Specific Strains For Specific Conditions
The other consideration when choosing a probiotic is that many probiotic supplements are formulated to target specific health conditions3. Based on scientific studies and clinical trials, it is possible to create quality supplements tailored to specific needs. Therefore, instead of adopting a ‘more the merrier’ approach and opting for a supplement containing a large number of strains, it can be much more important to find a product containing strains which have been researched for the condition you are trying to support. If you are interested in this subject, you can read more about strain-specificity and its importance, over in the Probiotics Learning Lab.
What Are The Most Common Types Of Probiotic Bacteria
Though there are many types of bacteria that can be considered probiotics, there are two specific types of bacteria that are common probiotics found in stores. These include:
Probiotics are also made up of good yeast. The most common type of yeast found in probiotics is:
- Saccharomyces boulardii.
How Many Probiotic Cfus Do I Need
Probiotic doses are measured in CFUs, or colony-forming units. This figure, generally between one and 50 billion, indicates the number of viable, live bacteria cells present within a given product. Again, more research is needed to understand ideal probiotic dosesthough a 2017 review of studies published in Beneficial Microbes suggested that a higher CFU isnt necessarily better. The research pointed to a study that suggested 10 billion CFU of Lactobacillus rhamnosus may be the peak effectiveness for this strain.
Checking a products label in full could give you more insight into how many CFUs youre taking, according to the NIH. Thats because current regulations require manufacturers to list only the total weightwhich can include both live and dead microorganisms. So to be sure youre getting live organisms, the NIH suggests you should look for products that list the number of CFU at the end of the products shelf life, not only whats present at the time of manufacture.
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What Has Science Shown About The Effectiveness Of Probiotics For Health Conditions
A great deal of research has been done on probiotics, but much remains to be learned about whether theyâre helpful and safe for various health conditions.
Probiotics have shown promise for a variety of health purposes, including prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea , prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis and in premature infants, treatment of infant colic, treatment of periodontal disease, and induction or maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis.
However, in most instances, we still donât know which probiotics are helpful and which are not. We also donât know how much of the probiotic people would have to take or who would be most likely to benefit. Even for the conditions that have been studied the most, researchers are still working toward finding the answers to these questions.
The following sections summarize the research on probiotics for some of the conditions for which theyâve been studied.
What Are The Benefits Of Probiotics
Scientists have a lot to say about the potential benefits of taking probiotics.Hundreds of papers have been published about the various health benefits associated with probiotics. And over the past few years the pace of publication has been increasing. Some probiotic strains have been shown in studies to have immune benefits and others have data to support digestive benefits .
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May Improve Ulcerative Colitis
In mild to moderate cases of ulcerative colitis, probiotics can be an effective tool in both inducing and maintaining remission, as well as preventing pouchitis, inflammation that often occurs in the lining of the pouch created during surgical treatment of ulcerative colitis, according to researchMüllner K, Miheller P, Herszényi L, Tulassay Z. Probiotics in the management of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Curr Pharm Des. 2014 20:4556-60. .
How Do I Choose A Probiotic
Now that you understand the importance of strains and how they affect different areas of your body, you may be asking how to choose the perfect probiotic for you? Well, in addition to strains, there are a few other signs of a good probiotic.
There are a lot of different probiotics out there, but here are a few signs of how to find the best on the market. In addition to finding a probiotic that matches your current health needs, you should look for the following:
1. Do the strains interact favorably?
It is crucial to find a probiotic that uses strains that interact favorably and do not work against each other. Otherwise, the effectiveness of the probiotic will greatly diminish.15 This is why, even if a probiotic supplement contains twenty different strains, it is important to have clinical studies showing a synergy between strains and the efficiency of the probiotic for a specific condition.
Bio-K+ uses only three probiotic strains : Lactobacillus acidophilus CL1285, Lactobacillus casei LBC80R, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus CLR2 support the digestive and immune system. For over twenty years, the interaction of these strains has been studied by Bio-K+ and other third-party organizations. We have found that these three strains interact best, and with the least competition, to address digestive health.
2. Are there enough Colony Forming Units ?
3. Will the probiotics reach your gut?
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When Does Your Body Need Probiotics
The human body contains more bacteria than cells, so maintaining healthy bacterial balance is important for overall health. Although probiotics can regularly support your overall health, there are certain occasions when they can be beneficial.
For example, when you are taking antibiotics, your doctor might also suggest you take probiotics. Regular probiotic supplementation can also help promote digestive health to help alleviate common gas, bloating, and indigestion, particularly after eating.
Safe To Consume Confidently
- People in good health typically may use the recommended CFU level without concern.3
- Healthcare professionals should be consulted for women who are pregnant, infants, individuals with a compromised immune system, or people with short bowel syndrome.3
- The probiotic should be approved for human consumption by a recognized regulatory or food safety authority:
- US Food and Drug Administration GRAS notified to the FDA in the US 6
- QPS granted by EFSA in Europe.7
LGG® is a registered trademark of Chr. Hansen A/S.
The article is provided for informational purposes regarding probiotics and is not meant to suggest that any substance referenced in the article is intended to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent any disease.
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Can Probiotics Be Harmful
- Probiotics have an extensive history of apparently safe use, particularly in healthy people. However, few studies have looked at the safety of probiotics in detail, so thereâs a lack of solid information on the frequency and severity of side effects.
- The risk of harmful effects from probiotics is greater in people with severe illnesses or compromised immune systems. When probiotics are being considered for high-risk individuals, such as premature infants or seriously ill hospital patients, the potential risks of probiotics should be carefully weighed against their benefits.
- Possible harmful effects of probiotics include infections, production of harmful substances by the probiotic microorganisms, and transfer of antibiotic resistance genes from probiotic microorganisms to other microorganisms in the digestive tract.
- Some probiotic products have been reported to contain microorganisms other than those listed on the label. In some instances, these contaminants may pose serious health risks.
Common Species Of Probiotics
Probiotic species are genetic subtypes of genera. Each probiotic species has a different effect in the body. You will see the probiotic species names on food or supplement labels, combined with the genus name.
For example, the Bifidobacteria or Lactobacillus genus are often abbreviated as B. or L. and combined with the individual species name, such as acidophilus. This gives you the probiotic L. acidophilus. This is how the name will appear on food or supplement labels.
Here are six common species of probiotics that youll find on food and supplement labels.
B. animalis: This species is an ingredient in Dannon yogurts Activia product. Its helpful in aiding digestion and fighting food-borne bacteria. Its also thought to boost your immune system.
B. breve: This species lives in your digestive tract and in the vagina. In both places, it fights off infection-causing bacteria, or yeast. It helps your body absorb nutrients by fermenting sugars. It also breaks down plant fiber to make it digestible.
B. lactis: This is derived from raw milk. Its an ingredient in Nestles probiotic infant formula, called Good Start Natural Cultures. It also serves as a starter for:
- cottage cheese
- other cheeses
B. longum: This species lives in your gastrointestinal tract. It helps break down carbohydrates and can also be an antioxidant.
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What Types Of Bacteria Are In Probiotics
Probiotics may contain a variety of microorganisms. The most common are bacteria that belong to groups called Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Other bacteria may also be used as probiotics, and so may yeasts such as Saccharomyces boulardii.
Different types of probiotics may have different effects. For example, if a specific kind of Lactobacillus helps prevent an illness, that doesnât necessarily mean that another kind of Lactobacillus or any of the Bifidobacterium probiotics would do the same thing.
All Probiotics Are Not Created Equal
- Clinical results are explicitly connected to a specific probiotic strain. For example, the clinically tested function associated with our Lactobacillus rhamnosus, LGG® does not extend to the use of a generic Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain as a probiotic.
- Multiple probiotic strains in one product does not necessarily provide a greater number of health benefits. There should be clinical support for health benefits for specific probiotic strain combinations.1
- The clinical results relating to a probiotic strain pertain to the specific target group tested.2
- The clinical results relate to a probiotic strain pertain to the health area investigated.2
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How Probiotics Support Gut Health
The balance of bad and good bacteria in your gut can be upset by medical conditions, physical stress, emotional stress, or the use of antibiotics â which are known to destroy bacteria.
Probiotics can tip the balance back to good bacteria. They can also boost your immunity, fight inflammation, and provide relief for painful digestion related to irritable bowel syndrome or infectious diarrhea.
Conditions Related To Allergy
- A review of 23 studies in which probiotics were tested for treating allergic rhinitis found some evidence that they may be helpful for improving symptoms and quality of life. However, because the studies tested different probiotics and measured different effects, no recommendations about the use of probiotics could be made. Few side effects of probiotics were reported in these studies.
- A review of 11 studies of probiotics for asthma in children had inconclusive results.
- Atopic dermatitis is an itchy chronic skin disorder thatâs associated with allergies but not caused by them. Itâs most common in infants and may start as early as age 2 to 6 months. Many people outgrow it by early adulthood. Atopic dermatitis is one of several types of eczema.
- A 2017 review of 13 studies of probiotics for the treatment of atopic dermatitis in infants and children did not find consistent evidence of a beneficial effect. A review of 9 studies in adults provided preliminary evidence that some strains of probiotics might be beneficial for symptoms of atopic dermatitis.
Prevention of Allergies
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Probiotics For Gut Health
Probiotics can also be useful to help support a persons gut health and relieve gut issues.
The guts lining can sometimes become damaged, which may lead to intestinal permeability, or leaky gut. This can allow molecules to get through into the bloodstream and cause inflammation or immune reactions.
Antibiotics can kill both bad and good bacteria. Sometimes, this can cause a person to experience symptoms of diarrhea when taking them. Taking probiotics at the same time, however, can help repopulate a persons gut with beneficial bacteria and ease any symptoms of diarrhea.
In particular, the probiotic yeast Saccharomyces boulardii has been effective in the prevention and treatment of diarrhea that occurs when taking antibiotics or following infection. The yeast may also be effective in treating irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease, but more research is needed to confirm this.
Research indicates that probiotics may reduce gut transit time that is, the time it takes for food to pass as a bowel movement by 12.4 hours and increase bowel movements by 1.3 per week.
The Bifidobacterium lactis strain seems most efficient in improving gut transit time, stool frequency and consistency, and flatulence. The researchers advise caution when interpreting these results, however, as there may be bias in some of the studies.
2016 review suggests that probiotic strains can help combat mood and neurotransmitter conditions.
How Long Should I Take Probiotics
Generally, there is no set amount of time you have to take probiotics. It depends on the desired benefit you are seeking. Most probiotics on the market today recommend dosing one or more times a day.We recommend people take them every day to ensure a continued presence in your digestive tract and maintain the health benefits they offer. If you take a break in your consumption of probiotics, you may notice that the health benefits taper off over the course of 1 â 4 weeks. This may be due to your bodyâs microbiome returning to its normal state after you stopped supplementing it with a probiotic.
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What To Look For In A Probiotic Supplement
- A clearly stated list of species
- A clearly stated number of colony-forming units in the billions
- A manufacture date and/or expiration date
- Labeled free of common allergens and other substances you may wish to avoid
- Good Manufacturing Practices certification
- Lab-verified for probiotic species and potency by third-party analysis
For more on how to use probiotics, see our Probiotics Starter Guide.
Choosing The Best Probiotic For You
When choosing a probiotic dietary supplement, we recommend looking for a product that:
Contains live and active cultures that are naturally found in the human body. The product must have this listed on the label.
Include mindfully selected strains that have been tested in laboratory and clinical trials Certain probiotics have different functions, so its helpful to look for formulations that address your health goals. For example, Omni-Biotic Stress Release is designed to support the gut-brain axis and the bodys stress response.
Is based on research, testing, and controlled clinical studies to show efficacy. Ideally, the product should also be free of common allergens, vegan, and include non-GMO ingredients.
Is manufactured in a way that ensures the probiotics arrive safely in your intestines where they can do their important work. For example, Omni-Biotic probiotics are made as a daily powder that you dissolve in water, which is much more effective than a probiotic pill or capsule.
A high-quality, multi-strain, and multi-species probiotic supplement can help you maintain a healthy balance of good gut bacteria, supporting gut health, optimal digestion, and overall wellbeing.
Are Multiple Strains Better When Choosing A Probiotic
No, the number of strains does not determine if one probiotic is better than another.Some probiotic brands offer products with multiple strains of bacteria with the rationale that this may replicate the normal environment of the gut. However, research has shown that the “more is better” concept is not necessarily true. Multiple strains do not make one probiotic better than another. The specific strain in the probiotic and the research supporting the health benefits of the strain is important to consider when choosing what probiotic is best for you.
Targeted Probiotics For The Vaginal Microbiome
Just like the gut, the vagina also has a microbiome made up of a variety of different micro-organisms, some of which are beneficial and some of which may disrupt the natural balance or cause infections. The homeostasis of the vaginal microbiome requires a prevalence of beneficial bacteria to compete against pathogenic bacteria that can lead to common vaginal infections.
When trying to support vaginal health, it is therefore necessary to use probiotic supplements containing strains of bacteria which are natural residents of the vagina, and which have been researched for the support of vaginal health.Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1® and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14® are two good examples. A study4 published in 2003 found that use of a probiotic containing these two strains increased levels of friendly lactobacilli in the vaginal microbiome, and decreased levels of potentially pathogenic yeast strains.
Probiotics can be an excellent way to re-balance the vaginal microbiome
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Helpful Considerations To Keep In Mind
Before taking probiotics, there are a few things that are helpful to keep in mind.
In general, probiotics are safe. However, they could be dangerous if you have a weakened immune system. Your doctor can help determine which probiotics will help you.
Sometimes it takes time to find a probiotic that is right for you. If you donât experience any benefits from using one product after a few weeks, try something different. Different probiotic products will carry different strains of bacteria, and theyâll interact with your body in different ways. Itâs about finding whatâs best for you.
Some probiotics can cause gas and bloating and changes to your bowel movements. Those can all be signs that itâs working, but if you have concerns, donât hesitate to contact your doctor.
Adding Probiotics To Your Diet
How do you decide whether to add probiotics to your diet? A first step is to talk with a doctor to make sure theyre right for you. Probiotics are generally considered safe to consume, unless you have a compromised immune system or youre seriously ill. Also, ask a doctor or pharmacist about dosage.
You may want to begin taking probiotics simply by adding some items with natural probiotics to your diet. You may want to keep a diary of what probiotics you introduce, and record over time whether you see any changes in your digestion or overall health. Some easily available food choices are:
If you want to take a probiotic dietary supplement, there are plenty of commercial products to choose from. Look for supplements that have:
- Live cultures: Check the expiration date on the label. To be effective, the probiotic should be live when you take it.
- Multiple bacteria species: A combination of probiotics is usually more effective than a single one.
- Large enough quantities of bacteria to form colonies: This is measured in colony-forming units called CFUs.
Its important to remember that probiotics are considered to be dietary supplements, which are not regulated by the . Also, probiotic manufacturers do not have to prove claims of effectiveness, nor does the FDA monitor these claims.
The is currently developing a method for discovering potentially harmful contaminants in probiotics.
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