Brain fog, belly bloat, heart disease, systemic acidosis, pain, and inflammation are just a few problems that may be directly linked to the ingestion of probiotics.
By Jay Robb, “The G.O.P.”
Probiotics have been the buzzword on the nutrition streets for the past 10 years, but what I have noticed is that very few people understand what they are, what they do, and why many leading health authorities and doctors are suggesting their use. The purpose of my article is to dispel any myths about probiotics and to warn you about the danger of ingesting probiotics in any form, including food, beverages, or supplements.
I will probably not become the most popular diet guru on the planet for what you are about to read. In fact, I may get some hate mail and blowback for standing up and speaking the truth about a subject that very few know much about. But I must get this off my chest. Your health and longevity are at stake here and I feel it is important and my duty as a clinical nutritionist for you to know the truth about probiotics and the damage they can do to you and your loved ones. Please hear me out on this.
According to globenewswire.com, probiotics have become big business with sales in 2018 topping the $47 Billion mark. Various forecasters predict sales for probiotics are estimated to reach over $78 Billion by 2026. My friend, that ain’t pocket change by any stretch of the imagination. Why have probiotics become so vehemently popular? Perhaps the answer can be compressed into just one word: MONEY.
SO EXACTLY WHAT IS A PROBIOTIC?
A probiotic is a fermented food, or a dietary supplement, containing live bacteria that is taken orally in an attempt to restore the bacterial balance in the human colon. The human colon contains trillions of bacteria (bacteria actually make up about 50% of the dry weight of human feces). For good health, it is imperative that your colon is densely populated with colon-indigenous bacteria, along with small amounts of naturally occurring fungus/yeast.
An antibiotic is just the opposite of a probiotic. Biotic basically means, related to life. In the case of probiotics, it refers to supplying living bacteria (life). In the case of antibiotics, it means to destroy living bacteria (anti meaning “against” and pro meaning “for”).
Antibiotics were discovered by accident in 1928 when Professor Alexander Fleming was cleaning up his culture laboratory. The hard-working professor was sorting through a multitude of glass plates that had been coated with staphylococcus bacteria. Fleming noticed that one of the plates had mold on it. The mold was in the shape of a ring and the area around the ring seemed to be free of bacteria. That mold was actually Penicillium notatum.
To make a long story short, Fleming did further research on the mold and discovered it could also kill other strains of bacteria. Fleming moved on to other research so his discovery went dormant for over 10 years until Howard Florey and Ernst Chain, working at Oxford University, isolated the bacteria-killing substance and penicillin was born.
In 1941, Dr. Charles Fletcher tested Penicillium notatum on a patient’s wound in a hospital and noted immediate healing of the wound. In 1944, Howard Florey contracted an American drug company to mass-produce penicillin. Now being mass-produced, penicillin was used to treat wounded soldiers in World War II with such amazing results that penicillin was nicknamed, “The wonder drug.” In 1945, Fleming, Chain, and Florey were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine.
Antibiotics use went wild after 1945 to the point that it was often over-prescribed. Antibiotics have saved millions of lives over the past seven decades, but at a potential price. It was eventually discovered that the overuse of antibiotics could have a negative effect on the health of an individual. Antibiotics are not always bacteria-specific. A broad-spectrum antibiotic can destroy harmful bacteria that are infecting a person’s body, but it also can destroy the bacteria that are native to the human colon.
The colon-indigenous bacteria are vital to the health of every human being. Once these bacteria are destroyed, yeast (fungus) can proliferate rapidly by consuming all the food that would have normally been gobbled up by the abundance of bacteria in the colon (and/or small intestine). Fungus on a feeding frenzy can lead to vaginal yeast infections, jock itch, nail fungus, thrush, athlete’s foot, anxiety, and depression. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.
A low-carb low-fiber low-resistant-starch diet does not feed the bacteria native to your colon. The bacteria in your colon are designed to primarily feed on resistant starch from plant foods, such as grains, potatoes, beans, and sweet potatoes. The bacteria in your colon also feed on the fibers in certain fruits and vegetables, such as cabbage and green-tipped bananas. The Standard American Diet is high in refined fat, sugar, and meat, and low in fruits, vegetables, and fiber. The Standard American Diet can fall short of supplying enough natural food for the bacteria in the colon.
To remain healthy, it is imperative that you feed the bacteria in your colon, every day. This is easily achieved by the daily consumption of ample amounts of potatoes, sweet potatoes, grains, red or green cabbage, and veggies. You do not need to take expensive probiotic supplements to achieve good colon health. In fact, taking probiotics can actually destroy your health.
Red and green cabbage and resistant starch found in potatoes, sweet potatoes, and grains are classified as prebiotics because they can provide natural food for the lactobacteria and other strains of bacteria in your colon. When consumed regularly, these prebiotics become miracle workers that can help you produce Perfect Poops for the rest of your life. These miracle foods can also help you get to your ideal weight and stay there. When compared to the high price of most probiotic supplements, cabbage, potatoes, and grains are very inexpensive.
Cabbage is a unique food because it contains fibers and carbohydrates that bacteria in your colon love to consume. Cabbage appears to be a perfect vegetable for feeding the bacteria in your colon. The slow-digesting fibers and carbohydrate in cabbage can easily make it to your colon where the bacteria can be fully nourished.
I may be the only nutritionist on planet earth who is telling their clients, readers, and customers to avoid probiotics like the plague. Why run from this claimed miracle working supplement? I will answer that question with another question. “Why would you want to fill your small intestine with live bacteria?” In other words, by consuming an oral probiotic, you are dumping BILLIONS of live bacteria into your small intestine, which is the opposite of what you want to accomplish! Taking a probiotic can create SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth) by introducing bacteria into your small intestine.
SIBO is caused when you take an oral probiotic supplement or food that travels through your small intestine where some of the living bacteria decide to make your small intestine their new home. SIBO can also be caused by colonic bacteria that migrate north through the ileocecal valve and enter your small intestine, where they begin to take up permanent residency. SIBO causes major problems because the bacteria that begin living in your small intestine can then feed on all the carbs and sugars in every meal you consume. A 24-hour fast is a great way to help clear out the misplaced bacteria because your small intestine can perform 10-15 cleansing waves during a day that you abstain from food.
Most probiotic supplements contain a variety of bacterial strains similar to the strains found in a healthy human colon. Common sense tells me that dumping colonic bacteria into your small intestine is insane. It is like giving yourself SIBO. And this same logic also applies to the consumption of probiotics that are rich in live bacteria such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods that humans often consume. It is absolutely insane to inoculate your small intestine with bacteria that DO NOT belong in your small intestine. The bacteria belong in your colon.
If you were to take a probiotic, it would need to be inserted rectally deep into your colon for it to be effective. By taking additional bacteria via your rectum, you would not be sending these strains of bacteria through your small intestine. But there are more problems with taking probiotic capsules with foods. If you consume a probiotic with a meal that contains sugars or starchy carbs, the probiotic bacteria you ingest will have a field day consuming those carbs, with the end result being gas and bloating. As an example, if you consume a live bacteria inoculated yogurt, and you top that yogurt with a fruit, the bacteria in the yogurt will immediately begin to consume the sugars in that fruit as the food mass travels through your small intestine. The end result is bloating and gas. The same can happen with sauerkraut or if you take a probiotic capsule with a meal. Unless that meal is a zero-carb meal, you could quickly experience the big bad bloat and colon issues.
STOMACH ACID TO THE RESCUE
Many of the bacteria you consume in probiotics may be destroyed by the acid in your stomach, which would quickly end the living bacteria product you purchased at a hefty price. Many strains of bacteria have now been developed that can survive stomach acid, but I am not completely convinced. The action of your stomach is another reminder not to consume live bacteria concentrations orally. A stomach acid bath is your body’s way of sanitizing food and beverages that enter your body, when eating and drinking. In this case, stomach acid is destroying bacteria before those bacteria destroy you. Concentrations of bacteria should not be in your small intestine or stomach.
TMAO TROUBLES AND THE CAUSE OF BELLY BLOAT
Millions have cut carbs in an attempt to shed extra pounds and gain more energy. Cutting carbs can help stop belly bloat, if that bloat is caused by misplaced bacteria living in your small intestine who are feeding off all the sugars and starches you consume at every meal. But this is only a temporary fix for belly bloat, SIBO, and the systemic acidosis both can cause. Research in the past five years has revealed that there is a link between gut health and heart health. Let me explain.
If you have misplaced bacteria living freely in your small intestine, as stated previously, those bacteria will feed freely on every gram of carbohydrate you consume. In the presence of living bacteria, about 30 grams of carbohydrate can produce up to 2 liters of gas. This explains why some folk (men and women) have a beer belly (or look pregnant). It is trapped gas! Switching to a low-carb or ketogenic diet can quickly end belly bloat, but not your health issues. The bacteria indigenous to your colon still need food, so cutting off the fuel supply to the misplaced bacteria in your small intestine also cuts off the fuel supply to the bacteria in your colon. Removing carbs is not the long-term solution to belly bloat. If you have misplaced bacteria living in your small intestine, cutting carbs can also create another problem for you.
INCREASING YOUR CHANCES OF HEART TROUBLES AND PREMATURE DEATH
If you have misplaced bacteria living freely in your small intestine and you cut carbs to lose weight and beat the bloat, you may naturally increase your intake of meats, egg yolks, and dairy products such as cheese. The before mentioned protein foods are rich in choline and/or L-carnitine, both of which are broken down by the bacteria in your intestines. When the bacteria break down choline and/or L-carnitine the bacteria produce a compound called trimethylamine (TMA). Your liver then converts TMA into the compound, trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO)
Data has shown that high levels of TMAO can contribute to a heightened risk of clot-related events such as heart attack and stroke. One study of 2235 patients with stable coronary artery disease showed that those with higher levels of TMAO had a four times greater risk of dying from any cause over a five-year period. And this is all linked to the gut bacteria coming into contact with high-fat protein foods. The research did not mention that the bacteria that had the easiest access to those high-fat protein foods would have to reside in the small intestine, perhaps because they did not realize where the bacteria was living.
For the above reasons, it seems best to drastically lower your intake of full-fat dairy products (cheese, butter, whole milk, 2% milk, and cream cheese), whole eggs, and fatty meats. You should also avoid supplements rich in choline or L-carnitine. It is important to note that vegetarians and vegans who avoid fatty meat and fatty dairy foods produce very little TMAO.
MORE REASONS TO AVOID PROBIOTICS
As stated previously, I am not a fan of taking probiotic capsules or fermented foods. It seems insane to me to throw billions of bacteria into your small intestine, which can cause SIBO.
For the previously stated reasons, I do not suggest yogurt, kefir, pickled vegetables, or sauerkraut be consumed. These fermented foods can also be high in inflammation-producing histamines. Let me explain further, and I will start with yogurt.
YOGURT is a highly touted food that is often claimed by its producers to help replenish the natural flora balance of your large intestine. Yogurt is milk that is fermented by special strains of bacteria. The bacteria consume the sugars in milk by the fermentation process. This process is a form of pre-digestion of the milk, making it easier to digest. But do the bacteria that the milk was inoculated with reach the colon and take up residency there? Or is the benefit of yogurt merely for its prebiotic carbohydrate content?
As stated previously, I do not suggest consuming yogurt, especially with a meal, or else the live strains of bacteria in the yogurt will have a feeding frenzy on the carbs in that meal.
KEFIR is also a highly touted food that is similar to yogurt because it, too, is a fermented milk product (fermented with a different strain of bacteria). I feel the same about kefir as I do about yogurt. In other words, I do not suggest consuming kefir. And, like yogurt, kefir can be high in histamine, which could lead to inflammation in the intestines and may also cause joint aches and pains.
SAUERKRAUT is fermented food created by thinly slicing cabbage, packing it tightly in a large crock or bowl, and applying pressure. The naturally occurring bacteria in the cabbage ferment the cabbage quickly under the above described conditions. If you ingest raw cabbage, the indigestible fibers and carbohydrates in cabbage can reach your colon, where it is readily fermented by the bacteria that reside there. If you ferment the cabbage first, as described above, is there a benefit? Some say, yes, but I say, no.
Just like yogurt, fermented cabbage (sauerkraut) is high in histamine, which can cause inflammation to the small intestine. I say avoid sauerkraut. As a prebiotic food, I feel that raw cabbage, ingested in moderate amounts daily, is ideal for helping feed the bacteria in your colon, plus cabbage is low in histamine.
OGLIOSACCHARIDES (PREBIOTIC) FOODS
FOS (fructooliosaccharides) are inherent to a variety a plant matter and are similar to fructose. I do not like this prebiotic isolated as a supplement because I feel it is too concentrated, but I am a fan of the smaller amounts of it that are contained in onions, garlic, bananas, asparagus, green beans, and artichokes. Because the ogliosaccharides found in these foods are not easily digested, much of it reaches the colon where it can feed certain strains of bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. In supplement form, 12 grams daily appears to be the upper threshold before gastrointestinal upset is experienced, but dosage tolerance may vary with individuals. I do not suggest FOS supplements.
GOS (galacto oligosaccharides) are inherent to human milk and can be produced from lactose. Studies have indicated its effectiveness at relieving constipation. Chains of fructose with one glucose molecule on the end are oligosaccharides known as fructans. The small intestine lacks hydrolase capable of breaking down this type of carbohydrate; therefore, fructans are not transported across the epithelium of the small intestine and are, thus, not absorbed. This allows the fructans to reach the colon and be consumed by the hungry bacteria that reside there. Beans are rich in galacto-oligosaccharides (galactans) that are also poorly digested and much of the carbohydrate in the beans reach the colon undigested and ready to feed your friendly bacteria, which is exactly what you want.
SOLUBLE FIBER – AN EXCELLENT PREBIOTIC
Soluble fiber is found in certain grains, starches, fruits, vegetables, and in psyllium husks. Soluble fiber is a prebiotic food because the bacteria in your colon can easily ferment this fiber. Psyllium is also easy to supplement with and is a great way to increase the natural fiber in your diet. Like cabbage, most of the soluble fiber appears to reach the colon where it can be fermented over a period of 12-24 hours. This, in turn, makes your colon happy and allows you to produce Perfect Poops every day.
RESISTANT STARCH IS COLON FRIENDLY
Most starches, such as potatoes, grains, cereals, sweet potatoes, and winter squash contain a complex sugar chain known as starch. Part of this starch is resistant starch or becomes resistant starch after cooking. Resistant starch is simply the starch portion of any starchy food that is not fully digested and absorbed by humans. The undigested starch can make it all the way to your colon where it provides first-class food for the hungry mouths of your colonic bacteria. Resistant starch is also created after cooking a starchy food and allowing it to completely cool, before consuming.
In my personal and professional experience, probiotic supplementation can be detrimental to your health and cause belly bloat, SIBO, systemic acidosis, hyperventilation, anxiety, and panic attacks. Probiotics foods and supplements should be avoided because the contain massive amounts of live bacteria. Probiotic supplements and probiotic foods, such as sauerkraut and yogurt, should also be avoided because they are high in histamine, which can cause rashes, flushing of the skin, stuffy nose, rapid heart rate, and panic attacks. All probiotics contain live bacteria that should not be traveling through your small intestine. For this reason alone, you should run from ALL probiotic supplements and probiotic foods.
Instead of using probiotics, I suggest ingesting prebiotics such as cabbage, the fiber in fruits and veggies, and starches, all three of which are the perfect food for the bacteria in your colon. Cabbage, vegetable fiber, and especially resistant starch (from grains, beans, potatoes, and sweet potatoes), are slow to be fermented, so they should easily reach your colon where the magic can happen. Unless you know for sure that you tolerate milk, I don’t suggest drinking milk or taking lactose (which is also a prebiotic), because this sugar can upset the intestines of those who are lactose intolerant or sensitive to lactose.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jay Robb, “The G.O.P.” is a bestselling author, spiritual guru, die-hard hippie, seminar host, clinical nutritionist, former drug-free bodybuilder, and former fitness club owner with over 30 years as a professional in his field.
Teaching people how to “Hang loose in an uptight world,” is Jay Robb’s motto and mission in life. The “Guru of Peace” accomplishes his mission through his “Peace and Love Movement” along with his 21-Day Life Reset Program, blog, website, Hippie Hut Store in Juno Beach, Florida, books, music, magazine, videos, protein powders, and seminars.
Jay Robb is the CEO of Jay Robb Enterprises, Inc, based in North Palm Beach, Florida where he lives with his wife Beth and family. “The G.O.P.” also has a recording studio in nearby Juno Beach, Florida, where he recorded his hit songs, Freedom, Hang Loose, Who Am I. For more information visit JayRobb.com and GuruofPeace.com.
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