You Really Can Have Too Much of a Good Thing
Columnist Brianna Albers reconsiders her probiotics regimen
My life flashed before my eyes. Or, to be more specific, all the meals I’ve eaten in my life flashed before my eyes.
I’d determined with complete certainty that I was lactose intolerant. My symptoms aligned perfectly — namely, I experienced gastrointestinal issues after ingesting dairy products. I’d finally identified the cause of my latest health problem! I wasn’t elated about all the dietary changes, but overall, there was a sense of relief. At least I had a place to start.
Then my mom asked a terrible question.
“What if it’s something else?”
I grumbled. I’d done the research! It seemed a little counterintuitive that I would develop a food sensitivity later in life, but according to some trusted resources, it’s a pretty common occurrence. What else could it be?
Mom started listing all the possibilities. Maybe it had something to do with my recently changed G-tube. Or maybe one of my supplements was the culprit. I’ve been taking gummy vitamins for almost a year with no issues, but unexpected side effects are always a possibility.
My grumbling was undercut by just how awful I felt. We’d just finished dinner, and in terms of symptoms, I was experiencing my worst bout yet. I stared at the ceiling and regretted everything I’d ever done, particularly when it came to putting things in my body.
As my mom is wont to do, she took to the internet. A few minutes later, she asked, “Are you still taking probiotics?”
I recently started a new skin care regimen. I’ve written previously about my issues with hygiene. After years — and I mean years — of experimenting, I decided to try a line of products that target acne from the inside out. Probiotics are part of the regimen. Instead of eliminating all gut bacteria, you minimize the bad and maximize the good.
I’d seen remarkable success when it came to my skin, so I was loathe to think that probiotics could be the issue. At the same time, though, it made a sick kind of sense. Of course it would be the one product that’s actually made a difference. That’s exactly my luck.
Apparently, you can have too much of a good thing. Overdosing on probiotics can lead to — you guessed it — gastrointestinal issues. I was taking the recommended amount — one capsule per day — but I’m significantly smaller than the average person, with a lot less body fat. Maybe I really was taking too much.
I was so miserable that I decided to go cold turkey on the probiotics. If my symptoms improved, I could experiment with smaller doses and hopefully strike a balance.
My symptoms improved overnight. By the end of the week, I was pretty much back to normal. While dietary changes were far from my mind, I had a new problem to solve. I haven’t reintroduced the probiotics yet, but I’m hopeful I can find a dosage that vibes with my sensitive little body.
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