Consider The Science And Clinical Studies
Not all probiotics are created equal. In fact, there are vast quality differences in the research, development, and manufacturing process between brands. This starts out with the research that goes into understanding each strain. Each strain included in a product should be thoroughly analyzed to determine its strength.
As a next step, the bacterial strains should then be carefully combined with an intended outcome in mind.
Lastly, the combination of strains should be tested in laboratory studies and in human clinical studies for efficacy. This is especially important because some bacterial strains work well together, whereas others dont. Just because there is one clinical study with one strain saying it does one specific activity, this may no longer be true when combined with another strain.
Omni-Biotic probiotics follow this stringent research and development process. Every Omni-Biotic strain is identified and extensively analyzed to determine its strengths and suitability for specific indication-focused probiotic formulations. The final products are tested for gastric survival, intestinal viability, metabolic activity, and extended real-time shelf stability.
Align Cares About Its Product From Creation To Consumption
Align uses freeze-drying technology to make the probiotic go dormant to guarantee the bacteria is alive and ready to work when you take it. Plus, each type of probiotic supplement comes packaged in the best way to ensure the bacteria stay alive. Align capsules come in blister packs, while Align gummies come in foil-sealed bottles to keep moisture out, and the bacteria alive. Align users can feel confident the good bacteria will help build and maintain a strong, healthy gut.*
The Refrigeration Slight Of Hand
One thing we hear commonly is that people know that probiotics should be refrigerated. They are right, partially. The crucial thing to remember is that not just that probiotics need to be refrigerated, but the cold chain MUST be maintained throughout the products lifecycle. That little tweak to the wording is where many retailers and probiotic companies deceive their customers about the products they sell.
The ideal scenario is that probiotics are cultured, manufactured, shipped, sold, and stored with temperature controlled. This is the cold chain.
For most retailers, the first time probiotics are refrigerated is when they are received in store. Many retailers get probiotics from distributors instead of direct from the company. This is actually a big difference, because great manufacturers are serious about the cold chain.
But many distributors do not take such precautions. The cold chain is almost never maintained and we have LOTS of evidence of that from first-hand experience, stories weve heard, and confirmation from distributors and manufacturers.
Get ready for this: this even goes for Vitality Approved brands of probiotics. No, not literally our products. Our probiotics are guaranteed to ensure the cold chain. BUT just because you may see Natren in another store, it doesnt mean that store ensures the cold chain is always maintained.
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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 IBS and IBD.
In one review of 11 studies, 7 of the studies reported significant improvements in symptoms like bloating and abdominal pain in people with IBS who took probiotic supplements, compared with a placebo. The remaining four studies didnt find significant improvements.
The review also found that multi-strain probiotics used for at least 8 weeks were the most effective for improving IBS symptoms (
If youre interested in taking a probiotic supplement, its important to first determine whether a probiotic supplement is necessary for your specific health needs.
If youre instructed to take a probiotic, please consider the following:
- Probiotic strains: Probiotics are not one-size-fits-all remedies, and certain probiotic strains are much more effective for certain medical conditions and symptoms than others. Look for supplements with specific strains based on your needs.
- Intended use: The effectiveness of probiotic supplements is not only strain-specific but also disease-specific, meaning the correct strain and dose must be appropriate for the condition or symptom intended to be treated (
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 take probiotic supplements.
The Benefits Of Bacteria
How could probiotics, or beneficial bacteria that live in your gut, affect the health of your entire body? Its just some bacteria living in your intestine!
You might be surprised that there are actually more bacteria in your gut than there are in the cells in your body. In a way, you are more bacteria than you are you!
Considering that you are largely made of bacteria, it should now make more sense that these bacteria profoundly affects the health of your body.
Researchers have shown how probiotics perform an array of roles in your body such as boosting your immune system and keeping inflammation from wreaking havoc. And the effects of probiotics reach nearly every part of your body, including your skin, brain, and immune system. Also, research has associated lack of good bacteria in the gut microbiome with many diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular disease, and asthma. 1
Probiotics also play a role in detoxifying your body from toxins like heavy metals. These good bacteria also ensure the absorption of essential B vitamins 2,3. Researchers have also seen improvements in the symptoms of cardiovascular disease, Alzheimers, and mood.
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Natural Sources Of Probiotics And Prebiotics
There are natural sources of probiotics and prebiotics. Fermented foods like some dairy products, including yogurt, cottage cheese, buttermilk, or kefir, and sauerkraut, kombucha and kimchi are high in probiotics. However, Greenwood says, If youre going to take a probiotic, try to eat a diet high in prebiotics. You can naturally source prebiotics like inulin and pectin from asparagus, onions, whole wheat, oats and foods with skin on them, like oranges, beans and brown rice. Greenwood also adds that getting away from processed foods is one the best ways to improve our microbiome.
Check That It Will Make It Past The Stomach
When you hear gut health, you might picture your stomach, but a healthy stomach is far too acidic to be colonized by microbes. This is the same for probiotics. If they are exposed to the acidic environment of the stomach, the living probiotics will be killed before they even have a chance to do their job in the lower gut. To ensure that your probiotic will actually make it to where it needs to be, check the label to ensure it has an enteric capsule. An enteric capsule will protect the probiotic strains as they pass through the more acidic regions of the stomach and gut and make their way to the lower small intestine and large intestine, or colon.
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Differentiating Between Probiotics And Prebiotics
Heres an easy way to keep probiotics and prebiotics straight when it comes to their function in the body: Probiotics are good bacteria that are introduced to the gut to grow and thrive, said Erin Palinski-Wade, a registered dietitian and author of the 2-Day Diabetes Diet. Prebiotics are essentially food for these good bacteria. This means they help stimulate and fuel the growth of probiotic bacteria already present in the body, acting like a fertilizer.
It is essential to have both prebiotics and probiotics to promote gut health, Palinksi-Wade added.
Probiotics help keep gut bacteria balanced by limiting the growth of bad bacteria, explained Alan Schwartzstein, a family physician practicing in Oregon, Wisconsin. Probiotics compete with these bad bacteria for prebiotic food and do not allow them to multiply and cause harm to us.
When there is a balanced amount of probiotics and prebiotics in the body, your digestive health is able to hum along.
This bacteria balance is also beneficial to your overall health, Palinski-Wade said. A good amount of probiotics in the body helps with vaginal health. A healthy gut contributes to a strong immune system, as well as good heart and brain health. Whats more, research published in Medicina has linked healthy bacteria in the gut with healthy body weight, lowering inflammation and stabilizing blood sugar levels.
Amounts And When To Take
In terms of how much to take, whats a good amount or serving size of probiotics for adults? For example, is 50 billion probiotic CFUs too much?
A general recommendation is for adults to take least 10 billion20 billion CFUs per day, or 5 billion10 billion CFUs each day for children.
However, higher doses between 50 billion100 billion per day may also be beneficial for some adults depending on their needs, but its often best to start with a lower dose and to gradually increase as needed. Of course, you should always consult your healthcare professional prior to starting any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including dietary supplementation.
For the best results, aim to take your probiotic first thing in the morning, about 1530 minutes before breakfast. Generally speaking, this ensures that your probiotic supplement is able to reach your digestive tract quickly without getting stuck in the stomach, where there will typically be increased acid if youve recently eaten.
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Natural Sources Of Probiotics
While probiotic supplements can be beneficial, the best way of ensuring you have a healthy balance of gut bacteria is to eat right. Since probiotics are live microorganisms, they are found in fermented foods, with yoghurt being one of the most probiotic-rich foods you can get. Other dairy products such as kefir, which is a fermented milk drink, buttermilk, and some types of cheese are also great to eat if you want to up your intake.
There are plenty of plant-based options, too, for if youre vegan or lactose intolerant. Eating fermented soybean products like tempeh and miso, as well as foods such as pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi, are all good ways of naturally increasing your intake of probiotics and balancing out the bacteria in your stomach.
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Just The Right Amount
Probiotic products contain millions to billions of live bacteria, each of which can form bacterial communities thus, the strength of the probiotic product is given as Colony Forming Units .2
A higher CFU number does not mean it is the most effective probiotic.4 500 million to 50 billion CFU have been associated with various health benefits, depending on the strain used and on the area of health.5
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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.
What Side Effects Can Probiotic Supplements Give You
Most of the probiotic supplements are safe to use. You can have a few side effects if you are taking some medications or have some chronic conditions such as Crohns disease, ulcerative colitis, diabetes, etc.
You should consult with your doctor before taking a probiotic supplement if you have any types of chronic illness or are on medications. If you are taking antibiotics then wait for a few hours before taking probiotic supplements to avoid the side effects.
Some common symptoms of those who have negative reactions to probiotics supplements are as follows:
If you are not tolerating any particular supplement, stop taking it immediately. Start with small doses after consulting your doctor and slowly increase to the recommended dosage.
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What Do The Personal Reviews Say
Read online personal reviews, but be cautious. How people respond to probiotics varies. People have different reactions to different probiotics, says Williamson. So what works or didnt work for one person may or may not work for you. You need to test out a couple of different ones. Pay attention to strain and count it may take a few to find one that works for you, Williamson adds.
Best Probiotic For: Inflammation
In the gastrointestinal tract, L. plantarum can help regulate immunity and control inflammation. A 2007 study found that the probiotic could suppress an inflammatory response in the gut. Perhaps most significantly, a double-blind placebo-controlled study over four weeks concluded that L. Plantarum 299v provided effective symptom relief, especially of abdominal pain and bloating, in patients with IBS .
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Not All Probiotics Are Tested And Backed By Research
There are trillions of bacteria in your gut, so there are plenty of options for bacteria strains in a probiotic. But not all products have science that backs up their claims.
For example, Alignâs flagship strain Bifidobacterium 35624 has 20 years of research on this unique probiotic strain, ensuring the strain in the probiotic you choose has been studied to deliver the benefit that matters most to you.
When searching for a probiotic, do research on the probiotic strain in the products you consider to confirm the claims arenât just empty boasts on the label.
Diversity Is Your Best Friend
Your gut is diverse, so your probiotic should be too. Look for a supplement that contains multiple strains. This is sometimes listed as a proprietary blend, although with blends, you lose the transparency of knowing how many CFU each strain contributes.
Inferior brands might contain only one probiotic species such as Lactobacillus acidophilus. Look for the beneficial strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, and you may also see species like Streptococcus thermophilus and Saccharomyces boulardii, among others.
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Why Do You Want To Take A Probiotic
Understanding why you want to take a probiotic can help you pick which probiotic is best for you based on which strain of bacteria is in it. Probiotic names can be long and confusing. Think back to high school biology class. Each name refers to the genus, species, subspecies , and strain designation in that order. The most commonly studied probiotic genera are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Knowing the full name of the strain in probiotic, prebiotic or symbiotic can help you research and see if you are taking the right one to meet your goal.
For example, are you looking to increase your health in general, or do you want something to help with constipation or diarrhea?
Here is a list of some strains and how they may help you:
- Bifidobacterium breve is good for relieving stomach aches.
- Bifidobacterium longum BB536 can help relieve constipation, supports immune health and reduces allergy symptoms.
Correct Packaging Is Crucial For Probiotics To Remain Alive
Itâs great that more people are talking about their gut health and searching for ways to improve their digestion, but itâs important to ensure the quality of the probiotic youâre taking.
Packaging of probiotics is important in ensuring that the culture remains alive until it reaches your gut. Because bacteria can die in heat, and have a predetermined shelf life, packaging plays an important role in the effectiveness of the supplement. Looking to trusted manufacturers can be a good option to help in your selection process.
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The Recommended Dosage For Probiotics
There is no specific recommended dosage for taking probiotics as they have varying strains and CFUs, which influence their body effectiveness.
In general, Probiotic contain between 1 to 100 billion Colony Forming Units in a single serving with 2 to 15 strains of bacteria in these servings. The probiotics come with their own recommended dose, which you can follow to get your purchase results.
Garden Of Life Colon Daily Care 40 Billion Cfu
This well-known brand of probiotic boasts 40 Billion CFU per capsule with 16 strains of probiotic bacteria. This includes B. lactis HN019, a strain proven to help promote bowel regularity and help relieve bloating. It also has the nice feature of a desiccant-lined bottle technology to support the shelf life of the probiotics, and its allergen-free.
The only concern with this probiotic is that it does not use an effective method to deliver its bacteria past stomach acid, so its hard to say whether those 40 billion probiotic bacteria are guaranteed to reach the intestines.
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Where Probiotics Are Found:
Beneficial bacteria is naturally found in the soil, and is meant to be obtained through our food, however, due to soil depletion and the abundant use of pesticides and fertilizers in our soil, we cant trust that well get enough from eating a healthy diet anymore. So, fermented foods like cultured veggies , coconut yogurt and kefir, cacao beans, coffee beans, vanilla beans, apple cider vinegar, tempeh, miso, and kombucha are all examples of natural, plant-based fermented foods that contain or promote beneficial bacteria. Of course, dairy products are also fermented with beneficial cultures to produce natural probiotics due to the natural sugar lactose dairy contains. But since dairy isnt the best way to consume any nutrients, probiotics included, obtaining your beneficial bacteria from other sources like those mentioned is your best option.
You can also choose to take a supplement, which are made from bacterial cultures that are fermented with a medium to fuel the good bacteria growth. Theyre all over the market these days, however you need to be careful which ones you choose. Some contain traces of dairy, soy, and gluten, problematic to those with an allergy. Some also contain very few probiotic cultures by the time they make it to you. Others may contain a capsule thats not strong enough to survive stomach acid levels, which can also affect how theyre absorbed by the body.