What Are the Signs You Need Probiotics? How to Help Your Gut

What Are the Signs You Need Probiotics? How to Help Your Gut

Probiotic Benefits and Your Step-by-Step Plan for Better Health

Key Takeaways

  • Probiotics are best used when chronic health symptoms don’t resolve from lifestyle changes alone.
  • A vast array of health conditions, including immune disorders, hormonal imbalances, blood sugar issues, and mental health concerns, all show benefit from probiotic use.
  • Before introducing probiotics into your health regimen, focus on improving your diet, sleep, exercise, and stress levels.
What are the signs you need probiotics: woman about to drink a pill while holding a glass of water

A healthy and smoothly functioning gut is essential to our overall well-being. In fact, many vague health symptoms, like fatigue, anxiety, joint pain, and brain fog are thought to be linked to poor digestive health. And one of the best things you can do to improve your gut health is take probiotics.

Probiotics stand out in their ability to benefit many health conditions, and can be helpful for supporting immune health, balancing hormones, and regulating our digestive tracts. But what are the signs you need probiotics? 

The most important indication that you may need probiotic supplements is persistent health symptoms that haven’t resolved after making lifestyle changes alone. When addressing stubborn health concerns, it’s important to build a strong foundation first. This includes maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise routine, getting restful sleep, and prioritizing stress reduction. 

If you’re still experiencing persistent symptoms after these necessary building blocks are put into place, it’s likely that you have a gut-health imbalance, and probiotics can help lead the way to recovery.

This article will help you recognize some of the signs that you may benefit from probiotic supplements, and will walk you through how to implement these important microbes into your daily regimen in order to improve your symptoms. 

What Are the Signs You Need Probiotics?

Research supports that probiotics have many health benefits and are likely effective at relieving many chronic health conditions. The following are some signs that you may benefit from these beneficial bacteria. 

1. You’re experiencing non-specific health symptoms, such as:

  • Brain fog, decline in memory, or cognitive dysfunction
  • Abdominal pain, stool changes, or excess gas and bloating
  • Chronic fatigue and sleep disturbances
  • Mood disturbances, depression, or anxiety

2. A clear medical cause of your symptoms has not been identified. Often probiotic supplements can help with functional gut disorders and other vague health symptoms that typically evade conventional diagnosis. 

3. You have adopted a healthier lifestyle by improving your diet, sleep hygiene, and exercise regimen. However, you’re still not experiencing relief from your health symptoms. 

Where Do Probiotics Enter the Picture?

Probiotics can play an invaluable role in your recovery from chronic illness — especially when they’re introduced at the right point during your healing journey. However, if the proper foundations for health aren’t in place, probiotics may not give you the complete relief you’re looking for. 

That’s not to say that probiotics will be completely ineffective when used on their own, as research supports that they’re highly beneficial in reducing a myriad of health symptoms. And, there’s technically no “wrong” time to begin taking probiotics, especially if you suspect that an unhealthy gut may be at the root of your symptoms. 

Rather, it’s important that you address the underlying problems that originally led to your symptoms. It’s necessary to take the appropriate steps toward restoring the health of your whole body, including your gut, in order to maximize the benefits of probiotics. 

What Are the Benefits of Probiotics?

The relationship between our digestive health and overall well-being is incredibly important, and a balanced gut microbiome is one of the key factors in having good gut health. In fact, research shows that imbalances in our gut flora may contribute to many health symptoms, including:

These are just a few of the common signs that may indicate poor gut health and a deeper issue with the microorganisms residing in your GI tract. 

Fortunately, research shows that probiotics are highly beneficial at restoring the balance of bacteria in the gut [29 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source, 30 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source]. This means they can replenish the healthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, while fighting off gut pathogens and toxins [31 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source, 32 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source, 33 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source].

Probiotics also decrease inflammation levels in our digestive tracts and can restore a healthy immune response [34 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source, 35 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source, 36 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source, 37 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source]. When intestinal inflammation runs unchecked, it can lead to digestive issues like leaky gut syndrome, food intolerances, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Altered immune function in the digestive system can contribute to all of these disorders, which often come with a myriad of GI and extraintestinal symptoms. 

Furthermore, research shows that probiotics are highly effective at improving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), such as:

Probiotic strains can help correct the dysbiosis and gut bacteria overgrowth that characterizes small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) [40 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source]. These healthy bacteria even help to reduce upper GI symptoms like reflux and indigestion [9 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source, 41 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source, 42 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source]. 

What are the signs you need probiotics: woman holding her phone while thinking

Digestive Symptoms Aside, What Are the Signs You Need Probiotics?

The health benefits of probiotics aren’t limited to the digestive system, as probiotics may lessen symptoms of:

What are the signs you need probiotics: Top 10 Probiotic Benefits infographic

Probiotics can influence the production of neurotransmitters in our guts, like serotonin, which can improve our mood (and regulate our bowel movements). This may be, in part, why research shows probiotics to be effective in lessening mood disturbances, such as anxiety and depression [57 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source, 58 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source, 59].

To get back to our original question — what are the signs you need probiotics? — the answer is simple. There are many non-specific health symptoms and chronic conditions that show benefit from probiotic use. However, as previously mentioned, one of the best signs that you need these healthy bacteria are chronic symptoms that do not disappear with lifestyle changes alone. 

Additionally, probiotics likely work best when used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, after implementing healthy lifestyle habits. The following will address a few ways in which you can begin to make these changes and start to experience relief from your chronic health concerns.

Your Holistic Treatment Plan for Better Health

It likely doesn’t matter how many supplements or specialized diets you try if your lifestyle isn’t congruent with improving your overall wellness. Our step-by-step plan, outlined in my book, Healthy Gut, Healthy You, will help guide you on your journey to better health. 

This plan highlights the fundamental components that are necessary for healthy living. It can also help guide you on when it may be best to introduce probiotics and where to turn when nothing seems to be alleviating your symptoms. 

Phase 1: Evaluate Your Lifestyle

In order to address any long-standing health conditions, it’s time to take a deeper look at your daily habits that may not be aiding your recovery. Let’s dive into some essential lifestyle changes that can help improve your digestive health and overall quality of life.

Woman happily sleeping in her bed

Catch Up On Your Sleep

High-quality sleep is vital for recovering from illness or persistent health symptoms. Experts recommend that you get at least eight to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep every night, though the exact number may vary slightly for everyone. 

To improve your sleep, eliminate the use of blue light prior to bedtime, as it suppresses the production of melatonin — the hormone that helps us fall asleep. If you can’t step away from your TV, phone, or tablet, try using a blue-light filter that helps block the stimulating effects of blue light. 

Sleeping with a white-noise machine or fan can help prevent sleep interruptions by masking any background noise. Lastly, set your thermostat between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent you from overheating and disrupting your deep sleep. 

Eat a Nutritious Diet

Improving your diet is one of the best changes that you can make to improve your overall health. Eliminating foods that may be causing inflammation, regulating blood sugar levels, and finding the right balance of carbohydrates and prebiotics can help lessen a wide variety of chronic health symptoms.

We recommend starting with the Paleo diet, which is a less-restrictive diet than many. It emphasizes eating healthy fats, like avocados, salmon, olive oil, and nuts, while eliminating sugars, certain carbohydrates, and processed foods. After starting this diet, many people see improvement in their symptoms in just a few weeks. However, if you continue to experience symptoms, it may be time to move on to a more specialized diet, such as the low FODMAP diet

What Are the Signs You Need Probiotics? How to Help Your Gut - What%20To%20Eat%20On%20The%20Paleo%20Diet 01 L

The low FODMAP diet can help eliminate an underlying imbalance or overgrowth in gut bacteria that may be contributing to your symptoms. Many healthy foods can actually worsen gut and other related symptoms, as they can feed a bacterial overgrowth. 

Whichever diet you decide to try, it’s important that you stick with it for two to three weeks before deciding if it’s working for you. If you experience relief after removing certain foods from your diet, you can try re-introducing them into your diet to identify your own personal food triggers and intolerances. 

When introducing foods back into your diet, be sure to only add in one food at a time. This will allow you to observe your body for any symptoms that may arise over the next one to two days. If you experience no symptoms, it’s likely not a trigger for you. However, if you do begin to experience any gut or other symptoms, you may want to consider completely eliminating it from your diet. 

Work on Reducing Stress

With our hectic, modern lifestyles, stress seems to be a constant companion in our daily lives. But research shows that stress is linked to many chronic health conditions and symptoms, and a complete recovery often means getting your stress levels under control. 

Chronic stress activates stress hormones, like cortisol, that can disrupt your mood, sleep, gut, and immune system. Meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises have all been shown to effectively lower chronic stress. 

If you have a difficult time quieting your mind, try using a phone app like Headspace, Insight Timer, or Calm to get you started and track your progress. If you find it too hard to reduce your stress levels on your own, it may be time to seek out a therapist and try mindfulness-based techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). 

Get Some Exercise

Get moving and reap the benefits of regular exercise. Experts recommend getting two to three hours of moderate physical activity per week, so try starting with activities like fast walking, stationary biking, and swimming. 

Regardless of what activity you choose, it’s important that it’s something you can stick with, so you experience the maximum health benefits of regular exercise.

Phase 2: Introduce Probiotics

If you’ve followed the above steps to change your lifestyle, and are still experiencing stubborn health symptoms, it may be time to start probiotics. 

As previously discussed, probiotics are well-known for their widespread healing effects. We recommend using Triple Probiotic Therapy, which involves taking the three primary categories of probiotics at once, in order to restore a healthy balance to the gut microbiota. Use each of the following for best results; 

  • A blend of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus probiotic strains
  • Saccharomyces boulardii
  • Soil-based probiotics, especially those containing Bacillus strains 

Using all three types of probiotics at once allows for them to work synergistically for the best health effects [1 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source]. Furthermore, probiotics are safe, have minimal to no side effects, and are easy to implement into your health protocol [60 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source, 61 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source, 62 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source].

Pills and herbs

Phase 3: Try Targeted Supplements or Diets

The final phase of alleviating your chronic health symptoms entails a more focused approach. It may be helpful to find a healthcare practitioner, like a functional medicine specialist, to assist you during this process.

Depending on your specific symptoms and underlying conditions, you may see benefit from the following.

What Are the Signs You Need Probiotics? The Final Say

Probiotics have a broad spectrum of benefits and can alleviate many health conditions, such as digestive disorders, mental health concerns, and skin issues. Their success is likely due to their ability to balance gut flora, calm inflammation, and reduce the levels of bad bacteria in the GI tract. 

However, there’s typically no “quick fix” for resolving chronic health concerns. While probiotics may play a vital role in your recovery, it’s often necessary to take a more holistic treatment approach. 

Healthy lifestyle habits, like getting good quality sleep, exercising, practicing stress reduction, and eating a proper diet are crucial for treating persistent health disorders. Once a healthy foundation is established, more targeted therapies, such as probiotics, can help to eliminate any residual health symptoms. 

For professional guidance in healing your gut health, reach out to our functional medicine clinic for a consultation.

The Ruscio Institute has developed a range of high-quality formulations to help our patients and audience. If you’re interested in learning more about these products, please click here. Note that there are many other options available, and we encourage you to research which products may be right for you.

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