Probiotics – should I take them?

Probiotics – should I take them? This is a question that pops into many peoples head particularly after a dose of antibiotics. Dr. Alan Desmond, consultant gastroenterologist answers this question here with some practical tips of what to do to help build up your gut health.

Probiotics – should I take them?

probiotics - do you need them?

You don’t need a probiotic supplement to ‘balance’ your gut microbiome.

The human gut microbiome consists of a vast diversity of microscopic organisms and is a crucial player in gut and overall health

The bacteria, yeasts, viruses, and archaea, of the gut microbiome evolved between 2 and 4 billion years ago. They’ve been with humans on every single step of our own 7-million-year evolutionary journey

Humans and our gut bugs, we go way back! So it shouldn’t surprise you that to learn that you don’t need probiotic supplements to optimise or ‘balance’ your gut microbiome.

Despite a thriving probiotic industry – one that is worth a massive $70 billion a year. There is surprisingly little evidence to support the health claims often made by probiotic companies [1]. The current American Gastroenterology Association Guidelines indicate that in the vast majority of cases we should not prescribe probiotics to adults in an attempt to improve their digestive health or well-being [2].

Here’s Dr Alan’s age-old recipe for a healthy and diverse gut microbiome:
Eat a variety of plants – more than 30 a week is a great start. Spend time in nature. Spend time with friends if you can. Get enough sleep. Exercise. Avoid unnecessary medications. Add some fermented foods to your plate. No expensive supplements required!

How do antibiotics affect your gut?

If you have recently required a course of antibiotics – don’t panic, your gut microbes are tougher than you think! Some commonly prescribed antibiotics including amoxicillin and nitrofurantoin which have almost no measurable effect on our gut microbes. While many other antibiotics can drastically reduce our gut microbial diversity. In most cases they will have bounced back to normal – or near normal – within a few months. The above tips will help and there is no need to add a probiotic supplement to the mix. This may even slow down the recovery of your normal gut microbial mix.

Here are other gut health related articles

Biodiversity and gut microbiome

Tips for a healthy gut with consultant gastroenterologist Dr. Alan Desmond.

Short chain fatty acids and the importance of fibre in gut health

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Here is a collection of gut health recipes that are some of our most popular recipes on our Gut Health Revolution Course.

All are high in fibre and packed with delicious whole plant foods to give you plenty of plant diversity and gut loving fibre!

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Want to learn about plant-based cooking but unsure where to start? We've got you covered!