Sharing stories, knowledge, and rants about living with metal allergies.

I Hate Nickel


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Entries in probiotics (1)



One of the side-effects I experienced from my nickel allergy is best described as a form of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).  It all happened something like this (in very simple terms):  wearing the braces caused me to ingest nickel ions.  Ingesting the nickel caused an internal allergic reaction.  The chronic allergic reaction caused my immune system to go all haywire.  My intestines decided to stop working properly.  The result was intense pain, malnutrition, and diarrhea.

The intestines are considered part of the body’s immune system, and part of the job is to keep pathogens out of the body.  In my case, I tend to think that since I was ingesting something bad for me, my body reacted by trying to “rid” itself of the bad stuff.  This may not be a medically sound theory, but that’s definitely what it felt like at the time!!

As my pain was all abdominal, and I was having so many digestive issues, I experimented with various diets before we discovered the true cause of my illness.  I tried gluten free, soy free, dairy free, vegetarian, organic, etc.  While I was misdiagnosed with endometriosis, I followed even stricter diets based on information about that illness.  Eventually what I found was that most processed foods caused immediate pain, but eating organic and vegan meals did not make the pain any worse.  I was never able to narrow it down to anything more specific than that.  I did not enjoy eating vegan, (I was a proud carnivore before!), but it was worth it to find some small relief. 

About a year into my illness, one of my doctors suggested I give probiotics a try, to maybe alleviate some of my symptoms.  I did not know anything about probiotics at the time, but, willing to try anything, I stopped at my local health food store and picked up a bottle.  The results were promising.  I took two pills a day, morning and night, and my digestive issues slowly decreased.  My pain also decreased.  My doc said most people see results in about two weeks and can then stop taking them.  I could not.  If I stopped taking the probiotics, my abdominal pain would return full force.  As long as I took the two pills a day, I could tolerate food again, and the results were, shall we say, solid (pun intended). 

Kudos to my doctor for that suggestion!  It made life bearable, and I was able to cut back on the pain meds a bit.

Probiotics are pretty amazing things.  Humans have thousands of bacteria that naturally live in our intestines.  Those bacteria help us digest our food and work closely with our immune system to get rid of bad stuff.  The bacteria mostly come from the outside world - when we are born, we get bacteria from our mothers, and then the rest is picked up naturally from our environment.  It’s a wonderful relationship actually, this bacteria and our bodies.  However, as we age or get sick, we can lose these useful bacteria.  The most common way is through the use of antibiotics.  The purpose of antibiotics is to kill bacteria, but while it’s killing the stuff that is making us sick, it can also kill the good stuff in our intestines too.  (As any woman who’s had the fun of a yeast infection can attest, antibiotics can also kill off the good bacteria in the vagina).  When good bacteria is lost, the body is open for other things to move in – like yeast infections or bad bacteria that can disrupt digestion.  This is where probiotics save the day.

Probiotics are simply pills full of millions of good bacteria.  Supposedly scientists have not yet been able to identify the thousands of strains of good bacteria found in the human gut, but probiotics usually consist of one to fifteen strains that are known to be useful.  Taking a probiotic flushes billions of good bacteria back into your body, where they take up residence in the places they’re supposed to be.  The good bacteria kill off the bad bacteria, set up shop, and create a healthy environment again.

There’s a lot of hype out there about probiotics, and a lot of bull.  J  However, that doesn’t mean that probiotics are a waste of money, if you know what to look for.  Probiotics should be refrigerated- refrigeration ensures that the bacteria will still be alive.  Each pill should contain at least 5 billion CFUs per pill -anything less than that may not be enough bacteria to do any good.  Different strains of bacteria do different things, so some trial and error may be necessary if you’re looking to treat a specific issue.  When purchasing probiotics, health food stores are a better source, as drug stores and chain stores tend to carry the brands that don’t actually contain live bacteria.

There are also natural sources of bacteria, but they’re harder to find in modern society.  Yogurt naturally contains bacteria – look for brands that say they have live active cultures.  Sauerkraut, kimchee, and other pickled, fermented foods naturally contain good bacteria, but unfortunately the stuff you buy at the grocery store has usually been pasteurized and no longer contains any bacteria. 

In my case, the stress to my immune system created an unhealthy environment in my intestines, and I lost a lot of good bacteria.  Taking the probiotics daily helped keep me healthier until we were able to find the true cause of my illness.  For me, the results were immediate and obvious – I was so sick and my body was so sensitive to any change, that there was improvement after only a day or two.  I took probiotics every single day until the braces were removed.  Once the braces were removed, my body was able to heal and regulate itself, and I haven’t had any issues since then.

The links below are two brands that absolutely worked for me.  (Again, I don’t get paid for this, just being helpful).

Nature’s Way Primadophilus

This one should be refrigerated, but can be left at room temperature for some time.  I found it useful to have when travelling or being away from the house overnight. 

Jarro-Dophilus EPS