How Safe Are Probiotics
Because microbes used as probiotics already exist naturally in your body, probiotic foods and supplements are generally considered safe. They may trigger allergic reactions, and may also cause mild stomach upset, diarrhea, or flatulence and bloating for the first few days after starting to take them.
There are certain people who need to use caution when using probiotic supplements. There is a risk of infection in some people. These people include those who have:
- A weakened immune system .
- A critical illness.
Caution should also be used when giving probiotics to very sick infants.
Always talk to your healthcare provider before starting a probiotic supplement.
Why Are There So Many Different Probiotics
When scientists refer to specific types of probiotics, they identify them according to their genus , species, and strain. For bacterial probiotics, as an example:
There are seven core genera of bacteria and yeast used in probiotics:
Within each genus are even more species and strains, and the effects of probiotics are species and strain-specific.³ Simply put, this means each genus, species, and strain works differently in your body, and sometimes, they work better in certain combinations.
For example, two similar-looking probiotic supplements that contain Lactobacillus, may have completely different strains, and very different health outcomes.
Probiotics work best when paired with prebiotic fibre which are a source of food or fertiliser for your probiotics without adequate prebiotic fibre to feed and nourish them, your probiotics wont survive and flourish.
You can get prebiotic fibre from a diet including a wide variety of plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Some probiotic manufacturers also add prebiotic fibre to their products these probiotic-prebiotic supplements are called synbiotics.
Larger Than Normal Belly
Bloating can be a very uncomfortable experience. If you are experiencing recurring bloating that requires treatment on a regular basis then it may be wise to speak with your doctor.
There are a variety of conditions that can cause bloating. As such, it is important that you are proactive in trying to figure out the cause. A visit to your doctor will go a long way to helping you figure out the best path forward. In most cases, you might just need to adjust your diet and take some probiotics.
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Learning About The Microbiome
The community of microorganisms that lives on us and in us is called the âmicrobiome,â and itâs a hot topic for research. The Human Microbiome Project, supported by the National Institutes of Health from 2007 to 2016, played a key role in this research by mapping the normal bacteria that live in and on the healthy human body. With this understanding of a normal microbiome as the basis, researchers around the world, including many supported by NIH, are now exploring the links between changes in the microbiome and various diseases. Theyâre also developing new therapeutic approaches designed to modify the microbiome to treat disease and support health.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is among the many agencies funding research on the microbiome. Researchers supported by NCCIH are studying the interactions between components of food and microorganisms in the digestive tract. The focus is on the ways in which diet-microbiome interactions may lead to the production of substances with beneficial health effects.
What If I Dont Eat Dairy
The avoidance of milk doesn’t need to limit your choice of probiotic foods. Kefir and yogurt can easily be made using plant-based milks. Coconut and almond milk yogurts are commercially available and can also be easily made at home. Water kefir, where sugar water is combined with kefir grains and fermented to create a slightly fizzy drink flavored with fruits and spices, is another option.
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Nature’s Bounty Probiotic Gummies
Get healthy bacteria into your digestive system with Nature’s Bounty Probiotic Gummies. Made with natural fruit flavors, each two-gummy serving contains more than 4 billion live cultures of Bacillus coagulans along with vitamin D for additional immune support. This probiotic strain is naturally found in the intestinal microflora.
Nature’s Bounty Probiotic Gummies are available in three delicious flavors: raspberry, pineapple, and orange. You can take this supplement with total confidence, as they’re non-GMO, dairy-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free, and yeast-free. These gummies also don’t contain any artificial flavors or sweeteners.
Your Super Gut Restore Probiotic Drink Powder
Drink your way to a healthier, stronger gut with Your Super Gut Restore Probiotic Drink Powder. This delicious tropical drink mix is specially formulated to support better gut health while also supporting your digestive system and energy levels. This powder contains 5 billion CFus per serving along with health-boosting superfoods.
Your Super Gut Restore Probiotic Drink Powder is formulated with three probiotic strains, along with pineapple, mango, carrot, and fermented ginger. Together these ingredients support digestion, nutrient absorption, and a stronger immune system.
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How To Get More Probiotics Into Your Diet
Adding a few servings of probiotic-rich foods to your daily diet can be an easy and effective way to give your gut microbiome a boost while also improving overall health and youll find you feel better consuming these foods too.
To get started, try making a few simple swaps in the foods you eat. For example, you can switch out soda, juice or energy drinks for fermented beverages such as kombucha instead. You can also trade regular yogurt for probiotic yogurt and substitute raw milk or cheese in place of regular cheese or milk products as well.
Alternatively, try using a few of the best probiotic foods in your favorite recipes to add a bit of extra flavor and variety to your weekly rotation. Tempeh works well as a meatless main dish, sauerkraut can be served as a savory spread and apple cider vinegar makes a great addition to salad dressings and vinaigrettes.
Regardless of how you choose to get in your daily dose of these natural probiotic foods, the trick is to get creative and dont be afraid to experiment with new ingredients to make healthy and delicious meals.
Should I Try Probiotics
If you are interested in adding probiotics to your diet, its worth a conversation with your healthcare provider. Many providers may suggest giving them a try to see if they help with your general health. It is important to remember that not all probiotics behave the same way and have the same effects. Each has their own individual benefits. They generally dont cause harm. One easy way to start can be by simply introducing probiotic-rich foods into your diet, like yogurt.
Before you start any supplements, make sure you talk to your healthcare provider. Your provider may be able to point you in the right direction, helping you figure out the best probiotic to take, how much to take and when to take it. A conversation is always worth the time when it concerns your health.
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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.
Best For Vaginal Health: Jarrow Formulas Jarro
Courtesy of Jarrow
Contains four clinically-studied probiotic strains
Lowers vaginal pH to control undesirable bacteria
Food-grade, pH-sensitive coating survives stomach acid
May oxidize quickly
Jarrow Formulas Jarro-Dophilus for women is one of Consumer Labs’ top picks of probiotics for women. Featuring five billion CFU of four clinically studied probiotic strains to support vaginal health, this product is an excellent choice for women looking for additional support to prevent and fight against vaginal inflammation.
According to Jarrow Formulas website, the patented strains used in this product lower the vaginal pH, creating a mildly acidic environment that is not optimal for the growth of undesirable bacteria. Coated with EnteroGuard®, a proprietary food-grade, pH-sensitive enteric coating, these capsules resist stomach acid, optimizing the delivery of bacteria to the lower GI tract.
Type: Capsules | Colony Forming Units: 5 billion | Dosage: 1 daily | Certified: Vegan, allergen-friendly, vegan, vegetarian
Price at time of publish: $21
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Misconceptions About Probiotic Foods
There are several misconceptions about probiotic foods.
Just because some food types can contain probiotics, it does not mean they all do. For example, not all yogurts contain live and active cultures. The ones that do are usually clearly marked.
Also, not all fermented foods contain live cultures. Examples of fermented foods that do not have probiotics include:
These and other foods like them go through additional processing that inactivates the live cultures. Examples of these processes include baking, filtering, or pasteurization.
How Popular Are Probiotics
The 2012 National Health Interview Survey showed that about 4 million U.S. adults had used probiotics or prebiotics in the past 30 days. Among adults, probiotics or prebiotics were the third most commonly used dietary supplement other than vitamins and minerals. The use of probiotics by adults quadrupled between 2007 and 2012. The 2012 NHIS also showed that 300,000 children age 4 to 17 had used probiotics or prebiotics in the 30 days before the survey.
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Should You Start Eating Probiotics
Russian microbiologist Elie Metchnikoff was the first to associate the large amounts of fermented dairy products with the good health and longevity of Bulgarians back in 1907. He proposed that the acid-producing organisms in fermented dairy products could prevent what he called “fouling” in the large intestine. He believed if eaten regularly, these foods could lead to a longer, healthier life. One version of the Old Testament even attributes Abraham’s long life 175 years to the “consumption of sour milk.” Fermented milk products may have also been used to treat illnesses of the digestive tract during Roman times.
The scientific community agrees that there are potential health benefits to eating foods with probiotics. However, more research is needed to solidify the claims. The best we can say right now is they won’t hurt and may help.
Remember that dietary supplements are not tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration like medications. And the probiotic strains in the supplements may not be specific for the condition you’re looking to treat. You may want to consult with a practitioner, like a registered dietitian, who is familiar with probiotics. Always tell your physician what you are doing that may affect your health.
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.
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How Do Probiotics Work
The main job of probiotics, or good bacteria, is to maintain a healthy balance in your body. Think of it as keeping your body in neutral. When you are sick, bad bacteria enters your body and increases in number. This knocks your body out of balance. Good bacteria works to fight off the bad bacteria and restore the balance within your body, making you feel better.
Good bacteria keeps you healthy by supporting your immune function and controlling inflammation. Certain types of good bacteria can also:
- Help your body digest food.
- Keep bad bacteria from getting out of control and making you sick.
- Create vitamins.
- Help support the cells that line your gut to prevent bad bacteria that you may have consumed from entering your blood.
- Breakdown and absorb medications.
This balancing act is naturally happening in your body all of the time. You dont actually need to take probiotic supplements to make it happen. Good bacteria is just a natural part of your body. Eating a well-balanced diet rich in fiber every day helps to keep the number of good bacteria at proper levels.
Extended Bouts Of Gas
Occasional bouts of gas are normal. However, if you find that you are having a large amount of gas after eating, it might be a good idea to schedule an appointment with your doctor. There is a slight possibility that you may have a food sensitivity or allergy that you are not aware of.
Or it may be a sign that you need to have some probiotics. Your doctor will be able to help you figure it out.
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How Effective Are Probiotics
Researchers are currently unsure how effective probiotic supplements are for treating conditions. Theres constant research on the topic. While many research studies have had positive results on the impact of probiotic supplements, more research is still needed.
Its also important to keep in mind that unlike medications, dietary supplements do not need to be approved by the FDA. This means that manufacturers can sell supplements simply with claims of safety and effectiveness.
Always talk with your healthcare provider before taking a supplement or giving one to your child. Supplements might interfere with medicines you may be taking. If you are pregnant or breast feeding, check with your provider before taking any supplement.
Whats The Difference Between Prebiotic And Probiotic Foods
The term prebiotic often enters the conversation about probiotics, but the two shouldnt be confused. Prebiotics essentially serve as food for our probiotics, Fiorita explains.
Most types of fiber are fully digested before reaching the intestines, but others, the prebiotics, stay intact through the metabolic process and feed the intestinal bacteria in the gut.
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Prebiotic foods are fiber-rich and encourage the growth of beneficial microorganisms that already exist in the gut, such as lactobacillus and bifidobacteria, she says. Leeks, onions, tofu, some soy products and grains are examples of prebiotic foods.
Probiotics thrive when an individual consumes adequate prebiotic-rich foods within a diverse diet, Fiorita says. One group is not healthier than the otherwe need both.
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How Do We Test Probiotics At Live Science
We always note the type of microbial strains in a probiotic, because it is essential to the supplements effectiveness. Meanwhile, supporting ingredients will determine how many of these good bacteria will be able to reach your digestive system intact.
To a certain extent, the effectiveness of a probiotic supplement will depend on its CFU value . Different CFUs may suit different people, so we make sure to include this in every review.
Probiotic supplements are deemed generally safe for most people. However, certain products may not be suitable for pregnant women, children, the elderly or individuals with specific health conditions. We will always note if a probiotic is or isnt suitable for a particular group in our reviews.
Easiness to swallow & taste
Probiotics can be delivered through solid and liquid supplements, as well as functional foods. How tasty and easy to swallow they are may be an important factor for a number of people, so we make sure to consider this in our testing.
Probiotic supplements may be designed to target specific health issues, so we take note of this in our reviews. While many products contain only specific microbial strains, others may come with additional ingredients like prebiotic fibers, vitamins, minerals and plant extracts.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to offer medical advice.
Our Best Overall Pick Is Garden Of Lifes Dr Formulated Probiotics For Women
We independently research, test, review, and recommend the bestproducts. Healthcare professionals review articles for medical accuracy. Learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
Antibiotics, poor diet, or traveling can compromise the innate bacteria living inside us. But supplemental probiotics, consumed naturally or in supplement form, can help restore a healthy gut microbiome.
Overall, the Garden of Lifes Dr. Formulated Probiotics for Women is our top choice in probiotics for women. Each pill is formulated with 16 diverse probiotic strains to help boost immune, digestive, and vaginal health. For a more affordable pick, consider Culturelles Daily Probiotic, which contains a potent, evidence-backed strain of good bacteria to improve gut health.
A 2018 study published by the National Institutes of Health indicates probiotics support immune function, digestion, and nutrition absorption. Another 2018 NIH study notes that probiotics can decrease the risk or duration of common infections, including those of the respiratory tract and gut.
Ahead, find the best probiotics for women to add to your daily routine.
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