So often when I’m treating patients in the clinic with digestive issues I hear them say the same thing. “I’ve tried probiotics and they don’t make any difference, they don’t work’. That can leave you despondent. The thing is that in many circumstances they were never going to be the right thing in the first place. We’ll discuss why that is during this blog post. By the end, you will be dutifully informed and much clearer in the knowledge of whether you should be taking probiotics right now or taking a different approach to your digestive issue
How Can I Tell If I Should Be Taking Probiotics?
I can see how it happens. So many TV adverts inform you of the probiotic virtues of their product. Quick side note many of them also contain sugar which is the antithesis of the probiotic! Never buy a ‘probiotic’ that has sugar in it. This isn’t an article about what to look for in a quality and worthwhile product. For now, all you need to know is that a probiotic may not be what you need to help you and your symptoms.
Within functional medicine and within my capacity as a Systematic Kinesiologist there is a structured approach to approaching digestive issues. This is known as the 5R’s. Each “R” represents a different step in the process. You need to start from step one and only move onto the next step when you have completed the one before.
Here are the 5 R's and their meanings:
This step involves removing or eliminating factors that may be causing gut dysfunction or irritation. This could include removing potential allergens, such as certain foods or food groups, as well as addressing any infections or overgrowth of harmful bacteria or parasites in the gut for example a well-known one being Candida.
Through Kinesiology muscle testing we can find the best supplements to take for you to remove any of the ‘bad guys’ that may be taking over and causing an imbalance in your system. In addition, we can test and discuss the foods that you should be avoiding.
In this step, the focus is on replacing any digestive substances or enzymes that may be deficient. This could involve supplementing with specific digestive enzymes or hydrochloric acid (stomach acid) or a combination of both, to aid in proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.
It is important that you take what you need. Again, through Kinesiology testing, we can find the right supplement to replace your specific deficiencies.
The third step involves reintroducing and promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. This can be achieved through the use of probiotics, which are supplements containing live microorganisms that help restore a healthy balance of gut bacteria.
This is the step that most people think they need. But why it is so important to do step 1 and 2 first. If you haven’t already removed any foods and/or undesirable bacteria/viruses/yeasts etc to create the ideal environment to allow your body to fully break down the food that you are eating, then the beneficial bacteria will never be able to survive in optimal numbers. When you reach this stage, we would use muscle testing to find the specific one that you need. There are loads of different probiotic bacteria each with their own job to do. It is important to have diversity in your gut bacteria population.
If things have been out of balance, there is every chance that your gut lining won’t be in optimal health. You may have heard of a leaky gut where bigger food particles are able to pass into your bloodstream which can be contributing to your symptoms.
Now you have created a better environment for your digestive system and increased your population of the beneficial bacteria you are already providing the conditions for healing and repair. Your body may still need a bit of extra help to regenerate a healthy gut lining that only allows the passage of nutrients into your bloodstream in a form that your body can utilise in a positive way. Again, Systematic Kinesiology can determine your body’s priority nutrition without the guesswork.
This is the stage to keep up the good work and add in any other lifestyle changes to make sure that you maintain everything you have achieved so far.
If there are still foods that were depleting or inflammatory for your digestive system in step 1, you need to stay away from them. You probably feel so much better that you won’t want to.
One benefit of Systematic Kinesiology is that foods that would have triggered all your symptoms in the past, may now be acceptable for your body now it is in its strengthened and healthy state. We can check through muscle testing once you have reached this stage to determine whether you can introduce certain foods now or if they are best left out to stop you from relapsing.
There may also be other lifestyle changes that would be worthwhile adapting to help keep you on track such as managing stress levels and getting regular exercise to support optimal digestive health.
It is important to follow these steps in a sequential manner because each step builds upon the previous one. You can use these steps as a guide for yourself in helping to improve your digestive system function. At least you now know that starting with probiotics is no longer the first choice until you have started with the remove and replace steps.