In recent years we have begun to understand a lot more about gut health and how important it is to the overall health of your body and mind.
The microbiome is a hot research topic for scientists, but also with food and health experts. We’re starting to see links between the types of bacteria that live in our gut and specific health and mental conditions.
Probiotics are bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial to you. Generally, when we refer to bacteria we tend to think of them as negative, but the truth is that your body is made up of good and bad bacteria.
Some bacteria can be helpful to you, others can be harmful. We tend to find probiotics in foods and supplements. The most commonly suggested and most well-known source of probiotics is yogurt.
Whilst probiotics are often recommended and celebrated as bacteria that can help your digestive system alongside other conditions, there are some groups of people who should not take them.
We’ve created this guide to give you some advice about who should not take probiotics.
How Do Probiotics Work?
Before we can outline who should not take probiotics, it’s first important to learn some of the science behind them.
Whilst we are still learning a lot about the benefits of probiotics, over the last twenty years, a lot of research has been gathered which suggests a multitude of health benefits.
Let’s first learn a little about the microbiome and what gut bacteria do. Your body does a lot of things on its own, but sometimes it needs extra help with chemical processes.
This is where bacteria comes in. We are codependent on these tiny lifeforms, and exchange food for processes. A lot of what gut bacteria do is help to break down food and other steps in your digestive system.
Your gut health can vary depending on the kind of food and liquids you’re consuming.
The old saying is simple but true – you are what you eat – and we have found that we can directly influence our microbiome depending on what we introduce into our bodies.
Without getting too deep into the science – you want as much ‘good’ bacteria in your gut as your can, whilst minimizing the ‘bad’.
Probiotics are believed to introduce ‘good’ bacteria into your microbiome. Generally, the most common helpful bacteria linked to probiotics are:
Help with conditions such as diarrhea.
A yeast that seems to help digestive problems.
Y-shaped bacteria that are said to be good for digesting fiber.
The main thought around probiotics is that in introducing these positive bacteria into your body, you’ll be able to add good processes which will help your digestive health and perhaps decrease the likelihood of future digestive problems.
Recent studies have also linked the microbiome to mental health – though this research is still in its earliest stages.
Who Should Not Take Probiotics
So now that we’ve learned a little about the science of probiotics, let’s start to examine who should not be taking them.
As with all things, it’s important to consult with your doctor or equivalent healthcare professional for medical help, but here is a shortlist of some of the people who might be at risk of danger when taking probiotics.
People With Illnesses Or Damaged Immune Systems
This is one of the most important to keep in mind when considering whether or not you should take probiotics.
Do you have a severe illness or an immune system that has become compromised? A 2017 review of using probiotics in clinical practice suggested that people with such conditions have experienced bacterial infections linked to their probiotic use.
People With Allergies
If you’re going to eat vastly different foods from what you’re used to in an attempt to add probiotics into your microbiome, it is very important that you make sure they are compatible with your allergy needs.
If you have an allergy to soy, dairy, eggs, or gluten, then you might want to consider carefully the damage these can do to you. If you have a severe allergy make sure you check with any probiotic product you might be taking!
People Who Are Taking Antibiotics
You have to exercise caution when taking probiotics along with antibiotics. Mixing the two can cause some adverse effects or cause your antibiotics to lose effectiveness.
Generally, it might be best to wait 1-2 hours before or after taking your medication when consuming probiotics.
People Who Already Have Good Gut Health
Though research is still undergoing, it might be that a good balance of gut bacteria is the key to good gut health. If you already have a healthy gut, without any digestive problems or chronic conditions, taking probiotics might do more harm than help.
Adding additional bacteria that you don’t need into your gut might cause problems, and we suggest caution if you’re already healthy and happy.
A Note Of Caution
Because probiotics are more than likely to come as a food product rather than a medical product, they don’t always go through the same kind of rigorous testing that medical supplies do, so you can’t always be sure of their quality or authenticity.
Always read the labels clearly on any probiotic products you might buy, and if there are any ingredients you don’t recognize or are unsure about, be sure to do some extra research of your own.
So that is a basic rundown of the kind of people who should not take probiotics. If you find yourself classed as any of those above, we recommend contacting your doctor and talking it through with them before consuming any probiotic product.
Caring for your gut is important, and probiotics are being understood better with each year that passes.
Who knows what the future might hold. But for now, it’s best to take some caution before consuming them, as well as in the kind of products you buy. We hope this short guide has helped you!