Cynthia is the assistant editor and frequent contributor. She’s originally from California, but has lived in many countries including South Korea, China and Germany. She currently lives with her husband in Minnesota. Cynthia is passionate about helping families find the best advice for family life and safety. Cynthia also has experience in early childhood education and holds a TEFL-C certificate from Teachers College, Columbia University. She has been writing about family-focused topics, advice and trends since 2014.
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.
Nevertheless, the presence of certain bacteria in the lower gut benefits overall health, not only digestion. The science on the role of the lower gut is changing every day and has advanced significantly — even over the past 10 years. Research strongly suggests that a favorable bacterial balance in the lower gut positively affects the factors influencing heart disease, immunity, bone strength, depression, and obesity and weight loss. Science has only just begun to determine the roles that bacteria play in human health, but it seems clear that healthier people have healthier bacterial balances. People with poorly balanced bacteria levels are more likely to suffer serious health problems.

Officials in the E.U., where supplements are more heavily regulated than in the U.S., haven't authorized the use of the word probiotic to back any health claim. The only approved use related to microorganisms is "live yogurt cultures and improved lactose digestion." It can all feel like, well, a punch to the gut. So we asked scientists at the forefront of probiotic research to help us separate fact from hype, and pros...from cons. Here's what you need to know.
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. 

If you struggle with anxiety... Your brain and gut talk on the reg, and both produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin (the happiness chemical). Experts think balancing your guy may help treat anxiety, because it promotes better communications between the two. Opt for lactobacillus plantarum and bifidobacterium bi-fi0dum, two strains for anxiety, per research. Try 10 billion CFUs for three to five days. If your tum feels fine, go up by 10 bill.
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.
Yogurt: It can contain Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, L. acidophilus, and Bifidobacterium bifidum. Research has shown links with yogurt to have positive effects on the gut microbiota and is associated with a reduced risk for gastrointestinal disease and improvement of lactose intolerance (especially among children), type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, allergies and respiratory diseases, as well as improved dental and bone health.

Tempeh is an Indonesian probiotic food that is made from fermented soybeans. It is a high protein food that has a smoky, nutty flavor and is more firm than tofu. It tastes similar to mushrooms. Tempeh comes in patty form and is used by many people as a meat substitute. Soy tempeh is rich in a probiotic microorganism called Bifidobacterium bifidum. B. bifidum is a bacterium that may be particularly beneficial for those suffering from diarrhea, abdominal pain, and constipation. B. Bifidum helps boost immunity in the gastrointestinal tract. Bifidobacterium bifidum is also normally found in the vagina. Bacillus subtilis is another probiotic strain found in tempeh. Tempeh contains less calcium than milk, but the calcium in tempeh is very bioavailable, meaning it is very easy to absorb. Some bacteria used to produce tempeh manufacture vitamin B12.
Once you have identified the right strain or strains, it's important to find a product that provides a dose that's been shown to be effective, and that contains it's labeled dose (ConsumerLab.com tests have found some probiotic supplements to contain less than half the amount of organisms claimed on the label!) To get test results for popular products, plus additional tips for choosing a probiotic supplement, see the Probiotic Supplements Review >>
In the small, new study, the researchers isolated 10 bacterial strains — five species of Lactobacillus bacteria, and five species of Enterococcus — in samples from 34 babies, identifying the strains as good candidates for crafting a probiotic cocktail of microbes that could survive in a human host's gut and stimulate SCFA production, according to the study.
“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.”
What are the benefits of taking probiotics? Bacteria have a reputation for causing disease, so the idea of tossing down a few billion a day for your health might seem — literally and figuratively — hard to swallow. But a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that you can treat and even prevent some illnesses with foods and supplements containing certain kinds of live bacteria. Northern Europeans consume a lot of these beneficial microorganisms, called probiotics (from pro and biota, meaning "for life"), because of their tradition of eating foods fermented with bacteria, such as yogurt. Probiotic-laced beverages are also big business in Japan.
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.
If you are seeking non-dairy yogurt options, there are several that contain live probiotic cultures. Yogurts made from rice, soy and coconut milk are available on the market and also contain added probiotics that can provide the same benefits. Other alternative sources of probiotics include eating fermented foods like Brewer’s yeast, miso, sauerkraut, or micro algae. Whatever the source, always look for “live and active cultures” on the label.

Your digestive system (often referred to as “your gut”) is an extremely complex environment that performs many vital functions. The small intestine acts as the main site of enzymatic digestion of foods and absorption of nutrients. The large intestine or colon absorbs large quantities of water and electrolytes and helps to remove waste matter and other substances your body does not use. The large intestine is also responsible for the regulation of intestinal well-being, particularly through its complex microflora that contributes to the maintenance of intestinal function. 


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.
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Disclaimer: While we work to ensure that product information is correct, on occasion manufacturers may alter their ingredient lists. Actual product packaging and materials may contain more and/or different information than that shown on our Web site. We recommend that you do not solely rely on the information presented and that you always read labels, warnings, and directions before using or consuming a product. For additional information about a product, please contact the manufacturer. Content on this site is for reference purposes and is not intended to substitute for advice given by a physician, pharmacist, or other licensed health-care professional. You should not use this information as self-diagnosis or for treating a health problem or disease. Contact your health-care provider immediately if you suspect that you have a medical problem. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. Amazon.com assumes no liability for inaccuracies or misstatements about products.


While Lebwohl isn't comfortable endorsing a specific brand publicly, he did say "a widely used brand in which the compound is bifidobacteria or lactobaccilus seems like a reasonable way to go in a patient who is eager to give this a try, but would be best done under the supervision of a healthcare professional.” He does advise looking for a supplement with between 1 billion and 10 billion colony-forming units, or CFUs.
Jotham Suez, Niv Zmora, Gili Zilberman-Schapira, Uria Mor, Mally Dori-Bachash, Stavros Bashiardes, Maya Zur, Dana Regev-Lehavi, Rotem Ben-Zeev Brik, Sara Federici, Max Horn, Yotam Cohen, Andreas E. Moor, David Zeevi, Tal Korem, Eran Kotler, Alon Harmelin, Shalev Itzkovitz, Nitsan Maharshak, Oren Shibolet, Meirav Pevsner-Fischer, Hagit Shapiro, Itai Sharon, Zamir Halpern, Eran Segal, Eran Elinav. Post-Antibiotic Gut Mucosal Microbiome Reconstitution Is Impaired by Probiotics and Improved by Autologous FMT. Cell, 2018; 174 (6): 1406 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2018.08.047

Unfortunately, many commercial brands don’t measure up. They are unstable in stomach acid. Quality control measures aren’t intact, including ensuring supplements have been handled correctly and maintain their freshness. Moisture slipping into probiotic supplements can reduce their efficacy. Companies that use bioshield capsules produce higher quality probiotic supplements that are able to endure the stomach acid, releasing their contents within the small intestine, where a more alkaline environment ensures the survival of the bacteria.
We love that RAW offers proprietary blends for various needs, including specialty formulas for women and men. Both support the standard systems (immune, digestive, etc.), and the women’s probiotic tacks on extras, including L. reuteri and L. rhamnosus, to support vaginal health. The men’s blend adds L .fermentum, to boost immunity during exercise and other physical exertion.
While the logic behind probiotics might seem sound, it is clear that we have a long way to go before understanding the complexity of the microbiota and the effects—both good and bad—that probiotics might have. All individuals have a unique gut microbiome, and the effects of different bacteria on different people are likely to be highly variable; as such, probiotic use might even need to be personalised for optimal benefits. Commercially available products might not contain the correct strains or quantities of bacteria to provide benefits, and most probiotic supplements contain only single strains, vastly oversimplifying the complexity of the microbiota. While taking a supplement for improved health is certainly an attractive prospect, those looking to aid their gut microbiota might be better served by consuming a healthy, varied diet. In the meantime, rigorous clinical trials are needed to substantiate potential health benefits and to confirm whether probiotics are elixirs or just empty promises.
If you don’t have a specific health goal in mind and want to bolster the number of good bacteria floating around your system, Perlmutter recommends starting with a minimum of eight to 10 different bacterial species. He included a core five (L. Plantarum, L. Acidophilus, L. Brevis, B. Lactis, and B. Longum) and we added five more highly researched and universally beneficial strains for a general health pick. Vita Miracle, formerly Islands Miracle, has nine of those 10, plus 30 billion CFUs per serving.
If your child has a history of stomach problems that medicine doesn’t seem to help, adding a probiotic to his or her diet can help. We love the OLLY Kids Happy Tummy Gummy Supplements because they offer complete probiotic support in a kid-friendly gummy form. Each gummy has a blend of prebiotic, probiotic, and peppermint to help soothe upset stomachs. They contain 500 million CFU of Bacillus coagulans. This container comes with 30 gummies (to be taken once a day) and is recommended for children 2 years and older.
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.
In 2015, the global retail market value for probiotics was US$41 billion, including sales of probiotic supplements, fermented milk products, and yogurt, which alone accounted for 75% of total consumption.[42] Innovation in probiotic products in 2015 was mainly from supplements, which produced US$4 billion and was projected to grow 37% globally by 2020.[42] Consumption of yogurt products in China has increased by 20% per year since 2014.[43]
With the growing popularity of probiotics, there is a huge variety of supplements from which one can choose. The most important thing is to determine what type of probiotic microorganism you need for your condition. Do not just take the supplement that provides the most kinds of organisms. You need to do your research and be sure that there are scientific studies to support what you take. New research is emerging, so if you don't find what you need right now, keep looking. A doctor can help one decide if trying probiotics might be helpful for you and can advise you regarding the amount and type of probiotics that may be appropriate in your case.
Lavermicocca, P., Dekker, M., Russo, F., Valerio, F., Di Venere, D., & Sisto, A. (2015, October 8). Lactobacillus paracasei-enriched vegetables containing health promoting molecules [Abstract]. Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics: Bioactive Foods in Health Promotion, 361–370. Retrieved from https://moh-it.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/lactobacillus-paracasei-enriched-vegetables-containing-health-pro

"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.

Probiotics act by stimulating the growth of microorganism colonies in our bodies that are “good” or helpful. These beneficial bacteria play an important role in maintaining the natural balance in our systems, stabilizing our digestive organs’ barriers against undesirable microorganisms, producing substances that inhibit “bad” microorganisms’ growth, outcompeting undesirable microorganisms, and stimulating immune responses.1
Formulated specifically for men, these capsules from Garden of Life are vegetarian as well as gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free. They tout 50 billion cultures per serving and 15 probiotic strains, including Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, which are resistant to stomach acid and bile. This probiotic is designed to help with constipation and gas as well as to promote colon health. The recommended daily dose is just one capsule per day, and it doesn’t have to be refrigerated.

"Probiotics help with constipation, diarrhea, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal pain, Crohn's disease, and flatulence," says Shapiro. "Probiotics work to increase the number of immunoglobulin cells and cytokine-producing cells in the intestine. They improve the healthy bacteria population in the GI tract by repopulating the gut to help with digestion."
And when you get leaky gut, food and other particles slip through the gut lining into your bloodstream. Your immune system does not recognize these, so it attacks, leading to food sensitivities and more inflammation. You might not even be aware of these sensitivities that take months or years to develop and can manifest as hives, allergies, chronic sinus inflammation, and migraines. They often become triggers for autoimmune disease or, for patients like Dawn, depression. This is why maintaining good gut health becomes crucial, and why havoc occurs throughout your body when your gut goes bad.
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.
Probiotics are living, so their viability can be affected by any number of problems with packaging and storage. We have more to learn about how best to administer probiotics. We also need to learn more about how well probiotics can remain inside your gut once they get there. Currently, it’s not believed that any dosage of probiotics will necessarily stay in your system forever. Current practice is to take daily doses of probiotics.
With Prebiotin, you can easily add prebiotic fiber to your diet without worrying about eating huge amounts of troublesome foods or hunting down hard-to-find ingredients. You also won’t have to worry about loading up on high-calorie foods that can negatively affect any effort to lose weight. Combining Prebiotin prebiotic fiber with a diet enriched with probiotic foods can only help your effort to positively influence the bacterial balance in your lower gut.

If you decide to use a probiotic supplement and get clearance from your doctor for doing so, be sure to read the label carefully. You want to be sure that the supplement contains live strains of the bacteria or yeast, and that the life of these strains is guaranteed at the time of use, and not at the time of manufacture. Other points of comparison are the number of bacteria strains and the number of colony-forming units, although this does not necessarily guarantee results.
Sure, why the hell not? Lebwohl says: "Essentially a yeast infection is an overgrowth of a kind of fungus. In theory, a probiotic could potentially have an effect of the microbiome of the vagina, though proof of its effectiveness hasn’t really been established.” No harm in giving it a try as long as you don't succumb to the temptation to put yogurt in your vagina.
Though capsules are ideal for quick, convenient consumption, powdered products are a great choice for anyone who wants to mix their probiotics with shakes or smoothies. The Hyperbiotics Organic Prebiotic Powder is a totally taste-free prebiotic powder that has inulin, FOS, resistant starch, and dietary fiber to help keep your gut health in line. Unlike probiotics, prebiotics works to nourish and grow the bacteria that is already in your body. This supplement also has acacia fiber, which is said to help suppress appetite and reduce gas and bloating. You can take between one and three scoops of powder a day, depending on how much microbial support you’re looking for. Each container comes with 375 grams or roughly 54 servings, and it doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
Some studies suggest that certain probiotic strains may also help in mild to moderate ulcerative colitis and possibly for bloating and gas in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Probiotic supplements, on the whole, “improve global symptoms, bloating, and flatulence in IBS,” by modifying the gut microbiome, according to a 2014 monograph from the American College of Gastroenterology. As IBS researchers said in a paper in Gastroenterology & Hepatology in 2015, “The concept of manipulating the microbiome is one of the most promising new ways in which to treat patients with IBS, but there is still much to learn.”

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.
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].
The second piece of research investigated whether patients should take probiotics to help the recovery of the natural gut bacteria after treatment with antibiotics. The evidence supporting this is not entirely clear and the FDA does not officially recommend it, but there are some reputable sources which discuss their use, such as this blog from Harvard Medical School. Research has suggested that up to 60% of healthcare professionals in the U.S. recommend taking probiotics, but is this justified and could it even be harmful?
Probiotics are contained in a variety of different products, including foods, dietary supplements, infant formula, medical foods, pharmaceuticals and even devices (such as tampons that deliver probiotics). Evidence for the benefits of probiotics is emerging, but strong evidence for probiotic benefit has been seen with reducing antibiotic associated diarrhea, improving mild to moderate IBS and other digestive symptoms, reduce crying time in colicky but otherwise healthy infants, reducing the incidence and duration of common upper respiratory tract infections and helping manage vaginal infections. Probiotics are also used in some hospitals to help prevent necrotizing enterocolitis in premature infants.
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. 

Antibiotics are also a major contributor to gut imbalances. Many of us have been overprescribed antibiotics by well-meaning, conventional doctors from childhood onward. Antibiotic use as a solution for every infection is ingrained in our culture. Every time you take an antibiotic throughout your life, you disrupt your gut flora for up to 12 months.
With Prebiotin, you can easily add prebiotic fiber to your diet without worrying about eating huge amounts of troublesome foods or hunting down hard-to-find ingredients. You also won’t have to worry about loading up on high-calorie foods that can negatively affect any effort to lose weight. Combining Prebiotin prebiotic fiber with a diet enriched with probiotic foods can only help your effort to positively influence the bacterial balance in your lower gut.
Along with about 30 other neurotransmitters, your gut manufactures about 95 percent of serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter that SSRIs keep circulating. (Worth noting: SSRIs prolong the time serotonin stays stimulating the neurons. These drugs don’t actually make serotonin. They falsely elevate the serotonin that is already there, leading to greater depletions down the road.)
Gut flora makes up 70 to 80 percent of the human immune system. Too much bad bacteria can inflame and destroy intestinal walls, enter the bloodstream, and trigger a multitude of health issues — constipation, depression, skin problems, autoimmune disease, and even bad breath. Adding good bacteria protects the digestive tract from the harmful bacteria in sugars, pesticides, and saturated fats.
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Years after Mechinkoff’s experiments, scientists began conducting tests which involved feeding strains of bacteria to humans and rats and observing changes in the fecal microbiota to measure the changes of the intestinal flora. Researchers soon found that L. acidophilus was especially beneficial when implanted in the human digestive tract and could confer a multitude of health benefits, including relief from constipation.
Disclaimer: While we work to ensure that product information is correct, on occasion manufacturers may alter their ingredient lists. Actual product packaging and materials may contain more and/or different information than that shown on our Web site. We recommend that you do not solely rely on the information presented and that you always read labels, warnings, and directions before using or consuming a product. For additional information about a product, please contact the manufacturer. Content on this site is for reference purposes and is not intended to substitute for advice given by a physician, pharmacist, or other licensed health-care professional. You should not use this information as self-diagnosis or for treating a health problem or disease. Contact your health-care provider immediately if you suspect that you have a medical problem. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. Amazon.com assumes no liability for inaccuracies or misstatements about products.
Probiotics have received renewed attention in the 21st century from product manufacturers, research studies, and consumers. The history of probiotics can be traced to the first use of cheese and fermented products, that were well known to the Greeks and Romans who recommended their consumption.[52] The fermentation of dairy foods represents one of the oldest techniques for food preservation.[53]
Probiotics also play an important role in maintaining vaginal health. They do so by helping maintain a slightly acidic environment within the vagina, and this helps to reduce the overgrowth of bacteria that might otherwise prove harmful. This is particularly important as there are a variety common events that can negatively affect the vaginal environment including the use of antibiotics, oral contraceptives, and even spermicides.
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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.
Probiotics are very promising and used quite often in practice. Many physicians, including myself, use them regularly for many gastrointestinal issues and other issues like infant colic, preventing diarrhea in patients taking antibiotics and for overall immune and respiratory health. There is still a lot more research that needs to be conducted but it is clear that they are here to stay, and the research base is likely only going to lead to increased use in many other conditions in both preventing and treating diseases.
Unfortunately, the U.S. has no federal standards for probiotic supplements. Therefore, you run the risk of purchasing a product without any guarantee that it contains its advertised probiotic strains, that the strains are alive, or that the product is free from unhealthy ingredients. Therefore, it may be best to choose a brand-name probiotic that has research backing their effectiveness. Here are some examples:
Similar to yogurt, this fermented dairy product is a unique combination of milk and fermented kefir grains. Kefir has been consumed for well over 3,000 years, and the term kefir was started in Russia and Turkey and means “feeling good.” It is created by the fermentation of milk by the bacteria, and yeasts in kefir starter break down lactose in the milk — that’s why kefir may be suitable for those who are otherwise lactose-intolerant.

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.
If you want to take advantage of the benefits of probiotics and you also want to make sure the beneficial bacteria you already have is optimized to its full potential, supplement your probiotic regimen with Prebiotin. A trained microbiologist cannot tell you which probiotics are the best ones to choose, so why try to do something you are not trained to do? Eat lots of foods with prebiotics in them and take a prebiotic supplement like Prebiotin. It’s the best thing you can do to maximize the benefits of both prebiotics and probiotics on the bacteria in your gut, and your overall good gut health.
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.
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.

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.
In 1917, during World War I, Alfred Nissle isolated a strain of E. coli from the feces of a soldier who did not develop enterocolitis during a severe outbreak of shigellosis. Nissle used the E. coli strain with considerable success in acute cases of infectious intestinal diseases such as salmonellosis and shigellosis [Nissle, 1959]. E. coli Nissle 1917 is still in use today and is one of the few examples of a non-LAB probiotic.
Probiotics are a big and rapidly growing business and are now among the most popular dietary supplements. The term probiotic refers to dietary supplements (tablets, capsules, powders, lozenges and gums) and foods (such as yogurt and other fermented products) that contain “beneficial” or “friendly” bacteria. The organisms themselves are also called probiotics.

It has 30 billion cultures per serving and contains 12 strains of soil-based probiotics to promote regular bowel movements and overall colon health. It also touts a unique whole-food blend with Homeostatic Soil Organisms, which basically makes up for the nutrients we miss out on due to the pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals that typically affect food production today. Plus, this probiotic has a devoted following of fans who credit it with improvements in their digestive health.
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.

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.


Probiotics are very promising and used quite often in practice. Many physicians, including myself, use them regularly for many gastrointestinal issues and other issues like infant colic, preventing diarrhea in patients taking antibiotics and for overall immune and respiratory health. There is still a lot more research that needs to be conducted but it is clear that they are here to stay, and the research base is likely only going to lead to increased use in many other conditions in both preventing and treating diseases.

Probiotics have been used therapeutically for many centuries in different parts of the world for their contribution to longevity and digestive health. The World Health Organization has defined probiotics as ‘live organisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host’. Categories of probiotics in use today include: bacteria such as lactic-acid bacteria (LAB) and Escherichia coli strains (such as E. coli Nissle 1917), as well as yeast species including most prominently Saccharomyces boulardii among others (Table 1). Prebiotics such as lactulose, inulin, psyllium, and other oligosaccharides (found in onions, garlic, asparagus, leeks, artichoke, bananas, tomatoes, wheat, oats, soy beans, and other plants) are nondigestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth or activity of bacteria in the GI tract which are beneficial to the health of the body [Grajek et al. 2005]. Synbiotics are a combination of a prebiotic and a probiotic, such as inulin and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG or Bifidobacter longum. Antibiotics, in contrast, are compounds that kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria.
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.
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.
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