"Although all of our probiotic-consuming volunteers showed probiotics in their stool, only some of them showed them in their gut, which is where they need to be," co-senior author Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute, said in the statement. "If some people resist and only some people permit them, the benefits of the standard probiotics we all take can't be as universal as we once thought."
“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.
Walk into any grocery store, and you will likely find more than a few “probiotic” products brimming with so-called beneficial bacteria that are supposed to treat everything from constipation to obesity to depression. In addition to foods traditionally prepared with live bacterial cultures (such as yogurt and other fermented dairy products), consumers can now purchase probiotic capsules and pills, fruit juices, cereals, sausages, cookies, candy, granola bars and pet food. Indeed, the popularity of probiotics has grown so much in recent years that manufacturers have even added the microorganisms to cosmetics and mattresses.
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.
More and more evidence shows that the gut microbiota may play an important role in the development of obesity, obesity-associated inflammation and insulin resistance. Obesity and Type 2 diabetes are associated with changes in gut microbiota. Several studies describe differences between the microbiota of lean individuals and those who are obese. The potential for using probiotics in weight management and obesity and diabetes prevention is exciting.

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."
Focus on clean ingredients with foods that are easy to digest, low in fructose and other sugars, and devoid of substances hard on your gut like gluten, dairy, soy, and corn. I emphasize foods that are organic, pesticide-free, non-genetically modified (GMO), full of healthy fats, locally grown, and sustainably farmed. Those include healthy fats, nuts and seeds, high-fiber and low-glycemic carbs, nonstarchy veggies, and clean proteins like wild-caught cold-water fish.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
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].
One of the best-studied effects of probiotics has been on the reduction in diarrhea severity and duration. Probiotics can prevent as well as reduce duration of several types of diarrhea. Lactobacillus has been found to be a safe and effective treatment for children with acute infectious diarrhea. Certain probiotics may also offer a safe and effective method to prevent traveler’s diarrhea, but research in this area is emerging.
Focus on clean ingredients with foods that are easy to digest, low in fructose and other sugars, and devoid of substances hard on your gut like gluten, dairy, soy, and corn. I emphasize foods that are organic, pesticide-free, non-genetically modified (GMO), full of healthy fats, locally grown, and sustainably farmed. Those include healthy fats, nuts and seeds, high-fiber and low-glycemic carbs, nonstarchy veggies, and clean proteins like wild-caught cold-water fish. 

The idea that bacteria are beneficial can be tough to understand. We take antibiotics to kill harmful bacterial infections and use antibacterial soaps and lotions more than ever. The wrong bacteria in the wrong place can cause problems, but the right bacteria in the right place can have benefits. This is where probiotics come in. Probiotics are live microorganisms that may be able to help prevent and treat some illnesses. Promoting a healthy digestive tract and a healthy immune system are their most widely studied benefits at this time. These are also commonly known as friendly, good, or healthy bacteria. Probiotics can be supplied through foods, beverages, and dietary supplements.
Caution needs to be taken by everyone who chooses to take these supplements, but this is especially true for children, pregnant women, elderly people, and people with compromised immune systems. For people with compromised immune systems due to disease or treatment for a disease (such as cancer chemotherapy), taking probiotics may actually increase one's chances of getting sick. It has been shown that the use of various probiotics for immunocompromised patients or patients with a leaky gut has resulted in infections and sepsis (infection of the bloodstream). One case of bacteremia (bacteria in the bloodstream) was recently found when someone with active severe inflammatory bowel diseases with mucosal disruption was given Lactobacillus GG. Always speak with a doctor before taking any supplement under these circumstances.
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.
Once you have identified the right strain or strains, it's important to find a product that provides a dose that's been shown to be effective, and that contains it's labeled dose (ConsumerLab.com tests have found some probiotic supplements to contain less than half the amount of organisms claimed on the label!) To get test results for popular products, plus additional tips for choosing a probiotic supplement, see the Probiotic Supplements Review >>
When choosing the probiotic that’s right for you, don’t be afraid to ask your health professional for advice. Or reach out directly to supplement companies for supportive research. The reliable manufacturers expect this. “I would encourage consumers to request the clinical research evidence to substantiate the use of a formula or the microbes it contains,” advises Thomas. Find out more facts you’ve always wanted to know about probiotics.

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.
As for probiotics, fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, and yogurt are naturally rich sources of live and active cultures (as well as digestive enzymes, which may be equally important for normal digestion). “Humans have eaten lots of different kinds of fermented foods throughout our history, for many thousands of years,” says Dr. Rawls. “That’s where the original idea for probiotic supplements came from.”

The benefits of probiotics in your gut go beyond just healthy bowel movements. A healthy digestive system has to improvements in mental health and immune response. Probiotics are also currently being for their benefits to oral health and dermatological health. By aiding in protein absorption, probiotics can also help your body recover after workout and reduce muscle strain.
"Want to feel happier, get off SSRIs? You have to mind your gut," I told Dawn before explaining the often-overlooked gut-brain connection. It isn’t just depression that gut health affects but headaches, migraines, allergies, autoimmunity, weight gain, acne, skin rashes, yeast infections, hormonal imbalances, fatigue, immune challenges, and even the way you sense pain can be linked to your gut health. So as a medical doctor who specializes in gut health, when I say things start in your gut—I really mean it!
I really like your article as it contains a lot of valuable information. the only thing id like to hear more about is the how your rating stacks up to the probiotics geared towards women specifically. I read the listing in, “what to look for” as you suggested but again it doesn’t discuss any findings along the lines of womens specific strands or brands that highlight aiding women more than another. Id love to hear your opinion on the matter or if you might be able to shed any light on the subject at hand. Thanks Julia!
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.
Unless you know that your body is lacking in a particular type of probiotic, you should just look for broad-spectrum probiotics that contain a mix of different strains of bacteria, Warren says: "We have billions of bacteria in our gut, so by taking a supplement with a range of different strains, you will ensure you are not overdoing or missing one type." Keatley also stresses the importance of finding a supplement with a diversity of bacteria strains to keep overgrowth of any one strain in check. "Providing too much of an advantage to one strain of probiotic may push out another strain we didn't know was important until it's too late," she points out.
"When certain types of probiotics are placed in contact with skin cells, they calm the parts of the cells that may want to react to the presence of bad bacteria that they see as a threat. These healthy signals produced by the probiotics stop the skin cells from sending 'attack' messages to the immune system that result in flares of acne or rosacea."

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.
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.
A probiotic dietary supplement can aid your health in a variety of ways. Lactobacillus species, Bifidobacteria, Saccharomyces boulardii and Bacillus coagulans are the most common beneficial bacteria used in probiotic dietary supplement products. But each type — and each strain of each type — can work in different ways. Bottom line: Not all probiotics are the same, nor do they all have the same effect in the body.
Once you have identified the right strain or strains, it's important to find a product that provides a dose that's been shown to be effective, and that contains it's labeled dose (ConsumerLab.com tests have found some probiotic supplements to contain less than half the amount of organisms claimed on the label!) To get test results for popular products, plus additional tips for choosing a probiotic supplement, see the Probiotic Supplements Review >>
First, probiotics must be alive when administered.[61][113][114] One of the concerns throughout the scientific literature resides in the viability and reproducibility on a large scale of observed results for specific studies, as well as the viability and stability during use and storage, and finally the ability to survive in stomach acids and then in the intestinal ecosystem.[3]
Antibiotics are also a major contributor to gut imbalances. Many of us have been overprescribed antibiotics by well-meaning, conventional doctors from childhood onward. Antibiotic use as a solution for every infection is ingrained in our culture. Every time you take an antibiotic throughout your life, you disrupt your gut flora for up to 12 months.
Berberine, a compound found in several bitter herbs and other plants that’s well known for helping to balance the gut microflora. It’s been used for centuries to address intestinal disorders and digestive problems. “Berberine works very nicely because it stays predominantly in the GI tract, isn’t absorbed, and it’s active against gut pathogens,” Dr. Rawls says. That helps tip the scales toward healthy bacteria, keeping the bad guys from taking over.
Anal itching is the irritation of the skin at the exit of the rectum, known as the anus, accompanied by the desire to scratch. Causes include everything from irritating foods we eat, to certain diseases, and infections. Treatment options include medicine including, local anesthetics, for example, lidocaine (Xylocaine), pramoxine (Fleet Pain-Relief), and benzocaine (Lanacane Maximum Strength), vasoconstrictors, for example, phenylephrine 0.25% (Medicone Suppository, Preparation H, Rectocaine), protectants, for example, glycerin, kaolin, lanolin, mineral oil (Balneol), astringents, for example, witch hazel and calamine, antiseptics, for example, boric acid and phenol, aeratolytics, for example, resorcinol, analgesics, for example, camphor and juniper tar, and
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“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.
A closer look at the science underlying microbe-based treatments, however, shows that most of the health claims for probiotics are pure hype. The majority of studies to date have failed to reveal any benefits in individuals who are already healthy. The bacteria seem to help only those people suffering from a few specific intestinal disorders. “There is no evidence to suggest that people with normal gastrointestinal tracts can benefit from taking probiotics,” says Matthew Ciorba, a gastroenterologist at Washington University in St. Louis. “If you're not in any distress, I would not recommend them.” Emma Allen-Vercoe, a microbiologist at the University of Guelph in Ontario, agrees. For the most part, she says, “the claims that are made are enormously inflated.”
If you struggle with post-meal gas, bloating, and other problems, your body might not be making sufficient digestive enzymes. Gut imbalances, stress, and age are among the factors that inhibit the digestive process. For many patients, supplements that replenish digestive enzymes can reduce or eliminate those problems, especially while you’re healing your gut.
The newest trend in probiotics is customized formulations that are said to be based on your unique microbiome needs. Companies develop them after testing your stool sample for different microbes, and then selecting probiotics they say you lack in your gut. “While it may be a step in the right direction, the science and technology have a long way to go before this is a viable option,” says Dr. Rawls.

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What about prebiotics vs probiotics? Prebiotics are the food fibers that go through the gut unchanged and are then used by good colon bacteria as a food source for their own growth. Everyone already has most of these good bacteria present, but often in small quantities. Prebiotics are used to stimulate their growth. Simply stated, you already grow your own probiotics within your colon. You do not rely on them to make the passage through the stomach acid — acid that can destroy many probiotic bacteria. That’s why taking a probiotic supplement or adding probiotic foods to your diet does not always help your digestive system. You can eat as many probiotic bacteria as you want, but if they don’t survive the trip to the colon, your effort will be fruitless.
A long-term reduced intake of fermentable carbohydrates for the treatment of IBS (as in a low FODMAP diet) can also negatively affect the bacteria in the gut. It is therefore important that these foods are only omitted for a specified time under the guidance of a specialist dietitian as the implications of long-term avoidance needs further research. 
“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.”

Probiotics are being used with increasing frequency as a treatment for several medical conditions, such as allergic diseases (atopic dermatitis, possibly allergic rhinitis), bacterial vaginosis, urinary tract infections, and prevention of dental caries or respiratory infections. Probiotics are used as a treatment for a variety of gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. In this review, the historical perspectives, proposed mechanisms of action, formulations and delivery systems, safety, and specific GI disorders for which probiotics have been used are discussed.


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. 

When seeking out the best probiotic for you, consider your overall health, dietary needs, antibiotic use, GI challenges, and similar concerns. Then, review our list of the ten best probiotic supplements, which offer everything from raw probiotics, which must be refrigerated, to shelf-stable, slow-release probiotics that concentrate fewer CFUs in tiny, once-daily capsules.
The Bifidobacteria (Bifidus) predominantly live in your colon or large intestine. They produce the very important short-chain fatty acid butyrate, which supplies energy to your colon cells to keep them functioning optimally. But butyrate also gets absorbed by the body, regulating a variety of metabolic processes, including your sensitivity to the hormone insulin (which regulates blood sugar) and even memory formation in the brain. The most beneficial of these are B. lactis and B. longum. Research shows the benefits for Bifidobacteria include reducing inflammatory bowel disease and several cancers, especially colon cancer. Another study showed that a specific strain of Bifidobacterium lactis helped control body fat mass and reduced waist circumference and food intake.

Probiotic supplements come in tablet, powder, capsule, and liquid forms. They do not provide the nutritional boost that probiotic foods do, but they are another option to promote a healthy mix of gut bacteria. Different probiotics may be recommended to different individuals. Ask your doctor if probiotic supplements are recommended for you. Some people who have immune system disorders or weak immune systems should be cautious about taking probiotic supplements. Follow your healthcare provider's advice.


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.
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.
Probiotics can also help offset the bacterial imbalance caused by taking antibiotics. Antibiotics kill good bacteria along with the harmful ones, often leading to gas, cramping or diarrhea. Potential benefits of probiotics have been seen in the treatment or prevention of many conditions such as diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn's disease.
Years after Mechinkoff’s experiments, scientists began conducting tests which involved feeding strains of bacteria to humans and rats and observing changes in the fecal microbiota to measure the changes of the intestinal flora. Researchers soon found that L. acidophilus was especially beneficial when implanted in the human digestive tract and could confer a multitude of health benefits, including relief from constipation.
If these issues and many others are connected to gut health, then what elements are essential for digestive health? Consider this: According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, upward of 60 million to 70 million Americans are affected by digestive diseases. In addition, digestive disease and disorders cost the United States over $100 billion per year.
Probiotics may seem new to the food and supplement industry, but they have been with us from our first breath. During a delivery through the birth canal, a newborn picks up the bacteria Bacteroides, Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Escherichia coli from his/her mother. These good bacteria are not transmitted when a Cesarean section is performed and have been shown to be the reason why some infants born by C-section have allergies, less than optimal immune systems, and lower levels of gut microflora.
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. 
“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.”

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]

Hi Julia. I am 71 (male) and have had digestive issues for most of my life and no specific diagnosis. I eat fairly well, am not overweight, get gassy from many different foods and beverages. I have been using Culturelle for 9 months and feel the benefit from taking it is small. Your review leads me to believe there may be better choices. They certainly are not cheap but I will gladly pay for them if they give me results. I am probably going to try BlueBiotics unless you have other suggestions. My main question is since I live in Minnesota I will receive shipments in the summer with temps of up to + 100F and winters down to – 15F. Will this cause a decrease in product viability for this or other brands you recommended? Thank you for your help.

Sure, we know yogurt is good for us. It contains vitamins, minerals, protein, and bugs. Bugs? Yes, but don't panic. They're friendly. Probiotics can improve a number of health conditions, from overall immune function to gut health and more. But, what exactly are probiotics (besides, well, bugs) and what is their role in the human body? Here, we learn why supermarket shelves are popping with new probiotic products and why we should be including them in our diet.

We also found strains linked to five other health benefits like weight loss and lowering cholesterol. We feature options for those cases below, but they aren’t top picks because those use cases aren’t as heavily researched as immune health or IBS relief. Still, chances are any probiotic supplement is going to make some improvement to your digestive health, so don’t be afraid to experiment.


Diarrhea is a change is the frequency and looseness of bowel movements. Symptoms associated with diarrhea are cramping, abdominal pain, and the sensation of rectal urgency. Causes of diarrhea include viral, bacterial, or parasite infection, gastroenteritis, food poisoning, and drugs. Absorbents and anti-motility medications are used to treat diarrhea.
“I’d probably stay away from store brands and pay a little extra for the name brand that’s been studied,” Dr. Cresci adds. “Ideally, look for a product that’s been tested for whatever you’re looking to address. It might say it helps with IBS, but you wouldn’t take that same product if you were taking antibiotics. You would want a product that helps with immunity. That’s where a lot of people get confused.”

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.

^ 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.


"We found an increase in the number of good bacteria" among the babies given the probiotic says Underwood. By measuring samples of the babies' poop, they documented a 79 percent increase in levels of bifidobacteria, a type of bacteria that is thought to be protective. At the same time, Underwood and his team also measured a decrease in potentially harmful bacteria such as clostridium in the babies' guts.
The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The contents of this website are not medical advice and are intended for general knowledge and informational purposes only. Probiotics support many facets of overall health when taken regularly as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.
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.
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.

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.
Yet that’s how probiotics are often offered. They can be distributed in the United States as food, supplements or drugs. The regulations for each are very different. Most people looking for probiotics don’t see the distinctions. Ideally, the ways in which we use and consume probiotics would conform to the data and evidence that back them up. That rarely happens.

Our body normally has what we would call good or helpful bacteria and bad or harmful bacteria. Maintaining the correct balance between these bacteria is necessary for optimal health. Age, genetics, and diet may influence the composition of the bacteria in the body (microbiota). An imbalance is called dysbiosis, and this has possible links to diseases of the intestinal tract, including ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, and Crohn's disease, as well as more systemic diseases such as obesity and type 1 and type 2 diabetes. How do you know if you need probiotics? This article will help you decide.

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.
Probiotics help tip the balance back in favor of the good bacteria. In doing so, they may provide some relief if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, acute infectious diarrhea, and diarrhea associated with antibiotic use or Clostridium difficile (C.diff) infection. They also can boost your immunity, fight inflammation and potentially have beneficial effects on cholesterol.
Like many of my patients, 33-year-old Dawn didn’t initially make the connection between irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), depression, and overall gut health. While we discussed her digestive problems during our initial consultation, she casually mentioned her primary care physician wanted to wean her off selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These antidepressant medications change your brain chemistry but also wreak havoc on your gut and impair nutrient digestion.
While it produces no sensations for you to detect, an entire natural ecosystem is living in your digestive tract. In the average person, 100 trillion microorganisms reside in the healthy bowel with more than 500 different species accounted for in their vast numbers. Some of these bacteria are harmful and can produce symptoms of illness. However, there are healthy good bacteria present to keep them in check. Among these bacteria are Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium or bifidus. In some people, levels of the healthy bacteria are below the norm. Low levels can be caused by taking antibiotics, which kill good bacteria. This allows harmful bacteria to reproduce rapidly and cause various symptoms. Probiotic rich foods and dietary supplements may help to re-balance the gut. They add live cultured good bacteria to the stomach. In addition, the healthy bacteria may assist with digestion, strengthen the immune system and help nutrients become absorbed more efficiently.

There are numerous types of probiotics and each has different characteristics. They may be combined with others or appear on their own in powder, tablet or liquid dietary supplements. At the moment, foods that naturally contain probiotics are not eaten regularly in the UK and supplements are becoming more popular. The most common probiotics include lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium. These differ as they are made up of different types or strains of bacteria, and are recommended for different clinical conditions. Lactobacillus acidophilus have been clinically shown to lower the incidence of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea and can also result in a shorter length of stay in hospital for some. In order to experience this benefit, a vast quantity of food containing probiotics would need to be consumed. It is therefore easier and more effective to take a recommended probiotic supplement. 

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.
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