Does The Form Of Probiotic Matter
You may be thinking what does it matter how you take a probiotic? As long as you take it, right? The truth is, not all probiotics are the same. Often it isnt just about the type of probiotic and what is included in it, and more about how fast the bacteria can get to your gut in order to be beneficial to you.
Powders have been known to be the least beneficial because of what happens in the stomach. With every probiotic you take you run the risk of stomach acid killing the bacteria before it even makes it to your gut. The more protected your probiotic is, such as specific coasting or a delayed-release capsule, the more likely the bacteria will reach the gut in order to work.
Does Type Of Strain Matter
Just like no two Homo sapiens are exactly alike, no two strains from the same bacterial species are exactly alike. Consequently, the probiotic capacities and mechanisms of individual strains are subject to variability. For example, while some strains may be especially resistant to acid and bile, others may boast impressive adhesion capabilities. And importantly, research finds that certain strains are effective for managing specific health conditions, and that specific strain combinations can provide synergistic benefits beyond the effects of each probiotic alone.21
Basically, your ability to benefit from a probiotic supplement will depend on the survivability and probiotic mechanisms of the strains it contains. This means that simply picking the probiotic with the highest CFU or the best price point isnt the best approach. Instead, look for a probiotic containing strains with evidence-based benefits for the outcome you are seeking.
Regardless of your purpose for taking probioticsdaily support, help with specific gastrointestinal symptoms, help with a specific health conditionspeaking with a health professional about strains that have proven efficacious in human clinical trials is highly recommended.21
The following table provides the names of evidence-based probiotic species and species combinationand importantly, the level of scientific evidence supporting their benefits for various bodily systems.
Identification Of The Bacterial Strains And Yeast
The genomic DNA sequences of the strains were queried with available gene sequences in the GenBank library database. Strains CP133 form rice straw silage and CP134 from Kimchi are 99% homologous to Lactobacillus paracasei and Lactobacillus plantarum , respectively. The 16S rRNA genomic DNA sequence of CP350 isolated from livestock slurry exhibited a maximum identity of 100% with Bacillus subtilis subsp subtilis . In addition, the internal transcribed spacer sequences of CP605 isolated from farm soil show 99% similarity with Saccharomyces cerevisiae . Furthermore, the phylogenic relationship between the bacterial strains was established based on maximum likelihood evolutionary distances of 16S rRNA sequences, as shown in Fig 1A. A similar evolutionary relationship for the yeast was determined based on its internal transcribed spacer gene sequence compared with type strains in GenBank .
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Box : Consensus Panel Recommendations For The Scope Of Probiotics
Retain the FAO/WHO definition for probiotics, with a minor grammatical correction as live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host inconsistences between the Expert Consultation and the FAO/WHO Guidelines were clarified
Include in the framework for definition of probiotics microbial species that have been shown in properly controlled studies to confer benefits to health
Any specific claim beyond contains probiotics must be further substantiated
Keep live cultures, traditionally associated with fermented foods and for which there is no evidence of a health benefit, outside the probiotic framework
Keep undefined, faecal microbiota transplants outside the probiotic framework
New commensals and consortia comprising defined strains from human samples, with adequate evidence of safety and efficacy, are ‘probiotics’
Abbreviation: FAO, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Health Benefits Of Probiotics
There is growing evidence that the benefits of probiotics start with gut and digestive health, and range far beyond that.
Some studies even suggest that taking a probiotic supplement supports weight loss goals. The strains that seem to be most effective at supporting weight loss are Lactobacillus gasseri, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium lactis combined.
Keep in mind, its not as simple as to take all these strains and call it a day. Its most effective to choose a probiotic supplement where strains with certain strengths have been combined with other strains that work well together and then have been tested for impact in clinical trials.
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Scientific Evidence For Probiotics
Theres plenty of scientific evidence proving the safety and efficacy of probiotics. Studies show taking probiotics can support digestive health, immunity, and weight loss, among many other benefits.
In this review by the National Institutes of Health, for example, researchers found probiotic strains like Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces boulardii were associated with effects like:
- Help maintain a healthy community of microorganisms
- Help your community of microorganisms return to healthy condition after being disturbed
- Produce substances that create desirable effects on your digestive tract
- Influence your bodys immunity and boost your immune system
- Support gut health for specific digestive conditions, including diarrhea, constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and bowel disease
- Help with colic in infants
- Help support your bodys defense against acne, allergies, and asthma
Although probiotics are found in your gut, they have effects throughout your body. Your gut holds 80% of your immune system, for example, and your immune system influences every corner of your body. When you support gut health with a probiotic supplement, you support your bodys defense in multiple ways.
Overall, the worlds best probiotic supplements contain science-backed strains proven to support digestive health in various ways.
Implications Of The Recommendations
The marketplace has many products carrying the label ‘probiotic’, but too often they do not meet minimum criteria, such as defined contents, appropriate viable count at end of shelf-life and suitable evidence for health benefit. The panel recommends that the term probiotic be used only on products that deliver live microorganisms with a suitable viable count of well-defined strains with a reasonable expectation of delivering benefits for the wellbeing of the host .
Table 1 Categories of live microorganisms for human use as defined by the expert panel
In addition, there is a need for clear communication to consumers and health-care providers on how to differentiate probiotic products. Unfortunately, this goal is difficult to achieve because of regulatory agency restrictions on what can be communicated on product labels. Restricting use of the term probiotic on foods, as has occurred in some countries in the European Union, is unwarranted when minimum criteria are met. A product-labelling approach that communicates the information known about the probiotic being sold would be more useful for consumers and health-care providers.
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Why Probiotics Matter So Much
After dissecting and inspecting the various key strains that may be in your probiotic supplements, it is easy to see why they, particularly those discussed above, are helpful in supporting your overall health.
Their long list of health benefits doesnt stop there. The inclusion of prebiotics on a probiotic supplement plays helpful roles in almost every system in the body to support and promote health.
1. Balancing the good and bad bacteria in your gut helps support proper digestion and nutrient absorption.
2. Nourishing good bacteria that may be overwhelmed by occasional oxidative stress.
3. Promoting proper food movement through your gut and breaking down food into nutrients your body can use for energy, cell repair, and growth.
4. Promoting mineral absorption from the foods you eat, particularly iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and other minerals that support bone health.
5. Helping to metabolize occasional everyday toxins for removal from your body.
6. Supporting immune cell activity to protect against environmental and seasonal threats and promoting the production of natural antibodies in the body for healthy immune responses.
Side Effects Of Probiotics
Side effects are not linked with significant side effects when used by healthy adults in normal dosages. According to a review by the National Institutes of Health, probiotics have been shown to be safe to use in many studies.
However, some may experience mild bloating, gas, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, or constipation during the first few days of using probiotic supplements. Most people, however, experience none of these symptoms.
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How Many Strains Bacteria In Gut
Are Gut Bacteria What type of bacteria?? Around 2.5 million genes play an important role in bacteria that live inside your gut. Their ability to form gut microbiomes, or gut-microbiome complex, is largely related to their relationship with viruses and fungi.
Tolerance To New Flora
Studies have been done on the gut microbiome of people who travel extensively , and their variety of gut flora tends to be significantly more vast than non-travelers. If youve ever visited a foreign environment and consumed foods or beverages your body isnt accustomed to, it sometimes ends in unpleasant symptoms like gas or bloating. A robust, diverse baseline of gut flora will help you tolerate exposure to new bacterias, which is yet another benefit of a varied diet, and a multi-strain probiotic.*
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Does German Sauerkraut Have Probiotics
The process of lacto-fermenting cabbage results in the production of live lactobacillus bacteria and other beneficial germs, which are destroyed when the sauerkraut is cooked. During pasteurization, both the vitamin C and the lactobacillus probiotic bacteria present in sauerkraut which are important for aiding digestion are destroyed.
Which Has More Probiotics Sauerkraut And Kimchi
When compared to sauerkraut, kimchi includes a higher concentration of probiotics, resulting in more noticeable probiotic effects. Does it work to substitute sauerkraut for the Kimchi? Yes, kimchi has greater health advantages and a fuller flavor than sauerkraut, making it a far superior choice over the latter.
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Selection Of Probiotic Strains
In selecting probiotic bacteria for use in human foods, the criteria in Table 2 are often use. Generally, probiotic bacteria in foods for human consumption are of human origin and non-pathogenic. They also retain significant viability during processing and transit through the gut. Technological properties are assessed during selection . Thus, probiotic bacteria are predominantly though not exclusively LAB Saccharomyces boulardii is a probiotic yeast and spore-forming organisms are also used. Examples of species used as probiotics are given in Table 3.
Table 3. Examples of microorganisms used in probiotic products around the world
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.
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Specific Strains With Probiotic Properties In The Genus Escherichia
Although the genus Escherichia, which belongs to the Gram negative family Enterobacteriaceae, is mainly known for its severely virulent serotypes , Escherichia coli is a very common inhabitant of the lower intestine and even a probiotic strain is known: Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 . As mentioned before Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 together with other probiotics have been proven to treat constipation and inflammatory bowel disease . This strain could also relieve gastrointestinal disorder, ulcerative colitis, Crohns disease , even colon cancer , however more research is necessary.
Is It Possible To Take Too Many Probiotics
Probiotics are supplements or foods containing living microorganisms that maintain or improve the good bacteria in the body, particularly in the gut. Theyve been shown to improve a variety of health conditions, including digestive issues, inflammation, and allergic reactions, says Naples, Fla.based integrative neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, who studies gut health.
There are no known dangers of overdose with probiotics, Perlmutter notes, but theres no reason to take huge doses, either. Its more a matter of effectiveness, he says. If youre having a good clinical benefit from the amount youre taking, its really unlikely that doubling or tripling the dosage will result in much improvement.
Probiotic doses are measured by colony-forming units , and they range from 1 billion to 100 billion CFUs. Perlmutter considers 100 billion to be the highest daily dosage anybody needs to take and most people need much less than that. A variety of bacterial strains, he says, is more useful than a higher dose of one strain.
But if you suffer from conditions such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth , which causes bloating and poor digestion, supplemental probiotics may make matters worse, explains Amy Myers, MD, who treats patients with SIBO at her clinic in Austin, Texas.
Thoughts to share?
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May Improve Symptoms Of Certain Gastrointestinal Diseases
Some of the most well-studied uses of probiotic supplements relate to the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases like irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease .
One review of 11 studies found that 7 of them reported that probiotic supplementation significantly improved symptoms like bloating and abdominal pain in IBS patients, compared with a placebo, while the remaining 4 studies did not find significant improvements.
The review also found that multi-strain probiotics used for at least 8 weeks seemed to be most effective at improving IBS symptoms .
Notably, Lactobacillus acidophilus was present in all of the multi-strain supplement studies that reported significantly improved symptoms .
Multi-strain probiotics may improve some symptoms in those with IBD, though they appear to be less effective for people with Crohns disease.
Evidence is currently limited, and well-designed studies are needed (
While some people, including those with IBS and certain types of IBD, may benefit from specific strains of probiotics, in general, most healthy people who follow a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle do not need to supplement with probiotics.
Plus, some researchers are concerned that the widespread use of probiotics may lead to antibiotic resistance and warn that many studies investigating the safety and efficacy of probiotics are of poor quality .
The Quality Over Quantity Probiotic Debate
Most commercials are delighted to inform you of the incredibly high counts of probiotics contained in their supplements. Most contain billions of bacteria, but some are pushing into the trillion range.
Those are numbers most people can’t imagine, especially once it’s packed into a little, easy to swallow tablet.
Let’s take a look at exactly what the bacteria have to go through to reach your intestine, where they can do some good. We recommend you read our Journey Through The Digestive System story to learn more about how food digests, and the different parts of your digestive system.
The biggest obstacle probiotic bacteria have to face when you take them is the acidic environment of the stomach. One reason for the low pH value of the stomach is to destroy pathogenic bacteria and viruses that we consumed with our food.
Then, it has to survive the various enzymes that break down protein and fat molecules. Since bacteria have an outer cell wall made of purely of fats and proteins, these enzymes could be fatal.
This means that the majority of probiotics you consume will die before they ever reach a point in your intestine where they can help you. In a cheap supplement that contains 1 billion probiotic bacteria, only 1,000 may survive when 1,000,000 are needed. Not very good odds.
You should always look for probiotic based on species and the way the bacteria are protected. Most of these probiotics are a little bit more expensive.
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Count The Colony Forming Units
This tells you how much bacteria you’re getting in each dose. How much you need varies with different types and what you want to treat. There’s no general rule to follow. Most doses range from 1 to 10 billion CFUs that you take once or twice a day.
If you don’t get enough CFUs, you might not get the results you want. But more isn’t always better. It could just be a waste of money. To find out what you might need, ask your doctor.
On the label, some makers list CFUs “at time of manufacture.” But it’s important for the CFU count to tell you how much you’re getting when you use the probiotic before it expires. If you’re not sure what the count tells you, get in touch with the maker.
Keep in mind that the CFU listed is usually the total for all probiotic types in the product. If you can find one that lists it for each type, that’s even better.
How Long Should You Take Probiotics
Probiotics have been shown to be safe to use long-term. One study found that long-term use of probiotics led to beneficial changes in the gut microbiome.
Like dosage, the duration for taking probiotics varies depending on the bacterial strains and specific product. Some conditions, like acute diarrhea, may not require long-term use of probiotics to see positive effects.
Modern lifestyle exposes the gut microbiome to many factors that can negatively impact your gut flora. Stress, a diet full of sugar and processed foods, alcohol, and certain medications all negatively impact the gut microbiome. Incorporating a high-quality probiotic supplement into your daily wellness routine can help maintain a healthy gut microbiome and promote overall health.
When looking for a probiotic to incorporate into your daily routine, look for a probiotic supplement with multiple probiotic strains and species that is supported by science and clinical studies.
If you experience ongoing side effects from probiotics such as bloating and gas, it may be a good idea to take a break from probiotics and ensure you are taking the correct strain and dose.
It is a good idea to talk to your healthcare practitioner before starting a probiotic supplement to understand the best strain, dose, and duration for your health needs and goals
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