Friday, 17 December 2010

Bugs in my Belly

Or rather, a lack thereof.

You are, as they say, what you eat.

I take a bunch of supplements on a daily basis, under the guidance of my doc, and regular bloods. One of those supps is an industrial strength, practitioner-only probiotic. I've been taking it for about 6 months, apart from a short stint in preparation for some gastro testing.

I ran out of them on the weekend. My training has been going well to the point where I am about to step it up, I've been feeling good, and thought yeah, let's see how it goes. It's only a probiotic, so ditching it now when I am going well is probably a reasonable thing to do.

Come Tuesday I had a bunch of symptoms, kind of like chronic fatigue, or a nasty flu virus (without the head cold symptoms), enough to stop my in tracks. Wednesday no improvement and I was getting a bit worried. I hadn't made the connection yet. Then after dinner, after a nap before dinner (yep, I don't do naps unless I am sick) a little memory twanged, and for some reason I decided to throw a bunch of the just out of date regular, health food shop variety of probiotic I had in the fridge, down the hatch. I really don't know why I did it, I just thought it was the thing to do.

Next day (yesterday) I was marginally better, in that the heavy brain fog was lessened, and the aching joints were no longer, but I was exhausted, could barely get out of bed. About mid-morning it clicked: the industrial strength probiotic and the symptoms I had when I last stopped taking them. So I downed another handful of regular probiotics (I even thought of taking the horse's probiotic that is currently in the fridge!) and within an hour or so was feeling more energised. Fortunately we have a friendly health food supplier that will sell the superdooper probiotics without a doctor's "script" and I now have a bottle to keep me going.

It was an interesting "experiment":

1. it showed how much health relies on good gut function
2. it shows that these particular probiotics are actually doing something. What I am not really sure ie helping me digest nutrients better? Mopping up toxins from bad food/bad bugs (yes I have those) in my gut??
3. The mental angst I went through when I realised that I was getting sick all over again
4. The mental angst I went through when I couldn't train, particularly at a point where I was about to step it up because I am/was feeling stronger.

So the moral of the story is you are what you eat!


Groover said...

Eek, do you have to take those now for the rest of your life? Symptoms sound very familiar. Not good! Glad you got back on track right away (stupid pun wasn't intended).

BTW: We drove pass Sam Miranda on our way to Bright two weeks ago. Had to think of you! :-)

Lawrence said...

I hope I don't have to! I'll keep testing every few months to see! Is it possible for the body to fail to support good flora because of repeated ingestion of them instead???

Did you stop at Sam's???? They do good food as well. Lovely little eating place, as well as a good spot for some local wines (and that's not a gratuitous plug either lol).

Hope you enjoyed your trip and riding around the hills Groover gal. I get the feeling you did :-D

Anonymous said...

I wonder if it is more a case of rapid withdrawal? If you have underlying leaky gut issues and given that the probiotics don't stay in your system too long, perhaps it was the rapid change in your gut environment that highlighted a problem? Also, you have to consider whether taking the probiotics are actually masking an underlying pathology?

They are not something you should need to take in industrial strength doses for the rest of your life I would have thought.

Lawrence said...

Hey Jamie! I was kinda hoping you'd drop a comment on this one, cos it's got me a bit baffled.

I'd have thought that taking probiotic for a period of time, to repopulate the gut, supported by good nutrition to feed and develop that population, would be enough so that ongoing ingestion of the probiotic wasn't necessary.

But I take your points about rapid withdrawal, and masking an underlying pathology. Something to ponder while on the ergo, or later, cleaning up the horse paddock tonight ;-).

Anonymous said...

There could be any number of factors at play. Whilst we are beginning to understand the importance of our gut microbiome, we really don't know much about which species, in which numbers... so simply throwing a probiotic at it might not stick. Many species are quite transient and as soon as you stop supplying them, they disappear pretty quick. This may set up a scenario whereby it isn't the high levels giving benefit or the low levels being detrimental, but rather than magnitude of the change from one to the other?

Lots of things to consider... did you have something underlying this that just made it coincidental with running out of probiotics? What have your training loads been like? Higher cortisol levels might be at play? Sleep? Phase of menstrual cycle? OCP use? Moon in Scorpio? Days ending in Y? ;) All could have an influence on your response here!

You could set up a nice little n=1 experiment. Maybe stay off them for 30 days to allow your body to readjust from the acute phase change, then see how you feel. Put them back in for 30 days... see how you feel. Do a rapid withdrawal... see how you feel. This is the bit I find fun with the paleo gig and with training athletes. Once you have covered the basics, you just have to experiment and fine tune!

Lawrence said...

Hi Jamie

thanks heaps for the additional comment. I have been pondering this one for the last couple of days, hence my lack of reply... still working on it :-D