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.
^ Cuello-Garcia CA, Brożek JL, Fiocchi A, Pawankar R, Yepes-Nuñez JJ, Terracciano L, Gandhi S, Agarwal A, Zhang Y, Schünemann HJ (2015). "Probiotics for the prevention of allergy: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials". J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. (Systematic review & meta-analysis). 136 (4): 952–61. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2015.04.031. PMID 26044853.
"I usually recommend Garden of Life, BioK or Megafoods brand," says Shapiro. "I also recommend starting with about 30 billion CFU and making sure your supplement has at least 12 different strains. And if you don't eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains that provide fiber for the probiotics to live off of, make sure you're the one you are taking contains prebiotics as well.
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.”

But what if investigators could design probiotics to treat specific individuals? Many researchers think personalized probiotics are the most promising path forward for patients with compromised gut microbiomes. Last year Jens Walter of the University of Alberta and his colleagues published a study that gives a glimpse of this potential future. The researchers decided to see what it would take to get the bacteria in a probiotic to successfully colonize the intestines of 23 volunteers. They chose a particular strain of Bifidobacterium longum that earlier studies had indicated could survive in the human intestine. In the study, the volunteers consumed either a drink containing 10 billion live B. longum bacteria or a placebo in the form of a glucose-based food additive (maltodextrin) each day for two weeks. Periodic fecal samples revealed higher than typical levels of B. longum in participants who did not consume the placebo.
The first major finding was that many people were essentially resistant to any effect from probiotics and their gut microbiome did not change after taking them.  Of 19 people in the study taking probiotics consisting of 11 of the most commonly found strains, only 8 had any notable colonization of their gut with the bacteria in the probiotics, with 3 people considered to have significant colonization and 5 people with "mild" colonization.
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.
In an ideal world, women could probably get away with just “eating right.” But this would be a world in which food didn’t contain preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, or products derived from genetically modified plants. It would be a world free of toxins in the air we breathe and the water we drink. And, perhaps most importantly, it would be a world in which we were not exposed to various medications and other environmental threats that can wreak havoc on our gut bacteria and open the door for declining health.
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.
A slightly more surprising result, however, seems to be the way that probiotics may impact some of the symptoms of autism. Autism and gut health have been discussed for some time, as patients with the disorder typically suffer from a large number of digestive issues. However, based on animal studies, it seems possible that altering the quality of gut bacteria might benefit not only the digestive system, but the abnormal behaviors in autism, too. In 2016, a case study of a boy with severe autism was reported. While being treated with probiotics for digestive problems, the patient spontaneously improved on the ADOS scale, a diagnostic rating system for people with autism. The score dropped from 20 down three points to a stable 17, and according to the report, ADOS scores do not “fluctuate spontaneously along time” and are “absolutely stable.”

Here they perform a dual role: firstly, a probiotic supplement can ensure that the gut flora remains healthy and well-balanced. This could speed up the return to normal defecation. Secondly, serious diarrhoea can cause the gut flora to become depleted, which can slow recovery. In some cases, symptoms may even worsen. Once again, probiotic supplements can help you to regain a healthy balance of intestinal bacteria.

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.


Although some probiotics have shown promise in research studies, strong scientific evidence to support specific uses of probiotics for most health conditions is lacking. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any probiotics for preventing or treating any health problem. Some experts have cautioned that the rapid growth in marketing and use of probiotics may have outpaced scientific research for many of their proposed uses and benefits.
What's more, people who have serious heart issues commonly have S. mutans in their heart valves—this is an undesirable type of bacteria that’s actually more often found in the mouth. If your oral microbiome is in balance, S. mutans are normally kept in control by more beneficial species, but if things get out of balance, they can reproduce and make their way into your bloodstream via openings in your gums, compromising your cardiovascular function.3
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) calls probiotics “live microorganisms (in most cases, bacteria) that are similar to beneficial microorganisms found in the human gut.” The NCCIH makes the point that we often think of bacteria as harmful “germs” — however, probiotic bacteria actually helps the body function properly.
^ Huys, G; Botteldoorn, N; Delvigne, F; Vuyst, L. D.; Heyndrickx, M; Pot, B; Dubois, J. J.; Daube, G (2013). "Microbial characterization of probiotics–Advisory report of the Working Group "8651 Probiotics" of the Belgian Superior Health Council (SHC)". Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 57 (8): 1479–1504. doi:10.1002/mnfr.201300065. PMC 3910143. PMID 23801655.
Your probiotic flora feed on nondigestible fibers called prebiotics that promote the growth of beneficial flora. The best way to get your prebiotics is to eat them. Incorporate more prebiotic-rich foods like raw chicory root, raw Jerusalem artichoke, and blanched dandelion greens. You may also take a prebiotics supplement, but so slowly. Going too fast increasing prebiotic foods or supplements can make you gassy.
If you get recurring yeast infections... The itch-meets-ouch infection is caused by an overgrowth of bad bacteria. To "recolonize" your vagina, you want the good bacteria that's found there: lactobacillus acidophilus. Go the direct route. Use 2 to 5 billion CFUs in an OTC probiotic suppository, or wet an oral capsule to soften, then insert it. Pros suggest doing this every other day at the end of your period (three times total for prevention.

Probiotics are good for your gut! New Tropicana Essentials Probiotics® is a delicious and convenient way to add more probiotics into your daily routine. Probiotics boost your body’s natural microbiome and may aid in the breakdown of non-digestible components of your diet to produce beneficial compounds that can be converted into energy, out-compete the “bad” bacteria, and interact with the cells in your intestine. To supplement your established microbiome, probiotics should be consumed regularly.


Even with antibiotic-associated diarrhea, which has the best evidence, "you could have seven people take the same probiotic and only have one report a definite difference," says gastroenterologist Matthew Ciorba, M.D., a medical professor who studies human gut microbiota at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. That's because each person's microbial makeup is as unique as a fingerprint, influenced by age, genetics, and gender. For example, animal research from the University of Texas at Austin found the microbes living in the guts of males and females react differently to the same diet. Scientists are now studying ways to harness a person's own microbes to treat illnesses, rather than going for a mass approach.
Probiotics are found in everything from chocolate and pickles to hand lotion and baby formula, and millions of people buy probiotic supplements to boost digestive health. But new research suggests they might not be as effective as we think. Through a series of experiments looking inside the human gut, researchers show that many people's digestive tracts prevent standard probiotics from successfully colonizing them. Furthermore, taking probiotics to counterbalance antibiotics could delay the return of normal gut bacteria and gut gene expression to their naïve state. The research publishes as two back-to-back papers on September 6 in the journal Cell.
Are Your Favorite Foods Disrupting Your Hormones? Are Your Favorite Foods Disrupting Your Hormones? by Beth Janes | Posted April 27th, 2018 It’s not exactly breaking news that a diet loaded with sweets isn’t good for you.… How to Quit Sugar: 10 Steps to Fight Cravings and Sugar Withdrawal How to Quit Sugar: 10 Steps to Fight Cravings and Sugar Withdrawal by Beth Janes | Posted July 20, 2018 Most of us can agree: A little sugar here and… Is Your Diet Making You Nutrient Deficient? Do These Popular Diets Make You Nutrient Deficient? by Carin Gorrell | Posted February 2nd, 2018 Eating well and meeting all of the daily nutritional recommendations is hard enough when… Is Your Poop Trying to Tell You Something? Is Your Poop Trying to Tell You Something? by Beth Janes | Posted August 17, 2018 “Let’s talk about bowel movements,” said no one ever. Even when talking to your…
The intestinal tract is the organ in the body that digests and absorbs food. It is populated by trillions of bacteria that are required for keeping the body healthy. These bacteria can be affected by a number of aspects including antibiotic use, a diet low in fibre, fruit and vegetables and infective diarrhoea. When this occurs, probiotics can help to reset the balance.
Probiotics are live microorganisms (bacteria or yeast) that have been shown to have a health benefit for humans. They are available in supplement form or in probiotic foods and drinks. Probiotics are thought to be akin to (and to increase the level of) the "good" bacteria found in your intestines. These "good" bacteria are thought to enhance our health through their support of our immune systems.
Probiotics' side effects, if they occur, tend to be mild and digestive (such as gas or bloating). More serious effects have been seen in some people. Probiotics might theoretically cause infections that need to be treated with antibiotics, especially in people with underlying health conditions. They could also cause unhealthy metabolic activities, too much stimulation of the immune system, or gene transfer (insertion of genetic material into a cell).
Dietary fiber comes in two "flavors," and they each play a different role in gut health. Soluble fiber attracts water and forms a gel-like substance during digestion, helping you feel full longer and slowing the rate at which sugar from food enters your bloodstream. Soluble fiber also doubles as a prebiotic to feed your good gut flora (more on that in a minute). Good soluble fiber sources include apples, beans, blueberries, and freshly ground flaxseed. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, is found in vegetables and whole grains and provides bulk to your stool and prevents constipation. Because it doesn’t dissolve in water, insoluble fiber passes through your gut relatively intact, promoting the passage of food and waste. Most foods contain a blend of soluble and insoluble fiber. If you also supplement, look for a powder that contains a blend of soluble and insoluble fibers that mimic what you get in food.

Probiotics may also be of use in maintaining urogenital health. Like the intestinal tract, the vagina is a finely balanced ecosystem. The dominant Lactobacilli strains normally make it too acidic for harmful microorganisms to survive. But the system can be thrown out of balance by a number of factors, including antibiotics, spermicides, and birth control pills. Probiotic treatment that restores the balance of microflora may be helpful for such common female urogenital problems as bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection, and urinary tract infection.
If this ratio gets out of balance, the condition is known as dysbiosis, which means there’s an imbalance of too much of a certain type of fungus, yeast or bacteria that affects the body in a negative way. By consuming certain types of probiotics foods and dietary supplements (often in capsule form), you can help bring these ratios back into balance.

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.
Deep Immune Support Probiotics started with a simple premise: Most probiotic strains present on the market today cannot survive the acidic environment of the human digestive system. Additionally, most of the most powerful probiotics require refrigeration, meaning they won’t survive standard delivery services or even room temperatures during your commute or travel.
But what if investigators could design probiotics to treat specific individuals? Many researchers think personalized probiotics are the most promising path forward for patients with compromised gut microbiomes. Last year Jens Walter of the University of Alberta and his colleagues published a study that gives a glimpse of this potential future. The researchers decided to see what it would take to get the bacteria in a probiotic to successfully colonize the intestines of 23 volunteers. They chose a particular strain of Bifidobacterium longum that earlier studies had indicated could survive in the human intestine. In the study, the volunteers consumed either a drink containing 10 billion live B. longum bacteria or a placebo in the form of a glucose-based food additive (maltodextrin) each day for two weeks. Periodic fecal samples revealed higher than typical levels of B. longum in participants who did not consume the placebo.
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.
Did someone say chocolate? Yes, you can have your probiotics and eat your chocolate too with these Digestive Advantage probiotic bites from Schiff. Easy to pop, they contain BC20, a probiotic that the manufacturer says survives stomach acid better than other probiotics and even yogurt. Made with dark chocolate, they contain just 30 calories per serving (one chew) and no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
Further complicating things is that the mix of bacteria in people’s guts varies widely — in fact, it’s probably unique to you, like a fingerprint. What’s more, your microbiome can change based on your diet or lifestyle, or due to illness, so what might work for one person with a certain condition or symptom might not won’t work for another, Dr. Rawls says.
Prebiotics and probiotics have been trending for a while now, but lately they’re getting even more attention — and showing up in more and more products, from packaged foods (pizza crust!) to topical skin-care products. It’s no surprise consumers are interested: As scientists learn more about the trillions of bacteria that inhabit our bodies and the role they play in our health, some have touted beneficial bugs as a cure-all for digestive distress and other health problems.
Clinical Guide to Probiotic Products Available in the United States and Clinical Guide to Probiotic Products Available in Canada. 2017 Editions. An independent tool for healthcare professionals, developed by the Alliance for Education on Probiotics (AEP) and made possible through an unrestricted education grant by Danone, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Metagenics, P&G and Seroyal. For an interactive version, free mobile download: USA version:  Google Play and the App Store; Canada version: App Store and Google Play.
The trillions of bacteria in your gut play many roles including encouraging proper intestinal permeability (keeping things within your gut that shouldn’t slip out) and keeping out unfavorable bacteria, yeast, and parasites. You’ll always have some bad guys, but you want to keep your gut predominantly filled with good bacteria. To do that, eat plenty of fermented food like unpasteurized sauerkraut, kimchi, and no-sugar-added coconut yogurt. You might also want to supplement with a professional-quality probiotic. Look for dairy-free probiotics that contain at least 15 billion CFUs each of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium (a total of 30 billion CFUs) guaranteed by the manufacturer through the expiration date. Take on an empty stomach once or twice a day for at least three months, and keep probiotics refrigerated after opening to maintain their freshness and potency. If you have a leaky gut or inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis), you may need to take up to a total of 200 billion CFUs daily. For those and other conditions that require very high-dose probiotics, I recommend working with a gut-health specialist.

Although people often think of bacteria and other microorganisms as harmful “germs,” many microorganisms help our bodies function properly. For example, bacteria that are normally present in our intestines help digest food, destroy disease-causing microorganisms, and produce vitamins. Large numbers of microorganisms live on and in our bodies. Many of the microorganisms in probiotic products are the same as or similar to microorganisms that naturally live in our bodies.

Doctors recommend that vaginal and oral administration of Lactobacilli help in the treatment of bacterial vaginosis. There is still some evidence required to recommend it over other medical approaches. However, women who consume probiotics report improved vaginal health and are also likely to encounter fewer pregnancy-related complications resulting due to bacterial vaginosis.

If you have an immune system problem or another serious health condition, you may have a greater chance of issues. Some reports have linked probiotics to serious infections and other side effects. The people most likely to have trouble are those with immune system problems, people who've had surgery, and others who are critically ill. Don't take probiotics if you have any of those issues.


Bifidobacteria were first isolated from a breast-fed infant by Henry Tissier, who also worked at the Pasteur Institute. The isolated bacterium named Bacillus bifidus communis[56] was later renamed to the genus Bifidobacterium. Tissier found that bifidobacteria are dominant in the gut microbiota of breast-fed babies and he observed clinical benefits from treating diarrhea in infants with bifidobacteria.
A large analysis reviewed available research and determined that probiotics help lower blood pressure by improving lipid profiles, reducing insulin resistance, regulating renin levels (a protein and enzyme secreted by the kidneys to lower blood pressure) and activating antioxidants. Researchers consider them valuable prospects in the treatment of high blood pressure because their side effects are generally minimal or nonexistent. (82, 83)

Historically, people had plenty of probiotics in their diets from eating fresh foods from good soil and by fermenting foods to keep them from spoiling. Over a century ago, the Russian Nobel Prize winner Elie Metchnikoff theorized that “health could be enhanced and senility delayed by manipulating the intestinal microbiome with host-friendly bacteria found in yogurt.” Metchnikoff was ahead of his time with his view of probiotics benefits, but he also was aware that most citizens had regular access to probiotic foods.
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.”
“Aside from the beneficial probiotics, this has plant-based compounds like ginger to soothe upset stomachs and support healthy digestive function,” says Beth Warren, MS, RDN, a dietitian in New York City. It also has prebiotics, which encourage the growth of healthy bacteria that support the well being of pregnant and breastfeeding women, she explains. “The formula has L. rhamnosus HN001, which has been shown to support the child’s developing immune system during the last trimester and early breastfeeding period.”
The gut microbiota has been implicated in diseases ranging from obesity to Parkinson's disease and depression. Little wonder then that commercial probiotics have gained widespread popularity and are now estimated to command a US$37 billion market worldwide. But with research into the microbiome still in its infancy, increasing evidence suggests that both commercial and clinical use of probiotics is outpacing the science.
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]
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.

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.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, fermented foods are generally considered warming and are easier to digest than unfermented foods. Certain probiotic foods may also be associated with other health benefits in Traditional Chinese Medicine as well; tempeh, for example, is used to help tonify the qi and blood while sauerkraut promotes bile flow and benefits the liver.

It is well known that people with lactose intolerance can often consume yogurt with few symptoms. This is because the probiotics in yogurt help digest the lactose in the small intestine, before it reaches the colon. In addition, the yogurt starter cultures L. bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus help to break down the lactose. Because of its probiotics, yogurt is a good way for people with lactose intolerance to consume the recommended servings of dairy without experiencing uncomfortable symptoms they may get from other dairy products.
She totally did, but you may have noticed that you don't see those yogurt commercials anymore. That’s because in 2010, the Federal Trade Commission in conjunction with 39 states' attorney generals banned those ads, finding that the Dannon Company had no scientific evidence to back up their claims,. Dannon had to pay $21 million to resolve the associated investigations.
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].
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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