In February of 2016, my mother was diagnosed with Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma (SLL) and began chemotherapy almost immediately. She had 6 rounds of chemo: 3 days in a row, one round each month for 6 months. Having worked in a hospital and seeing a ton of oncology patients as a Registered Dietitian, I wasn’t surprised when she started experiencing GI disturbances. Soon after she began chemo, she started experiencing thrush, nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, weight loss … and the list goes on. Chemo, while (hopefully) killing cancer cells is also working hard at killing EVERYTHING, even the good cells. Knowing that 70% of your immune system comes from the gut, this alarmed me because I knew she had to try her best to keep up her immunity during this difficult time. I soon urged her to start taking a probiotic to help restore the “good bacteria” in her gut in hopes to keep up whatever immunity she can during her treatment. Within a few weeks, although she had a lot of side effects, she did feel an improvement from taking the probiotic as it related to her GI symptoms. She has been off chemo for a year, but continues to take her probiotics and has since began campaigning all of her friends to start taking probiotics.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your GI system. They are considered live microorganisms that may be helpful in preventing and/or treating certain illnesses. They are naturally found in your body but you can also find them in supplements and foods. Two types of probiotics are “lactobacillus” and “bifidobacterium.”
Soon after researching probiotics for my mom, I became pregnant. I remember attending a nutrition conference where one of the lectures was about probiotics and pregnancy. I wasn’t able to sit in on the lecture, but decided to do my own research to see if this is another area where probiotics can be helpful. What I found was incredibly interesting.
Probiotics during pregnancy has been found to help with:
- Acid Reflux
- Reduced risk of atopic eczema in children
- Better breast milk
- Gestational Diabetes
- Colic in infants
- Prevention of food allergies in children
- Postpartum Depression
The things that stuck out the most to me were better breast milk and prevention of food allergies in children.
When it comes to improving your breast milk, it suggests to continue taking probiotics even after pregnancy. A study in Clinical & Experimental Allergy published in 2008 suggests that moms who supplemented with a probiotic had increased immuno-modulatory factors in breast milk as well as fetal immune parameters. If this is your babies sole source of nutrition, you might as well make it the best quality you can! This can be correlated to the reduced risk of eczema in these babies as well.
Wherever I turn, I am constantly hearing about kids with food allergies. Growing up, I never remember friends or schoolmates with such severe allergies like I do now. In 2015, a study was published with the objective to explore associations of infant gut microbiota and food sensitivity in Clinical and Experimental Allergy journal . This study suggested that infants with low microbiota had more food sensitivities when compared to children who had earlier gut colonization. So what does that mean in normal people terms? Basically, those children that had the best overall level of gut bacteria were the ones who showed the lowest rate of allergy development.
I don’t know about you, but that’s enough reason for me to continue taking a probiotic and encourage my friends and family to do the same.
** Please note: This information is solely based on my own professional opinion and research. This is not backed by a Medical Doctor and before you consider taking any probiotic, please consult with your physician**