If you are getting stomach aches or bloating after a protein shake, your first thought should be about probiotics. Amazingly, your gut is actually a fully functioning ecosystem of sorts, full of literally billions of beneficial bacteria. These bacteria, called probiotics, are one of the most important aspects of your health that nobody seems to know about! You need a healthy probiotic colony in your stomach to properly digest protein powder, or any food really. Your protein shake doesn’t just automatically get absorbed into your body, you need these probiotic bacteria to essentially “pre-digest” it so that your body can absorb all of the protein and get 100% of the nutrients out of it! Protein powders with probiotics included are one of the best ways to stay on top of your probiotic intake. For a detailed look at probiotics, nutrient absorption, and even mental health, please keep reading after the list.
|Image||Details||Soy, Dairy, and Gluten-free||Probiotic Strain||Digestive Enzymes||Sweetener|
|Pure Food: Protein Powder with Probiotics | Organic, All Natural, Vegan||Yes||Bacillus coagulans||Yes||Raw Cacao (Chocolate)|
|Axe Nutrition's Vanilla Grass-Fed Whey Protein - Non-GMO, No Growth Hormones, Antibiotics, Pesticides, or Fillers||Contains dairy||Bacillus clausii, Bacillus subtilis||Yes||Stevia|
|Garden of Life Greens and Protein Powder - Organic Raw Protein and Greens with Probiotics, Vegan||Yes||Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus bulgaricus||Yes||Stevia|
|Paleo Protein Powder Coconut Cream (30 Servings Total) (Keto/Low Carb)||Yes||Bacillus coagulans||No||Monk Fruit|
|Pure Food - Organic Plant Based Protein Powder with Probiotics | All Natural, Clean, Vegan||Yes||Bacillus coagulans||Yes||Raw Vanilla Bean|
The Solution: More probiotics!
Excess sugar consumption, waxed fruit, plastic-coated dust – our whole modern environment destroys our digestive system by killing the probiotics that should live in our stomachs, which gives us a hard time when we try to digest a protein drink. If you can’t find a protein powder with probiotics, then you ought to eat fermented foods alongside your protein shake to get those probiotics in. Now, not all fermented foods are created equal when it comes to probiotics. Sauerkraut is the absolute best for probiotics, there are billions of different strains of probiotics that grow on sauerkraut cabbages. Korean Kimchi is a close second. Unfortunately, the sauerkraut you get at the grocery store probably is completely sterile due to pasteurization, with no probiotics in it at all – useless for our purposes! Ideally you would make sauerkraut yourself and avoid this problem (there’s many simple recipes available) but if you just don’t have the time, you should look for a sauerkraut brand that isn’t pasteurized. Your local farmer’s market would be a good place to start looking.
Probiotics and Protein Powder, a Match Made in Heaven
If you just can’t stomach the idea of eating sauerkraut with your post-workout protein, you can get protein powders with probiotics included in them. Most people find whey protein in particular is much easier to digest with probiotic bacteria in the mix. For a paleo option, there’s beef or egg derived protein powder with probiotics as well.
Protein’s Not for Dull Meatheads Anymore!
You can also get plant-based protein powder with probiotics and digestive enzymes included as well. Interestingly, the most common reaction after trying a probiotic plant protein blend is a glowing, calm feeling of health. Probably this is because of the effect probiotics have on the neurotransmitters (as described below) combining synergistically with the high nutritional content of the greens included in these protein blends. Because of the probiotics, all of the vitamins are finally able to be digested by your body – you can really feel it!
Kefir, the Ancient Anti-Depressant
Another great probiotic source is kefir, named after the Turkic word for “euphoric” because of the great feeling people get after drinking it. Kefir is a traditional, yogurt-like drink made by fermenting milk with a mysterious strain of bacteria of unknown origin called “kefir grains.” You need the kefir grains to make kefir, but once you have them you can make it over and over again. Kefir is packed with probiotics, but it also is an easy way for lactose-intolerant people to digest milk, since the kefir grains break down 99% of lactose. Kefir is also a great source of Vitamin K2, a rare nutrient associated with optimal health by Dr. Weston Price, who raved about the great power of probiotic foods like kefir for this reason. Try mixing your protein powder in kefir for an absolutely delicious nutritional double-whammy!
Factory Farming and Probiotics
One of the major problems with today’s food is that it doesn’t contain enough probiotics. The modern agriculture process wreaks havoc on the beneficial bacteria that should be all over the veggies, fruits, and dairy that you consume. The food our ancestors consumed didn’t have this problem, and our ancestors didn’t suffer from most of the diseases we suffer from today! Hmm, maybe this isn’t a coincidence!
The Bitter Enemy of Your Probiotic Colony: GMO’s
GMO (genetically modified organism) produce and fruits are especially bad for probiotics. Not only do GMO’s provide an alien environment for the bacteria that should naturally grow, GMO’s that you eat actually kill the probiotic bacteria that are already in your stomach. These “frankenfoods” are designed to be harmful to bacteria of all kinds so that more produce can be grown at industrial farms, but unfortunately for our gut health, this anti-bacterial action continues when we eat GMO foods. Every time you eat a genetically modified veggie your probiotic count goes down even farther, making it very difficult for you to digest foods like protein. If you are exposed to GMO’s (and most of us are) then it is essential that you replace your probiotic gut bacteria with pills, fermented food, or a protein powder with probiotics included.
Probiotics for Mental Health
Probiotics aren’t just great for your digestion however; it turns out that the probiotics in your stomach actually manufacture the neurotransmitters that you need for your brain to function well. Incredibly, 95% of the neurotransmitter serotonin (the feel-good, anti-anxiety regulator) is manufactured in your gut by these healthy bacteria, especially the probiotic strains Candida, Streptococcus, Escherichia, and Enterococcus which are all present in unpasteurized sauerkraut. When you don’t have these probiotics in your stomach, serotonin can’t be produced and you won’t be happy. If protein makes your muscles happy by supplying the raw materials for muscle, then probiotics make your whole self happy by giving you literally the “ingredients” for happiness!
According to one study, “Probiotic bacteria may possibly have the potential as a therapeutic strategy in the prevention and/or treatment of certain neurological and neurophysiological conditions.”
Amazingly enough, a lack of probiotics [referred to here as “gut flora”] may even be one of the underlying causes of autism: “Around 70% of people with autism also have GI problems, and autism is often diagnosed at the time that the gut flora becomes established indicating there may be a connection between autism and gut flora.” (Source)
We hope you’re convinced to give probiotics a try after reading this article; better digestion, happier moods, and generally good health could be just around the corner. We certainly hope so!