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Have you had Lyme or another tick-borne illness (TBI)? Or have you ever spoken with someone who suffered from Lyme? If so, you likely also heard about their gut issues like bloating, cramps, diarrhea, or constipation. These are part of many Lyme/ TBI symptoms, or they might appear once the use of antibiotics during the Lyme treatment sets in. Gut issues are deeply uncomfortable and contribute to additional suffering during the often long and windy road to recovery.

My own personal journey with Lyme disease several years ago was similar. What first looked like a simple imbalance in the gut soon impacted my immune system, concentration, mood, and sleep. Thankfully, I found an incredible team of practitioners who helped me rebuild my vitality. Restoring gut health was a foundational element in this journey.

I quickly became fascinated with the gut microbiome, and the important role it plays for many critical functions in the body. It is a gatekeeper that determines what is absorbed into the body and what is excreted. It is also home to about seventy to eighty percent of the body’s immune cells (yes, you read that right!), and acts as a first line of defense for pathogens trying to enter our body via the digestive tract.

Even more fascinating, these good gut bacteria assist in neurotransmitter and hormone production. Over 90% of the body’s happiness hormone serotonin is produced in the gut, as is a large portion of other neurotransmitters such as dopamine and tryptophan.

Long story short: A healthy gut is a foundation for holistic health.

This is how I discovered Omni-Biotic, a line of highly effective, clinically researched probiotics, and a leading brand in Europe. I was intrigued by their approach to probiotics and felt an immediate positive effect when taking Omni-Biotic. Little did I know that a few years later, I would join the Omni-Biotic team to launch the brand in the United States!

Writing this article feels like a full-circle moment as my past and my present collide. It is an honor to share knowledge about the amazing world of the gut microbiome with this community of the Global Lyme Alliance, an organization that played an important role in my Lyme journey.

In this blog post, I team up with Omni-Biotic’s clinical consultant and Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Michelle Maddux, and Jerry Simons, physician assistant and expert in tick-borne illness at the Morrison Center in New York City to share tips on how to support gut health during and after Lyme treatment.

Top tips for gut health at a glance:

  • Stool test to understand gut microbiome health and composition

  • High-quality probiotics like Omni-Biotic to restore gut flora

  • Elimination diet to remove inflammatory foods Gut-health supporting supplements to support digestion and elimination

  • Fiber to feed the good bacteria and support bowel movements

Tick-borne Illness and GI issues

Tick-borne illnesses are often treated with antibiotics. These antibiotics are necessary to fight the tickborne pathogens. However, antibiotics do not discriminate between “bad” bacteria and “good” bacteria. Even a short course of antibiotics or herbal antimicrobials can significantly diminish the variety and quantity of beneficial bacteria in the gut. It is no surprise then that diarrhea and GI discomfort are among the most common side effects of antibiotic use. Unfortunately, the longer the antibiotic is used and the stronger the antibiotic is itself, the more detrimental are the effects on the gut.

Some Lyme patients also experience gastrointestinal symptoms as part of the disease profile. One review of 22 patients with “a history of chronic gastrointestinal symptoms coupled with multiple organ system complaints” showed an underlying clinical diagnosis of Lyme disease. Research is still in its very early stages to determine whether the Lyme or co-infection pathogens themselves can induce GI issues, or whether those are secondary effects triggered by an overstimulated immune system and systemic inflammation.

For this article, we interviewed Physician Assistant Jerry Simons who specializes in integrative medicine at the Morrison Center in New York City. Simons is an expert in tick-borne illness with more than 20 years of experience in integrative medicine and vector borne disease as well as hospital based surgical care of patients with GI illnesses. He estimates that approximately half of his Lyme patients also experience gut issues at some point in their journey. “Oftentimes, my patients experience diarrhea alternating with constipation”, says Simons. Furthermore, he emphasizes that gut issues often also affect other systems in the body, most importantly the immune system and the gut-brain axis. “It spills over [to other systems in the body]. The longer the gut issues remain unaddressed, the deeper the problem becomes.”

Tips for restoring and supporting the gut microbiome

With the experience from Dr. Maddux and Jerry Simons, as well as my personal journey with Lyme, here are a few tips for restoring and supporting the gut microbiome.

Stool test

A comprehensive stool test is like a window into your inner workings. It can give immense insight into the health of your gut microbiome. “An effective stool test identifies whether pathogenic or opportunistic bacteria and pathogens are present, whether you have sufficient “good” bacteria, and shows markers to indicate overall intestinal health”, explains Dr. Maddux, who worked in stool test diagnostics for many years. These insights can help tailor a targeted gut repair protocol for you to help eliminate pathogens that may contribute to your intestinal symptoms while repairing the gut barrier and restoring healthy bacterial diversity.

Targeted probiotics

Probiotics are live, beneficial bacteria that play an essential role in gut health, especially in times when the natural balance of diverse gut microbiome species and strains is harmed or the body is under a lot of stress (e.g., due to disease).

There are many different probiotic supplements on the market to choose from. They tout various levels of Colony Forming Units (CFUs), health benefits, strains, and come at different price points.

Not all probiotics are created equal. And a probiotic is not a “one size fits all.” Different probiotic strains perform different functions in the body. Think of them as a successful team in sports. A high-quality probiotic requires a deep understanding for how each player, each species/ strain functions, a mindful team composition, i.e., a multi- strain/ species formulation, and practice runs to see that the team is winning, i.e., clinical research using the final formulation to demonstrate efficacy and that the probiotic bacteria reach the intestines alive and active to confer their benefits.

Omni-Biotic probiotics have been a leader in Europe for many years and have set the new gold standard for a highly effective probiotic in the U.S. Each probiotic strain used in Omni-Biotic is tested for its strengths. Multiple strains are combined to work synergistically with specific health goals in mind. Each final formulation is tested in clinical studies for achieving the desired outcomes.

Another important factor with probiotics is to ensure that the probiotic bacteria reach the intestines alive and active. Omni-Biotic’s unique powder delivery mechanism ensures a high probiotic survival rate. With Omni-Biotic probiotics, 83% of the probiotic bacteria arrive alive and active in the gut, compared to an average of 7% in 10 leading U.S. capsule brands*! This unique delivery system ensures optimal absorption, potency, and efficacy.

For example, Omni-Biotic AB 10 was specifically formulated to restore the gut flora, especially during and after antibiotic intake. Clinical studies with Omni-Biotic AB 10 show a significant reduction in antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

For Jerry Simons, one of the most critical aspects in supporting a healthy gut microbiome is to repair the mucous lining. The mucous lining protects the thin layer of cells that makes up the intestinal barrier. If the mucous lining is compromised, it becomes much easier for unwanted substances to enter the bloodstream. The mucous lining is also home to many of the beneficial bacteria in our gut. “Incorporating a targeted probiotic like Omni-Biotic AB 10 is extremely effective in replenishing a balanced gut flora and restoring a strong mucous layer”, he explained. “I use Omni-Biotic AB10 frequently with my tick-borne illness patients and see great results in rebalancing the gut microbiome.”

In partnership with the Global Lyme Alliance, Omni-Biotic is providing this community with a special discount. If you would like to try Omni-Biotic probiotics, you are welcome to use code Lyme15 for 15% off when ordering on www.omnibioticlife.com.

Elimination diet

For Dr. Maddux, another powerful tool for gut health is an elimination diet. This type of diet follows a strict protocol where potentially inflammatory foods are removed from the diet for a specific time frame, and then slowly reintroduced one at a time. This allows the patient and practitioner to track any symptoms related to specific foods or food groups, so that these can be avoided. According to Dr. Maddux, “since food intolerances are a major contributor to digestive issues, eliminating food items that the body reacts to can make a drastic difference in your digestive health as well as overall wellbeing.”

Gut health supporting supplements

There are other supplements beyond probiotics that can help restore a healthy gut. L-Glutamine, for example, helps strengthen the gut barrier. Aloe vera, another herb that can help repair the mucous layer in the gut, is also known for its laxative properties and a favorite for those who suffer from occasional constipation. In cases of diarrhea, activated charcoal might be a good option. To find the best set of gut health supporting supplements for yourself, it’s best to work with a healthcare practitioner who can assess your health, perform a stool test and then design your personal gut health restoration plan.

Incorporating sufficient fiber

Another important aspect for gut health is fiber, particularly insoluble fiber. We get this from vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Insoluble fiber serves as the food source for our good gut bacteria and acts as a sponge to absorb things our body is trying to get rid of. Since insoluble fiber cannot be digested, it forms the bulk of our bowel movements and helps keep bowel movements regular. “We’re in a national fiber deficiency. People need to eat 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day”, says Simons. Yet, a recent survey estimated that only five percent of Americans meet this recommended amount.

Special Offer:

In partnership with the Global Lyme Alliance, Omni-Biotic is providing this community with a special discount. If you would like to try Omni-Biotic probiotics, you are welcome to use code Lyme15 for 15% off when ordering on www.omnibioticlife.com.

 * Internal study data.

The above material is provided for information purposes only. The material (a) is not nor should be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor (b) does it necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of Global Lyme Alliance, Inc. or any of its directors, officers, advisors or volunteers. Advice on the testing, treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient’s medical history. 
GLA Contributor

Hannah Kleinfeld

GLA Contributor

*Opinions expressed by contributors are their own. Hannah Kleinfeld is the Chief Operating Officer of Allergosan USA, the company behind Omni-Biotic probiotics. Omni-Biotic is a line of highly effective, clinically tested probiotics for specific health needs including stress management, gut restoration, immune support and more. Omni-Biotic was founded over 25 years ago in Austria by Institut Allergosan, global leader in microbiome science and gut health products. Omni-Biotic is a leading brand in Europe, #1 in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and #4 worldwide based on IQVIA data. Hannah received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Psychology from Yale University, as well as a Master of Business Administration and Management from Harvard. Prior to joining Allergosan USA, Hannah worked as a Harvard Leadership Fellow at Boston Medical Center and served at McKinsey & Company with a focus in the healthcare industry. Hannah discovered her passion for health and wellbeing through her own journey with Lyme disease in her mid-twenties. Throughout this journey, she realized the importance of the gut microbiome for many critical functions in the body. Today, she is dedicated to educating about the importance of gut health as a foundation for wellbeing and is passionate about helping others experience healthy and vibrant lives.

Email: info@omnibioticlife.com