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.
This specific strain of bacteria consistently ranks as a contender for the best probiotic for constipation and healthy digestion. And according to one study out of Iran, it may also be the best probiotic for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In fact, researchers showed that treating patients with IBS using Bacillus coagulans helped significantly improve diarrhea and reduce abdominal pain compared to a placebo. (2)

While more research is necessary to fully understand the benefits of different probiotic strains, we do know that not all probiotics are created equal. The Lactobacilli, for instance, live in our digestive, urinary, and genital systems and can be found in some fermented foods like yogurt. Bifidobacteria normally live in the intestines as lactic acid bacteria, and are also found in fermented foods. According to nutrition expert Alex Caspero, RD, “For certain conditions, you want to ensure you’re taking the strand that is most likely to benefit you.” Here’s a simple breakdown to help you determine the best probiotic for you.
The high quality supplement comes in veggie capsule form, and no refrigeration is necessary. This probiotic is made in an FDA registered facility (in the US), and it meets GMP standards. It’s an all natural supplement, that’s free of lactose, soy and gluten. It also contains no artificial coloring. DNA Shift probiotic also offers prebiotic fiber for an extra healthy brain and gut.

"The name itself is derived from the Latin 'pro-' meaning 'for' and the Greek '-biotic' meaning 'life,'" explains Jeannel Astarita, skincare expert and founder of Just Ageless NYC Wellness and Medspa. "Probiotics are the helpful bacteria that live primarily in your gut and play a crucial role in your overall health by fighting pathogens and yeast that lead to a weakened immune system."

In addition to the prophylactic effect of stocking your gut with good bacteria, there are some probiotic strains that have also shown promise in treating symptoms of autoimmune disorders, including L. Paracasei and L. Acidophilus. Others, like B. Lactis, could help prevent respiratory infections. Renew Life Flora Extra Care has all three targeted bacteria strains at 30 billion CFUs per serving.
Research suggests probiotics work better as a team. Even pairs are more effective than individuals. Take the strains Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Bifidobacterium Bifidum BB-12, for example. When combined, this duo-force has been shown to help treat GI-specific ailments. In fact, one survey found 75 percent of studies that compared the effect of a strain mixture with a single-strain supplement showed a mixture was more effective at improving irritable bowel symptoms, immune function, and digestive health.

One review of probiotics benefits for necrotizing enterocolitis was bold enough to say, “The results confirm the significant benefits of probiotic supplements in reducing death and disease in preterm neonates. The … evidence indicate that additional placebo-controlled trials are unnecessary if a suitable probiotic product is available.” Regarding sepsis in developing countries (where it is overwhelmingly more common), a 2017 randomized, controlled trial claims that a large number of these cases “could be effectively prevented” if mothers are given a synbiotic (probiotic and prebiotic together) that contains the probiotic strain L. plantarum.


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].


Vitamin Bounty’s probiotic contains a variety of well-studied strains and a competitive 25 Billion CFU. It also contains a natural prebiotic resistant starch, rice flour, to fuel the strains this probiotic supplies. Over 95% of Pro 25’s strains were still active and viable, the second highest observed strain viability out of all probiotics reviewed-to-date!
“This product contains L. plantarum 299v, which has been found to be effective in treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition millions of women suffer from,” says Ryan Whitcomb, MS, RD, CLT, a dietitian in Jersey City, NJ. “This strain helps reduce abdominal pain, bloating, the feeling of incomplete evacuation, and stool frequency.” Avoid these 10 foods that can make IBS worse.
Probi is continuously thriving to develop and investigate new possible indications where probiotics may have positive and efficient effects to improve health. We are science-driven, and investigate new possibilities to find the Next Generation Probiotics. This concept involves new bacterial strains that has never before been cultivated and used for health-purposes. 

Other ingredients: Maltodextrin, hypromellose (capsule), ferment media (organic Saccharomyces cerevisiae, organic gum acacia, organic soy flour, organic molasses, lactic acid bacteria [Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum and Lactobacillus rhamnosus], bromelain [deactivated] and papain [deactivated]), glycerin, silicon dioxide, microcrystalline cellulose, rice extract and sunflower oil.
However, it’s not just digestive woes that probiotics can help address. A clinical case series followed 300 patients who took a probiotic mixture of L. acidophilus and L. bulgaricus. They documented that 80% of acne patients had some degree of clinical improvement, particularly effective in inflammatory acne. Later, an Italian study involving 40 patients found L. acidophilus and B. bifidum supplementation produced better clinical outcomes in acne as well as better tolerance and compliance with antibiotics [2].
The U.S. Clinical Guide to Probiotic Products1, Canadian Guide to Probiotic Supplements2 and the WGO Global Guidelines for Probiotics and Prebiotics3 provide suggested effective amounts of specific strains for treating certain health conditions, such as constipation or IBS. All 37 products listed the species of bacteria they contained, but only 14 listed amounts of individual strains. We found that 9 of those 14 products provided beneficial bacteria at effective levels. The Center for Responsible Nutrition recommends4 the industry move toward specifying strains as a best-practice because whether a product works and for what purpose depends on its strains.
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).
I have been taking Probiotics for IBS diagnosed about 3 years ago, and along with some diet changes, it has been nothing short of miraculous. I did have to do some trial and error to find the right bacterial strains. I recommend starting with one of the recommended products with some research for IBS; use a product with the most different strains possible. Stay on it for at least a month; if you don't see a positive result or only a partial result, try different strains. Keep a log. I unwittingly swithced products from one containing 12 strains to one containing 11 and went from awesome to awful cramps, bloating diarrhea etc, but at least now I know which strains work for me.
"Probiotics applied topically sit on the skin's surface and prevent the skin cells from seeing the bad bacteria and parasites that can cause this immune system response," confirms Engelman. "This is known as 'bacterial interference,' as probiotics protect the skin and interfere with the ability of bad bugs like bacteria and parasites to provoke an immune reaction.
Elevated levels of interleukin 6 (IL-6), IL-6R, IL-1Beta and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) [Dinan et al. 2006; Liebregts et al. 2007] and a lower IL-10/IL-12 ratio [O’Mahony et al. 2005] have been reported in IBS patients in comparison to controls, suggesting that IBS may be associated with increased pro-inflammatory cytokine secretion. However, plasma cytokine levels may not necessarily reflect the expression or levels of cytokines in the mucosa of the bowel wall, but may come from activated immune cells in the spleen or liver [Nance and Sanders, 2007]. The imbalance between IL-10 and IL-12, observed in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, was confirmed at the mucosal level in a recent study by Macsharry and colleagues suggesting that this finding may be an underlying phenotype in IBS and a potential biomarker for a subset of IBS patients [Macsharry et al. 2008]. B. infantis was shown to increase IL-10/IL-12 ratio in IBS patients [O’Mahony et al. 2005] suggesting a possible mechanism by which this probiotic may exert its effect.
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.”
This dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian probiotic delivers live microorganisms, protected in stomach acid-resistant capsules to ensure effective delivery throughout your digestive system, from the stomach through your small intestines. The result is the repair and sustained maintenance of your intestinal micro-ecology, which in turn helps support healthy immune response and bowel regularity.
^ Jump up to: a b c Rijkers GT, Bengmark S, Enck P, Haller D, Herz U, Kalliomaki M, Kudo S, Lenoir-Wijnkoop I, Mercenier A, Myllyluoma E, Rabot S, Rafter J, Szajewska H, Watzl B, Wells J, Wolvers D, Antoine JM (2010). "Guidance for substantiating the evidence for beneficial effects of probiotics: current status and recommendations for future research". J. Nutr. 140 (3): 671S–6S. doi:10.3945/jn.109.113779. PMID 20130080.
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.
Suez and colleagues investigated the recovery of the gut microbiota after antibiotic treatment and found that probiotics might perturb rather than aid this process. The probiotics rapidly colonised the gut but prevented the normal microbiota from repopulating for up to 5 months. While likely to be considerably less appealing, the group who received autologous faecal microbiota transplantation recovered their microbiota the quickest, with the composition of the microbiota returning to normal within days. Furthermore, Zmora and colleagues showed that colonisation occurred in highly individualised patterns, with some people's gastrointestinal tracts rejecting probiotics and others allowing colonisation by the probiotic strain, meaning that many individuals taking probiotic supplements are simply wasting their money.
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.
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.
Questions and concerns have been raised, however, about the safety of probiotic administration in the setting of a severe illness. Probiotic sepsis is the most feared complication related to probiotic administration [Boyle et al. 2006]. Lactobacillus is a rare but documented cause of endocarditis in adults [Cannon et al. 2005]. There are several reports in the literature of bacteremia in adults and children in the setting of probiotic administration [De Groote et al. 2005; Land et al. 2005; Kunz et al. 2004, 2005; Mackay et al. 1999; Rautio et al. 1999]. In addition, several cases of Saccharomyces boulardii fungemia have been reported in the literature [Cherifi et al. 2004; Henry et al. 2004; Cassone et al. 2003; Lestin et al. 2003; Riquelme et al. 2003; Lherm et al. 2002; Cesaro et al. 2000; Hennequin et al. 2000; Perapoch et al. 2000; Rijnders et al. 2000; Niault et al. 1999; Bassetti et al. 1998; Fredenucci et al. 1998; Pletincx et al. 1995], including two series in which the fungi spread to neighboring patients who were not taking the probiotic [Cassone et al. 2003; Perapoch et al. 2000]. This spread was thought to be due to contamination of central catheters in patients who had intestinal surgery (jejunostomy) or chronic illnesses (valvular heart disease), and who were immunocompromised. Only one case of probiotic sepsis was thought to have been directly fatal [Lestin et al. 2003]. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was performed using probiotic prophylaxis (six different strains of viable bacteria: L. acidophilus, L. casei, L. salivarius, L. lactis, B. bifidum, and B. lactis) in a total daily dose of 1010 bacteria orally twice daily for 28 days in patients hospitalized with severe acute pancreatitis. This showed no decrease in infectious complications but increased mortality (16%) in the probiotics group in comparison with the placebo group (6%, relative risk [RR] 2.53, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.22–5.25). Nine of the 152 patients in the probiotics group developed bowel ischemia, eight of whom died, compared with none in the placebo group [Besselink et al. 2008].
Future studies should address many of the remaining questions related to the basic knowledge of probiotics, such as the composition of human intestinal flora, viability and fecal recovery rates, physiological and immunological effects. Furthermore, most optimal doses, duration of treatment, comparison of different strains and different probiotics, single versus combination probiotics, combination of probiotics with prebiotics, efficacy of various probiotics in different disease states, and safety of probiotics in debilitated patients or in patients with compromised gut epithelial integrity need to be evaluated.
Reviews.com has an advertising relationship with some of the offers included on this page. However, the rankings and listings of our reviews, tools and all other content are based on objective analysis. For more information, please check out our full Advertiser Disclosure. Reviews.com strives to keep its information accurate and up to date. The information in our reviews could be different from what you find when visiting a financial institution, service provider or a specific product’s website. All products are presented without warranty.
However, a 2003 pilot study and 2011 randomized, controlled trial both reported that RA activities remained unchanged, but the subjects treated with probiotics reported statistically significantly higher levels of “subjective well-being.” One suggested reason for this was that the trials were too short to establish changes in the observable changes in the internal earmarks of RA.
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.
For guys who prefer to take a swig rather than swallow a pill, there are these liquid probiotic drops from Probonix. The grape-flavored adult liquid is formulated to help with everything from bloating and gas to sinus issues and allergies. Containing 12 strains of probiotics and 1 billion cultures per serving, the manufacturer says it passes into your gut 10 times more effectively than other probiotics.

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.


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.
According to Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN, founder of Better Than Dieting and author of Read It Before You Eat It, “We have more bacterial cells in our body than actual tissue, so you want as much “good” bacteria to be on your side. But not all probiotics are alike, and how your body reacts to them will not be the same as someone else who takes them.”
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.

While more research is necessary to fully understand the benefits of different probiotic strains, we do know that not all probiotics are created equal. The Lactobacilli, for instance, live in our digestive, urinary, and genital systems and can be found in some fermented foods like yogurt. Bifidobacteria normally live in the intestines as lactic acid bacteria, and are also found in fermented foods. According to nutrition expert Alex Caspero, RD, “For certain conditions, you want to ensure you’re taking the strand that is most likely to benefit you.” Here’s a simple breakdown to help you determine the best probiotic for you.
Bottom Line: Eating foods rich in probiotics can boost the healthy bacteria in your digestive tract, which can help you fend off indigestion and improve immunity. For individuals who either don't like probiotic-rich foods or don't get enough probiotics from foods, taking daily probiotic supplements may be beneficial. However, an overall healthy diet is still the key to maintaining optimal gut health.

An October 2001 report by the World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as live microorganisms that, "when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host."[16][4] Following this definition, a working group convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/WHO in May 2002 issued the Guidelines for the Evaluation of Probiotics in Food.[17] A consensus definition of the term probiotics, based on available information and scientific evidence, was adopted after the aforementioned joint expert consultation between the FAO of the United Nations and the WHO. This effort was accompanied by local governmental and supra-governmental regulatory bodies' requirements to better characterize health claims substantiations.
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.
"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 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.

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.
Ulcerative colitis (UC). Several trials have been published examining probiotics in the induction and remission of UC, however, only few of these are RCTs. Most are with different probiotic formulations and overall have been performed in a relatively small number of patients (Table 3). For induction of remission, the first and largest controlled trial to date published by Remnacken showed no additional efficacy of E. coli Nissle 1917 than steroids, mesalazine, and antibiotics [Rembacken et al. 1999]. Three additional trials, all small in number of patients and of short duration of therapy and with variable standard of care, showed improvement in various measures of disease activity and even cytokine profiles [Furrie et al. 2005; Kato et al. 2004; Tursi et al. 2004]. Mallon and colleagues performed a Cochrane database systematic review, but no formal meta-analysis was possible due to differences in probiotics, outcomes and methodology, and concluded that probiotics when combined with other therapies did not improve remission rates [Mallon et al. 2007]. However, this analysis showed a reduction in disease activity in mild to moderately severe UC. A second systematic review published recently also suggested a similar efficacy profile between probiotics and anti-inflammatory agents [Zigra et al. 2007]. With regard to maintenance of UC remission, probiotics have been tested in a larger number of patients (Table 3). One trial by Kruis and colleagues tested E. coli Nissle 1917 and found no difference in relapse rates in patients on a probiotic versus mesalamine [Kruis et al. 2004]. A trial by Zocco and colleagues also found no difference in relapse rates at 6 or 12 months when comparing Lactobacillus GG with mesalamine with a combination of the two [Zocco et al. 2006]. Those patients who took the probiotic did appear to have a longer time to relapse. All of these studies support the idea that probiotics may be as effective as mesalamine in maintaining remission in the short-term trials.
The 16 strains found in Swanson Probiotic for Digestive Health were carefully selected based on their specific roles in supporting digestive health.* For example, it features 9 strains of Lactobacillus, including L. acidophilus, one of the most extensively researched strains when it comes to digestive health, and L. rhamnosus, which provides invaluable GI tract protection for travelers. Commonly found in fermented foods like sauerkraut and kefir, these lactic acid producing bacteria aid in the breakdown of lactose and other sugars, reducing gassiness to support intestinal comfort.* The formula also includes five Bifidobacterium strains, which work in harmony with L. casei, L. reuteri, Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactococcus lactis to support digestive function throughout the alimentary canal.* Combined they constitute a broad spectrum source of natural support for digestive health.
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.
Bottom line: Probiotics are a promising field of research and may one day be used to treat or help prevent many disorders. But there’s not enough solid evidence to recommend their widespread use. Vague claims that probiotics "support good digestive health" are meaningless. Larger, longer and better studies are needed to test specific strains for specific conditions and to determine the proper doses and regimens.
×