Having a healthy gut flora means an abundance for your health, digestion, well-being, and even beauty! As we saw last week, there’s ongoing communication between your GI and your brain, known as the gut brain axis. This means a healthy gut can benefit the regularity of your digestion as well as cognitive function like mood and depression, and even the health and appearance of your skin.
While past studies have investigated similar questions, they have all used patients' excrement as a proxy for microbe activity in the GI tract. Instead, Elinav, his colleague Eran Segal, (a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute), and their teams spearheaded by Niv Zmora, Jotham Suez, Gili Zilberman Schapira, and Uria Mor of the Elinav lab collaborated with Zamir Halpern, Chief of Gastroenterology at the Tel Aviv Medical Center to measure gut colonization directly.

How you eat is just as important as what you eat. Your eating philosophy not only factors into your food choices but also into how your body digests and assimilates foods. Slow down when you eat, really taste your food, chew thoroughly, breathe deeply, and be present with your company. Many people have a no-technology rule during family meals. A good rule of thumb is if you need to have a drink to help you swallow your food, you’re probably eating too fast, swallowing air, and not chewing enough.
Many studies have shown that probiotics reduce diarrhea associated with taking antibiotics in both adults and children. In fact, it is common for physicians and pharmacists to recommend eating a probiotic-fortified yogurt every day during a course of antibiotics to prevent diarrhea. More research is needed to determine which probiotics are associated with the greatest effect for specific antibiotics.
Of course, your gut microbiome can only do this when it’s healthy and in balance, which is where probiotics come in. Since so many factors can deplete your beneficial bacteria—including everything from exposure to antibiotics in food or medication to spending too much time inside—supplementing with a premium probiotic is almost always necessary to maintain balance.
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Probiotics can help protect against common gynecological conditions such as bacterial vaginosis, candidiasis, and urinary tract infections, says Jennifer McDaniel, MS, RDN, CSSD, a dietitian in St. Louis, MO. “Bacteria can pass through our digestive system into the vagina, so we have the opportunity to consume probiotics that can benefit our vaginal health. L. rhamnosus GR-1 and L. reuteri RC-14 are evidenced-based probiotic strains for women’s urogenital health. Not only do they disrupt the infection of a range of unhealthy bacteria and yeast in the vagina, they offer benefits to the vagina and reduce the risk of problems such as bladder infections.” Fem Dophilus, made by Jarrow Formulas, has the critical strains and the company adheres to the highest production standards, she says.
Survival past stomach acids - probiotic powder in capsule form is ill prepared when it comes to protecting the delicate bacteria from being pulverized by the harsh environment of the stomach acids. Worse, most of the organisms tend to die off before they reach their intended destination due to moisture that gets trapped between the capsule shell and the powder.
The GI tract plays an important role as an interface between the host and the environment. It is colonized by about 10 trillion microbes of many different species, amounting to 1–2 kg in weight [O’Hara and Shanahan, 2006]. Only a minority (300–500) of these species can be cultured in vitro and studied [O’Hara and Shanahan, 2006]. Intestinal epithelial cells have the capacity to distinguish pathogenic from nonpathogenic bacteria on the basis of their invasiveness and the presence of flagella, although the exact mechanisms that allow them to do this have not been elucidated fully [Borchers et al. 2009].
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.
"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."
Got your gut on your mind? Then you’re probably up on the health benefits of probiotics. From boosting immunity to improving digestion, probiotics have been touted as the “superhero” of the gut bacteria underworld. And yet, there’s a lot we still don’t know about probiotics because the research is just heating up. To date, most studies that have been done on probiotics are on the Lactobaccilus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus thermophilus strains. Meanwhile, there are, oh, upwards of 100 trillion gut-friendly bacteria out there — some of which are popping up in trendy new waters, chocolates, nut butters and more. Here’s what you need to know before giving your gut the royal treatment.

Your gut comes in continuous contact with important nutrients your body needs, but also toxins, food additives, microbes, and drugs that regularly pass through your digestive tract. Your gut has a huge task to not only serve as a porous filter for the building blocks of life but also to keep out all the detrimental substances you may be exposed to. Beyond being a gatekeeper, your gut digests food and absorbs nutrients, maintains an immune barrier, and helps you detoxify, all while maintaining the correct balance of healthy flora or probiotic (from the Greek pro = "for"; biota = "life") bacteria.
Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook says there’s no single best strain of bacteria, though some strains, like L. Acidophilus or B. Bacterium, have wide-reaching effects. They often act as a starting point from which to add other strains with more specific impacts. Already have probiotics on hand or want to arm yourself with raw knowledge before you shop? The table below shows the research- and expert-backed strains we looked for in each use case:
I didn’t know there was much of a difference between probiotics until I did some research. After realizing the ones I had been getting were probably not doing anything for me, I wanted to invest in a better option. This brand checked all the boxes and was still really affordable! I’ve been taking them for about a week now and I can tell a difference! The first few days I didn’t feel too great but realized it was because this probiotic was actually doing something for me and rebalancing my gut. Now I feel less bloated and all around healthier. I will definitely be getting more!
33 of 37 passed all purity tests, indicating an absence of harmful contaminant yeast, mold residues and bacteria, including the pathogenic strain of E. coli (E. coli O157:H7), Salmonella spp., and Staphylococcus aureus. The U.S. Pharmacopeia6 recommends a microbial limit of 100 CFU/g of combined yeast and mold in dietary supplements and non-detectable limits of E.coli, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus aureus. If a product met these standards, it received a full score.
Bacteria die out over time. Some supplements list the potency when they were manufactured (before they rode in a truck, sat on the shelf at the grocery store, or hung out in the kitchen cupboard for a few months). In this case, there could be dramatically fewer viable bacteria by the time you consume them than when they were first encapsulated, and good bacteria are no good to you dead.
Bacteria die out over time. Some supplements list the potency when they were manufactured (before they rode in a truck, sat on the shelf at the grocery store, or hung out in the kitchen cupboard for a few months). In this case, there could be dramatically fewer viable bacteria by the time you consume them than when they were first encapsulated, and good bacteria are no good to you dead.
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.
Probiotics have become buzzy in recent years: Celebrities including Lauren Conrad and Anna Paquin have been spotted carrying bottles of kombucha, a probiotic-containing fermented tea, and the probiotics market has been growing rapidly as more people pursue better health by taking probiotic supplements. Prebiotics are attracting notice too, but you may still be unsure of what exactly prebiotics and probiotics are. Here's what you need to know about them to decide whether taking supplements is right for you.
Some literature gives the word a full Greek etymology,[66][67] but it appears to be a composite of the Latin preposition pro, meaning 'for', and the Greek adjective βιωτικός (biōtikos), meaning 'fit for life, lively',[68] the latter deriving from the noun βίος (bios), meaning 'life'.[69] The term contrasts etymologically with the term antibiotic, although it is not a complete antonym. The related term prebiotic comes from the Latin prae, meaning 'before', and refers to a substance that is not digested, but rather may be fermented to promote the growth of beneficial intestinal microorganisms.[70]
But other research, especially in healthy adults, shows little benefit from taking probiotics. And in fact, it may even introduce new symptoms: One small study of 30 subjects, published in the journal Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology, showed that taking a lot of probiotics can result in symptoms like brain fog and bloating in those using them for GI complaints.

Like adults, children also require the proper balance of flora in the stomach to remain in good health. A major health care study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that probiotic supplements could be beneficial for children under certain circumstances. More research is needed. However, the study indicates that children who take probiotics at the first signs of viral diarrhea exhibit symptoms for shorter periods of time than those who do not. The study also found positive evidence that probiotics reduce the chances of diarrhea caused by antibiotic use in kids. More research is required to confirm these results. However, many pediatricians already recommend probiotics to parents based on the data.


These statistics are staggering, yet poor gut health actually affects much greater numbers than these statistics illustrate because your digestive health affects every physiological system in your body. How is this such a complex system? Well, for one, the human microbiome contains 360 times more protein-coding genes than human genes themselves contain.
In the gastrointestinal tract, L. plantarum can help regulate immunity and control inflammation. A 2007 study found that the probiotic could suppress an inflammatory response in the gut. Perhaps most significantly, a double-blind placebo-controlled study over four weeks concluded that L. Plantarum 299v provided effective symptom relief, especially of abdominal pain and bloating, in patients with IBS [1].
“Since brain fog, weight gain, and skin problems can stem from poor gut health, it was important for me to have a probiotic I can recommend to my patients,” says Will Cole, DC, a functional medicine practitioner in Pittsburgh. “I developed this probiotic with 100 billion CFUs per capsule and four strains of beneficial bacteria, including the extensively studied HN019 strain of B. lactis.” Bowel issues and brain fog are two of the fibromyalgia symptoms you might be ignoring.
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.
Probiotics have been consumed by humans in one form or another for over 100 years, with a good safety record generally. A Finnish epidemiological study has shown no increase in Lactobacillus infections in healthy individuals in areas with documented large rises of use of Lactobacillus-containing products [Saxelin et al. 1996]. Probiotic supplementation has been studied in healthy volunteers, and the data suggest that several probiotic strains may enhance nonspecific immune responses, but the effects on adaptive cellular and humoral immune responses appear to be negligible [Borchers et al. 2009].
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 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.

Smits H.H., Engering A., van der Kleij D., de Jong E.C., Schipper K., van Capel T.M., et al. (2005) Selective probiotic bacteria induce IL-10-producing regulatory T cells in vitro by modulating dendritic cell function through dendritic cell-specific intercellular adhesion molecule 3-grabbing nonintegrin J Allergy Clin Immunol 115: 1260–1267 [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
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