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Probiotics: Work on your gut!

All guts are NOT created equal. Why can a friend or family member eat the occasional cheeseburger, fries and milkshake and just be fine, while others (like myself) have the urgency to use the restroom by the second tasty gulp or bite? You know the scene in Dumb and Dumber? Of course you do, it's a cult classic. No further explanation is needed.

This is where I go back to the question, what causes Crohn's disease? Again, we don't fully know the answer to that. I feel it's a very different set of circumstances for each individual. I do believe genetics play a small role, as I have a few distant relatives who also have Crohns. I was also a very sick child growing up. I had scarlet fever (who even gets that?!) and strep throat several (roughly 6) times per year. The way to thwart those infections are with antibiotics. I think my microbiome was overexposed to large quantities of antibiotics, contributing to my eventual diagnosis of Crohns. There has to be a healthy balance of bacteria, and I think my gut was thrown into a tail spin. I do feel antibiotics are necessary to fight off infection, but we have to be careful with them to not only treat, but prevent.

We've come a long way as far as treatment plans, and I'm always excited to try new things out. Especially since there is no known cure yet for Crohns. A lot of what we crohnies do is experimental. After I had the worst flare possible, I started researching different probiotics. I had been taking florajen products for years, but I don't think it was really doing much for me. About one year ago, I started taking a medical grade probiotic called, Visbiome. This, my friends, was a game changer for me. What works for one might not necessarily work for someone else, but if you're having digestive issues, I suggest trying Visbiome. "Visbiome® is a high potency probiotic medical food, containing 8 strains of live bacteria, which are blended precisely and with a specific biochemical and immunologic profile. Visbiome® is a specially formulated probiotic medical food intended for the dietary management of dysbiosis associated with IBS, ulcerative colitis, pouchitis, and hepatic encephalopathy. Visbiome is a non-drug therapy that addresses distinct nutritional requirements, to promote microbial balance in people with IBS, ulcerative colitis, pouchitis, and hepatic encephalopathy that cannot be addressed by modification of the diet alone." Click on the picture below for more information.

There are other ways to naturally incorporate probiotics into your diet. Yogurt is an excellent choice, if it doesn't make your stomach sour. You can always test your chef skills and make your own yogurt too. I recently bought the Euro Cuisine YM80 Yogurt Maker, and can't wait to try it out. Pickles, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi are other good sources of probiotics. Take your kimchi in small doses though:) My husband and I were out to dinner, and not being very experienced with it, I put a huge glob in my mouth. Needless to say, it has a pretty big kick to it, so look out! Braggs Raw Apple Cider Vinegar is a good option as well. I take a shot of this every morning when I'm not pregnant. Braggs is actually a prebiotic. The differences in probiotic vs. prebiotic can be seen in the chart below. I'm a visual person, so I find charts and graphs helpful.

A dear friend of mine makes her own kombucha, which can also do wonders for your gut. You just need to get yourself a scoby and find a recipe. There are several online. I've made it before and it's relatively easy. You might want to check Willy Street Co-op, or Whole Foods for their list of classes. I bet money on it they have a kombucha making class.

As you can see, a huge part of my managing my disease is making sure my microbiome is as healthy as possible. Again, I'm not saying it works for everyone, but often, we crohnies are desperate to help control this beast, so hopefully my experience will help someone out there to add something to their routine. I've avoided surgeries up to this point as well as switching to biologics, so I must be doing something right. Heal your gut!

Have any of you out there with, or without Crohn's disease had good success with probiotics? How do you incorporate them into your diet? Please share your stories. I want to hear from you.

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