In the modern world, there are so many things that detrimentally affect the levels of live beneficial micro-organisms in our gut; including drugs such as multiple courses of broad-spectrum antibiotics, long-term regular use of proton pump inhibitors (antacids), long-term regular use of steroid medications, to name just a few. Throw into the mix a gut infection or two, like food poisoning, a few doses of prolonged excessive stress such as a house move, a relationship break-up, a bereavement and a period of eating too much processed-food, then it’s a recipe for the beginnings of a digestive or gut problem.
In fact, did you know that food poisoning is the number one cause of developing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). One of the reasons for this is that the diarrhoea associated with food poisoning literally ‘washes away’ billions of your beneficial gut bacteria, including your ‘ancestral’ strains – those strains that were passed onto you when you were being born as you were pushing yourself down your mother’s birth canal, as well as the beneficial bacteria when you received your breast milk. Not just that, a gut infection can leave behind residual low-level inflammation in the stomach and intestines and this too can cause pain, bloating and acid reflux.
Once these ‘ancestral’ strains have been eradicated by any of the above factors, they will never come back. They can’t because they are dead.
What happens when you stop taking probiotics?
This is why many people, when taking my Live Bacteria probiotic capsules, find that their IBS symptoms – including uncomfortable bloating, trapped painful gases, constipation, diarrhoea, acid reflux – return when they stop taking the Live Bacteria.
The Live Bacteria can only positively modulate your unpleasant symptoms whilst you’re taking the capsules. Once you stop taking the capsules, the symptoms very often return. I’ve lost count of the number of enquiries I’ve received from people telling me how fantastic they feel taking my Live Bacteria capsules, but when they stop taking them, their symptoms return.
I also get asked if it is safe to take probiotics long-term, to which I reply, ‘If it were left to me and I was running the Government and the Department of Health, we’d have probiotics in the water supplies so that everyone would be getting a daily top- up!’
One of my aims is to try and make people aware that if they have had food poisoning, or they’ve had antibiotics, that they replenish their gut with friendly live bacteria, ideally in capsule form.
Will anything else work instead of probiotics?
Yes, you can eat fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, yoghurt, but the acid in your stomach will kill off much of the friendly lactobacillus bacteria in the food before it has chance to get into your gut, plus they are not to everyone’s palate. A probiotic capsule has a much better chance of getting into the gut and releasing the magical bacteria and there is no unpleasant taste.
My family and I have, for many years, taken live bacteria capsules, not that we have any digestive or gut disorders – we take them for the overall benefits of friendly bacteria, including helping to properly digest food, absorb nutrients, manufacture important vitamins and hormones (including the ‘happy’ hormone serotonin, around 90% of which is manufactured in the gut), ‘crowd out’ pathogenic, disease-causing strains of bacteria, fungi and yeasts, reduce the risk of bowel infections like Clostridium difficile, positively enhance our immune system and reduce our risk of getting colo-rectal cancers.
The long and short of it?
You need to keep taking your probiotic supplements for the effects to last. If you stop taking them, your gut bacteria are likely to return to their pre-supplementation condition within one to three weeks. This message I received from Alison recently sums it up nicely:
“If anyone is considering buying any Just For Tummies supplements, I can verify they definitely work! I had IBS, acid reflux and bloating, and all my symptoms cleared up after I started taking the For Women probiotic capsules and Digestive Enzymes – and that was after 30 years of suffering. However, a few weeks ago, in a bid to cut down on my outgoings, I thought it would be OK to stop taking the supplements, but ALL my problems and symptoms returned! So I am living proof that these products work. Thank you, Linda, for all your advice and the fabulous products I clearly can’t live without. I have since restocked, and will do whatever I can to keep taking the supplements so that I can stay symptom-free.”