First of all, let me just say this is NOT a post about selling something. I am here to tell you about MY personal experience with probiotics – the good, the bad, and the unexpected – from a realist’s point of view. If you’ve been wondering about them, considering adding probiotics to your routine, or hearing crazy internet stories (probably from manufacturers) about all they can do, then listen up.
I was introduced to probiotics years ago by my pediatrician – long before they became mainstream. My son had gotten a horrible stomach virus and after days of clearing the virus and “feeling better” he still had no appetite and what he did eat, seemed to go straight through him. My pediatrician suggested adding a little over the counter probiotic powder to his food a couple of times a day for a few days and sure enough, his stomach got back to normal. And that was the last I thought of them.
Fast forward to October 2015.
The girl with the great metabolism all her life – even after 2 kids – has turned 44 and somehow gained 20+ noticeable pounds in about a year. I’ve been a work at home mom for a couple of years so I’m not on my feet running around a bakery like crazy anymore, but I am still fairly active and I don’t sit around eating bonbons all day. It’s like something turned off inside me when I hit around age 43 and the weight just stuck. I’m also feeling tired by about 2:00 every afternoon (try helping with 7th grade math homework with that in your pocket), and dragging myself through the rest of the day. My annual physical and blood work came back all normal (other than the weight change), and the doc just gives me the old “well, our metabolism tends to slow down in our 40’s, so a little weight gain is to be expected.” Well great.
Then one day my niece Melissa is talking to my husband about this “product” she’s been trying and decided to start selling. Oh no – here we go. Jeff’s a sucker for a great pitch – he’s the guy that gets snagged at the gas station to buy 1 can of tire cleaner and comes home with a case of car cleaning products. Plus he’s been down the supplement road before, trying several “healthy” dietary programs with no real results. He’s recently picked up jogging on a regular basis and added a gym routine several times a week, but I’m just not down with that. He claims it’s to counter-balance his required dosage of powdered donuts in the morning. I absolutely LOATHE running. I can walk for miles, but I don’t run, and weights, treadmills, and all that other gym rat equipment has no appeal to me. It never has because I never needed it. I was slim and trim all on my own up until about a year ago.
I did a little research on the “product” line she was promoting and found out it was primarily a probiotic regimen. Hmmm. This is new. I’ve heard you can never get too many probiotics, so it certainly couldn’t hurt. The philosophy on this new product line is that if you clean up your gut, the rest of the body tends to follow suit. Everything in the product line is centered around probiotics and other naturally derived supplements and vitamins your body needs anyway. So I say, “Hey, let’s give it a try and see what it does.”
A little back history on me and my health: No chronic illnesses or allergies, skin issues, etc. in my younger days. I started having irritable bowel issues when I was in my late teens and suffered after almost every big meal I had till after I had my first child. Not sure why it got better after that, but it certainly wasn’t an issue as often. I dropped my baby weight quickly with both kids and little effort. I ate pretty much whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. My favorite foods are pizza, bread and cheese, and cake. I love gluten. Didn’t want to know if I was gluten sensitive, because I knew I wasn’t giving it up regardless. We have a family history of high blood pressure and cholesterol, but my bp has been good and my cholesterol on the border from time to time, but not warranting medication.
Soooo, we start the “program.” This includes a probiotic, a biocleanse (helps flush what the probiotic kills off), and a powder packet drink mix for reducing cravings (not a meal replacement.) You are supposed to start off gradually and build-up your usage over time. Combined, these three things are supposed to help with the following:
- Helps manage your weight when combined with a healthy diet and exercise*
- Helps cleanse the gastro-intestinal tract*
- Help energize the body*
- Promotes digestive health*
- Promotes a healthy immune system*
- Provides 5 strains of probiotic bacteria to help support and maintain intestinal flora*
- Contains enzymes to aid in the breakdown of proteins and fibrous foods during digestion*
- Helps relieve occasional constipation (that is not associated with chronic constipation, which may be a symptom of a serious disease)*
- Helps reduce free radical damage in the body*
- No meal replacements or shakes*
- Gluten Free*
- 100% Vegetarian*
So we both started the program. I said I was going to be the perfect “baseline” participant, because I was not going to change a single thing otherwise in my life other than increasing my water intake as suggested. I was going to eat exactly what I wanted and I was not going to work out or change my exercise, and let’s see what it does. And what happened? Here’s the honest truth – because that’s what I am here to tell you:
My husband stopped taking it within a week. The headaches he started having killed every desire he had to continue.
But I continued the regimen anyway.
First, I will say this: the first few weeks are tough, especially for someone who eats like I do – lots of bread. Why? Because probiotics kill off yeast in your body and what do breads and a lot of starchy foods have? Lots of yeast that stores up in your body over time. So when probiotics kill off yeast, you get what’s called a yeast die-off reaction. Depending on how much is in your body, the reaction is different for everyone. In my case it included dull headaches first, then i started having terribly itchy eyes, a little skin irritation, and then eventually…where’s the one place a woman does NOT want to have a yeast issue? Yeah that. Dying yeast will go wherever it can to try to stay alive, so think about the places you can have yeast issues… your mouth, tongue, eyes, skin, and lady parts, and that’s where they try to go on their last dying days
This, my friends, is probably why most people don’t continue, or don’t take probiotics on a daily basis.
But once I got past the first maybe 2-3 weeks and after cutting back and adjusting what and when i was taking things, it got much better and eventually all side effects were gone. So what else did I notice at this point? After 1 month:
- I had more energy throughout the day
- I was a little more “regular” in the bathroom but not “loose” or uncomfortable
- I was urinating more often
- I felt and looked less bloated in the belly
- I was not having stomach aches after a full meal – at all
- weight stayed the same
Somewhere along the way, I also added a high potency omega vitamin (omegas are super good) from the same brand that has no fishiness or gasiness, and that I was told helps with better sleep if taken at night. All true in my case. At this point, I am taking the probiotic and biocleanse both day and night at suggested dosage, the drink in the morning most days, and my omegas at night.
Now, if you look at my list above, these are all pretty good outcomes, and then there’s that last one “weight stayed the same.” After a month or 2 of taking something, I believe this is where the next round of people would quit, and they do. If it’s weight loss you are looking for, you expect magic right? But remember, I was going to take it just to see what happened and so far, once I got past the transition in the beginning, everything else has been pretty health positive, so I’m ok with this.
Another month goes by, and I still have all the above working in my favor, and hey I managed to lose about 4 lbs. Not bad for not doing anything… but then I also realized that’s losing 4 lbs over the holidays when I love to eat (and drink) a lot of junk. Hmm, how did I manage to do that? Maybe we are on to something. At this point I decide I really don’t personally like the drink mix and stick with just having water when I would usually have a drink mix.
Not to drag this out into a novel, I am going to fast forward to around April of this year. That puts us around 6 months. The only thing I have changed is substituting a different probiotic in the morning (one I found with a higher unit count and more types or strains of good probiotic bacteria), and I am actually taking a 1/2 dosage of the PM probiotic and omega now. Same amount of biocleanse. And what have I noticed?
- I LOST 18 LBS in 6 months (14 of those in the last 3)
- I am back in my favorite clothes
- My shoes are no longer squeezing my swollen feet
- I can wear some fitted shirts again because I don’t feel like I have bloated belly hanging out
- I have more energy
- My skin looks good and more pink/fresh and not pale
- I managed to not get sick both times my kids brought home a bug earlier in the year
- I did not have the usual seasonal allergy issues I do every Spring
- I fill up faster when I eat a meal – can’t clean the plate even if I want to sometimes
- I don’t feel like snacking all day
- I’m not as interested in sweets and desserts
- Did I mention I lost 18 lbs?
- People are asking me if I’ve been working out and I have to admit I’m lazy and I have not
And that’s the honest truth. My husband is a tad disappointed he gave up, though I think he looks just great and he works out regularly to keep in check (for those donuts of course.) It’s a commonly known concept that it’s generally harder for women to lose weight than men, so he can’t understand how this happened with me doing nothing more than taking a healthy supplement – again, it’s NOT a diet program.
I’m no doctor or nutritionist, but I look at it as simply as this: If my belly’s not all bloated and grumpy all day, I don’t feel like I have to feed it and fill it to make it better any more. That false empty, irritable feeling was creating cravings, and when the starchy salty craving temporarily fixed the issue and wore off, the sweet cravings kicked in. A never ending cycle. Now I don’t have all that going on anymore, so I eat when my body tells me I am hungry on a fairly regular schedule and when those cravings aren’t there, I am eating better foods that tend to give me more energy for the distance. I still indulge – a made a delicious Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake last week that I have thoroughly enjoyed – and I still love a glass of wine or prosecco. Don’t kid yourself. It hasn’t turned off my tastebuds. But I now maintain a weight rather than see a 4 lb jump every other day, and I have a lot of other healthy benefits to be excited about too. “Mom survives 2 school season viruses the rest of the family suffered.” That’s front page news in itself.
If you’d like more info on the probiotic regimen Plexus, you can contact Melissa at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to her website HERE. She can answer every question you have.
Oh and the secondary probiotic I added on my own was via Probiotic America.
p.s. There is absolutely no “incentive” coming my way for sharing this with you. I am not affiliated with or selling these products. I simply wanted to share my experience as a total skeptic with an unbiased opinion, in case any of my readers might be looking for a easy way to improve their health with added benefits, for your whole family.