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Gut Microbiota Conference Update 2019 – Probiotics

Feature, Gut Health & IBS | April 24, 2019

A young girl feeding her father a nutritious homemade sandwich.
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Gut Microbiota for Health Conference Update 2019 – Post Series 3

We’re on week 3 of the Gut Microbiota for Health conference update – you will be seeing 5 different articles on the Gut Microbiota for Health conference coming to Ignite. Mark your calendars and stay tuned for the following topics:

  1. The low FODMAP diet
  2. Supplements
  3. Probiotics (today!) 
  4. Personalized nutrition
  5. Taking care of the gut microbiota

Probiotics & Gut Health

As we understand our own bacteria better, we’re starting to gain a deeper understanding on which bacteria may be effective in different conditions – AND who will best respond.

So the big question is – should you take a probiotic? And what for?

Contrary to popular belief, probiotics do not ‘colonize’ the gut. They are transient. You consume them, they ‘do their thing’, and they exit your body. Your gut microbiota is resilient and doesn’t allow them to stick around for long.

Probiotics can work in specific conditions when taken properly, however – we want to match the RIGHT probiotic, to the RIGHT person, for the RIGHT reason. You do NOT need to take a probiotic every day for good gut health. However, if you struggle with IBS, you may have symptom improvement if you take the right probiotic and measure the outcomes.

When it comes to a probiotic – we want to make sure we choose the right strain, in the right amounts, for the right length of time – and measure the outcomes. Currently, there is good evidence for probiotics in IBS, antibiotic associated diarrhea, C. Diff, infectious diarrhea, and vaginal health – to name a few.

Currently, we have some practice guidelines that look at which probiotics are most appropriate for which conditions. But I think, as research progresses, what REALLY is going to matter is personalized nutrition – or creating probiotics that are individual to YOUR microbiota.

We’re not there yet – so for now, probiotics should ONLY be used in conditions where there is evidence for them! When we use probiotics – we also want to ensure we assess individual outcomes – especially in functional gut disorders. For example, if my patients are interested  in taking a probiotic for IBS, we match the right strain to their condition, and test for 1 month. Then we would assess – better, worse or the same? We would discontinue the probiotic to see if symptom improvement lasts, and restart if necessary.

If you’re interested in using a probiotic for a specific condition – work with a dietitian at Ignite, or talk to your doctor or pharmacist. If you’re taking a probiotic pill for ‘good health’ – good news – I just saved you $30+ dollars a month – you can discontinue it!

Key Takeaways

  • You do not need a probiotic for ‘good health’
  • Certain probiotics are ONLY evidence based in specific conditions. Be sure you’re taking an evidence-based probiotic for your condition – check with your doctor, dietitian, or pharmacist!

Andrea Registered Dietitian with Ignite Nutrition here in Calgary, Alberta attended the Gut Microbiota 2019 Conference. Here's her takeaway on Probiotics.

References:

Hungin, A. P. S., Mitchell, C. R., Whorwell, P., Mulligan, C., Cole, O., Agréus, L., … & Seifert, B. (2018). Systematic review: probiotics in the management of lower gastrointestinal symptoms–an updated evidence‐based international consensus. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, 47(8), 1054-1070.

References

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