflammatory diet that promotes good gut health. The diet includes non-starchy vegetables, some low-sugar fruits, non-glutinous grains, fermented foods, and healthy proteins.[6]

The diet endorses eating more of the anti-inflammatory foods that can reverse inflammation. This means vegetables, healthy proteins and fats, and fermented foods. Bone broth, for example, contains gelatin that can protect against damage to the intestinal wall. It contains glutamine has been shown to inhibit the inflammation and oxidative stress that leads to intestinal permeability.[7]

Fermented foods like sauerkraut and yogurt naturally contain lots of probiotic bacteria. Terms that you should look for on the label include “live cultures,” “probiotic,” and “unpasteurized.” These are a good sign that the product contains live bacteria. The best foods include unsweetened yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kvass, pickles, olives, and apple cider vinegar.

Avoid anything with added sugars, high-sugar fruits, and glutenous grains. Try to minimize your alcohol and caffeine consumption, as they can cause inflammation in your gut and destabilize your blood sugar. This is because Candida uses sugar for cellular growth and to transition into its pathogenic, fungal form that is most likely to spread around your gut and elsewhere. It also uses sugar to form the biofilms that allow it to hide from your immune system. These biofilms are a protective matrix that Candida albicans builds around itself.

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2. Probiotics

The next step to getting rid of Candida overgrowth is consuming good probiotics. More than 70 percent of your immune system is in your gut, which means that your digestive tract (and bacteria within it) plays a hugely important role in the prevention of infection and disease.[8] The cells lining your gut interact with both your innate and adaptive immune systems, which makes your gut the first line of defense between your body and external pathogens.

Studies have shown that a healthy microbiome increases the effectiveness of your immune system and helps your body to fight off pathogens. Probiotics have been shown to offer protection from E Coli., reduce the frequency and duration of respiratory infections, lower the risk of UTIs, and prevent or treat infectious diarrhea caused by illness or bacteria.[9]

For those suffering from Candida, probiotics have been shown to prevent Candida albicans from creating biofilms and forming colonies in the gut. By rebuilding your immune system with probiotics, you can improve your body’s natural defenses against Candida albicans. This is important not only to beat your Candida overgrowth but also to prevent Candida and other infections from recurring in the future.

3. Antifungals

Lastly, antifungals can also help if you want to get rid of Candida overgrowth. Although antifungal drugs are well-absorbed and have a strong antifungal effect, they have some unpleasant side effects. Even worse, yeasts and fungi tend to adapt to the drug and become resistant to it, which means the effect is significantly reduced.

There is a huge range of natural antifungal herbs and foods that are equally effective in treating Candida infections, which, in many cases, are even better. Natural antifungals don’t tend to lead to resistance and they generally have far fewer side effects.[10]

Here are a few good examples of natural antifungals:

Caprylic Acid

Caprylic acid is one of the active ingredients in coconut oil. It works by interfering with the cell walls of the Candida yeast. Its short-chain fatty acids can easily penetrate the cell wall of the yeast and then inhibit its growth by causing it to rupture. This effectively destroys the yeast cell.

In fact, studies show that oral supplementation with caprylic acid reduces the symptoms of Candida more quickly and efficiently than Diflucan.[11]

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Oregano Oil

Oregano oil not only inhibits the growth of Candida albicans but is also a powerful preventative if taken daily. It contains two naturally occurring antimicrobial agents: carvacrol and thymol. These agents work by reacting with the water in your bloodstream, which effectively dehydrates and kills Candida yeast cells.

Other studies report that the major terpenoids in oregano—carvacrol, thymol, and eugenol—have important antifungal activity. These important phenols are effective in not only killing planktonic cells but also the biofilms of Candida albicans, which are often resistant to many pharmaceutical antifungal drugs.[12]

Garlic

Garlic contains the powerful antifungal agent ajoene, an organosulfur compound that has been found to kill off a variety of fungal infections. Several studies have found ajoene to have potent anticandidal activity and the ability to halt the growth and spread of Candida albicans.[13]

As with other antifungals, scientists believe that ajoene works by disrupting the cells walls of the Candida yeast cells, preventing them from functioning properly.

Final Thoughts

Candida overgrowth can be caused by a combination of lifestyle and dietary factors. It can be easily resolved at first, but it may start becoming problematic if left unattended. Just remember these three tips on how to get rid of candidate overgrowth: have a low sugar diet, take natural antifungals, and consume good probiotics.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Lark via unsplash.com

Reference

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