As I'm sure you've heard, gut health is extremely important for your overall health. And taking pre and probiotics is a really awesome way to make sure your gut has all the proper bacteria it needs for optimal health, especially when you're postpartum. There's a product you've probably seen going around your Facebook feed called Plexus Slim, which claims it uses probiotics (among other things) to not only help with your overall health, but most "importantly" to help you lose weight. But can you drink Plexus while breastfeeding? It’s understandable you want to feel good and be as healthy as possible postpartum, but is it safe for you and your baby?
Plexus Slim claims to help you get a "healthy gut" by incorporating prebiotics (which feed probiotics) and probiotics among other things like "green coffee bean extract," in a drink that helps you lose weight. According to the Plexus website, Plexus Slim "promotes the growth of good gut microflora, and supports healthy glucose metabolism" which will help you to lose weight.
Kristen Burris, L.Ac, a women’s health acupuncturist and infertility specialist, isn't so sure about the safety of drinking a diet drink while breastfeeding. "Anything you consume, your baby consumes, so it is not advisable to ingest any weight-loss aid while breastfeeding," she tells Romper in an email interview.
According to the UK's National Institutes of Health (NIH), there have been few trials, all of which had "poor methodological quality" that prove green coffee bean extract helps with weight loss. Plus, the adverse effects included urinary tract infections and headaches. Bummer.
"Probiotics alone, however, are beneficial to mom and are recommended especially if you had a C-section or were given antibiotics prior or during your labor. The strain bifidobacterium has been proven to aid weight loss, and would be a good choice for lactating mothers," Burris recommends.
It's the other ingredients that aren't so great. "The prebiotic xylooligosaccharide — found in Plexus Slim — can potentially increase the growth of bifidobacterium that can aid weight loss. However, chromium polynicotinate — also found in Plexus Slim — can drop blood sugar dangerously if you are already on diabetic medication, and it may negatively interact with medications used for hypothyroidism," she adds.
"In addition, many women take blood thinners like low-dose aspirin or pain relievers like naproxen, and ibuprofen during their postpartum time. These medications increase the amount of chromium in your body, and can further increase these risks. Yet another reason not to take your friends' advice on supplements," Burris notes. Plus, some women can burn up to 500 calories a day just from breastfeeding alone, she says.
"The weight-loss industry is a 60 billion dollar industry that feeds off insecurities, and misaligned expectations of what women should look like — they need you to buy into their lies that you're not OK just the way you are now," Burris says. "There are many causes of weight gain during and after pregnancy that range from normal weight gain in a new phase of your life, to depression, hormonal changes, and even anxiety, lack of sleep, or changes in your thyroid function. Instead of being manipulated by all the superficial pressure to be perfect and obsessing about getting your body back, it’s healthier to nurture your body now with healthy veggies, homemade smoothies, and soups."
Burris suggests giving yourself a year to settle back into your "new, beautiful, miracle body." Every day, "thank your body for the miracle of giving life and growing your family," she adds. "Honor the new you and don’t get sucked into unhealthy, unrealistic ideals created to sell you something through self-hatred, disgust, and misguided, air-brushed images."
And Burris is right. You just did a miraculous thing. Celebrate yourself and nurture your amazing body. Instead of drinking a supplement that may not be super great for your baby anyway, try nourishing yourself with wholesome foods, and just enjoy the time spent with your new miracle you're holding in your arms.