Keep in mind that when supplements contain a specific number of organisms, this number may not be what is actually within each capsule at the time of purchase. Probiotics are living organisms and can die out easily. Especially if that supplement sits on your drugstore or warehouse shelf for months or longer, the number of organisms you get may be far less than what the bottle claims. Hardier strains have a longer shelf life. Capsule strength decays faster if the probiotic has been sitting around at elevated temperatures during transport to the store. Companies actually have to produce probiotics with a much higher CFU (colony-forming units; see below) count in each capsule in order to guarantee the label potency by the expiration date.
The discovery of the benefits of probiotics began with sour milk. Today we have many other options to get various bacteria from our foods, although it's not as simple as just adding them to the food. For there to be health benefits, the microorganism has to be able to survive the passage through the gastrointestinal tract, survive the food manufacturing process, and grow and survive during the ripening or storage period. Also, the bacteria must not negatively affect product quality and be included on the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list.
Yes! Beneficial yeast is a probiotic, defined as a microorganism that supports human wellness. (Probiotic means “for life.”) Saccharomyces boulardii is a remarkable yeast that can significantly support your whole internal ecosystem. It helps reduce problematic yeasts, such as Candida, and replenishes healthy gut flora.* While many probiotic supplements only deliver friendly bacteria without yeast, Probiotic All-Flora contains 5 billion CFU of beneficial yeast for complete support.
Whether a brand of probiotics works really depends on its quality and your body's own gut. Everyone has a different set of gut flora so try several to see what works for you. Using a brand of at least 40 billion CFU is best. There seems to be some debate as to whether one should use refrigerated or unrefrigerated probiotics. I went with the side that claims unrefrigerated are sturdier and less prone to die off.
Evidence from clinical trials is mixed and often of low quality, but findings from meta-analyses suggest that probiotics can provide benefits in the treatment of some conditions, such as infectious and antibiotic-associated diarrhoea. As such, taking probiotics after antibiotic treatment is an increasingly common practice. However, two studies recently reported in Cell question whether taking highly concentrated supplements of so-called good bacteria aids the recovery of normal gut flora.
This probiotic doesn’t contain any bacteria that produce histamine, a substance linked to inflammation, according to Nour Zibdeh, MS, RDN, CLT, an integrative and functional dietitian in Washington, DC. “Histamine intolerance is more common in women because of estrogen. The higher your estrogen level, the more histamine your body will produce. Symptoms of histamine intolerance include headaches, itchy and red skin, anxiety, congestion, post-nasal drip, stomach pain, diarrhea, and period cramps. If these symptoms are worse at ovulation or right before your period, I suspect histamine intolerance and recommend a probiotic that will help break histamine down.” Dr. Zibdeh recommends this brand. “It’s a mix of strains that are either neutral or may help metabolize excess histamine,” she explains.
In 1907, Russian zoologist Élie Metchinkoff theorized that the gut microbiome could be modified by replacing the harmful bacteria in the digestive tract with beneficial strains instead. He also suggested that the aging process stemmed from the production of toxic substances by specific strains of bacteria in the gut. He believed that fermented foods like sour milk could help lower the pH of the intestinal tract and block the growth of bacteria.
Some digestive disease specialists are recommending probiotic supplements for disorders that frustrate conventional medicine, such as irritable bowel syndrome. Since the mid-1990s, clinical studies suggest that probiotic therapy can help treat several gastrointestinal ills, delay the development of allergies in children, and treat and prevent vaginal and urinary infections in women.
Lactobacillus predominantly live in your small bowel (the portion of your gut that follows the stomach). Probiotics containing Lactobacillus sp. help to repopulate the small intestine with friendly organisms that aid in supporting digestion and immune function. The most beneficial are L. acidophilus, L. plantarum, and L. paracasei. One study found Lactobacillus acidophilus could reduce gut inflammation. L. rhamnosus helps increase GABA expression (an inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps you feel relaxed) in the brain, resulting in lower anxiety and depression-related behavior. Another found that a combination of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria (which we'll talk about next) improved symptoms of bloating in patients with functional bowel disorders, and yet another found that when people took the Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG strain, it significantly reduced the risk for antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
SCFA molecules are a subset of fatty acids that are churned out by some types of gut microbes during the fermentation of fiber. They're associated with maintaining gut health and protecting against disease, so a probiotic containing baby-poop microbes could provide health benefits by boosting SCFA production in a compromised digestive system, researchers reported in the new study. [5 Ways Gut Bacteria Affect Your Health]
The best probiotic manufacturers will list their potency (in CFUs) at the time of expiration, ensuring you get the dosage you’re paying for. Dr. David Perlmutter, board-certified neurologist, American College of Nutrition Fellow, and author of The New York Times bestsellers "Brain Maker" and "Grain Brain" puts it this way: “Avoid products that indicate a specific number of bacteria ‘at the time of manufacture,’ and instead look for products that, like other supplements, have a shelf life.” Each of our top picks clearly shows a specific “best by” or “expires on” date on its bottle.
Probiotics have been shown to be safe in immunocompetent hosts in an outpatient setting. However, administration of probiotics to immunocompromised, chronically ill, hospitalized patients with GI disorders, and indwelling catheters may predispose them to probiotic sepsis. Specifically, in GI disorders in which gut permeability and gut immunity may be compromised, adding probiotics may increase translocation of bacteria into the bloodstream. Until further studies become available on safety of probiotics in hospitalized patients, we caution their use in this setting.
This specific strain of bacteria consistently ranks as a contender for the best probiotic for constipation and healthy digestion. And according to one study out of Iran, it may also be the best probiotic for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In fact, researchers showed that treating patients with IBS using Bacillus coagulans helped significantly improve diarrhea and reduce abdominal pain compared to a placebo. (2)
In a separate study involving 21 healthy volunteers, also published today in Cell, the same group of researchers found that taking probiotics after treatment with broad spectrum antibiotics may actually delay the return of people's normal gut microbiome. This goes against the idea that probiotics can help "repopulate" people's gut bacteria after antibiotics wipe them out.
In the small, new study, the researchers isolated 10 bacterial strains — five species of Lactobacillus bacteria, and five species of Enterococcus — in samples from 34 babies, identifying the strains as good candidates for crafting a probiotic cocktail of microbes that could survive in a human host's gut and stimulate SCFA production, according to the study.
If you go with a supplement, know that the FDA regulates these products but treats them like foods and not medications. Unlike drug manufacturers, supplement makers don’t have to show their products are safe or effective to sell them. That means that these firms are in charge of checking the safety and labeling of their products before they sell them to make sure they meet FDA rules.
For the generally healthy person, you can make a very good case to trust your own body to select and grow the best bacteria that are already in everyone. The foods you eat greatly influence your bacterial mix. Although probiotics offer many positive health benefits, there is no guarantee that they can make the trip from your mouth to your lower gut intact. Although adding more prebiotic fiber to your diet cannot guarantee safe passage of probiotics, it can influence the healthy bacteria that already live in your system. If probiotics help you, eating prebiotic foods or supplements will cause those healthy bacteria to flourish.
Tempeh is an Indonesian probiotic food that is made from fermented soybeans. It is a high protein food that has a smoky, nutty flavor and is more firm than tofu. It tastes similar to mushrooms. Tempeh comes in patty form and is used by many people as a meat substitute. Soy tempeh is rich in a probiotic microorganism called Bifidobacterium bifidum. B. bifidum is a bacterium that may be particularly beneficial for those suffering from diarrhea, abdominal pain, and constipation. B. Bifidum helps boost immunity in the gastrointestinal tract. Bifidobacterium bifidum is also normally found in the vagina. Bacillus subtilis is another probiotic strain found in tempeh. Tempeh contains less calcium than milk, but the calcium in tempeh is very bioavailable, meaning it is very easy to absorb. Some bacteria used to produce tempeh manufacture vitamin B12.
Plus, thanks to its immune-modulating properties, it can also decrease inflammation and minimize symptoms of certain autoimmune disorders. For example, one study published in the journal BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine showed that Bacillus coagulans was effective at reducing inflammation, relieving pain and improving the ability to perform regular daily activities in people with rheumatoid arthritis. (3)
As one of the best probiotics for weight loss, there have been a slew of studies demonstrating just how powerful this strain of bacteria may be when it comes to your waistline. For instance, one study in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that taking Lactobacillus gasseri daily led to significant reductions in body weight and body fat compared to a control group, with participants losing up to 8.5 percent body fat over a 12-week period. (13)
And when you get leaky gut, food and other particles slip through the gut lining into your bloodstream. Your immune system does not recognize these, so it attacks, leading to food sensitivities and more inflammation. You might not even be aware of these sensitivities that take months or years to develop and can manifest as hives, allergies, chronic sinus inflammation, and migraines. They often become triggers for autoimmune disease or, for patients like Dawn, depression. This is why maintaining good gut health becomes crucial, and why havoc occurs throughout your body when your gut goes bad.
Though capsules are ideal for quick, convenient consumption, powdered products are a great choice for anyone who wants to mix their probiotics with shakes or smoothies. The Hyperbiotics Organic Prebiotic Powder is a totally taste-free prebiotic powder that has inulin, FOS, resistant starch, and dietary fiber to help keep your gut health in line. Unlike probiotics, prebiotics works to nourish and grow the bacteria that is already in your body. This supplement also has acacia fiber, which is said to help suppress appetite and reduce gas and bloating. You can take between one and three scoops of powder a day, depending on how much microbial support you’re looking for. Each container comes with 375 grams or roughly 54 servings, and it doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
Probiotics have received renewed attention in the 21st century from product manufacturers, research studies, and consumers. The history of probiotics can be traced to the first use of cheese and fermented products, that were well known to the Greeks and Romans who recommended their consumption. The fermentation of dairy foods represents one of the oldest techniques for food preservation.
Twenty-one volunteers were given a course of antibiotics and then split into three groups. The first group were left to let the microbiome recover without any interventions, the second group were given probiotics and the third were given a fecal transplant of their own gut bacteria which was collected before the antibiotic treatment. The study found that the probiotics easily colonized the gut of the second group, but worryingly, rather than aiding the return of the normal gut microbiome, the probiotics actually significantly delayed it for months compared to both the group that had no intervention and the people who received a transplant of their own gut bacteria.
Sherman P.M., Johnson-Henry K.C., Yeung H.P., Ngo P.S., Goulet J., Tompkins T.A. (2005) Probiotics reduce enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7- and enteropathogenic E. coli O127:H6-induced changes in polarized T84 epithelial cell monolayers by reducing bacterial adhesion and cytoskeletal rearrangements Infect Immun 73: 5183–5188 [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
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.
BlueBiotics is a good product to start with and then evaluate from there. The cold is actually good for probiotics as freezing them extends the life of the cultures. Companies who freeze dry their probiotics (which if I’m not mistaken, each of these companies do), but having them shipped in very high temperatures can and does kill probiotic microorganisms so it’s definitely a concern. Ideally, it’s better to stock up during the winter so that you don’t have your product stuck in the back of a hot truck before it gets to you.
What are bacteria and what do they do? Bacteria are single-celled organisms that exist in their millions, in every environment, inside or outside other organisms. Some are harmful, but others support life. They play a crucial role in human health and are used in medicine and industry. Learn about the types, lifecycles, uses, and hazards of bacteria here. Read now
Probiotics in food are beneficial for health, but only if they are tough enough to withstand stomach acid and the make it all the way to your intestines. The makeup of soft cheeses is ideal for delivering probiotics to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The pH of a cheese affects the ability of probiotics to survive and grow in the intestines. For this reason, soft cheese is likely better than yogurt for delivering intact probiotics to the GI tract. Cheddar, Parmesan, and Swiss cheeses are soft cheeses that contain a decent amount of probiotics. Gouda is the soft cheese that delivers the most probiotics of all.
What is the difference between prebiotics and probiotics? Prebiotics and probiotics work together to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria that can improve digestion and support the immune system. Both prebiotics and probiotics occur naturally in many foods. Here, learn more about the differences between them, their benefits, and how to incorporate them into the diet. Read now
In addition, research going back to 2009, has shown that a mix of three strains of bacteria (Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium lactis, and Lactococcus lactis) given to babies who have a family history of allergic disease, can help prevent the likelihood of eczema. In this study, the probiotic was given to mothers during their pregnancy and to their babies during the first 12 months of life.
Unfortunately, many commercial brands don’t measure up. They are unstable in stomach acid. Quality control measures aren’t intact, including ensuring supplements have been handled correctly and maintain their freshness. Moisture slipping into probiotic supplements can reduce their efficacy. Companies that use bioshield capsules produce higher quality probiotic supplements that are able to endure the stomach acid, releasing their contents within the small intestine, where a more alkaline environment ensures the survival of the bacteria.
^ Shane AL, Cabana MD, Vidry S, Merenstein D, Hummelen R, Ellis CL, Heimbach JT, Hempel S, Lynch SV, Sanders ME, et al. (2010). ": Guide to designing, conducting, publishing and communicating results of clinical studies involving probiotic applications in human participants". Gut Microbes. 1 (4): 243–253. doi:10.4161/gmic.1.4.12707. PMC 3023606. PMID 21327031.
Thirdly, the probiotic candidate must be a taxonomically defined microbe or combination of microbes (genus, species, and strain level). It is commonly admitted that most effects of probiotics are strain-specific and cannot be extended to other probiotics of the same genus or species. This calls for a precise identification of the strain, i.e. genotypic and phenotypic characterization of the tested microorganism.
Some literature gives the word a full Greek etymology, but it appears to be a composite of the Latin preposition pro, meaning 'for', and the Greek adjective βιωτικός (biōtikos), meaning 'fit for life, lively', the latter deriving from the noun βίος (bios), meaning 'life'. The term contrasts etymologically with the term antibiotic, although it is not a complete antonym. The related term prebiotic comes from the Latin prae, meaning 'before', and refers to a substance that is not digested, but rather may be fermented to promote the growth of beneficial intestinal microorganisms.