Before you blame your lack of results on the bacteria that you are taking, I would like to give you some tips to maximize the benefits and help you to choose the right type of probiotics for your needs.
Bacteria are pretty much everywhere in our body: the gut, mouth and skin. Both the good and the bad bacteria live together in our body. Under ideal circumstances, good bacteria make up about 90 percent of our gut flora.
However, several factors such as diet, stress, illness or medications can disrupt this delicate balance and trigger health problems such as inflammation, gastrointestinal illnesses, weakened immune system and eczema.
Whenever there is an imbalance, a dose of probiotics can help restore harmony. Several fermented foods such as yogurt, milk kefir and kimchi contain probiotics, but they may not provide the right dose you need to bring back the balance. So, the best way to get the right probiotic in right quantity is through supplements.
Probiotic supplements have become hugely popular as a means to achieve good health. In fact, according to a recent report, in 2016, the total annual global sales of probiotic supplements stood at $3.7 billion, and it is expected to reach $17.4 billion by 2027. However, with an overwhelming number of probiotcs available in the market, finding the right one for your needs can be a challenge. So, here is some insight into choosing the right kind of probiotics.
Most of the friendly bacteria reside in the gut, accounting for up to 80% of the immune system. However, not everyone knows that these bacteria can also be found in nose, mouth, stomach and even armpits! #probiotics #digestion
Benefits Of Taking Probiotics
Probiotics are a type of good bacteria, live microorganisms found in certain foods and supplements. There is sufficient scientific evidence to prove that probiotics help in a wide variety of health conditions including:
- Strengthening immune system
- Improving digestion
- Decreasing allergies
- Treating diarrhoea
- Soothes inflammatory bowel diseases
- Eases Irritable bowel syndrome
- Helps with dysbiosis
- Preventing and treating yeast infections
- Helps with skin conditions such as eczema
- Lessens lactose intolerance
Functions Of Probiotics
The Guide To Choosing The Best Probiotic
Finding the right probiotic is no child’s play. If the names on the label were not enough to scare you, there are lot of other technicalities to deal with. Probiotics differ significantly in the number of strains they contain; some contain only one and others may contain multiple strains. Some may also contain added vitamins and minerals.
Probiotic supplements also differ in dosages and delivery systems. So, there are many factors that you need to consider if you want to get the best from your probiotics. Here are some things that must keep in mind when you purchase a probiotic supplement.
Here Is What To Look For When Choosing A Probiotic Supplement:
- Read the label
- Check the CFU, the number of organisms in a single dose.
- Look for the right species and strain of bacteria for your needs.
- Choose the method of delivery ( capsules, tablets, powders and syrups. )
- Check if and how the supplement was tested.
- Check the best before date - Very Important.
- Check if the supplement is sugar and allergen free.
How To Read The Label?
Not all probiotics are made alike, so start with reading its label. For a layman, the terminology may be hard to understand, so here is a little insight.
- CFU: The first thing you should check is the CFU or the colony forming units. In simple terms, it means the number of organisms in a single dose. This number is usually measured in billions. A single dose should deliver at least 20-50 billion units. Also, check how often you should take the dose.
- Species and strain of bacteria: Look for the right species of bacteria to treat a condition. Multistrain probiotics are more effective than single strain bacteria, because your body can absorb the strain it wants. Go for a probiotic of at least six strains and look for a combination of bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains. Good ones may contain up to 20 or more strains.
- Method of delivery: Probiotics are available in many forms: capsules, tablets, powders and syrups. It is important to ensure that the probiotic should be able to survive the acidic environment in the stomach and reach the gut. For this, you should go for encapsulated tablets or other delayed rupture technology. Also, prefer the probiotics that contain the optimal combination of probiotics and has prebiotic as well.
- Independent third party testing: Probiotics are not regulated, which is reason enough to think twice before choosing one. So, before you make a purchase, check if the supplemented has been tested by an independent third party for purity and potency.
- Viability: The label on your probiotic should read “viable through end of shelf life” and not “viable at the time of manufacture”. This will ensure that the bacteria are still alive when you consume your supplement.
- Low sugar content: If you probiotic supplement contains a lot of sugar, it will offset all the benefits is intended to provide. Sugar can contribute to diabetes, reduce immunity, increase weight, cause yeast infections and lead to other health problems. Many probiotic juices and yogurts have particularly high sugar content and should be avoided.
- Allergen free: Some probiotic supplements can contain allergens such as dairy, soy and wheat. Probiotic yogurts can, apart from the allergens mentioned above, contain natural or artificial flavours and colours, preservatives and high sugar content. So, check the contents before you buy your probiotics.
Target Your Symptoms With The Right Type Of Priobiotic Strains
Probiotics are beneficial for general health and immune system as well as for certain medical conditions such as digestive problems, low immunity, yeast infections and others. For overall health and well being, choose a probiotic with multiple strains. However, for treating any health problems, you should choose specific strains. Look for the following strains for your symptoms:
Which Probiotic Strains Are Good For What?
Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus
Irritable bowel syndrome
Bifidobacterium bifidum MIMBb75, Bifidobacterium infantis 35624, Lactobacillus plantarum 299V
Lactobacillus fermentum VRI-003 PCC, Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001
Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1, Lactobacillus acidophilus
Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM, Bifidobacterium animalis lactis Bi-07
Oral Health (Periodontitis, Gingivitis etc)
Lactobacillus reuteri LR-1 or LR-2, Weissella cibaria
The human body is estimated to carry over 1000 unique #probiotic strains. In the small intestine and the urogenital tract, the Lactobacilli rule – however, in the large intestine, Bifidobacterial prevail.
Mixtures are more effective than single strains! What I have learned from many studies and from my own personal experience, probiotics with multiple strains are more effective at symptoms relief.
Most people have told me that multi-strain probiotics typically work a lot better for them because our body can then select, use and absorb the strains it needs. And given how much exercise, medication, sleep and stress levels and diet can change from day to day, so our body would absorb required probiotics on different days as needed.
I generally recommend that adults, both men and women would take a probiotic supplement of at least 7 strains or more.
Below I am going to recommend some of the best multi-strain probiotics for various conditions that I have found to work really well for me and for many others and that are made by reputable companies and have great reviews online.
Please note that these are just suggestions. You may want to discuss your symptoms with your doctor. They will be better able to recommend a supplement based on your condition.
Probiotics That May Help Relieve Constipation
Constipation affects almost 15% of adults, being a more prevalent problem than diarrhea. However, most over-the-counter remedies, such as stool softeners and laxatives, do not bring the desired relief. Although the evidence is preliminary, research suggests that quality probiotics may help relieve constipation by:
- Optimising gut transit time
- Increasing the number of weekly bowel movements
- And helping soften stools, which makes them much easier to pass
Speaking of the most effective probiotics for constipation, it appears that those containing Bifidobacterium are the best choice.
Best Probiotics For Constipation
Garden of Life - RAW Probiotics Colon Care - Promotes Regular, Healthy and Comfortable Movements
Probiotics That Are Effective Against Diarrhea
Diarrhea often happens due to gut flora imbalances, and probiotics can help restore that, providing lots of friendly bacteria to repopulate the gut. There are several possible causes of diarrhea that can be treated with different probiotics:
- For kids’ diarrhea, the bacteria strains most likely to help are Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and the probiotic yeast Saccharomyces boulardii
- If the suspected cause of diarrhea is taking antibiotics, try probiotics with Saccharomyces boulardii and some strains of lactobacillus
- “Travellers’ Diarrhea”, caused by consumption of unfamiliar and/or contaminated products, can be helped by taking probiotics with Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Saccharomyces boulardii
- In case of colitis caused by C. difficile bacteria, evidence suggests that probiotics with Saccharomyces boulardii and lactobacillus strains are the best bet.
Best Probiotics For Looseness Of Stool
Garden of Life - RAW Probiotics 5-Day Max Care - With digestive supporting enzymes
Probiotics That May Improve IBS Symptoms
IBS symptoms have been linked to specific changes in gut flora, such as:
- Lower amounts of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium in the gut
- Increased levels of harmful Streptococcus, E. coli and Clostridium
- Bacterial overgrowth in the small intestines
- Changes in gut flora caused by certain IBS medications
The best probiotics to assist with these issues are those containing Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces families.
Best Probiotics For Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Jarrow Formulas Ideal Bowel Support
Probiotics That Might Help You Lose Weight
Preliminary research suggests that certain probiotics, such as those from the Lactobacillus family, may inhibit dietary fat absorption, meaning more fat gets eliminated from the body, and less – stored excessively.
Moreover, some studies show that obesity is linked to chronic inflammation in the brain. In turn, improving gut health can help treat systemic inflammation, which has protective effects, not just overweight and obesity, but also against other health conditions.
Keep in mind, however, that more research is required to better understand the link between gut health, excess weight and probiotics. In the meantime, a healthy diet and reasonable amount of exercise remain the first line of treatment for excess body fat.
Best Probiotics For Obesity
MegaFood - MegaFlora - Help for Digestion, Intestinal Balance, Bowel Regularity and Weight Loss
Probiotics Could Help Boost Cognitive Function And Mood
The intestines and the brain may be far apart – however, they are connected both physically and biochemically! Gut bacteria produce various compounds, including:
- Short-chain fatty acids
- Amino acids
- and many more compounds that can have effects on the brain and overall hormonal regulation
For instance, a number of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety have been linked to high blood levels of cortisol, the human stress hormone. In one clinical investigation, consuming a selection of three Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus strains for 8 weeks did reduce depressive symptoms a lot, as well as systemic inflammation. Therefore, taking probiotics with these bacterial strains can be good for your brain.
Best Probiotics For Brain Health
Renew Life Stress and Mood Probiotic
Probiotics To Boost Immunity
The growing body of evidence suggests that probiotics can help boost immunity and prevent seasonal colds and flu. The following strains that have been found particularly effective, with some even used as flu vaccine adjuncts:
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Lactobacillus brevis
- Lactobacillus GG (for children)
- Lactobacillus acidophilus (for teenagers)
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG
- B. longum
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus paracasei
By populating the gut with beneficial bacteria, it is certainly possible to boost immunity and reduce chronic inflammation, so the body can focus on fighting bad bacteria and viruses.
Best Probiotics For Immune Health
Vitamin Bounty's Pro 50 Billion organisms - most effective for immune system
Probiotics For General Health
The best multi-strain probiotic for general health that I have found and that has worked well for me is Renew Life Extra Care Probiotic. It has 150 billion active bacteria per capsule and whopping 40 scientifically studied probiotic strains. It covers and helps to relieve most of the symptoms I have mentioned above and is great for promoting intestinal microbiota, digestive and immune health and is great for helping to re-establish digestive balance. For overall healthy people, there are several benefits that Renew Life Extra Care Probiotic provides, such as:
- Maintaining healthy gut flora
- Reducing abdominal discomfort, e.g. bloating and cramps
- For women – increasing the population of beneficial bacteria in and around the vagina, which may help prevent urinary tract infections and bacterial vaginosis
- Helping reduce the frequency and severity of the common cold by supporting the immune system
However, for healthy individuals, it’s much more important to focus on eating healthy and otherwise nourishing the body – otherwise, any benefits are likely to be short-lived.
Best Probiotics For Well Being
Renew Life Extra Care Probiotic, Ultimate Flora, 150 Billion Organism - best overall probiotic supplement
How To Take Probiotics
Along with following the packet instructions, here are a few helpful tips for taking probiotics:
- Avoid taking probiotics with chlorinated or hot water, as it may kill the bacteria
- Try consuming your probiotic supplement on an empty stomach, as this lowers the stomach acid levels and assists absorption
- “Feed” your good bacteria by consuming enough prebiotic fibre, either from food or from dedicated prebiotic supplements if your diet is compromised
- Unless you have a specific concern, a general rule of a thumb is picking a probiotic with the widest possible variety of beneficial strains, with at least 10 billion live organisms per dosage.
Probiotics Side Effects
Generally, probiotics are well-tolerated, and any side effects experienced are likely to be mild and transient. With that in mind, it’s important to be aware of possible negative effects, which include:
- Unpleasant digestive symptoms, such as an increase in gas and bloating
- In sensitive individuals, headaches triggered by amines in probiotics
- Increased histamine levels, which may cause allergic reactions (usually mild) – e.g. redness, swelling, itching, watery eyes, runny nose and difficulty breathing
- Allergic reactions to filler ingredients in probiotic supplements
- In rare cases, increased infection risk – typically in individuals with compromised immune systems
In The Nutshell
A daily dose of probiotics can make a huge difference to your overall health and well being. Whether you want to strengthen your immunity or enhance digestion, probiotics are your best bet. However, to get the best from your probiotics, it is important that you choose the right one for your needs. So, spend a little time researching before you make a purchase.
Gut bacteria are sensitive to outside stressors such as poor #diet and certain medications (e.g. #antibiotics) – however, the reduction in good bacteria numbers can be counteracted by using #probiotic supplements.
Difference Between Prebiotics And Probiotics
Now, once you have bought your probiotics supplement you should not overlook prebiotics. While sound similar, these supplements have a very different role to play in our gut and digestive system.
Prebiotics do not actually contain bacteria but they are important nourishment and fuel for probiotics to help good bacteria live and grow. However, many people don’t understand the difference between prebiotics and probiotics, much less how they can benefit their health.
As you learned above, probiotics are called “good bacteria” and for good reason. They are in foods or supplements that have live microorganisms in them that help the normal microflora found in our gut to flourish.
Meanwhile, prebiotics are usually high-fibre foods that act as food for that good bacteria. So essentially, eating prebiotic high fibre foods and supplements is good for your gut. Prebiotics feed those beneficial bacteria strains to help us stay healthy. Nourishing them has a bounty of benefits like improved insulin levels that reveal beautiful skin and better digestion. Additionally, prebiotics can help you sleep better, relieve stress, and help you stay leaner by processing your food properly and keeping things running smoothly.
In addition to aiding vitamin production, #prebiotics stimulate beneficial #bacteria growth without stimulating bad microorganisms. Examples of beneficial strains include lactobacilli and bifidobacterial.
How To Get More Prebiotics In Diet
Fruits like bananas, apples, tomatoes, and kiwi are a good start. You should also eat plenty of spinach, onions, asparagus, leeks, artichokes. Even few cloves of garlic is a good choice. Whole unrefined grains are good for your gut bacteria too.
Try eating more millet, quinoa, oatmeal, and brown rice. Nuts and seeds, as well as fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut and miso, are another way to get prebiotics along with probiotics into your system through foods.
Fibre-rich plant-based foods like Banza pasta is one of my favorite choices and is right up there with porridge and brown rice.
Sweeten your tea with unrefined honey, mix water with apple cider vinegar and drink it each morning, or even eat dark chocolate!
Raw chicory root is one of the best natural sources of #fibre, providing as much as 65% of this important nutrient by weight, as well as lots of #prebiotics.
Prebiotic Food Ideas For Optimal Digestion
You can get creative in the kitchen to get more of these fantastic prebiotic foods into your body. Here are some delicious suggestions:
- Make overnight oats by soaking them in your refrigerator overnight. Add blueberries or slices of bananas (or both!) to it along with chia seeds for a breakfast you’ll want to eat every day.
- Eat more spinach salad! It’s a great way to get all the nutrients your body needs plus you’ll get prebiotic power from it too. Add in other things like tomatoes and artichokes for a bonus. You can also use apple cider vinegar to make your dressing. Talk about a power lunch!
- Simply sautéing your foods with garlic and onions adds more prebiotics to your diet. Try it with everything from veggies to meats to tofu.
- Cook up brown rice and wrap it in nori (the seaweed used to wrap sushi) with kimchi for a spicy and tasty treat.
- Enjoy a snack of sliced fruits like apples and kiwi with a handful of nuts, particularly pistachios.
While you can certainly get prebiotics from the foods you eat, you can boost your intake of them to ensure you’re getting enough for a healthy gut by taking a prebiotic supplement. By combining the power of healthy prebiotic eating with a probiotic supplement, you’ll find you feel better overall and have more energy to take on anything!
Research shows that the more #prebiotics we digest, the better it is for the immune system, gastrointestinal tract, bone health, weight control and even mental #health – the benefits are endless!