You think probiotics make you feel more bloated? Let me tell you something about it.
You’ve heard all about the “gut healing” benefits of taking probiotics, drinking kombucha, and eating sauerkraut.
However, what do you do when probiotics make you feel bloated and worse—not better?!
For some people, probiotics can make them feel more bloated, gassy or constipated. For others probiotics can cause skin breakouts, weight gain, loose stools and diarrhea, or a mixture of all of these.
The struggle is real.
Here are 5 reasons why probiotics make you feel more bloated, gassy, constipated and beyond, and what to do about it.
5 Reasons Probiotics Make You Feel More Bloated
Reason #1: You’re Taking a Cheap Quality Probiotic
That random probiotic with 5 stars you bought on Amazon may not be your BFF. Despite claims that the formula “helps replenish gut bacteria” and “supports digestive balance”, it’s been estimated that over 90% of probiotics do not contain the probiotics or CFU counts (colony forming units) stated on the label. The probiotic market is like the Wild Wild West and a vast majority of probiotic formulas come from the same manufacturers with a different brand name. Generally, you get what you pay for and the cheaper the formula, the more likely you are flushing your money down the toilet— literally.
Several things to look for in a more quality formula:
- Cost: $50-$150
- A “connected” company: Great customer service, responsiveness, and ability to answer “tough” questions
- Third party research on the probiotics used in the formulas and (even better) on the probiotic itself
- Probiotic strains listed on the label—not just the genus and species but the specific strains, such as Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG (GG is the strain)
- No funky fillers in the capsules or powders—many companies utilize inactive binders and fillers to fill up unoccupied space in the capsule. These often contain wheat, gluten, dairy, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners or artificial preservatives, maltodextrin, soy, guar gum, or titanium dioxide.
- Enteric or gel coated capsules
Reason #2: You’re Unable to Digest the Supplements
Many people don’t realize that taking a probiotic is only half the battle. You actually have to digest it to make it work!
Unfortunately many formulas don’t make it past stage 2 of digestion—once passing through your mouth and down your esophagus, they don’t survive your stomach acid.
Ensuring that the probiotic actually makes its way through the bacteria-killing stomach acid in your stomach to your gut–alive–is critical—at least for the less stable lactic acid probiotics like lactobacilli and bifidobacteria species (spore forming probiotics are more resilient).
This is best accomplished with the enteric or gel-formulated capsules or a bio-available probiotic powder.
Reason #3: You’re Taking the Wrong Probiotic Strains
Probiotics are strain specific, meaning one bacteria is completely different from the next, and what is beneficial for clearing up one person’s acne may not be as effective at banishing your bloating.
If you feel bloated after taking probiotics, there’s a good chance you’ve got the wrong formula for your biome—especially if you’ve given your biome about 1 to 2 weeks to adjust.
Reason #4: You Have SIBO or Dysbiosis
Simply put, if you have alot of gut bacteria already or imbalanced gut bacteria, than adding in more gut bacteria in a probiotic—especially if you’re taking the wrong strains for your biome—may be the last thing you need.
That said, probiotics actually can be beneficial to take if you have bacterial or yeast overgrowth, but again, you just want to make sure you’re taking the right strains and types and not adding fuel to the fire.
Some possible effective choices from the literature include: saccharomyces boulardii, soil-based organisms (Bacillus species), Bifidobacteria lactis, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Lactobacillus acidophilus (1-5).
Reason #5: You’re Histamine Intolerant
Histamine intolerance basically means your body releases histamine when it gets triggered with a food or substance it sees as a foreign invader. This can happen when you have reduced immune tolerance from stress, environmental toxins (like mold), significant dysbiosis, a leaky gut or low amount of histamine degrading enzymes (DAO) in your gut.
Certain probiotics and fermented foods (like yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut) are naturally higher in histamine, thus it’s the perfect storm if you don’t tolerate histamine rich foods well.
Note: not all probiotics are high in histamine, but the leading species to avoid include:
- delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus (TISTR 895) (aka L. bulgaricus)
- Coagulans SL5.
On the flip side, look for Bifidobacterium infants, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidiobacterium breve, Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus Lactis, Lactococcus Lactis and Saccharomyces-Boulardii.
How to Support Your Gut without Probiotics: Tributyrin-X
Short chain fatty acids are the new (under-utilized) gut reset weapons on the market.
Also known as “post-biotics,” short chain fatty acids are the healthy, anti-inflammatory “byproducts” or “metabolites” from healthy probiotic bacteria.
In other words, postbiotics are the reason why we take probiotics and prebiotics and eat vegetables in the first place—to get all the anti-inflammatory benefits from them!
There are 3 primary postbiotics or short chain fatty acids, including butyrate, propionate and and acetate, but the best known and studied is butyrate.
Benefits of Short Chain Fatty Acids
Some of the many, research-backed benefits of post-biotics like butyrate include:
- Helps support the brain-gut connection for better mood, mental clarity and brain function
- Promotes a healthy microbiome and gut bacteria balance and diversity
- Helps support gut health and prevent or repair a leaky gut
- Regulation of gut speed (motility) and regularity (helps alleviate occasional constipation)
- Supports healthy mast cells, immune system and histamine levels
- Supports healthy weight management and blood sugar levels
- Healthy gene expression
- Supports liver health
With all these benefits, and zero reported negative side effects, need I say more?
Postbiotics are also much better absorbed than probiotics and are shelf stable, meaning they don’t go bad as easily if conditions (like shipping conditions or stomach acid) are not perfect.
My favorite of the moment? I’m crushing on Tributyrin-X™.
Although probiotics are important and can still be helpful for some people, they simply are not as potent and wide-reaching as postbiotics (especially if probiotics make you feel bloated).
Try it out for yourself here and let me know what you think.