Since the effects of individual bacteria strains vary, the first thing to consider when choosing a probiotic supplement is the reason you are taking it. Certain strains, for example, may help with weight loss, lower cholesterol or reduce allergy symptoms, while others have been shown to help with digestive issues, such as diarrhea from antibiotics and irritable bowel syndrome. The uses and evidence for various strains are summarized in a reference table in the Probiotic Supplements Review (be aware that certain strains should be avoided by people with milk allergies or people taking certain medications).
The other thing to remember is that these microorganisms are not all created equally. In fact, the genus, strain, and species all need to be the same for the results that found in the study to be the results that one hopes to achieve when taking it. For example, with the strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, the genus is Lactobacillus, the species is rhamnosus, and the strain is GG. If any one of those is different in your supplement, you may not attain the same results.

That's the question driving a new line of research investigating the power of baby poop as a potential source of microbes that could contribute to healthier digestion. And experiments recently showed that certain types of bacteria extracted from baby feces could promote the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) in mice, and in a medium simulating the human gut.
Remember, while bacteria gets a bad rap, not all bacteria is bad: As New York City-based certified dietitian-nutritionist Gina Keatley tells Allure, plenty of microorganisms, including probiotics, actually help your body function. "Probiotics may help stabilize the protective barrier in our gut so bad microorganisms don't take root, stimulate the immune response, and aid in production of vitamins, such as vitamin K," she says. Sonya Angelone, a registered dietitian and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokeswoman, adds that while we have more to learn about the role of probiotics, beneficial bacteria is understood to help crowd out harmful bacteria in our bodies. This good bacteria may also help lower cholesterol, aid in reducing colds and acute respiratory infections, and reduce the occurrence of vaginal yeast infections, she says.
B. bifidum has also been shown to prevent intestinal pathogens or digestive disrupters from flourishing in the gut, essential in restoring the bacterial balance and optimizing digestion. Clinical research found it supports a significant reduction in IBS symptoms, an improvement in quality of life and even helps relieve occurrences of ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. [1].
Secondly, probiotics must have undergone controlled evaluation to document health benefits in the target host. Only products that contain live organisms shown in reproducible human studies to confer a health benefit can actually claim to be probiotic.[3][115][116] The correct definition of health benefit, backed with solid scientific evidence, is a strong element for the proper identification and assessment of the effect of a probiotic. This aspect represents a major challenge for scientific and industrial investigations because several difficulties arise, such as variability in the site for probiotic use (oral, vaginal, intestinal) and mode of application.[61]
There’s good and bad bacteria in there (fascinating fact: an estimated 100 trillion bacteria live inside your digestive tract): When the good outweighs the bad, your immune health soars; when the bad overpowers good, you get sick. You have diarrhea. Your immune system tanks. Your IBS, lactose intolerance, and other gut problems are exacerbated. It throws your entire system out of whack.
Supplements: dietary probiotic supplements -- which are available in capsules, tablets, powders and liquid extracts -- each contain a specific type of probiotic. These products are available at health food and natural food stores, vitamin shops, and other stores. As an example, one commonly used supplement is acidophilus, which is available from several supplement manufacturers.
When it comes to probiotics, it appears that 10 billion live "friendly" bacteria is the magic dose, Dr. Novey says. That number may sound like a lot, but that’s about how many are in an eight-ounce carton of yogurt. (Check the expiration date, Novey notes: The further away the date, the more live bacteria the yogurt is likely to contain.) The probiotic supplements you buy in the health food store probably contain about 10 billion live bacteria per capsule as well. However, according to Novey it’s better to get your daily intake of probiotics from yogurt and other fermented foods than from pills or capsules. For example, yogurt also provides calcium, a much-needed nutrient. “Capsules are better when you need to recover your colon from having taken antibiotics,” he says.
Chlorella, a type of green algae, is thought to be one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. It contains chlorella growth factor (CGF), a complex of proteins, vitamins, and sugars that works with fiber in the GI tract to promote the growth of healthy intestinal flora. It also contains chlorophyll, a potent antioxidant that binds to toxins and helps remove them from the body. “Chlorella is known for detoxification, but I’ve found that it does wonders for promoting normal GI function,” Dr. Rawls says.
“There can always be differences between the species, things we don’t anticipate, which is why it’s really important we investigate thoroughly with human trials,” says Jennifer L. Pluznick, Ph.D., assistant professor of physiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. For example, gut bacteria may bring blood pressure down in one scenario but affect metabolism and immune responses in unexpected ways. “I’m hoping that in the next couple of years, we’ll start seeing how these all these factors and findings apply to humans,” Pluznick says.

Survival past stomach acids - probiotic powder in capsule form is ill prepared when it comes to protecting the delicate bacteria from being pulverized by the harsh environment of the stomach acids. Worse, most of the organisms tend to die off before they reach their intended destination due to moisture that gets trapped between the capsule shell and the powder.
Gas (intestinal gas) means different things to different people. Everyone has gas and eliminates it by belching, burping, or farting (flatulence). Bloating or abdominal distension is a subjective feeling that the stomach is larger or fuller than normal. Belching or burping occurs when gas is expelled from the stomach out through the mouth. Flatulence or farting occurs when intestinal gas is passed from the anus.
There’s hard science saying probiotics can help with certain kinds of diarrhea, but for other conditions, it’s a bit of a crapshoot (har har). Lebwohl says that one of the first things that needs to change for probiotics to go widespread legit in the medical community is their regulation. Since they’re currently marketed as dietary supplements, they’re not subjected to the same FDA standards that medications are. That means that not only have they not been proven to work, it also means there’s also no assurance that what’s on the labels of these products actually matches what’s inside the bottle.
Now researchers are finding evidence that the effects of bacteria in the gastrointestinal (GI) system send signals to the central nervous system, linking the gut with the brain. This could account for some known connections between GI illness and mental illness. For example, a higher-than-average number of people with irritable bowel syndrome also develop depression and anxiety.
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.
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“Microbiome” refers to the trillions of bacteria and microorganisms that live on and in our individual bodies. “There’s increased recognition of the various ways that the microbiome affects our health,” Lebwohl tells me. “And with that recognition comes the true observation that many bacteria are good for us. This goes against the old idea that bacteria equal germs, which equal harm. It turns out that many bacteria keep us healthy and probiotics could potentially support that notion.”
Probiotics may produce their effects with viable as well as nonviable bacteria, suggesting that metabolic or secreted factors or structural or cellular components may mediate their immunomodulatory activities [Borchers et al. 2009]. Furthermore, several experiments indicate that the ability to induce secretion of various cytokines is mediated by and large by cell wall components [Borchers et al. 2009].
Previous studies have been contradictory, with some yielding more positive results about the benefits of probiotics, but most of them looked at probiotics in stool samples, not directly in the gut itself. In the new research, the scientists used more invasive methods to take samples of gut bacteria directly from different areas of the digestive system.
Eating more foods that are naturally rich in probiotics, like yogurt, kimchi and kefir, can help restore balance in your gut and create more “good” bacteria to fight off inflammation from “bad” bacteria. But what about food products that have probiotics infused into them? Indeed, manufacturers are banking on a new crop of gut-friendly products. From chocolates and granola bars to juices and tonics, nut butters, bottled water and even air sprays, you can’t escape the probiotic movement.
Look, it makes sense that the gut would be ground zero for easing all kinds of ailments. In the past decade, scientists have discovered that the three pounds of microbes inside the digestive system—some 40 trillion bacteria, fungi, and viruses collectively known as the microbiota—aren't squatters mooching off a nutrient-rich environment. They're like a living organ unto themselves, working with the body to lap up nutrients from food, squeeze out germy invaders, and calibrate our immune systems. And since changes in the microbiota have been linked to gastrointestinal conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, adding "good" bacteria in the form of probiotics should boost your health.
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.[113] This calls for a precise identification of the strain, i.e. genotypic and phenotypic characterization of the tested microorganism.[18]
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.
^ Altenhoefer, Artur; Oswald, Sibylle; Sonnenborn, Ulrich; Enders, Corinne; Schulze, Juergen; Hacker, Joerg; Oelschlaeger, Tobias A (April 2004). "The probiotic Escherichia coli strain Nissle 1917 interferes with invasion of human intestinal epithelial cells by different enteroinvasive bacterial pathogens". FEMS Immunology & Medical Microbiology. 40 (3): 223–229. doi:10.1016/S0928-8244(03)00368-7.
Probiotics also seem to ameliorate irritable bowel syndrome, a chronic disease characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, and frequent diarrhea or constipation (or a mix of the two). A 2014 review of more than 30 studies, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology by an international team of researchers, determined that in some cases, probiotics help to relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome for reasons that are not entirely clear, although it may be that they impede the growth of harmful microbes. The researchers concluded, however, that they did not have enough data to recommend any particular strains of bacteria. Microbiologists often caution that a promising study on a single strain of a particular species of bacteria should not be taken as proof that all probiotics work equally well. “Bacterial strains are so genetically different from one another, and everybody has a different gut microbiota,” Allen-Vercoe says. “There will probably never be a one-size-fits-all probiotic.”
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.
There is one Voluntary Certification Program by which a supplement manufacturer can choose to be evaluated. ConsumerLab.com (CL) is the leading provider of independent test results and information to help consumers and health-care professionals identify the best quality health and nutrition products. Products that have passed their testing for identity, strength, purity, and disintegration can print the CL Seal of Approval on their product. This is one step toward being confident that one is getting the amount and type of probiotic promised by the manufacturer.

Probiotics are safe in the amounts you normally find in food. In general, most healthy adults can safely add foods or dietary supplements that contain probiotics to their diets. Some individuals might experience gas (flatulence), but that generally passes after a few days. But which strains of bacteria are most helpful or which doses are best isn't always known. And if you are lactose intolerant, you can experience stomach discomfort if you try to get your probiotics from dairy products. In that case, consider using a dairy-free probiotic.
In addition to the impact on our immune systems, our digestive systems are the second largest part of the neurological system. It’s called the enteric nervous system and is located in the gut. This is why it’s called the second brain — the gut is responsible for creating 95 percent of the serotonin and may have significant impact on brain function and mood.
This is one of the newer areas of probiotic research. Described as the “gut-brain axis,” researchers believe that the communication between the gut and the brain affects not just physical but also mental health and behavior. For example, a recent study found that probiotics can reduce anxiety, relieve stress and improve mental outlook. Another study found that the probiotics L. helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum reduced depression, anger, hostility and self-blame and improved problem-solving ability. Another study showed a difference in brain activity between women consuming yogurt and those consuming a placebo. More research needs to be done to confirm the effect of probiotics on mental and emotional health.
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Each eight-ounce serving of Tropicana Essentials Probiotics® delivers one billion live and active cultures – also known as colony forming units (CFU) – of probiotic B. lactis HN019 to your gut. While there is actually no FDA recommended amount of probiotics, clinical studies do show that one billion CFU of the probiotic in Tropicana Probiotics® is an effective amount.

The scientists discovered that the probiotics successfully colonized the GI tracts of some people, called the "persisters," while the gut microbiomes of "resisters" expelled them. Moreover, the persister and resister patterns would determine whether probiotics, in a given person, would impact their indigenous microbiome and human gene expression. The researchers could predict whether a person would be a persister or resister just by examining their baseline microbiome and gut gene expression profile.

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