Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in your gut and play an important role in digestion, nutrient absorption, immune function, and protection against infections. But if your gut doesn’t have enough probiotics, you may start experiencing various symptoms indicating an imbalance.
This article will discuss 10 warning signs that you may need more probiotics and provide tips on how to restore gut health naturally.
The human digestive tract contains trillions of bacteria, both good and bad. The good bacteria, known as probiotics, help keep your gut healthy by crowding out harmful bacteria, regulating digestion and absorption, producing vitamins, and supporting immune function. When the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut gets disrupted, it can lead to digestive issues, inflammation, weakened immunity, and other problems.
Paying attention to signs your gut health may be compromised can help you identify a potential probiotic deficiency early. Addressing it by replenishing your probiotic levels will get your gut back on track.
10 Warning Signs You May Need More Probiotics
Here are 10 common indicators that your gut flora may be imbalanced and you need more probiotics:
1. You Recently Took Antibiotics
Antibiotics don’t discriminate between good and bad bacteria. When you take them to treat an infection, they end up killing off many of the beneficial probiotics in your gut.
This can leave you vulnerable to antibiotic-associated side effects like diarrhea, yeast infections, and Clostridioides difficile infection. It also creates an imbalance in your microbiome that allows harmful bacteria to thrive.
Taking a probiotic supplement during and after a course of antibiotics can help repopulate your gut with beneficial microbes. Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi are also great probiotic choices post-antibiotics.
2. You Get Frequent Migraines
Studies show a connection between migraines and imbalances in gut bacteria. One theory is that “leaky gut,” caused by too many bad bacteria, allows inflammatory toxins to enter the bloodstream. This triggers migraines by activating pain receptors.
Probiotics may help by strengthening the intestinal barrier and preventing leaky gut. They also boost serotonin production, which helps relieve migraine pain. If you get frequent migraines, try adding probiotic foods or supplements to your routine.
3. You Have Digestive Issues
Digestive problems like gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, and stomach pain can all stem from insufficient good bacteria in your gut. Probiotics have been shown effective for digestive issues including IBS, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.
Adding probiotic foods and supplements can often bring relief by crowding out the bad bacteria causing problems and restoring microbial balance.
4. You Have Skin Conditions
Skin issues like acne, eczema, rashes, and psoriasis are often tied to gut imbalances that cause inflammation. By supporting your gut health with probiotics, you may see improvements in problematic skin.
Be sure to limit inflammatory foods like sugar and refined carbs too, as they feed bad bacteria. The combination of more probiotics and less “gut-disrupting” foods can get your skin back on track.
5. You Have Mood Issues
An emerging body of research shows a strong gut-brain connection, including a link between probiotics and mood. If you frequently feel depressed, stressed, or anxious, it may be time to tend to your gut flora.
Probiotics help produce neurotransmitters that regulate mood and stress response. Adding them to your routine may provide a natural mood boost.
6. You Get Sick Often
Frequent colds, flu, sinus infections, and other illnesses can be a red flag your gut flora is out of balance. Probiotics support overall immune function and crowd out pathogens, equipping your body to ward off sickness.
If you’re prone to health issues, take probiotics daily to strengthen immunity. Getting your gut health in check may reduce your sick days.
7. You Have Asthma or Allergies
Those with a healthy balance of gut bacteria tend to have fewer issues with allergies and asthma. Probiotics can reduce allergy responses by healing leaky gut, a condition where particles bypass the intestinal barrier and trigger immune reactions.
For asthma, probiotics decrease inflammation and the need for medication by balancing inflammatory cytokines. They may also reduce severity of eczema and skin allergies.
8. You Had Food Poisoning
Food poisoning or stomach bugs stem from pathogenic bacteria disrupting your gut. Taking probiotics during and after illness can help crowd out the bad bacteria and get your digestive system back on track.
Daily probiotic supplements are also an excellent preventive measure against foodborne pathogens and stomach bugs. A balanced gut is more resistant to disruptions.
9. You Get Yeast Infections
Fungal infections like oral thrush or vaginal yeast infections happen when there’s an overgrowth of yeast like Candida. This is often caused by insufficient beneficial bacteria to keep yeast in check.
Increasing probiotics through fermented foods and supplements can help treat these stubborn infections by rebalancing your microbiome. A gut-healthy diet low in sugar is also key.
10. You Have Autism
Early studies suggest probiotics may have therapeutic potential for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Imbalanced gut flora may contribute to ASD symptoms.
Probiotics have been shown to decrease anxiety-like, sensorimotor, and repetitive behaviors in ASD. More research is underway, but probiotics appear promising as an ASD therapy.
Tips for Restoring Gut Health
If any of these warning signs sound familiar, your gut flora may be off and probiotics can likely help. Here are some tips for getting your gut back in balance:
- Take a probiotic supplement – Start with a broad-spectrum, high-CFU probiotic with multiple strains. Look for at least 10 billion CFUs and strains like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
- Eat probiotic foods – Sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt, aged cheese, miso, and other fermented foods deliver probiotics. Eat them daily.
- Reduce gut disruptors – Limit sugar, processed foods, alcohol, and unnecessary antibiotics and medications that can wipe out good bacteria.
- Manage stress – Chronic stress affects gut flora balance. Try relaxing practices like meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and walks in nature.
- Get enough sleep – Lack of sleep negatively impacts your microbiome. Stick to consistent bed and wake times for optimal gut health.
- Stay active – Exercise helps support a diverse, probiotic-rich gut. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity most days.
Your gut bacteria play a major role in your overall health. Warning signs like frequent illness, digestive problems, yeast infections, mood issues, and skin conditions can indicate your microbiome is off balance and needs more good bacteria.
Addressing a potential probiotic deficiency by taking supplements, eating probiotic-rich foods, and supporting gut health through lifestyle choices can get your gut back on track. Paying attention to these warning signs and upping your probiotic intake may resolve nagging health issues and get your gut flora thriving once again.