Probiotics & 5 Signs You Might Need Them


Probiotics have become one of the hottest supplements on the market and for good reason!

It seems like most health experts are calling probiotics the panacea for every ailment, that miracle supplement that helps with just about everything.

And actually…it’s kind of true.

While nothing will magically “fix” everything, our gut bacteria are the first line of defense for many of our body systems. Therefore, they’re connected to a surprisingly high number of health concerns.

I believe the root of our health is our digestive system. It’s where the building blocks for every cell in our body are created by digesting and absorbing the nutrients in our food.

When our gut bacteria are in balance, they play a huge role in helping us with our digestion. Probiotics don't just boost gut bacteria in general, they promote a healthy balance by reintroducing a healthy mix of bacteria needed for healthy digestion.

They make some enzymes to digest our food—including lactase to digest milk—they produce some vitamins like K & B12, and they keep our digestive system in tiptop shape by healing our gut walls.

They also play an important role in our immune system. They deliver the messages “this is okay” and “this is a problem.” Our small intestine is the main entry into our body, and we need a guard system to make sure only nutrients are absorbed. No bad bacteria or viruses, please!

You may still be asking, “How do I know if I need probiotics?” Here are five signs you just might.

1. Digestive irregularity

Ninety percent of the bacteria in our body live in our colon, so it makes sense that they may influence our colon’s activity. In fact, half of our poop is made up of live and dead bacteria.

A good quality, human-strain probiotic can be effective at regulating our bowel moments and may even reduce other annoying symptoms like gas and bloating<1>.

2. Your sugar cravings are out of control

Different types of bacteria enjoy different kinds of food. Some like long-chain fiber, like the ones found in fruits, veggies, and other plant-based food. Others love love love simple sugars like white sugar and refined flour.

What you crave can depend on what types of bacteria you’re hosting.

Your gut bacteria need to eat and they’re entirely dependent on what you choose to munch on to get their nourishment. So they’ve developed some very creative ways to get what they want<2>.

This is mostly done for good and not evil. Your gut bacteria want to eat and keep you healthy, because you’re the only home they’ve got.

Through the vagus nerve that runs between the gut and the brain, our microbiome will ask for the food it needs to survive.

Some strains will ask for more of their food so they can starve out their competitors who might eat something different. Some will even hijack your taste buds so you develop a taste for their favorite foods<3>.

You may have been manipulated into eating that cookie.

Our diet has changed a lot in the last few generations. Low fiber/high sugar foods are now abundant in our diet, and some of these bacteria have developed a sweet tooth of their own<4>.

But all is not lost! Research has found that a dietary change can change our gut bacteria in as little as seven days!<5>

3. Your metabolism is a bit slow

Research from the Washington University School of Medicine looked at the gut bacteria of 154 people and found an interesting connection. They found that those who had the smallest variety of bacteria were more likely to be obese.

Bringing back diversity in your gut is a simple, two-step process: reseed your gut with a good quality probiotic and feed it with a variety of plant-based fiber.

4. You’ve taken an antibiotic, even if it was a long time ago

Antibiotics can be a lifesaving measure, but not without consequences. As they kill off whatever nasty invading bacteria are wreaking havoc in your body, they’re also killing off a large population of the good bacteria in your gut.

Research has found that there may be a connection between a change in one’s gut bacteria and age-related inflammation<6>, making repopulating your gut extra important.

5. You’ve got some skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, and itchy rashes

Your skin and gut may seem like distant body systems, but they’re actually highly linked.

Research has found that the quality of your digestive system can show up directly on your skin!<7> Digestive disturbances have been linked to skin issues, and it’s our gut microbiome that balances our “gut-skin axis”. Clear glowing skin is just one more side effect of a lovely microbiome.

Without question, our gut bacteria play a very important role in our health. Make your gut happy with a combo of a great human-strain probiotic supplement and a fiber-rich diet. Your whole body will thank you!

Lisa Kilgour is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN), founder of, and a faculty member at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.