Are Probiotics A Waste of Money?
Heard a lot about probiotics but don’t want to fork out for another ‘magic’ supplement that’s not going to work? I hear you. Maybe you picked some up from the pharmacy and tried them, but they didn’t do anything, or you are so skeptical that you haven’t even bothered.
Well, today we’re going to address the issue head on and talk about whether probiotics really are just a waste of money or whether they could be right for you and your IBS symptoms.
If you’ve been following me for the last few weeks, you’ll know that the month of April has been dedicated to probiotics. So far, we’ve covered The 4 Types of Probiotics, 5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Probiotic and we’ve busted 6 Myths About Probiotics. However, this seems to be the big question still left on everyone’s minds!
ARE PROBIOTICS A WASTE OF MONEY?
Probiotics can be a waste of money, yes, but they can also be a fantastic asset for creating a healthy gut. A healthy gut will reduce the risk of your foods sensitivities and your IBS symptoms getting worse. It can actually help you go the other way, and reduce your sensitivities and symptoms.
What will make the difference in terms of whether they’re a waste or an asset is which probiotics you take and when you take them. I won’t talk about which probiotics to take, as I wrote a whole article on this (check it out here). I’ll just say that there is a huge range of different probiotics and you’ve got to find the one that is right for you and your specific symptoms.
SO, WHICH SHOULD YOU TAKE AND WHEN SHOULD YOU TAKE THEM?
There are different probiotics that have been proven to work best for bloating, constipation or traveler's diarrhoea, for example. So, if you suffer with constipation and grab a box of probiotics from the pharmacy without thinking about what’s in it, and that particular probiotic is proven to help with symptoms of diarrhoea, of course it’s not going to work for you and therefore definitely will be a waste of money. If, however, you do your research and pick one proven to help with constipation, you might see some benefits!
The other thing that will impact whether they’re a waste of money or not is when you take them. By when, I don’t mean what time or what day of the week. By when, I mean, at what point in your IBS journey. If you haven’t worked out any of your triggers yet, then they likely could be a waste of money. If, however, you’ve figured out some of your triggers and have your symptoms under so much more control, they could be a really useful asset to feel even better. Likewise, if you’ve been travelling and caught a bug, or you’ve had to take a round of antibiotics, probiotics will be hugely valuable to protect and boost your good gut bacteria and help stop your symptoms getting worse.
PROBIOTICS WON’T OVERRIDE A BAD DIET AND LIFESTYLE
They key thing I’d say here is that no probiotics will override a bad diet and lifestyle, not even the most expensive, effective ones in the world. So, if you’ve tried probiotics but felt like they didn’t do anything and you just wasted your money, it might be that you haven’t addressed the underlying cause of your IBS triggers yet.
I like to think of probiotics as the cherry on top of a cake. You’ve got to be eating the right things and doing the right things (and avoiding the wrong things) in order to make a nice cake, i.e. manage your symptoms. Once you’ve got your symptoms under control, adding in a probiotic can be really helpful in maintaining and supporting your gut health and making you feel even better. This is just like how adding a cherry to a cupcake makes it even better (if you like cherries). If you just had a cherry on it’s own, without the cupcake, you’re just eating a cherry..
This is why, in my YOUR GUT TRIGGERS one on one coaching program, I help clients to work out what foods and habits are triggering their IBS symptoms first. Once we’ve identified those and removed them/worked out how to manage them, only then do we talk about whether probiotics would be right for them. This is because probiotics aren’t going to heal you or take away your symptoms, but, once you’ve figured out your triggers and removed them, they can help you to build your gut back up after all the damage it’s received from years of triggers!
Probiotics can be a waste of money, yes, but they can also be a fantastic asset for creating a healthy gut.
What will make the difference between them being a waste of money vs a valuable asset is which probiotics you take and when you take them, so:
Make sure you take one that’s been proven to help with your specific symptoms or concern
Think about where you are in your IBS journey and take them at the appropriate time
Ultimately, probiotics won’t override a bad diet and lifestyle and they will never be a quick fix.
The first step should always be figuring out your triggers and managing them. Once you’ve done that, you can start working out whether probiotics would be a valuable asset for you.
If you’re ready to start figuring out your triggers, check out my IBS Triggers Checklist. It’ll give you 20 things that might be triggering your IBS so you can start putting en end to the mystery of your IBS symptoms today. Download it here.
What’s your opinion on probiotics? Have you tried them? Let me know in the comments below.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and I hope it’s helped you on your journey to taking control of your gut, eating well and living your life.