When shopping for a probiotic, the first things to look at are CFUs count and probiotic strains. CFUs is the acronym for colony forming units, and is the measure of how many probiotic bacteria are capable of dividing to form colonies. In other words, the higher the CFUs, the higher the number of active, live good bacteria. Generally speaking, the higher the CFUs, the better, although there are exceptions.
To qualify as a probiotic, certain criteria need to be met: a bacterial strain must be fully identified, be safe for ingestion, adhere to the luminal mucosa, colonize the gut, and possess documented health benefits (Table 2). A probiotic should be delivered in a formulation that is stable when stored. The colony number of bacteria and viability need to be reliable and they must survive the acid and bilious environment in the upper GI tract before they reach the small intestine and colon. Since the quality and content of probiotics have not been regulated, it is difficult to accurately assess their efficacy and safety.

The original modern hypothesis of the positive role played by certain bacteria was first introduced by Russian scientist and Nobel laureate Élie Metchnikoff, who in 1907 suggested that it would be possible to modify the gut microbiota and to replace harmful microbes with useful microbes.[9] Metchnikoff, at that time a professor at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, proposed the hypothesis that the aging process results from the activity of putrefactive (proteolytic) microbes producing toxic substances in the large bowel. Proteolytic bacteria such as clostridia, which are part of the normal gut microbiota, produce toxic substances including phenols, indols, and ammonia from the digestion of proteins. According to Metchnikoff, these compounds were responsible for what he called intestinal autointoxication, which would cause the physical changes associated with old age.[54]
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.

^ 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.

Your digestive system (often referred to as “your gut”) is an extremely complex environment that performs many vital functions. The small intestine acts as the main site of enzymatic digestion of foods and absorption of nutrients. The large intestine or colon absorbs large quantities of water and electrolytes and helps to remove waste matter and other substances your body does not use. The large intestine is also responsible for the regulation of intestinal well-being, particularly through its complex microflora that contributes to the maintenance of intestinal function. 
^ 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.
Did you know that you’re affected not only by what you eat but also by what the natural microorganisms in your guts metabolize after you eat? It’s true. Researchers continue to increase their understanding of how overall health is affected by gut bacteria, and in fascinating ways. Not only can these bacteria affect metabolism, immune responses and even mood, now it’s believed they may also affect heart health.
Kefir: This could be the most ideal probiotic dairy product because it contains both bacteria and yeast working together to provide the numerous health benefits. In a recent eight-week study, people with diabetes were given kefir milk containing Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and bifidobacteria vs. conventional fermented milk. The hemoglobin A1C levels were significantly lower in the group consuming the kefir.
Immunity and colds/flu.There’s a close connection between the bacteria in your colon and the immune system. Several studies, including one in 2012 in the British Journal of Nutrition, have found that certain probiotic strains boost measures of immune response—but whether this translates into any clinical benefits is uncertain. Studies have been inconsistent, for example, as to whether probiotics will actually curb colds and other upper respiratory infections. In 2014 a review in the British Journal of Nutrition, which looked at 20 clinical trials, linked probiotics to shorter duration of colds, but not necessarily reduced incidence or severity. Similarly, a 2015 Cochrane review of 12 clinical trials concluded that certain probiotics may help prevent or shorten such infections, though the quality of the studies was poor.
The precise mechanism(s) of action of probiotics has not thus far been clarified. Potential mechanisms to consider include: (1) modulation of GI immunity by altering inflammatory cytokine profiles and downregulating proinflammatory cascades or inducing regulatory mechanisms in a strain-specific manner; (2) displacement of gas-producing, bile salt-deconjugating bacterial species and thus possibly inhibiting pathogenic bacterial adherence; (3) alteration of bacterial flora by acidification of the colon by nutrient fermentation; (4) enhancement of epithelial barrier function; (5) induction of µ-opioid and cannabinoid receptors in intestinal epithelial cells; (6) reduction of visceral hypersensitivity, spinal afferent traffic, and stress response [Borchers et al. 2009; Lin et al. 2008; Vanderpool et al. 2008; Lawton et al. 2007; Quigley and Flourie, 2007; Rousseaux et al. 2007; Yan et al. 2007; Focareta et al. 2006; Makras et al. 2006; Roselli et al. 2006; Candela et al. 2005; Collado et al. 2005, 2007; Cotter et al. 2005; Matsumoto et al. 2005; Paton et al. 2005; Sherman et al. 2005; Smits et al. 2005; Sturm et al. 2005; Hart et al. 2004; Mukai et al. 2004; Pathmakanthan et al. 2004; Servin, 2004; McCarthy et al. 2003; Pena and Versalovic, 2003; Borruel et al. 2002].
I’ve been taking a Jamieson Probiotic for weeks now for my IBS. I’m not really getting results. It has 10 billion cells and about 14 strains. I tried taking it every day but then I was crampy, bloated and almost constipated. A friend suggested taking every other day so I did that and it was just the opposite. I’ve been trying to eat a low fodmaps diet as well. Can you tell me how long its supposed to take to work and also if I should possibly try something else? This probiotic was inexpensive so I’m wondering if you get what you pay for.
Previous studies have investigated the use of probiotics — those healthy gut bacteria — by testing their impact in guts already affected by disease, the researchers wrote in the study. For the new investigation, they wanted to see how a probiotic would impact SCFA production in a healthy gut. They chose to work with baby poop because infants' gut microbiomes are typically free from age-related diseases "such as diabetes and cancer," and because of the sheer abundance of infant feces at their disposal. ("Their poop is readily available," Yadav said.)
I’ve been taking probiotics for past couple of months. I must say I feel so much better like it’s been years since I felt this good. My head isn’t in a fog–my brain feels crisp & clear and less depression. My skin isn’t dry its actually getting soft & shiny again. Even my face looks younger. My hair also. I actually have energy. I’m 53 female with a few illnesses. I can feel my insides like alive again. I’ve had a bad rash from taking too many antibiotics for the past 8 yrs FINALLY it is clearing up all from probiotics. It’s amazing what a difference the probiotics are making in my life. I am truly amazed. They are life changing for me. I know it might sound crazy but I can’t believe the difference. I hope this helps someone out there like me who thought there’s no hope to feel better.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) treatment with antibiotics is fraught by variable efficacy. Recent discovery of genetic polymorphisms (NOD2/CARD15) in CD which play a role in bacterial peptidoglycan recognition [Inohara et al. 2003; Kobayashi et al. 2005], may be responsive to alterations in enteric flora and thus be important in the pathogenesis and maintenance of IBD [Sartor, 2004].
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The large intestine is home to hundreds of trillions of bacteria. Fortunately, most are neutral or even beneficial, performing many vital body functions. For example, they help keep “bad” bacteria at bay, play a role in immunity, help us digest food and absorb nutrients and may even have anticancer effects. But will consuming them as probiotics in foods or capsules make a notable difference to your health—especially if you are already healthy? Here’s a look at the evidence.
It’s important to note that there are different types of strains of probiotics. The probiotics benefits of one probiotic strain may be completely different from the health benefits seen from another probiotic. If you want to use probiotics to address a specific health concern, it’s vital to select the right probiotic for the right condition — or you can consume a wide range of probiotics in your food to be covered.
The side effects of antibiotic use are often not trivial. Many people experience discomfort and a change in bowel habits, but some experience more severe infections, such as opportunistic colonization of the gut with bacteria such as Clostridium difficile (C.diff), which affected half a million Americans in 2015 and was directly responsible for at least 15,000 deaths.
You'd be right. Lebwohl said there are no current studies supporting probiotics for cancer, and further, that he’d be concerned about anyone with a compromised immune system using probiotics. “It has not been adequately studied for cancer and I would be concerned about widespread probiotic use in someone who might have a suppressed immune system due to cancer, because of the rare but documented instances of actual infections arising from probiotic use."
Hi Elaine - Most probiotics sold in pill form are dried in a way which keeps them in a dormant yet still viable state, coming "back to life" once exposed to water/nutrients. Although this helps to preserve them, it is not a guarantee that all will survive. If exposed to moisture or excessive heat during storage, they can become non-viable. This is why ConsumerLab.com tests probiotic supplements to determine how many viable cells they contain (see the results here: https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/_/probiotics/#results). For more information about this and withstanding stomach acid, see the "What to Consider When Buying" section of the Probiotics Review (https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/_/probiotics/#buying), and this CL Answer: https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/_/probiotics_enteric_coating/.
In the first study, 25 human volunteers underwent upper endoscopies and colonoscopies to sample their baseline microbiome in regions of the gut. 15 of those volunteers were then divided into two groups. The first group consumed generic probiotic strains, while the second was administered a placebo. Both groups then underwent a second round of upper endoscopies and colonoscopies to assess their internal response before being followed for another 2 months.
Like kefir, kombucha is a fermented drink that may improve the function of the immune system and boost energy levels and detoxification. Beneficial bacteria in kombucha may improve antioxidant activity in the body as well. Kombucha tea comes in black and green varieties. Kombucha tea is made using a SCOBY, or a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, that is necessary for the fermentation process. Saccharomyces boulardii is a probiotic yeast strain that is found in kombucha.
B. longum is one of the first types of bacteria to colonize our bodies at birth. These important microorganisms ferment sugars into lactic acid, helping to stabilize the acidity of the GI tract and inhibit growth of harmful bacteria. For a group of adults prone to constipation, taking a mix of B. longum BB536 with milk or yogurt for two weeks increased bowel movements [1].
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.

That’s where probiotics – like Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus casei and Bifidobacterium lactis – come in. Research evidence shows that probiotics given to children and adults taking antibiotics successfully lowers the risk of C. difficile-associated diarrhea (6;7). Thanks to results from these and other studies, probiotics are now recommended and commonly prescribed for people who are taking antibiotics, particularly as they are relatively inexpensive and safe for most people (6). 
Stability and organism types — Some probiotic strains need to be kept cold in order to preserve their potency. This applies to their production, transport, storage and sales. Others are shelf-stable and don’t require refrigeration. Unfortunately, most refrigerated probiotics never make it past the stomach because they aren’t stable. Instead, look for a shelf-stable product that contains soil-based organisms.
Until recently, testing of probiotics by ConsumerLab.com found that some products had far lower amounts of live organisms than claimed on the labels. But in 2018, it found that 17 out of 18 products tested contained the amounts listed; none exceeded limits for heavy metal contaminants. In contrast, in 2016, a study in Pediatric Research found that only one out of 16 Bifidobacterium longum supplements tested contained the species named on the label.
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.

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]
Probiotics act by stimulating the growth of microorganism colonies in our bodies that are “good” or helpful. These beneficial bacteria play an important role in maintaining the natural balance in our systems, stabilizing our digestive organs’ barriers against undesirable microorganisms, producing substances that inhibit “bad” microorganisms’ growth, outcompeting undesirable microorganisms, and stimulating immune responses.1
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.
“This supplement contains the probiotic L. fermentum, which has been shown in a small handful of studies to reduce symptoms of mastitis,” says Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, a dietitian in Charleston, SC. “One study suggests that the use of this probiotic is more effective than antibiotic therapy!” That explains why it’s one of the best probiotics for women suffering from mastitis—inflammation or infection caused by a blocked milk duct.
Sick of fighting off cold after cold? The Align Daily Immune Support Probiotic Supplement is a great way to give your immune system a boost while protecting your gut bacteria. Align is one of the most popular probiotic brands out there and is trusted by both doctors and nutritionists. The Daily Immune Support has Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12, a probiotic strain thought to be most beneficial to your immune health. It’s a lactic acid bacteria that can also help to fight lactose intolerance. This probiotic contains five billion CFUs (generally, most adults should take at least one billion CFUs in a probiotic) and is meant to be taken once a day.
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.
^ Jump up to: a b Magdalena Araya, Catherine Stanton, Lorenzo Morelli, Gregor Reid, Maya Pineiro, et al., 2006, "Probiotics in food: health and nutritional properties and guidelines for evaluation," Combined Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Evaluation of Health and Nutritional Properties of Probiotics in Food Including Powder Milk with Live Lactic Acid Bacteria, Cordoba, Argentina, 1–4 October 2001, and Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Working Group on Drafting Guidelines for the Evaluation of Probiotics in Food, London, Ontario, Canada, 30 April–1 May 2002 [FAO Food and Nutrition paper 85], pp. 1–50, Rome, Italy:World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) [of the United Nations], ISBN 9251055130, see [1], accessed 11 June 2015.
“Each capsule has 10 billion active cultures of L. GG, a probiotic that helps curb gas, bloating, and upset stomach,” says Niket Sonpal, MD, a gastroenterologist and adjunct professor of clinical medicine at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, in New York City. “The supplement also works to boost your immune system. Each capsule has the probiotic equivalent of 10 cups of yogurt and is dairy free.”
Given that you can get probiotics from the food you eat, you don't necessarily need to take a supplement, and Keatley says she prefers food sources of probiotics to supplements. However, she adds that "There are times when you really need a boost." One example might be during or after a course of antibiotics, as long as you have your doctor's OK, since antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria: "Seeding your gut with good bacteria can lay the groundwork for a faster recovery and less constipation and diarrhea," Keatley points out. Angelone echoes Keatley's emphasis on food sources of probiotics, but also says that supplements can also play a useful role in "maintaining a healthy gut bacteria colony."
Probably the first person of Western medicine to publish on the topic of probiotics in the early 20th century was the Russian Nobel Prize winner Ilya Metchnikoff, when he described longevity in people in Eastern Europe who lived largely on milk fermented by LAB. He theorized that proteolytic microbes in the colon produced toxic substances responsible for the aging process and proposed that consumption of fermented milk would coat the colon with LABs, decreasing intestinal pH, suppressing proteolytic bacteria and thus leading to slowing of the aging process [Gordon, 2008]. Metchnikoff and his followers ingested milk fermented with this ‘Bulgarian Bacillus’ and reported health benefits [Vaughan, 1965].
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.
"This suggests that probiotics should not be universally given as a 'one-size-fits-all' supplement," study co-senior author Eran Elinav, an immunologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, said in a statement. However, it may be possible to tailor probiotic treatments to the individual, based on the types of microbes already in his or her gut, as well as other factors, so that he or she gets the most benefit from probiotics, the researchers said.
In 1920, Rettger and Cheplin reported that Metchnikoff's "Bulgarian Bacillus", later called Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, could not live in the human intestine.[59] They conducted experiments involving rats and humans volunteers, feeding them with Lactobacillus acidophilus. They observed changes in composition of fecal microbiota, which they described as "transformation of the intestinal flora".[59] Rettger further explored the possibilities of L. acidophilus, and reasoned that bacteria originating from the gut were more likely to produce the desired effect in this environment. In 1935 certain strains of L. acidophilus were found very active when implanted in the human digestive tract.[60] Trials were carried out using this organism, and encouraging results were obtained, especially in the relief of chronic constipation.[citation needed]
“If someone has disrupted his gut microbial balance, this is where a probiotic can be of benefit,” says Gail Cresci, PhD, RD, an intestinal microbe specialist with Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. “But whether it’s really going to help and whether you’re taking the right one are the big questions out there.”
As for probiotics’ ability to improve digestive symptoms, the answer is possibly. Probiotic capsules seem to help most when they’re used short-term for acute GI upset (diarrhea, stomach cramps) from eating contaminated food, like a batch of chicken salad that sat out for too long, for example, Dr. Rawls says. They may also help protect your microflora while taking antibiotics, which kill off good bacteria along with the bad, or if you contract C. difficile, a dangerous bacterial infection that causes diarrhea and inflammation of the gut.

Even if a product's label shows it has the jackpot billion CFUs, they may not all be present when you swallow the pill. That's because probiotics are living organisms; they can die when it's too hot (if the label says to refrigerate, do it), and if they swelter too long in transit or on a shelf, the bacteria may be DOA. Meaning, if you're out running errands, pick up your probiotic supplements last, as they may lose some of their potency if left in a hot car. The good bugs also decay over time, so when you're shopping, choose the container with the furthest-out expiration date.


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.
Within the past few years, the probiotics market has been EXPLODING. Doctors may have been prescribing them for a long time, but only recently have people started including these extraordinary supplements in their daily diets. Those who have started regularly taking probiotics have reported many improvements in their overall health. Here are some examples of the benefits thousands of daily users report:
I’ve been taking probiotics for past couple of months. I must say I feel so much better like it’s been years since I felt this good. My head isn’t in a fog–my brain feels crisp & clear and less depression. My skin isn’t dry its actually getting soft & shiny again. Even my face looks younger. My hair also. I actually have energy. I’m 53 female with a few illnesses. I can feel my insides like alive again. I’ve had a bad rash from taking too many antibiotics for the past 8 yrs FINALLY it is clearing up all from probiotics. It’s amazing what a difference the probiotics are making in my life. I am truly amazed. They are life changing for me. I know it might sound crazy but I can’t believe the difference. I hope this helps someone out there like me who thought there’s no hope to feel better.
Every day, we’re exposed to toxins and inflammation-causing molecules from food and the environment that negatively impact digestion through pathways, such as leaky gut, known in the medical field as intestinal hyperpermeability. In leaky gut, the tight junctions that are supposed to keep disease-contributing compounds from leaving the digestive system are disrupted, allowing a lot of things through into the bloodstream that don’t belong there.
Abdominal pain can have many causes that range from mild to severe. Some of these causes include bloating, gas, colitis, endometriosis, food poisoning, GERD, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), ovarian cysts, abdominal adhesions, diverticulitis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, gallbladder disease, liver disease, and cancers. Signs and symptoms of the more serious causes include dehydration, bloody or black tarry stools, severe abdominal pain, pain with no urination or painful urination. Treatment for abdominal pain depends upon the cause.
All probiotic strains are manufactured through fermentation, and are then freeze-dried before blending with fructooligosaccharides (FOS). The result is a shelf-stable (two years at room temperature), nitrogen-filled probiotic of human origin: a probiotic that easily adapts to your body, and is both acid- and bile-resistant to survive the acidic environment of the human stomach. In other words, a probiotic that fulfills its promises.
The current probiotic push lends itself to the question, "If humans got along fine without taking a probiotic supplement for thousands of years, why are they so important now?" Although there is no definitive answer to this question, there have been some significant cultural changes that have had an impact on the gut flora (the population of organisms that populate our intestines). These include the use of antibiotics, diets lacking in gut-healthy plant food, refrigeration and improved sterilization of foods. What we don't yet know is true is if probiotics actually turn around these changes and support the health of your gut flora.

As for probiotics’ ability to improve digestive symptoms, the answer is possibly. Probiotic capsules seem to help most when they’re used short-term for acute GI upset (diarrhea, stomach cramps) from eating contaminated food, like a batch of chicken salad that sat out for too long, for example, Dr. Rawls says. They may also help protect your microflora while taking antibiotics, which kill off good bacteria along with the bad, or if you contract C. difficile, a dangerous bacterial infection that causes diarrhea and inflammation of the gut.
In the second study, the researchers questioned whether patients should be taking probiotics to counter the effects of antibiotics, as they are often told to do in order to repopulate the gut microbiota after it's cleared by antibiotic treatment. To look at this, 21 volunteers were given a course of antibiotics and then randomly assigned to one of three groups. The first was a "watch-and-wait" group that let their microbiome recover on its own. The second group was administered the same generic probiotics used in the first study. The third group was treated with an autologous fecal microbiome transplant (aFMT) made up of their own bacteria that had been collected before giving them the antibiotic.
As the best-selling author of Happy Gut and a medical doctor who specializes in gut health and once suffered from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), I have experienced for myself, as well as see on a daily basis, how a disrupted gut flora opens the door for unfriendly microbes to step in and take over, creating all sorts of pandemonium that causes patients to gain weight, feel sick and tired, and become more disease-prone.
According to the World Health Organization/Food and Agriculture Organization, probiotics are live micro-organisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit. Probiotics are typically considered the “good” bacteria that supplement your body’s natural gut flora, or microbiome. Commonly found in some yogurts and kombuchas, Probiotics® by Tropicana can now be found in the mainstream juice aisle for the very first time.
Update: I think this product is being smeared by a competitor! Look at all the reviews in April. Suddenly, a butt ton of not just negative but 1 star reviews. It's uncanny. So, what would compel a competitor to do such a thing? Well, it was the only 50 CFU, enteric coated & 20 strain probiotic on Amazon & it cost about 15 bucks. That, while products far inferior to it were priced for - often times - 2 or 3x as much.

If you want to get to the root causes of what goes on inside your gut, look at what you’re putting at the end of your fork. If you consume a milkshake, hamburger, and French fries, you turn on genes that promote inflammation in your gut and your body. On the other hand, if you eat 2 cups of steamed broccoli, you will turn on anticancer and anti-inflammatory gene pathways. The foods you eat control your state of health, and the gut is the gateway to the rest of the body. Identifying and eliminating foods that rob your body of energy becomes a central focus in my program. Gluten, eggs, dairy, soy, most legumes, corn, and sugar (and, for some of you, nightshades) are inflammatory and make you and your gut sick. When my patients eliminate these problem foods for at least 28 days, they feel better, lose weight, and heal their gut.

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.”

On my recent trip to Japan, one thing I noticed was the inclusion of pickled vegetables in almost every traditional Japanese meal. Unfortunately, many Americans don’t consume enough of these probiotic-rich foods and drinks. Even when they do, restoring equilibrium oftentimes requires therapeutic doses of these microorganisms, because most everyone has been on several rounds of antimicrobials. That’s where a probiotic supplement comes in.


As for probiotics’ ability to improve digestive symptoms, the answer is possibly. Probiotic capsules seem to help most when they’re used short-term for acute GI upset (diarrhea, stomach cramps) from eating contaminated food, like a batch of chicken salad that sat out for too long, for example, Dr. Rawls says. They may also help protect your microflora while taking antibiotics, which kill off good bacteria along with the bad, or if you contract C. difficile, a dangerous bacterial infection that causes diarrhea and inflammation of the gut.
According to the NIH, probiotic supplements contain many microorganisms that are the same as or similar to the ones that naturally live in your body, but there's still a lot of research to be done on probiotics and how they work. It's important to keep in mind that not all probiotics have the same effects and that taking probiotics isn't a guarantee of better health. And while they're generally safe for healthy people to take, with side effects being limited to mild digestive discomfort, they could interact with certain medications or pose health risks to people with underlying medical problems — that's why it's smart to talk to your doctor before getting started with a supplement.

For moms-to-be who supplement with probiotics during pregnancy, there’s an added bonus. A study suggests that taking a probiotic supplement during the first trimester of pregnancy through the end of exclusive breastfeeding may help you lose weight after your baby’s arrival. This is in addition to the multitude of probiotic benefits for your newborn as well!
Scientists are investigating probiotics, and their combined effects, by trying to classify the probiotic benefits of ingesting specific probiotic strains and understanding their role in the digestive tract. At present, the methodological and ethical limitations of human studies still make it difficult to fully understand the mechanisms of action of probiotics, but some explanations are available. Nevertheless, benefits linked to the consumption of probiotic strains have already been suggested (e.g. helping to support the immune system, help support digestive health), and others are still being investigated.

Probiotics act by stimulating the growth of microorganism colonies in our bodies that are “good” or helpful. These beneficial bacteria play an important role in maintaining the natural balance in our systems, stabilizing our digestive organs’ barriers against undesirable microorganisms, producing substances that inhibit “bad” microorganisms’ growth, outcompeting undesirable microorganisms, and stimulating immune responses.1


Because of the way that beneficial probiotic bacteria affects the digestive system, some researchers speculate that taking probiotic supplements could help to address symptoms of certain medical conditions. A clinical review published in "Canadian Family Physician" concluded that there was promising evidence that probiotics could be beneficial for people with a digestive disease called inflammatory colitis. They may also help to improve symptoms of vaginal infections. However, the review stated that more research was needed to prove the benefits of good bacteria for these conditions. Research is also investigating the possible benefits for those with irritable bowel syndrome. Some scientists also speculate that probiotics could be beneficial for travel-related diarrhea and other types of stomach upset. These proposed uses are currently under investigation.
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