Sunday, May 14, 2017

NOW Is the Time...To Order Probiotics!

My stock of probiotics for the summer
This week, box after box arrived at our house loaded with dozens of boxes and bottles of various probiotics. So, what's the deal? Is the apocalypse coming soon? I sometimes think that after watching the morning news, but no, that's not why I bought so much probiotic all at once. It's because summer is coming! Every year at this time, I stock up on all of our probiotics and buy enough to last us until mid-September.

The reason is that those little probiotic capsules contain live cultures; the tiny bacteria inside need to be kept alive in order for them to remain effective (probiotics are the "good bacteria" that live naturally within your gastrointestinal tract). The bacteria will die under high heat, so it is best to store them below 70 degrees F (and absolutely below 80 degrees). In fact, most strains of probiotic are quite fragile and must be stored carefully. Even properly stored, probiotics will gradually lose their effectiveness the longer you keep them. So, my summertime strategy might not be ideal - buying so much at once and storing it - but I think it's better than having probiotics delivered when the temperature is in the 90's (probably higher in warehouses and trucks), and I have no control over shipping conditions. After what I have read today while preparing this post, I will be keeping my stock in our extra fridge downstairs for the summer, rather than storing them at room temperature like I usually do.

Locally bought & kept in fridge
An alternative approach, which I also use, is to buy your probiotics locally, somewhere where they are kept refrigerated. We buy one of our brands of probiotics this way, at our local natural foods store, and I keep it in the fridge at home, as shown here. They tend to be more expensive in our local store than online, but the store sometimes has sales.

So, why should you take probiotics in the first place? They are really essential for anyone with ME/CFS or any kind of immune disorder. First, they help to support the immune system. Did you know that 80% of your immune system resides within your gastrointestinal tract? So, with the immune dysfunction at the heart of ME/CFS, all of us should take some good quality probiotics, with a variety of strains in them. Another factor that makes probiotics even more important is that many of us - including my son and I - have developed yeast overgrowth, either due to the immune dysfunction or to over-use of antibiotics or both. Taking high-dose, high-quality probiotics is a key part of treating yeast overgrowth (which needs to be treated because it can make you feel awful). And finally, anytime you (or anyone else) take antibiotics, you should double up your daily probiotic dose. Those antbiotics will kill off all of the bacteria in your system, including the good ones in your gut, so they need to be replenished.

One final note: if you are diary intolerant (as are 30% of ME/CFS patients), then be sure you are buying probiotics that are not dairy-based. It should say right on the label. As for yogurt, it does contain some active cultures and can be a good source of probiotics for those who can eat dairy; however, it's hard to tell how much probiotic you're getting, some studies show that the probiotics don't all survive (they get gobbled up by other bacteria in the yogurt), and be aware that most yogurts contains loads of sugar, so stick to plain types.

So, come up with your own summer strategy for probiotics. Will you order now and store them in the fridge (or anywhere cool, dark, and dry) this summer? Or buy locally where they are kept refrigerated? Maybe order some now and then buy locally refrigerated types toward mid-summer? However you decide to proceed, make sure that the probiotics you do buy are stored properly and kept away from heat, light, and humidity. Otherwise, all that money is wasted...and more importantly, you won't be getting any benefit from them.

For more information, this article is very informative and includes references at the bottom to scientific studies for further reading. Note that the article is on a probiotic brand's website, so the last two paragraphs include a sales pitch, but the rest of the article is purely informative (also note that our dietician told me that this type of SBO - soil-based organism probiotics - are not a good choice for us, but it might be different for you).

The links below show the probiotics that we take now or have taken in the past. Our dietician helped us come up with this multi-strain approach. The Saccharomyces boulardii is a strain that is specific to yeast, which is why we take so much of it. The Renew Life Ultimate Flora (also available through Amazon, as shown below) is the one that we buy locally, in our health food store; it contains 50 billion units. Xymogen products, like the ProBiomax DF 30, can be purchased directly through Xymogen. Also note that Culturelle is a common probiotic, found in any drugstore or grocery store; however, we buy the Health & Wellness type, which has 15 billion units in each capsule (their other, more common type is labeled Digestive Health and has only 10 billion units) - the Amazon link below is an excellent price on this type of Culturelle - well below what you will find in local stores.

I'm interested to hear what your probiotic strategies are, especially in the upcoming hot months, and which brands you have found to be most effective?

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Purchases from these links provide a small commission to me (pennies per purchase), to help offset the time I spend writing for this blog, at no extra cost to you.



  1. Hi Sue. Thanks for all the good information in your blog posts. I'm considering taking a daily prebiotic, and alternating probiotics either daily or monthly. Does this sound like a reasonable approach?

    1. Sounds like a good plan. I have heard it's good to change probiotics once in a while. I sometimes switch to the Doctor's Best one shown above for a break from our regular ones.

      As for prebiotics, be careful if you have any problems with yeast overgrowth. Many prebiotics contain sugars like oligiosaccharides that not only feed probiotics but also feed yeast. Check the label - anything with -saccharides in it is best for us to stay away from, since most of us with ME/CFS are prone to yeast overgrowth. Unfortunately, most prebiotics do contain these sugars. You can provide prebiotic fiber in your diet just by eating lots of veggies (and a small amount of fruit). Good luck!

  2. Excellent and helpful post… I am so glad to left comment on this. This has been a so interesting ..I appreciate your effort..