Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Choosing A Good Probiotic
Many patients arrive in my office who want to improve their gut health. When I say gut health, I’m talking about the more than 500 different speciestrillions of microorganisms altogetherresiding in your gut, whose delicate balance influences gut function, your metabolism, your hormone balance, and your overall health.
Suboptimal gut flora opens the door for unfriendly microbes to step in and disrupt balance. One targeted strategy I leverage to help restore and promote gut balance is probiotics*and when it comes to this supplement, it’s important to choose the best option for your body.
Among probiotics’ numerous health benefits, research shows these friendly microorganisms support a healthy bowel and immune system promote a healthy gut and regularity during travel help you maintain a healthy weight, support healthy skin, ease bloating, and help to reduce the effects of stress.*
Think of probiotics as your little helpers that restore order and help maintain harmony in your gut ecosystem.* You want them to outnumber and antagonize the unwelcome bugs, including unfavorable bacteria, yeast, and parasites.*
These include cultured foods fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso, pickled vegetables, and kimchi and cultured beverages, like kombuchathat all contain favorable live bacteria.
Probiotics For Males And Females
The effects of probiotics may be different in males and females.
In a 2014 study, researchers gave males and females with obesityLactobacillus rhamnosus. The results suggested that females lost weight and fat during the trial, and that they maintained the loss after study completion. The males in the study, however, did not.
A different study in people with Salmonella infection suggested that the effects of taking Lactobacillus plantarum varied according to sex. Although the study authors saw little evidence that this probiotic can treat Salmonella, they noted how males and females experienced the symptoms and clearance of the infection differently.
Scientists need to conduct more studies to establish whether or not probiotic therapy should be different depending on a persons sex.
shows that people with obesity have lower bacterial diversity.
A small 2019 study found that people following a low calorie diet for 15 weeks had changes in their gut bacteria. They also had a reduction in bacteria associated with atherosclerosis, which occurs when the arteries become clogged with plaque.
The links between weight and gut bacteria could indicate that probiotics may be able to support weight loss.
Some suggest that supplementation with synbiotics, using strains such as Lactobacillus gasseri, cause weight reduction in large independent studies. Adding certain fibers may increase these effects.
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.
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What Is A Synbiotic
Finally, one of the newest products to come onto market is the synbiotic, which is a synthesis of pre and pro biotics. The benefit of a synbiotic is that there is a better chance of survival and activity of the microbe in the gut. Basically, by delivering the microbe along with its food, fiber, it has a better chance of survival.
Probiotics Must Be Tested In Humans And Shown To Have Health Benefits What Do All The Claims Mean
Most probiotics are sold as dietary supplements or ingredients in foods. This means their labels cant legally declare that the probiotic can cure, treat or prevent disease. But, while claims which connect the product to health are allowed, even general product claims should be truthful and backed up by research.
- Clinically proven You might have to do some homework. Product claims of health benefits must be based on sound research and conducted on the products particular probiotic. The product should contain the specific strain of bacteria in the same quantity used in published research. The studies should be performed in humans and published in peer-reviewed, scientific journals. Check product websites to see study results. Your pharmacist or healthcare provider should be able to help you sort through the scientific language.
- Just because it says probiotic doesnt mean it is a probiotic. Some products labeled probiotic do not have clinically validated strains or levels in the product.
What Is A Postbiotic
Another new term we are starting to hear is postbiotic. This is just another way to say fermented food, which contains both fibers and the microbial end product. Examples of fermented food are kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Just a few short years ago, even up until our grandparents days fermented foods were a part of most peoples diets. However, as newer methods of food preservation came on the scene, fermentation ceased to be necessary. Thankfully, it is making a comeback. There are lots of good options available for purchase. Just make sure they are a truly fermented food and not just pickled. They are quite easy to make yourself at home. Katie from wellnessmama.com has some great posts on how to do that, like this one.
What To Look For When Buying Probiotics
If you think supplementing with a probiotic is right for you, dietitian Alex shares her tips on what you should know and look for when choosing the best probiotic supplement for your concerns.
Check expiration dates, make sure the bacteria is live, and look for CFUs in the billions. Anything less isnt as potent. A good brand specifies the amount of live organisms, and lists the exact strains used in their formula.
The label should also specify that the living microbes are viable through end of shelf life or best-by date rather than at time of manufacture to ensure the bacteria are still live when you take them and able to reach your colon. Quality trumps everything: Bargain supplements typically arent of good quality. Depending on strands, a good probiotic can cost anywhere from $25-$60.
Alex recommends one of the curated probiotic blends from HUM Nutrition:
- Gut Instinct supports the comprehensive health of your body and digestion with ten strains of probiotics and 25 billion organisms in each capsule.
- Skin Squad combines 40 billion organisms from nine different strains, all specifically chosen to support skin health.
- Private Party zeroes in on vaginal health with three probiotic strains to support a healthy vaginal pH and cranberry extract to help support urinary tract health.
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Choosing Probiotics For Your Health Needs
Probiotics are not one size fits all.
There are 400 to 600 bacterial strains in the human intestine, making up trillions of bacteria all together. These beneficial microbes support healthy digestion, nutrient absorption, immune system function, and more.
Different probiotic strains perform different functions in the human body. Some strains of bacteria even work together in teams. This is why different combinations of strains work best to address different health goals.
For example, specific strains are known to support neurotransmitter production, including the happiness hormone serotonin. These types of strains can be found in probiotics supporting the gut-brain axis and mood.
Individuals who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome , on the other hand, will likely be looking for a probiotic to promote better digestion, reduce inflammation and support a strong gut-barrier.
When youre choosing a probiotic, first of all, consider what youre hoping to accomplish for your health. Oftentimes, an in-depth stool test can also shed more light on what your gut flora and gastrointestinal health may need.
The Future Of Probiotics:
One major drawback of most of the probiotics currently on the market is that there is doubt about how much of the product actually survives your stomach acid and makes it to your intestine. This excellent article from the University of North Texas explains why in more detail. However, there are some very promising new options which appear to solve this problem. One is spore based, targeted therapy, which studies like this one are showing to be effective for leaky gut and other conditions. You can check out one of these products and learn about the technology it uses here.
Finally, keep in mind that everyones microbiome is unique and also changes over the course of their life. Depending on what is going on in your gut at a certain moment, a certain type of probiotic may work well for you or it may not. If you feel that something is actually aggravating digestive symptoms, one option is try something different until you find something that works for you. If you dont want to waste time and money guessing, there are companies like My Micro Zoo and even these kits that are available on Amazon that allow you to test your microbiota at home and receive a personalized microbiome map in just a few weeks. The idea is that in the future doctors and dieticians will be able to use our personal microbiome maps to design personalized treatments.
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I Recommend Seeds Daily Synbiotic
Now that we know what to look for in a probiotic and what to avoid, lets talk about a good option that not only meets but exceeds all of the above criteria.
SEED is a probiotic company informed by a Scientific Advisory Board comprised of scientists, researchers, doctors and authors across the fields of microbiology, immunology, genetics, metabolomics, gastroenterology, pediatrics, molecular biology and transcriptomicsincluding primary investigators from the NIHs Human Microbiome Project. You can check out everyone involved here.
Seed developed what they call their Daily Synbiotic, a combination of 24 probiotic strains with a non-fermenting prebiotic compound sourced from Indian pomegranate.
Hold upWhat? Did you just say prebiotic? Non-fermenting? Compound? Im already lost.
Okay so here it is, big picture. Probiotics are live microorganisms that when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host . This is the kind of bacteria that improves gut health within your body, which in turn may lead to improved overall wellness.
A prebiotic, on the other hand, is often referred to as the food that feeds the bacteria. But we know that this is only part of the story. Certain non-fermenting prebiotics are biotransformed by gut microbes into important compounds that support key aspects of your health.
Use TOG15 to save 5% off the first month of your SEED subscription!
Red Flag #: Does Your Probiotic Contain Harmful Ingredients
Many food products today contain huge numbers of potentially harmful chemicals such as colorings, preservatives, and sweeteners.
These may be added to a product in order to increase its shelf life, or to improve taste and appearance. But there is no reason for these to be present in your probiotic supplement!
A good probiotic supplement should contain as few binders, fillers, coloring agents, flavorings, preservatives, tableting aids, or additives as possible.
While additives such as colorants and flavorings may be deemed safe by the FDA, numerous studies have suggested that they may be linked to acute intolerance or allergic reactions, or even may increase risks of serious long-term illnesses such as cancer.
After all, probiotic supplements are taken to improve your health not harm it! Check the ingredients label on a product to see whether it contains any excipients that you dont need.
Solution: Buy a probiotic that doesn’t contain fillers, preservatives, artificial colors or flavors. Our probiotic contains only naturally-derived ingredients that won’t damage or inflame your gut.
Use the code PROBIOTIC to get 20% off our probiotic. The discount code works on and our website.
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How To Select A Probiotic
Your probiotic should contain at least 10 billion CFUs of a variety of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, specifically Bifidobacterium infantis and B. longum, species to help restore the normal balance of flora in your gut and repair your gut barrier function. I recommend taking them daily for a couple of months, then back down to a few days each week if you feel youre continuing to find them helpful. Sometimes if you have significant dysbiosis, taking a probiotic can cause gassiness or bloating. If this happens, discontinue the probiotic while you work on treat dysbiosis, and reintroduce the probiotic 2 weeks after you start that treatment at which time youll likely tolerate it without a problem. If it still causes you trouble, try another product and at the lowest possible dose.
You can find reliable options that I trust in my Replenish Dispensary.
Why Is It Essential To Enrich The Digestive Tract With Good Probiotic Bacteria
It is an evolving world where the natural balance between different species can be affected when pathogenic bacteria grow too quickly.
This is why it is essential to regularly supplement the intestinal tract with ‘good’ probiotic bacteria in order to maintain the natural balance between the species.
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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.
Why Is It Important To Consume A Multi
When scientists studied this new body called microbiota, 400 different species were isolated.
To this day, more than 15,000 to 36,000 species have been recorded.
The human body containing a variety of strains, choosing a multi-strain probiotic such as Probaclac, where Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria are present, is the best choice for your health.
A multi-strain probiotic can cover the entire gastrointestinal tract the stomach, the small intestine and the colon. The Lactobacilli do their work in the small intestine whereas the Bifidobacteria colonize the areas of the colon.
Each strain has its specific activity when it reaches the area where it produces enzymes and bacteriocins. There is then a synergy of action from each strain, that is to say a positive additive effect at the intestinal mucosa level.
Moreover, according to research findings, there is a link between colon cancer and the loss of Bifidobacteria as we age.
Choose your probiotic carefully!
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Whats The Best Source Of Probiotics
There are three main sources of probiotics: supplements, yogurts, and fermented foods. Of these three types of probiotics, there are advantages and disadvantages to each.First it is important to understand not all yogurts and fermented foods are probiotics. Only yogurts and fermented foods that have been proven in scientific research to provide a health benefit are probiotics. Many yogurts and fermented foods contain bacterial strains that have not demonstrated a benefit. Additionally, refrigeration to protect the microbial populations may be required.Supplement type probiotics most often come in chewables, powders, or capsules. With these products personal preferences regarding tastes, swallowing pills, convenience, and packaging to protect the CFUs are important. Choosing the product that provides the desired strain is most important in determining the health benefits you can expect.
Potential Side Effects Of Probiotics
You’ll be happy to know that generally, probiotic supplements cause no significant side effects, other than the intended improvement in your gut health.* However, probiotics can be tricky. Not every probiotic is right for each person. Sometimes it’s about finding the right fit. For example, signs that a probiotic might not be right for you include:
- Bloating after taking it
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What Are The Benefits Of Taking Probiotics
Probiotic supplements have been shown to benefit health in a number of ways.
Yet, some of the purported benefits of probiotics arent supported by research, so its important to always consult a healthcare professional before taking a probiotic supplement, especially if youre hoping to improve symptoms related to a health condition.
Genus Species And Strain
Along with an alphanumeric, bacteria are identified by their genus, species and strain, per the World Gastroenterology Organisation Global Guidelines.
Within each genus, there are many species and strains, per the California Dairy Research Foundation. These are presented in order from the broadest category to the most specific. So, for Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, the genus is Lactobacillus, the species is rhamnosus and the strain is GG, per the California Dairy Research Foundation.
Here are some of the most common genera found in probiotic supplements, per the NIH:
- Lactobacillus: This may help with diarrhea, as well as allergies, stomach pain and constipation, per the U.S. National Library of Medicine .
- Bifidobacterium: This good bacteria may help with constipation and airway infections, per NLM.
- Saccharomyces: This yeast may be effective against diarrhea and stomach pain, per a December 2020 report from ConsumerLab.
- Streptococcus: This is effective with some forms of diarrhea, per ConsumerLab.
- Bacillus: This helps with abdominal pain, bloating and constipation, per ConsumerLab.
“The most important thing to look for is the right species of bacteria tailored to your specific health needs,” Poe Mathes says.
The world of probiotics can be overwhelming, which is why the experts we spoke to recommended speaking with your doctor before starting one.
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