Gut Check – Probiotics & Immune Health

I have felt great lately (nothing really new), and have been cycling my carbohydrate intake, remaining lean by restricting carbs for 3.5 days and then doing a moderate carb load for about 1.5 days, training super heavy the day after the carb load, and reaping the most anabolic benefit possible from it. Then I go back to low carbs, starting the process over.

You need to know that I also had taken antibiotics for a nasty bronchial infection about 2 months ago, and after my 2nd course of antiB’s, I started taking extra probiotics to replace what had been killed. I didn’t realize that my intestinal flora was so out of whack, but taking the probiotics kept me healthy and feeling good, training hard, and living life like I had no worries. Until…

I hadn’t realized, but I had decreased the amount of probiotics I was taking, sometimes taking very little or none in a day, and maybe a small amount another day.  And when my probiotic lull coincided with my first really BIG carb load day, I started feeling a sore throat.

It took me until the next day, when I was getting sick, to figure out the probiotic/carb load connection.  My probiotic intake had decreased, but my immune response didn’t suffer as long as my carb intake was low enough.  When I overloaded on carbs – bam!  My intestinal flora went nuts… bad and ugly! And I started to get sick.

I immediately started taking much more probiotics, and I started feeling better the next morning.  I hypothesized that what was the beginning of a nasty cold was thwarted by the probiotics balancing things out quickly. A day later and I feel still better, with my soar throat entirely gone, and just a little stuffiness remaining.

Saturday – afternoon carb load begins, scratchy throat noticed Sat night
Sunday – carb loading continues, along with continued cold symptoms: soar throat, runny nose, stuffy sinuses. I began taking probiotics on Sunday evening.
Monday – soar throat has diminished some, symptoms haven’t gotten worse
Tuesday – feeling better, thinking that the probiotics are doing the trick, but won’t claim victory yet
Wed – soar throat is gone, all is well except for a little stuffiness. I decided to write this last night while laying in bed.

This experience has driven home the importance of probiotics and intestinal health. So much of immunity is affected by gut health. I’ve known this, but haven’t been reminded of it in such an extreme way before.

Today I ordered products to help kill whatever candida, bad bacteria, or yeast in my gut, and I will continue to take loads of probiotics until things are balanced again.

A quick search just yielded a couple great sources of research on probiotics and immune health…

U.S. Probiotics
http://www.usprobiotics.org/

Univ of Michigan Health System
http://www.med.umich.edu/opm/newspage/2006/hmprobiotics.htm

 

Update on Feb 24, 2013

After much personal experimentation with dosage, frequency, and carbohydrate intake, as well as other variables… I haven’t been sick in roughly 5 years.  I think that probiotic intake is the easiest and quickest way to affect your immune system health (all other things being equal, and assuming relatively “normal” health).  Take a high dosage (anywhere from 30 Billion organisms to 50 to 100 Billion, it just depends on you, and you’ll find out by personal experimentation – the worst that happens if you take too many is that you get a little diarrhea) of probiotics every couple hours over the course of a day or two or three.  Your probiotic dosing can be likened to your foot on the gas pedal in your sports car… take more and it revs up your immune system, keeping your “good” to “bad” bacteria ratio balanced in your favor.

Update on May 17, 2014

Make it 6 plus years without a full-blown cold, flu, or anything else now.  I’ll post again at the 10 year mark! 😉

A TED Talks video.  Finally, probiotics are not NEW news, but this is getting GOOD now!

The gut flora: You and your 100 trillion friends:


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