A study out of the Weizmann Institute in Israel examined the impact of 11 strains of probiotics on approximately 25 test subjects. The chief researcher, Dr. Elinav, had the subjects undergo an endoscopy and colonoscopy before and after the probiotics. After three weeks or probiotics, Dr. Elinav noticed that he could divide the subjects into two groups. In one group, the microbiome improved substantially. In the second group, the improvement was absent or very minor.
This study looked at bacteria before and after and whether changes occur due to probiotics. However, the study doesn’t mention levels of Citrobacter, Klebsiella, or Candida. The research is simply documenting that some subjects who took probiotics experienced measurable and positive changes in their gut flora, and some didn’t. The question is, why did the probiotics work for some people, but not everybody?
I suspect that the subjects who didn’t respond to probiotics had other gut issues. It may have been SIBO, Candida, or a parasite. In my opinion, those issues need to be cleared up before expecting a robust response to probiotics. I’ve done thousands of stool tests in my clinic, and most clients need some cleansing or balancing of the gut before supplements, including probiotics, will have an impact.
In my experience, probiotics work much better if less yeast and less dysbiotic bacteria are colonizing the gut. I always work from the premise of getting the gut cleaned up first. I generally start with a few weeks of a gradual diet change. I never recommend a cold turkey approach. I favor a “warm turkey” approach that doesn’t require rapidly overhauling the diet. I get the clients to chew better while they are improving their diet over a couple of weeks. I also add in some relaxation, some lifestyle changes, and better sleep habits. After the gut has cleared up somewhat, I add in the probiotics.
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I believe probiotics have something to offer a lot of people. I think this is particularly true if people add prebiotics to their diet. Prebiotics allow the beneficial bacteria in the probiotic supplements to really take in the gut. There’s no point in taking a probiotic if you’re eating a hamburger, French fries, and a couple of sodas or energy drinks each day. There’s also no point in taking a probiotic if you’re drinking too much alcohol.
I think the studies are coming that will demonstrate that gut cleaning should occur before probiotics are started. Many people I’ve worked with didn’t take any probiotics until we did a stool test, cleaned up their gut, found out what was wrong, and made changes to their diet. Once that was completed, the probiotics had a chance to work and the increase in beneficial bacteria was evident when stool testing was repeated. As the microbiome in the gut became healthier, anxiety disappeared, brain fog went away, and energy went up. We’ve had fantastic results with people the last several months who havefollowed the clean first, probiotic second routine. I firmly believe that one day, scientific research will validate this approach.