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.”
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.
Yes, they may help. Lebwohl says there are reputable studies that show a link between the use of probiotics and the reduction in IBS symptoms, citing this meta-analysis. It's estimated that 11 percent of the world population complains of symptoms like abdominal cramps, diarrhea, constipation, excessive gas and/or mucus in their stools. While for some the condition can be attributed to certain dietary triggers, others appear to be stress-related, which brings us to the heart of where many claims about the effectiveness of probiotics lie—in the gut-brain axis.
Naturally fermented pickles, the type in which vinegar is not used in the pickling process, are rich sources of good bacteria. Sea salt and water are used in a fermentation process that results in the growth of good bacteria. Make sure vinegar was not used in the pickling process as pickles made in this way will not be rich in bacteria that boosts healthy gut flora. Beneficial bugs in fermented foods like pickles boost gut health and encourage a diverse microbiome. Eating foods that are rich in probiotic bacteria such as pickles retards the growth of harmful bacteria and it boosts the body's defenses against infection.

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.


Preliminary research is evaluating the potential physiological effects of multiple probiotic strains, as opposed to a single strain.[110][111] As the human gut may contain several hundred microbial species, one theory indicates that this diverse environment may benefit from consuming multiple probiotic strains, an effect that remains scientifically unconfirmed.
As one of the best probiotics for weight loss, there have been a slew of studies demonstrating just how powerful this strain of bacteria may be when it comes to your waistline. For instance, one study in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that taking Lactobacillus gasseri daily led to significant reductions in body weight and body fat compared to a control group, with participants losing up to 8.5 percent body fat over a 12-week period. (13)
"Short-chain fatty acids are a key component of good gut health," lead study author Hariom Yadav, an assistant professor of molecular medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine, said in a statement. "People with diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disorders and cancers frequently have fewer short-chain fatty acids. Increasing them may be helpful in maintaining or even restoring a normal gut environment, and hopefully, improving health," Yadav said.
“It is quite difficult to choose a solid top pick for probiotics because different strains have been shown to help different clinical issues,” says Rachel Fine, MS, RD, CSSD, a dietitian in New York City. “However, this supplement is a great option, with 50 billion strains.” It’s one of the best probiotics for women and supports vaginal, digestive, and immune system health. “It is best to choose a product that is well within its expiration date to ensure a higher number of viable cells,” advises Fine.
Probiotic foods deliver beneficial bacteria into the gastrointestinal tract. Prebiotic foods promote healthy gut bacteria by feeding them what they need in order to thrive. Foods rich in prebiotics that feed good bacteria include dark chocolate, legumes, red wine, honey, bananas, maple syrup, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, and oatmeal. Having a diverse microbiome of good bacteria in the gut helps promote weight loss and confers other health benefits.
Hi Elaine - Most probiotics sold in pill form are dried in a way which keeps them in a dormant yet still viable state, coming "back to life" once exposed to water/nutrients. Although this helps to preserve them, it is not a guarantee that all will survive. If exposed to moisture or excessive heat during storage, they can become non-viable. This is why ConsumerLab.com tests probiotic supplements to determine how many viable cells they contain (see the results here: https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/_/probiotics/#results). For more information about this and withstanding stomach acid, see the "What to Consider When Buying" section of the Probiotics Review (https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/_/probiotics/#buying), and this CL Answer: https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/_/probiotics_enteric_coating/.
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Plus, thanks to its immune-modulating properties, it can also decrease inflammation and minimize symptoms of certain autoimmune disorders. For example, one study published in the journal BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine showed that Bacillus coagulans was effective at reducing inflammation, relieving pain and improving the ability to perform regular daily activities in people with rheumatoid arthritis. (3)
Probiotic treatment of bacterial vaginosis is the application or ingestion of bacterial species found in the healthy vagina to cure the infection of bacteria causing bacterial vaginosis. This treatment is based on the observation that 70% of healthy females have a group of bacteria in the genus Lactobacillus that dominate the population of organisms in the vagina. Currently, the success of such treatment has been mixed since the use of probiotics to restore healthy populations of Lactobacillus has not been standardized. Often, standard antibiotic treatment is used at the same time that probiotics are being tested. In addition, some groups of women respond to treatment based upon ethnicity, age, number of sexual partners, pregnancy, and the pathogens causing bacterial vaginosis.[85] In 2013 researchers found that administration of hydrogen peroxide producing strains, such as L. acidophilus and L. rhamnosus, were able to normalize vaginal pH and rebalance the vaginal microbiota, preventing and alleviating bacterial vaginosis.[86]
Unlike MegaFood, the Renew Life label’s cold-storage recommendation is printed so small we nearly missed it (and it didn’t ship with a cold pack). If a probiotic requires refrigeration, be vigilant when buying it — the retailer that stores it or the company that ships it should keep it refrigerated until it gets to you. Otherwise, some of its potency might diminish in storage or transit.
In the new study, the researchers analyzed information from 15 healthy volunteers who took either a probiotic product containing 11 strains of bacteria, or a placebo, for four weeks. The participants also underwent colonoscopies and upper endoscopies before they took the probiotics or the placebo, and again after the four-week treatment period. (An upper endoscopy looks at the upper part of the digestive tract.) During these procedures, the researchers took samples from inside participants' guts.
^ Jump up to: a b Cheplin HA, Rettger LF (December 1920). "Studies on the Transformation of the Intestinal Flora, with Special Reference to the Implantation of Bacillus Acidophilus: II. Feeding Experiments on Man". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 6 (12): 704–5. Bibcode:1920PNAS....6..704C. doi:10.1073/pnas.6.12.704. PMC 1084701. PMID 16576567.[non-primary source needed]
To factor strain-specific benefits into our efficacy score, we referenced the information in these guides. Products were rewarded for containing strains on these lists. Additionally, measured levels of each strain were compared to what is thought to be effective based on these guides, and scores were scaled accordingly. In cases where products did not list strain-specific amounts, or their listed strains were not included in these guides, total measured CFUs were compared to a general effectiveness threshold of 1 billion CFUs cited by research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition11.
Rachel Allen is a writer at Hyperbiotics who's absolutely obsessed with learning about how our bodies work. She's fascinated by the latest research on bacteria and the role they play in health, and loves to help others learn about how probiotics can help the body get back in balance. For more ideas on how you can benefit from the power of probiotics and live healthier days, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter. To learn more about how a healthy microbiome can enrich your life, subscribe to our newsletter.
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.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) treatment with antibiotics is fraught by variable efficacy. Recent discovery of genetic polymorphisms (NOD2/CARD15) in CD which play a role in bacterial peptidoglycan recognition [Inohara et al. 2003; Kobayashi et al. 2005], may be responsive to alterations in enteric flora and thus be important in the pathogenesis and maintenance of IBD [Sartor, 2004].
Probiotics have been shown to improve symptoms in IBS, traveller’s diarrhoea and the duration of antibiotic associated diarrhoea. There is emerging evidence that probiotics may improve cholesterol levels in people with type II diabetes, and could play a role in benefitting cold or flu outcomes during stressful periods. However, these are very small studies and more research is needed before robust recommendations can be made. 

Several large-scale studies and two meta-analyses have confirmed that probiotics should be a major consideration in determining natural remedies for diabetes. In a massive study involving almost 200,000 subjects and a total of 15,156 cases of type 2 diabetes, researchers confirmed that a higher intake of probiotic-rich yogurt reduced the risk of developing diabetes.
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.

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.
“It is quite difficult to choose a solid top pick for probiotics because different strains have been shown to help different clinical issues,” says Rachel Fine, MS, RD, CSSD, a dietitian in New York City. “However, this supplement is a great option, with 50 billion strains.” It’s one of the best probiotics for women and supports vaginal, digestive, and immune system health. “It is best to choose a product that is well within its expiration date to ensure a higher number of viable cells,” advises Fine.
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.
It’s not just about vanity! Your skin is your largest organ, and it protects your body from countless external threats. But, what many people don’t realize is that your skin is an important reflection of your internal health. Skin problems can result from nutritional and hormonal imbalances, as well as immune system disruptions, all issues that begin in the gut.

In the United States, most probiotics are sold as dietary supplements, which do not undergo the testing and approval process that drugs do. Manufacturers are responsible for making sure they're safe before they're marketed and that any claims made on the label are true. But there's no guarantee that the types of bacteria listed on a label are effective for the condition you're taking them for. Health benefits are strain-specific, and not all strains are necessarily useful, so you may want to consult a practitioner familiar with probiotics to discuss your options. As always, let your primary care provider know what you're doing.

I’ve been taking probiotics for past couple of months. I must say I feel so much better like it’s been years since I felt this good. My head isn’t in a fog–my brain feels crisp & clear and less depression. My skin isn’t dry its actually getting soft & shiny again. Even my face looks younger. My hair also. I actually have energy. I’m 53 female with a few illnesses. I can feel my insides like alive again. I’ve had a bad rash from taking too many antibiotics for the past 8 yrs FINALLY it is clearing up all from probiotics. It’s amazing what a difference the probiotics are making in my life. I am truly amazed. They are life changing for me. I know it might sound crazy but I can’t believe the difference. I hope this helps someone out there like me who thought there’s no hope to feel better.


Supplements: dietary probiotic supplements -- which are available in capsules, tablets, powders and liquid extracts -- each contain a specific type of probiotic. These products are available at health food and natural food stores, vitamin shops, and other stores. As an example, one commonly used supplement is acidophilus, which is available from several supplement manufacturers. 

Recently Brenner and colleagues analyzed 16 RCTs in IBS patients who were defined either by Rome II or Manning Criteria and who received either single or a combination probiotics versus placebo [Brenner et al. 2009]. Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 demonstrated efficacy in two appropriately designed RCTs. Both global as well as individual IBS symptoms (abdominal pain, bloating, incomplete evacuation, intestinal gas, straining, and bowel function) were significantly improved without evidence to suggest an increase in adverse events. No other probiotic, including isolated Lactobacillus species, showed significant improvement in IBS symptoms in appropriately designed RCTs [Brenner et al. 2009].
“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.”
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.
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.

Probably the first person of Western medicine to publish on the topic of probiotics in the early 20th century was the Russian Nobel Prize winner Ilya Metchnikoff, when he described longevity in people in Eastern Europe who lived largely on milk fermented by LAB. He theorized that proteolytic microbes in the colon produced toxic substances responsible for the aging process and proposed that consumption of fermented milk would coat the colon with LABs, decreasing intestinal pH, suppressing proteolytic bacteria and thus leading to slowing of the aging process [Gordon, 2008]. Metchnikoff and his followers ingested milk fermented with this ‘Bulgarian Bacillus’ and reported health benefits [Vaughan, 1965].
The term "prebiotics" is often thrown around when probiotics are mentioned, and they're related to probiotics in a sense. According to Angelone, prebiotics are complex sugars that we don't digest but that are used as fuel by bacteria — including probiotics — that's already in your gut. Registered dietitian-nutritionist Beth Warren, founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Living a Real Life with Real Food, explains that you can think of prebiotics as food for probiotics. You can get prebiotics from foods including asparagus, bananas, garlic, and onions, she says.
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].
DNA-testing matches identity at a foundational, genetic level, so you know you’re getting the exact strains listed. New Chapter’s DNA-testing also verifies that you receive the specific strains researched for specific benefits: our strains boost immune defenses and enhance digestion, including bowel regularity and reducing occasional gas, bloating, diarrhea & constipation.*

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. 
There is also promising research on this species for supporting skin. Ceramides are natural lipids that make up the surface of the skin structure. Depleted ceramide levels are clinically linked with dry and damaged skin. S. thermophilus was shown to have a beneficial effect on the level of ceramides in the barrier of the skin, which protects underlying tissue from infection, dehydration and chemicals. These skin-supporting microbes also act as antioxidants in the body, trapping reactive forms of oxygen that dry, damage and age the skin [1].
Myriad factors – antibiotics, diet, stress, and age, among them – affect the balance of diverse microbes present in your gut. While you can replenish your gut bacteria by eating well and incorporating natural probiotics (ex. yogurt and kefir) into a healthy diet, these processes can take weeks or months; taking a regular probiotic is an easy and effective way to ensure your gut (and immune system) stays healthy, always.

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.

The best probiotic manufacturers will list their potency (in CFUs) at the time of expiration, ensuring you get the dosage you’re paying for. Dr. David Perlmutter, board-certified neurologist, American College of Nutrition Fellow, and author of The New York Times bestsellers "Brain Maker" and "Grain Brain" puts it this way: “Avoid products that indicate a specific number of bacteria ‘at the time of manufacture,’ and instead look for products that, like other supplements, have a shelf life.” Each of our top picks clearly shows a specific “best by” or “expires on” date on its bottle.
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.
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]
SCFA molecules are a subset of fatty acids that are churned out by some types of gut microbes during the fermentation of fiber. They're associated with maintaining gut health and protecting against disease, so a probiotic containing baby-poop microbes could provide health benefits by boosting SCFA production in a compromised digestive system, researchers reported in the new study. [5 Ways Gut Bacteria Affect Your Health]
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