Easy probiotic supplementation

Food, food, FOOD! I’ll be the first to admit that the Autoimmune Protocol can cause a slight state of neurosis. Us ‘AIPers’ spend so much time thinking about, planning and preparing food because there’s no cheat way around it. Annoyingly some of the best foods require the most preparation; fermented types being one of them. With a busy lifestyle and so much cooking to do anyway, preparing probiotics is not something I want to devote more of my time to. I was determined to find an easier way of introducing some friendly gut bacteria while also taking care around my coconut allergy and after lots of reading I finally did! It’s coconut free, AIP compliant, and FOS free (I’ll explain).

Research into probiotic supplementation and fecal transplantation to treat a range of disorders from Autism to Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) has been gathering momentum over the past few years. The results and the evidence are astounding. They restore gut microflora, modulate the immune system and help to heal a leaky gut. [Read my post for an understanding of a leaky gut in relation to autoimmune diseases]. Probiotic consumption is at the core of a number of diets and related books including Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride GAPS diet, Dr David Perlmutter’s book ‘Brain Maker’, Elaine Gottschall’s Specific Carbohydrate Diet and of course Dr Sarah Ballantyne’s Autoimmune Protocol. All refer to numerous natural sources of probiotic but I’ve found that they’re not always so easy to purchase on a regular basis or compliant across all diets. While an excellent source is homemade probiotic yoghurt (SCD) or milk kefir (GAPS), these diary products are not allowed on the Autoimmune Protocol. As an alternative, many AIP followers opt for coconut kefir or coconut yoghurt but unfortunately they’re a big NO NO for me given my allergy and I’m aware this is a very common.

Before I began the AIP I had been following the GAPS diet which allowed me to eat kefir and homemade SCD yoghurt (both are delicious and I miss them very much!) but on the AIP this yummy breakfast favourite has been obliterated from the list of options. Another excellent source of probiotic is raw unpasteurised sauerkraut, fermented pickles and other fermented vegetables. I went through a phase of eating sauerkraut or pickles every morning with ham or sausage and avocado but this soon became really expensive! To ensure you’re buying the real deal, sauerkraut must be raw, unpasteurised and refrigerated. It costs about £4 for a small jar and has to be used within about 3 days. NOT the huge £1 jar of German/Polish stuff you can find anywhere.

Kombucha is a delicious drink but it isn’t exactly cheap if you’re aiming for daily consumption. Bottles cost about £2.50 – £3.00 and provide only enough for one serving (maybe two if you save half) and there’s a lot of discussion in the paleo community about how much sugar it really contains. Sugar is added to the drink at the beginning of production, providing food to the probiotic in order to produce more friendly bacteria. But there are questions as to how much sugar actually remains and with daily consumption we could begin to question whether it’s really better than a soda/fizzy drink. But don’t let that put you off! Eileen of Phoenix Helix has written a fascinating post on the myths and truths of Kombucha here: http://www.phoenixhelix.com/2013/03/25/kombucha-myths-vs-truths/

Both sauerkraut and kombucha might not sound so expensive on their own but when you think about how much more money you have to spend on organic meat and vegetables – it soon adds up! Fermenting your own water kefir (which also requires sugar) or vegetables is another great option but who has time for that?!

So what other probiotics are there in an easy to consume form? Tablet supplementation, yes, but it’s not quite as straightforward as that! First you must sift through all of the many probiotic pills out there to find one that is AIP compliant. One that doesn’t contain chemical or food additives – watch out for potato starch, wheat, rice, corn, starch, dairy, soya, yeast and sugar. OK, so if you go to a decent health foods store and not the local pharmacy you’ll find a few that are allowable, but, they contain something else….

Fructooligosaccharides aka FOS.

FOS is often added to probiotics because they’re thought to be a pre-biotic – essentially a food to probiotic bacteria to increase their numbers. Sounds great, right? While this may be true, there is also reason to believe that they feed the bad bacteria too. Mmmm, not sure I want to take that risk. In addition, FOS is a sugar polymer that our bodies cannot digest – we just don’t have the enzymes to break it down. Undigested, FOS makes it’s way to our large intestine where the bacteria that does have these enzymes can break it down and use it as food, multiple themselves in number and really not help your gut dysbiosis problem – the whole reason you’re taking probiotics in the first place! Elaine Gottschal talks about FOs in more detail here: http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/knowledge_base/detail/fos-fructooligosaccharides/

Solgar, Multi-billion Dophilus


YAY! I found a supplement that is diet compliant and FOS free! Before I continue I’d just like to point out that I am not an advocate for Solgar, I’m just telling you which supplement I use as I receive so many questions on this subject. It took me a while and a lot of comparing to find these. Even the ‘nutritionist’ at Whole Foods had no idea what FOS was.

Solgar Multi-billion Dophilus is free of FOS, sugar, gluten, wheat, dairy, soya, yeast, preservatives, sweeteners, artificial flavours and colours. In the UK they RRP at about £24.00 for 60 capsules. That’s not cheap BUT I buy mine via Amazon traders for around £15.00. Each capsule contains 5 billion live bacteria – I was taking two per day (one in the morning and one in the evening) to provide 10 billion and I’ve recently reduced this to one capsule as maintenance. Important note: do not take a high dosage of probiotics when you first start out as you may experience what is known as the Herxheimer reaction – a bad bacteria “die off”. As the bad bacteria becomes starved and outnumbered by the good bacteria they die and release their endotoxins into the body faster than the body can cope with them – this can cause many side effects such as nausea, headache, fatigue, dizziness, sweating, fever, night sweats, chills, bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea, increased joint or muscle pain, elevated heart rate, rashes and skin breakouts. Don’t freak out if this happens, just reduce the probiotic dosage for a short while and build your way up to what your body can tolerate.

So there you have it – my view on probiotics and the AIP. I am by no means suggesting that you replace your intake of fermented foods with tablet supplementation. I still drink kombucha and eat sauerkraut where I can but this just ensures that I get daily consumption without a struggle. I hope you find this post helpful and do let me know if you have any questions although I must point out that I am not a healthcare professional!

p.s. When looking for probiotics, seek out those that are multi-strained. The more variety of cultures, the better!

*If you find this blog helpful and you like to see more content from me, please consider a donation. The funds will help pay my tuition fees at the College of Naturopathic Medicine so that I can become a Nutritional Therapist and thus be better able to help you.*



15 thoughts on “Easy probiotic supplementation

  1. I am so happy and now hopeful I came across your site. I am looking into vegan paleo. I read it but not sure it addresses autoimmune disease and I also struggle with severe digestive issues and alopecia. The thought of all the meat and organs are gross. Any thoughts?


    • Hi Trina! Thanks for your message 🙂
      I’m afraid I have to say that it is pretty much impossible to follow a vegan paleo diet. You’re left with nothing but fruit and vegetables? With the absence of meat, legumes and grains there will be hardly any protein in your diet. You’re guaranteed to find it extremely difficult to follow. If you really want to address your autoimmune disease I highly recommend that your try the Autoimmune Protocol (Paleo) diet – this is the only diet that has seen success. I wouldn’t worry about eating organs if that’s the main thing that grosses you out. I only ate liver at the beginning of the diet and now I don’t eat any at all. You can follow paleo without offal. If you need convincing about paleo vs vegan – check out Mickey Trescott of http://www.autoimmune-paleo.com. She used to be vegan and suffered chronically with Celiac disease and Hashimotos Thyroiditis until she switched to a paleo (AIP) diet.
      I hope this helps x


  2. Hi Stella. May I ask which brand of Grapefruit Seed Extract you took, and did you take it in liquid form or capsules? many thanks in advance. 🙂


    • Hi Adie! I took ‘Higher Nature’ brand capsules but I think liquid form may be better as you get less of the crappy bulking agents etc. and I believe I’ve heard it absorbs better and generally is of greater quality! Totally up to you!


      • Fantastic, thanks Stella! I’ll go for the liquid form then. Take a look at Wild Nutrition.com for food grown supplements. No caking agents etc. Great site & UK based. Your blog is wonderful. Thank you so much!!


      • Oh yes I’ve come across this brand before and was thinking of trying their Vitamin D at some point! Looks like they have some great products – thanks for sharing. I’m so glad you like the blog 🙂 Best of luck to you with your health journey x


    • They should be ok. In this post I talked about not buying a probiotic that includes FOS because although this is thought to help the good bacteria, it can also feed the bad bacteria too – but there’s not enough evidence to confirm this. I think if you’re following the diet properly they should be great x


  3. Okay, thank you very much! Maybe I can write you a email, because your information are very useful for me and I have more queastions.
    Yours tips help me to heal. Thank you very much! :)))


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