Too Many Probiotics: Is this a real thing?

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Good lord. Just when I think I’ve learned a lesson, I make a HUGE mistake and learn another. In my last post, I casually mentioned that I was snacking on a bowl of fruit with cashew yogurt and nut granola. Totally casual right? Wrong. The last thing I feel like right now is casual.

For some reason, I tend to think my gut situation isn’t really that bad. Even though it’s been a turbulent 14 years or so trying to sort this all out. I think that because I don’t have an autoimmune disease like Crohn’s or colitis, that it can’t be all that bad. But as I’m learning, although IBS isn’t life threatening like those conditions, it really is a big old complicated mess to figure out.

So what I’ve done here is went a little bit nuts with the probiotics. This is a normal way to think right? Probiotics = heal the gut = add more to heal more. And yes, maybe true, but do it sloooooooowly. When I read the GAPS Diet book and it says things like add in fermented juices by the teaspoon, I think what the heck is that going to do? A teaspoon? But I’ve learned the hard way once again, slow and steady wins the race. Overdoing probiotics will not get you to the finish line of good gut health faster. 

Because I had this idea that my gut condition wasn’t as bad as most people doing the GAPS Intro Diet, I dove right into doing a 2 oz. shot of fermented beverages with every meal. Sometimes even more. And yes this did cause quite a bit of bloating and discomfort. It seemed like the bloat was reducing a bit but then I increased the amount I was taking and there it was again. No wonder my skin was breaking out. Because these probiotics are entering a body with dysbiosis there is a bit of a turf war going on. They are killing off the bad guys and fighting for some space. This can be a lot for the body and liver to deal with which can be a bit overwhelming especially for someone with a slightly impaired detoxification system.

So anyway, after I recently fell off the Intro Diet bandwagon, I made myself some cashew yogurt. It was SO good that I definitely overdid it and I cannot even explain the pain I am still dealing with even though I haven’t gone near it for two days. It must be a probiotic powerhouse because the fight has been on in my intestines in a very major way. So incredibly painfully bloated to the point where I even felt it in my upper GI tract, pain like heartburn. Today my intestines are fully swollen and inflamed and I mostly feel like I want to sleep for 3 days until it clears up. Just too many probiotics for my sensitive little system.

When these things happen and I’m a bit confused, I tend to scour the interwebs to see if anyone else has had the same issue. It turns out, my very favorite doctor Chris Kresser did! And his experience made me feel 100% better about mine. This is what he said on an episode of Revolution Health Radio about How to Restore Healthy Gut Flora Over the Long-Term:

“When I was really restoring my gut, I started with a half of a teaspoon of kefir, and it took me nine months to build up to the point where I could have a full cup of kefir a day. Now I could drink, you know, three glasses of kefir in a day and feel great, but it was rough initially. I had a lot of reactions, there was a lot of starting and stopping, two steps forward, one step back, and unfortunately that’s just how it often has to be to begin with when you’re dealing with a situation like this because you’re really dramatically changing the composition of your gut flora, and because the gut flora affects virtually everything, that can produce a lot of different symptoms. So I suggest starting with very low doses, being methodical about it. One of the mistakes I often see in my practice is people will get excited, understandably, about being able to tolerate more and they’ll go too quickly, so just be very slow and methodical about it.”

Two steps forward, one step back. The lesson again that healing is not linear. This basically sums up my GAPS Intro Diet experience so far. For a minute, I was feeling like I failed dropping off after only two weeks but really I am just still learning what it all means for my specific situation. Talk about being a free spirit with a schedule—I think that what I need to do is create my own plan for GAPS Intro Diet, schedule it out and stick with it. A version that meets my carb requirements and also lays out my plan of attack for probiotic introduction, in a very slow and steady fashion. As much as I'd rather easy breezy free style all of this, it seems as though I'll need to have a pretty solid plan. Stay tuned.

Paige WebsterComment