Saturday, January 23, 2016

Going overboard.

I have been noticing over the last week or so that I'm starting to feel a little bloated and constipated again and have been waking up with a headache every few days or so. I started to wonder whether or not it was a result of the solid foods introduced in GAPS Stage 2, but I couldn't see how -- the solid food I've been having up until now has been chicken, beef and fish and in very limited quantities.

So, I cast my mind about looking at what else I've been doing and realized that I have upped my consumption of probiotics via yogourt, kefir and sauerkraut now that I am in Stage 2 (and just about to move on to Stage 3).  The sauerkraut I started 4 weeks ago is now ready and it is delicious!

A typical breakfast for me has been a soup of some sort, a cup of broth, about a full cup of yogourt and one of kefir.  I don't take yogourt or kefir to work with me, so lunch is typically a soup or stew and herbal tea.  Dinner is more soup or stew (sometimes with sauerkraut, sometimes not) and another cup each of yogourt and kefir.

Just out of curiousity, I tried Googling "probiotic overdose" and was quite amazed at what I found. It seems that while it's pretty difficult to technically "overdose" on probiotics, there is definitely the possibility of having too much of a good thing. I looked at many of the links and gleaned a lot of information from them including the facts that ingesting too many probiotics, especially if your digestive and immune systems are already compromised, can actually worsen some symptoms such as bloating, skin eruptions and mental fog. Plus, having too many probiotics in your system can also cause you to crave carbohydrates! It's no wonder I went crazy with the pizza and chocolate!

Out of all my reading, a couple of links that seemed to be the easiest to understand are this one and this one. In particular, I was struck by this quote from the second link:

"If you think you’re very dysbiotic – you have a very disordered gut, or serious health problems – you’re going to want to start slowly with this stuff.  Taking tons of probiotics or gobbling up tons of fermented foods is probably going to make you feel bad, bad, bad.  The changing gut ecology brought on by an “overdose” of probiotics is going to send your system topsy-turvy and can lead to many issues, including diarrhea or constipation, fatigue and/or brain fog, body aches and flu like symptoms, skin “stuff” including rashes, and possibly a worsening of the symptoms you already have.  So start slow.  If using fermented foods, start with a teaspoon once a day and build up from there.  If using probiotics, go with one of the lower potency probiotics to start with, possibly as low as 1-2 billion/dose, and gradually increase from there.  (And, as always, it’s best if you can work with a naturopath or a functional medicine practitioner.)"

So, although I have been generally feeling better having been on the GAPS diet thus far, I'm a little concerned that my brain fog hasn't cleared as much as I had hoped. Ditto for my skin. Perhaps I am taking in too many probiotics. In their book, "The Heal Your Gut Cookbook: Nutrient-Dense Recipes for Intestinal Health Using the GAPS Diet", Hilary Boynton and Mary Brackett state that you should start with a teaspoon a day of probiotic and/or fermented food and gradually work your way up. Which I initially did, but increased more quickly than I should have, I guess.

Actually, the container of kefir currently in my refrigerator has this on the back:

"A small portion is sufficient.
Only one tablespoon (15ml) per day is necessary to obtain 5 billion of good probiotic bacteria."

Since I have been taking in a lot more than that, plus the yogourt and now sauerkraut, maybe I have been getting too much of a good thing. I am going to try cutting back and limit myself to a daily teaspoon each of yogourt and kefir and ease back on the sauerkraut, too, perhaps having it only one or two times a week. I'll see what happens. Overall, I'm feeling pretty good, but I think I can do better and perhaps this will help.

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