Happy Herbivore Blog

November 14, 2011

My experience with probiotics (and why I'm still anti supplements)

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. Tak to your doctor before making any changes to your diet or regimen.

In case you didn't know, I am an ecoli survivor*

It's been over a month and I'm still in... shall we say, recovery. I've noticed that since having this "experience" my body has decided there are certain foods that I ate before that I can't stomach at all now. Nuts, nut butters and wheat are on the list. While I've been able to eat these things here and there without problem, 9 out of 10 times eating them led to another "episode."

This concerned me, of course, so I sought out medical advise. I contacted two different RDs I know well and respect, and they both had the exact same advice: take probiotics.

I was resistant. I've always had a sort of natural unease towards supplements. Why take a supplement that's processed when I can get what I need directly from nature and it comes with lots of other benefits like fiber? (That's not to say I don't take any supplements -- I love nutritional yeast which itself is a supplement but I don't take vitamins or do protein shakes -- I'd rather eat legumes, fruits and vegetables). 

I've also been so leery of all the hoopla about probiotics, especially since a lot of them are patented, meaning they were created in a lab somewhere (if something comes directly from nature, it cannot be patented!) I feel like probiotics just suddenly appeared in the last few years and I'm always cautious of buzz words or "things" that I don't remember anyone talking about when I was growing up or even ten years ago. (Chia seeds and stevia, as you might guess, also fall into this suspicious category of mine).

Anyway, since I was so concerned about my digestive health and there was no denying ecoli  had really taken a toll on my body, I was open to anything, including breaking my "rule" and taking probiotics. 

After my first go with probiotics (Silk brand soy yogurt, plain), I suffered for hours with digestive distress. I then tried SO Delicious plain coconut yogurt just in case one "brand" was bad and again sick. sick. sick. I thought maybe this is how it's supposed to be so I kept trying with different (vegan) yogurts that had probiotics until last night. Last night was by far the worst, where I just laid in bed clutching my stomach and sobbing. 

I won't go into the details of what was physically happening to me, but know that it was bad, painful and embarrassing.

Now before you send me an angry email or comment -- know that I'm not trying to slam anyone or anything. I'm just retelling my experience, even if its the 1% chance experience because all experiences matter. I am really good at always ending up in the 1% so chances are, I've hit the bulls eye again. 

For what its worth, the European Food Safety Authority (Europe's "FDA") has rejected most claims made about probiotics (including that they help the digestive system), saying they are unproven. 

Point is, we all have to make our own decisions, do whats right for us but I wanted to share my experience in case it helps someone else. someone like me. 

If probiotics work for you, that's great but I remain suspicious -- maybe even a little more so. I think I'l just keep eating whole foods and hope my body recovers on its own with rest, exercise and proper nutrition - directly from nature. 

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. Tak to your doctor before making any changes to your diet or regimen. 

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