Why alternating probiotics is good for gut health

IIf thriving gut health is one of your top wellness goals, it’s likely you’ll take a daily probiotic supplement — or have considered doing so. But is it the best idea to stick with a probiotic supplement to diversify your gut, or is it better for you to switch your strains? And beyond the ability to cycle your probiotics regularly, are you missing out on other ways to boost your gut health even more? We consulted with two gut health RDs for answers.

First, a summary of probiotics

New to the world of probiotics or in need of a quick refresher? Erin Kenney, MS, RD, LDN, CPT, of Nutrition Rewired begins: “Probiotics are live microorganisms that confer health benefits when consumed. “The main benefits of probiotics include improving digestion, the immune system and supporting mental health, reducing inflammation and reducing the risk of certain diseases.” You can not only find them in supplements, but also in some fermented foods and beverages.

Consuming probiotics helps support greater gut diversity. And when it comes to using different strains, the more (often) the better as different types can have different beneficial effects on the body. “Consuming a variety of probiotics can help ensure that the gut microbiome is rich in beneficial bacteria, which have been shown to be important for maintaining a healthy gut and overall health,” explains Kenny. body. In contrast, she notes that a lack of microbial diversity in the gut has been linked to health problems including but not limited to IBD and allergies.

How often should you rotate probiotics?

Since we know that a diverse gut is a healthy gut, it seems like it would be a smart idea to introduce new strains by rotating your probiotics. But is there a specific timeline or schedule that you should keep in mind?

“If you want to get continued beneficial effects from your probiotics, you should change your probiotics every three months or seasonally,” says Paulina Lee, RD, LD of Savvy Stummy. “If you take the same probiotic year-round, it can lose its effectiveness and even cause a gut bacteria disorder by creating an imbalance in the very diversity you’re trying to get. try to create.” By following your three-month rotation schedule, Lee says you’ll have a better chance of maintaining a high defense in the gut as well as potentially warding off resistance in the beneficial bacteria.

Is it *always* necessary to rotate probiotics?

While it can be beneficial to diversify the types of probiotics you eat, Kenney notes that research on the need for this is limited. That said, some individuals – such as those with chronic digestive issues – may be better off than others by rotating their probiotic supplements.

With that, she notes that there are different types of probiotics on their own, including yeast-based, spore-based, and lactobacillus/bifidobacterium (that is, broad-spectrum) blends. “There may be benefits to taking certain probiotics for the short term when healing an underlying gut imbalance, then switching to another during the remodeling phase,” explains Kenney. population. “For example, if someone has intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), they may not be able to tolerate a broad-spectrum probiotic during treatment and use a probiotic instead. spore- or yeast-based microbiology to aid in symptom control.” Additionally, she says that short-term use of lactobacillus probiotics can aid people who have trouble digesting the lactose in dairy products.

“There may be benefits to taking certain probiotics for the short term when healing an underlying gut imbalance, then switching to another during the recovery period.”

Kenney adds that integrating a new probiotic into your diet can also help if you’re making a major dietary change. “If someone is transitioning to a lower-carbohydrate diet, a lactobacillus/bifidobacterium mix could benefit because they don’t eat whole grains and fruits, which are a good source of healthy bacteria in their diet,” she says. intestines to support regular functioning. However, unless her clients fall into these categories, Kenney usually doesn’t call for alternating probiotics.

Next, despite Lee’s suggested probiotic rotation schedule shared above, she notes that supplementation is not an exact science. “We have a lot of research to support the benefits of probiotics, but the application of different strains across different disease conditions is still being evaluated,” explains Lee. For example, while research shows that some strains of bacteria enter the gut after administration, “the amount of viable bacteria that can get in will depend on many factors—such as dose and formulation.” probiotics—and individual gastric pH, bowel movements, and prior gut microbiota composition.” Furthermore, Lee cites research showing that long-term use of the same probiotics can still have beneficial effects (including a study in patients after a colectomy, who had reduced inflammation by supplementing with the same mixture over 9 months).

“We have a lot of research to support the benefits of probiotics, but the application of different strains on different disease conditions is still being evaluated.”

All things considered, the best probiotic habits will likely vary from person to person. “The type of probiotics and how long to take them can vary depending on the individual, lifestyle, medical history, and other factors that affect health,” says Lee. She recommends working with a healthcare provider to find the best personalized process for your needs.

3 tips to promote gut diversity

Ultimately, it will be up to you (and your healthcare team) to see if switching your probiotics every 90 days, seasonally or based on changes in diet and /or your medical condition is reasonable. That said, there are other proven ways to support diversity in the gut that don’t involve supplementation.

1. Eat more fermented foods and probiotics

“A daily intake of fermented foods — like kefir, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi that contain live bacteria — can provide a variety of probiotics that help carry diverse, beneficial bacteria into the gut,” says Lee. . Kenney suggests adding kimchi to scrambled eggs or kefir to fruit smoothies to easily boost your fermented meal.

2. Stick to a varied plant-based diet

“Eating colorful fruits and vegetables that contain polyphenols — like flavonoids and carotenes — can feed healthy gut bacteria, especially Bifidobacterium and Akkermansia muciniphila,” says Lee. inflammation and metabolic disorders.

She also suggests prioritizing prebiotic foods, saying it’s one of the best ways to maintain diversity in the gut. “Prebiotic foods feed our healthy gut bacteria so they can produce metabolites, like short-chain fatty acids, that can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress,” says Lee. Her dishes include garlic, dandelion greens, onions, bananas, barley, and flaxseeds.

However, eating more plant-based foods in general is always a good idea for your gut and better health. Kenney adds: “Eating a diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds can help provide the gut with the nutrients and fiber it needs. needed to support the growth of beneficial bacteria.

3. Adhere to the basics of a healthy lifestyle

Diet considerations aside, following the basics of healthy living can also allow your gut to grow. “Moderate physical activity can boost beneficial bacteria in the gut,” says Kenney. You’ll also want to find healthy ways to manage stress—such as yoga or meditation—as well as keeping your eyes closed long enough each night. “Stress can reduce gut diversity, [as can] lack of sleep,” she concluded.


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