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Are Probiotics Bad for You? Exploring the Potential Health Risks

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The health benefits of probiotics are undeniable. The gut is the very center of your body that influences all other areas of health, from your heart to your psychological well-being. However, as the saying goes, too much of a good thing can be bad. Are probiotics bad for you in any instance? The truth is, even with natural medicine, there are often concerns about negative health effects.

Can Probiotics Make You Sick?

As we have mentioned in the past, probiotics may initially cause side effects among some first-time users. This includes minor symptoms like stomach cramping, nausea and diarrhea. In this sense, yes, probiotics can make you mildly ill. However, symptoms almost always go away after the first day or two. We also believe the side effects are a good sign that the probiotics are having a positive effect on your body. It’s just that your system may initially respond in a not so desirable way.

LEARN MORE: The Total Skinny on Probiotics

Of course, we’re talking about unpleasant side effects. However, some people have enquired whether probiotics pose any serious health risks for people with existing medical issues. Let’s explore this further.

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Are Probiotics Bad for Your Heart?

This is one of the questions we get more often. Are digestive probiotics safe for people at risk for heart disease? We have not found any scientific literature that suggests probiotics may negatively impact heart health in any way. With that said, though, a small number of users have reported heart palpitations. This is often the body’s natural biochemical response to an unfamiliar substance. As such, you may feel a jolt in the heart, a few skipped beats, or a few abnormally fast beats. Heart palpitations are generally no cause for alarm, but we do suggest you see a doctor if symptoms persist.

Also, if you get your probiotics from food, then it may be something in the food other than the probiotics causing the heart anomaly. Sugar is a stimulant and is known to cause palpitations. This may arise if you consume yogurt with added sugars. The same goes for fermented and pickled foods, which are often sky-high in salt. Sodium is another common cause of irregular heartbeats.

We want to stress that, by and large, probiotics are heart-healthy. A study from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine revealed that probiotics reduce hypertension. High blood pressure greatly elevates risk of heart disease and stroke.

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Probiotics and Immune Health

Are probiotics bad for you if you have existing immune problems? The opposite appears to be the case. Studies1 suggest a possible link between digestive probiotics and greater immune support.

However, there are rare circumstances in this instance in which probiotics can be counterproductive. In one case2, a 24-year-old female patient about to undergo aortic valve replacement developed sepsis after being given probiotics as part of a pre-operation procedure. Further analysis revealed a specific lactobacillus strain to be the causative agent.

This case suggests that probiotics may pose health risks for anyone with an immunocompromised status. The same goes for patients with a history of organ failure. In healthy individuals, though, probiotics appear to prevent sepsis. One study shows that the probiotic strain Lactobacillus Plantarum may lower risk of sepsis in infants.

Probiotics and Intestinal Health

Some people have also brought up the possibility of probiotics causing a condition known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). This is a condition in which the small intestine is overcome by excess pathogenic bacteria. Apparently, concerns arose after one study3 suggested probiotics may increase risk of SIBO.

On the surface, this may seem to counteract the whole idea of probiotics being beneficial for gut and digestive health. We must point out, though, that the study is hardly conclusive. The research involves 19 subjects that underwent a lactulose breath test to determine SIBO diagnosis. Of the 19 patients, three contracted SIBO after going on the probiotics. In our opinion, this hardly seems to suggest probiotic use is a major risk factor for developing SIBO. This isn’t just our sentiment either. The skepticism was also expressed in a lengthy article by doctor and international lecturer Michael Ruscio.

Remember, this is also only one study. A meta-analysis4concluded that probiotics may actually alleviate digestive symptoms in SIBO patients. This isn’t to say there is no risk at all, but it’s a bit far-reaching to suggest – at least from the study results – that probiotics is a serious risk factor.

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Are Probiotics Bad for You? Hardly at All

We believe the benefits of probiotics drastically outweigh any possible negative reactions. This isn’t to say that probiotics are universally safe. There are exceptions in which some people may be at risk and should consult a doctor before going on a probiotic supplementation. However, this is always the exception in people with certain pre-existing medical conditions and never the norm.

START TODAY: Here Are a Few Reasons Why You Should Be Taking Probiotics

What we’re trying to say is that probiotic supplements like Floracil50 will do far more good than harm in 99 percent of users.

Citations and Sources

Yan F, Polk D. Probiotics and immune health. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2011;27(6):496-501. [PMC]
Kochan P, Chmielarczyk A, Szymaniak L, et al. Lactobacillus rhamnosus administration causes sepsis in a cardiosurgical patient–is the time right to revise probiotic safety guidelines? Clin Microbiol Infect. 2011;17(10):1589-1592. [PubMed]
Kumar K, Saadi M, Ramsey F, Schey R, Parkman H. Effect of Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 (Align) on the Lactulose Breath Test for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. Dig Dis Sci. 2018;63(4):989-995. [PubMed]
Zhong C, Qu C, Wang B, Liang S, Zeng B. Probiotics for Preventing and Treating Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth: A Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review of Current Evidence. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2017;51(4):300-311. [PubMed]

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Christopher Walker

Christopher Walker is a co-founder of UMZU and creator of the Thermo Diet. He is the first person to get a Duke Neuroscience degree in 3 years. After naturally solving his own health complications with a brain tumor as a teenager, he has devoted his life to creating all-natural products and education to help men, women, children and pets to improve their own health naturally using science-backed research.
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