Do Probiotics Really Work? We Surveyed Probiotic Users to Find Out

Key Points:

  • A recent survey showed that 66% of BodyBio customers had little to no success with probiotic supplements for improving their gut health.

  • While probiotics may offer some benefits for your digestive health (fortifying your microbiome while taking antibiotics, for example), they aren’t a magic cure. Without evaluating your own personal microbiome fingerprint, it can be extremely difficult to treat the gut with a probiotic supplement.

  • Our take? Building a healthy gut ecosystem that can support your natural microbiome is better than using a broad-spectrum probiotic supplement. When evaluating your microbiome health, you should pay equal attention to prebiotics, postbiotics, and nutrition and lifestyle habits.

Is your probiotic supplement actually working? If your answer is “no” or “I’m not sure,” you aren’t alone.

In a recent survey conducted by BodyBio, 66% of our customers said that probiotic supplements didn’t help with their gut issues. That’s more than half of people who are turning to probiotics for answers — without achieving any long-term results.

Sure, a probiotic supplement may provide some temporary symptom relief, and they’re handy to have around when you have to take an oral antibiotic. But after a few weeks or  months, we’ve found that people often go back to square one with the same complaints as before.

Maybe that’s why you’re here. 

You’re tired of the hamster wheel of gut symptoms — and you’re ready for real change.

In this article, we’ll explore why probiotics aren’t the magic solution to your gut issues, and what you should do instead to achieve the gut health of your dreams. 

Table of Contents:

5 Things to Know About Probiotic Supplements and Gut Health

The probiotic supplement you reach for at breakfast every morning? Turns out, it might not be doing you any good. New research on the gut microbiome is opening up a whole new world of possibilities around the impact of our gut terrain on microbiome health. 

Your gut terrain includes the microbiome, the physical gut lining (colonocytes), the mucus layer, and a number of other organisms that may also share space in the gut, such as parasites and viruses. All of these components create an ecosystem that is much bigger than just the microbiome. 

If you’re suffering from uncomfy gut symptoms, the bottom line is that probiotics are just one small part of a long-term, comprehensive, holistic approach to a healthy gut. 

Here are five things you probably didn’t know about probiotic supplements and gut health.

1. “Broad-Spectrum” Probiotics Aren’t One Size Fits All

Let us paint the picture. Tired of gas, bloating, and agonizing stomach cramps, you search the pharmacy store shelves and reach for a solution: probiotics. 

It makes sense. Probiotics replace the strains of healthy gut bacteria depleted due to antibiotics, stress, or an unhealthy diet.

Right?

It’s true, probiotics have been shown to help with various gut issues.

However, it’s important to recognize the job of each individual probiotic strain. Every strain is different — and every individual gut microbiome is different. 

Like any other medical treatment, ideal probiotic supplementation should be customized to you and your body. It’s the same with pharmaceuticals — not every drug works for every individual. Broad spectrum antibiotics are often ineffective because they aren’t targeting the specific bacteria causing symptoms in the gut. Similarly, the broad spectrum probiotic supplements on grocery store shelves might not work for your unique needs.

For example, some bacterial strains may help decrease IBS symptoms, but others can actually make digestive symptoms worse. Broad-spectrum probiotics blindly throw the dart with no guarantee that your health will actually improve. 

If you want to use probiotics to heal your gut, the better option is to work with your holistic healthcare provider to test microorganisms in the gut and create a custom treatment. If testing isn’t an option for you, another route would be to work with a knowledgeable practitioner who can tell you what probiotic strains correspond well to your specific gut symptoms. 

2. Building a Healthy Gut Ecosystem Is Better than Using Probiotics (Aka, the Terrain Theory)

There’s so much at play when it comes to a healthy gut environment. For example, probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics are all responsible for maintaining the immune and digestive systems. It’s a joint effort!

If your gut is in distress, a probiotic supplement might not be the answer — especially if your body doesn’t have the resources to feed and nourish new healthy bacteria. Yep, your expensive probiotic supplement could quickly die off during its journey through the gut without doing any good. 

The answer? Prebiotics and postbiotics. 

Prebiotics help to feed the already existing probiotics in your gut. When your gut microbes (probiotics) consume prebiotics, they leave behind a byproduct that we call postbiotics. From a health perspective, postbiotics are the whole point of having probiotics in our gut. They include short-chain fatty acids, neurotransmitters, and certain amino acids. To the body, postbiotics are extremely nourishing and essential for various functions.

Instead of taking high-dose, broad-spectrum probiotics, focus on maintaining a healthy gut ecosystem through diet, exercise, and supplements that support the entire gut ecosystem.

3. You Can Get Probiotics (and Prebiotics) Naturally through Food

Instead of randomly throwing the dart with a multi-strain probiotic supplement, we recommend getting your daily probiotic dose through food. This is a much more natural way for the body to consume probiotics. In fact, one recent study shows promising evidence that the body prefers probiotic foods over probiotic supplements.

Time to pull out the yogurt, kimchi, miso, and sauerkraut. If you’re curious, we have a whole list of probiotic foods for you to explore.

Speaking of food… natural prebiotics are also easy to obtain through fibrous foods. It’s not actually your gut that breaks down fiber — it’s your microbiome. So when you feed your microbiome with fiber, you’re more likely to have a healthy gut. Just take things slow if you have SIBO or another digestive condition that makes it difficult to break down fiber.

4. Everything You Eat Impacts Your Gut Terrain

Seriously. The good, the bad, the kind of mediocre… everything you put in your body will have a lasting impact on your microbiome. This is one of the reasons fad diets can be harmful to the body and have little impact on your overall weight and health.

A gut-happy diet includes a wide variety of foods, especially high-quality fruits, veggies, starches, and meats. By eating these foods regularly, you’ll cultivate a healthy microbiome that’s comfortable resting, digesting, and boosting your immune system.

5. Your Gut Microbiome Could Be Out of Whack Due to Pharmaceutical Drugs (Hint: It’s Not Just Antibiotics)

Sometimes, your gut doesn’t need more probiotics — it needs less disruption  and permission to return to its own natural patterns.

There are a variety of medications that can alter your gut terrain. Antibiotics are most commonly associated with this — but they certainly aren’t the only offender. Drugs like steroids, oral contraceptives, laxatives, metformin, and PPIs can all cause your careful balance of gut bacteria to spiral out of control.

If you’re using any of these medications regularly, they could be associated with your gut dysbiosis — and probiotics probably won’t fix the problem. It’s best to find and address the root issue before blindly throwing a probiotic supplement at your gut.

Probiotic Alternatives

If you’ve come this far, then the secret is out: we’re a little skeptical about probiotic supplements.

So what else can you do to encourage healthy gut flora?

These recommendations will help you get one step closer to easing symptoms and improving your gut health holistically. 

  • Explore the relationship between prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics. Each of these elements are equally essential to your overall gut health and may hold answers to your own unique struggles.
  • Enjoy lots of probiotic-rich foods. This is the most natural way to get probiotics in your system without overwhelming the body. If you’re unused to eating probiotic foods, start slow and increase as your body adjusts.
  • Most importantly, focus on building a healthy gut terrain with lifestyle habits — and your microbiome will follow! This can look like maintaining a healthy diet, incorporating exercise into your daily routine, and developing a stronger mind-body connection through practices like meditation, yoga, or EFT tapping. 
  • Use an all-in-one gut health supplement like Gut+. Instead of throwing random probiotics at the problem, Gut+ considers the entire gut ecosystem. It uses a unique two-part formula: prebiotic bacteriophage technology removes unhelpful bacteria from the gut — while feeding the good bacteria. Postbiotic butyrate supports the gut lining, mucus production, and a healthy microbiome.

Gut+ Is Our Cutting Edge Supplement for Digestive Aid

We got tired of searching for the best probiotic supplements on the market — only to discover they offered mediocre results. That’s why we created Gut+.

This cutting-edge supplement is designed to encourage a healthy gut ecosystem, not just throw random probiotic strains at specific gut symptoms. It works with your unique microbiome to feed the good bacteria you already have and kick out the bad. When taking the supplement, you may notice improved digestion, blood sugar balance, focus, and reduced brain fog.* By combining Gut+ with probiotic foods, you’ll be well on your way to your healthiest gut ever. 

If you’ve tried everything to reduce your digestive symptoms, we created this supplement for you. Try Gut+.

References

Guarner, F., Khan, A. G., Garisch, J., Eliakim, R., Gangl, A., Thomson, A., Krabshuis, J., Lemair, T., Kaufmann, P., de Paula, J. A., Fedorak, R., Shanahan, F., Sanders, M. E., Szajewska, H., Ramakrishna, B. S., Karakan, T., Kim, N., & World Gastroenterology Organization (2012). World Gastroenterology Organisation Global Guidelines: probiotics and prebiotics October 2011. Journal of clinical gastroenterology, 46(6), 468–481. https://doi.org/10.1097/MCG.0b013e3182549092


Slavin J. (2013). Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits. Nutrients, 5(4), 1417–1435. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu5041417


Homayoni Rad, A., Vaghef Mehrabany, E., Alipoor, B., & Vaghef Mehrabany, L. (2016). The Comparison of Food and Supplement as Probiotic Delivery Vehicles. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 56(6), 896–909. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2012.733894


Singh, R. K., Chang, H. W., Yan, D., Lee, K. M., Ucmak, D., Wong, K., Abrouk, M., Farahnik, B., Nakamura, M., Zhu, T. H., Bhutani, T., & Liao, W. (2017). Influence of diet on the gut microbiome and implications for human health. Journal of translational medicine, 15(1), 73. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12967-017-1175-y


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