Gut bacteria play a crucial role in maintaining a balanced metabolism and keeping you healthy. While you can get the right composition of gut bacteria by eating a balanced diet, there’s an easier way to go about it – by taking probiotics.
Now, what are probiotics?
Probiotics are supplements or food containing live bacteria that improve human health.
One would think that the main purpose of taking antibiotics is to kill bacteria.
But bacteria found in probiotics include strains of Lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria, Bacillus coagulans, and Saccharomyces boulardii, which aid your digestive processes.
Before we go further to talk about the top 5 probiotic supplements, if you’re still thinking of opting for food as a source of probiotics, you can consume fermented milk products like cheese, pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and kombucha.
While you will get different bacteria strains by taking these foods, some probiotic supplements only have specific strains. There are also supplements with a perfect blend of different strains of beneficial micro-organisms.
While you may be aware of the benefits probiotics have on general body health, some still wonder if antibiotics do not target these same microorganisms in probiotics.
The science behind it may seem complex. So, we’re going to break it down for you.
In this section, we’ll be looking at how probiotics (food and supplements) improve your health, and how you can make the right choice when selecting a probiotic supplement.
Click the + button to read the benefits else proceed with the best 5 supplements if you are in hurry.
There are several benefits of taking probiotics, either as food or supplement. They include boosting the immune system and improving the health of your gut microbiome.
People with various health conditions can also benefit greatly from probiotics depending on the type of bacteria strain present. Let’s take a look at some of these benefits.
1. Reduces cholesterol levels.
A review conducted in 2017 showed that probiotic foods containing Lactobacillus can reduce the bad cholesterol in your body, and ultimately reduce the total cholesterol levels.
The effects of probiotics on cholesterol levels have been studied on over 2,000 people and researchers have concluded that it is effective in reducing blood cholesterol levels.
However, the results vary depending on the type of supplement and dosage taken.
2. Prevents diarrhea.
One of the main functions of probiotics is to improve your digestive system by balancing your gut microbiome.
A review published in 2011 showed that probiotics may help treat or prevent different types of diarrhea such as acute watery diarrhea, diarrhea caused by rotavirus, and sporadic infectious diarrhea.
The effects of probiotics on diarrhea also depend on the type of supplement and the amount you consume.
3. Treats Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
In a 2019 review, researchers concluded that a multi-strain probiotic may help treat or relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
The researchers decided to do more research to determine if the strains of Bacteroides, Akkermansia, and Faecalibacterium can achieve this feat.
But, another study performed in 2019 showed that probiotics are not consistent in the treatment of IBD, except you’re treating ulcerative colitis.
4. Lowers high blood pressure.
High blood pressure can be caused by various reasons including foods high in cholesterol, salt, and fat.
A scientific review concluded that fermented milk containing Lactobacillus may help lower blood pressure.
In this review, we can see that the probiotic also increases the level of vitamin D, which results in lower blood pressure levels.
5. Helps people with psoriasis and chronic fatigue syndrome.
In 2013, researchers discovered that bacteria used to strengthen the digestive system (Bifidobacterium infantis) can also help people dealing with health conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome and psoriasis.
6. Prevents microbial infection.
You’re surprised, right?
How do these microbes prevent other microbes from attacking you?
Scientists performed lab tests on the probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus paracasei and discovered that this bacteria may protect you from Listeria infections.
Another review published in 2017 proved that probiotics can help prevent and treat dangerous Listeria infections. It even seems like a better treatment method for Listeria infections because it is less likely to disturb the balance of the microbiome like the regular antibiotics used to treat them.
7. Improves your mental health.
Some researchers have studied the relationship between the central nervous system and the gut microbiota. They call this relationship the gut-brain axis.
These scientists suggest that bacteria in the gut can affect the way you think and feel.
However, further findings still need to be carried out to determine if probiotics can be used to deal with mental health issues like anxiety and depression by improving the health of your gut microbiota.
Other benefits of probiotics include:
- Prevents wrinkle formation.
- Helps relieve skin conditions.
- Improves athletic performance.
Improves digestive functioning.
There are various types of probiotics out there, and they are all different. There is no universal probiotic supplement that solves all your problems.
There are thousands of species of beneficial bacterial strains, and each strain has its unique benefit on human health. Every specific strain has been tested and proven to act on a particular challenge.
For instance, probiotic supplements containing Lactobacillus Plantarum help to prevent vulvovaginal candidosis, Lactobacillus gasseri helps boost the intestinal bacteria, and supplements containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus work son prevention of antibiotic-caused diarrhea.
So, because each bacterial strain plays a unique role, many decide just to get anyone even without knowing what it does.
We’ve gathered the best criteria you should follow when buying your probiotic supplement to ensure it works for you.
- Ensure it contains identified strains.
Only buy probiotic supplements with known strains. Many bacterial strains have not been tested, so nobody knows if they work.
To get the best results, only buy supplements with bacterial strains that have been scientifically proven to give results.
- Buy only supplements you can trace.
You have no idea how many fake probiotic supplements are out there. Some manufacturers release fake products and make money off it because you most likely won’t try to confirm.
Traceability makes sure that the products are properly registered and safe to consume.
Choose only probiotics made by known companies in the pharmaceutical industry. Don’t get a product from a company no one has heard about.
The company behind the supplement must have years of significant experience working with living materials and are regulated by the right authorities.
- Proven gastro-resistance.
Sounds complex right?
When you take in a supplement, it goes through your throat (esophagus) to your stomach and other parts of your digestive system.
These areas are extreme environments containing bile salts, acids, and enzymes.
So, if the strains in your supplement cannot survive these environments, then you wouldn’t see any changes to your health.
You’ll keep taking the probiotics, believing that it is working, but it isn’t.
So, how do you know if the strains have gastro-resistance?
You can ask your physician/doctor to tell you more about the supplement and its composition or even recommend a better one for you. Or, you can get a list of the strains your supplement contains and perform small research.
The former is faster and more preferable.
- Only get supplements with stable strains.
This is very similar to the gastro-resistance features, but they differ.
While gastro-resistance talks about the strength of the bacterial strains in your digestive tract, strain stability is about the strength of your strains under normal conditions (room temperature and humidity).
Getting a stable strain guarantees that your supplement will be effective for a long period.
Strain stability depends on various factors including the characteristics of the strain used, the type of packaging used (for protection from air and humidity), and the type of ingredients used to create the supplement.
- Adhesive properties of the strains.
You must have observed that all the properties you should watch out for when getting your probiotic supplements are related to the strains themselves.
This is because the strains are the most important parts of the probiotics. Without bacterial strains, you only have a placebo.
The strains in your probiotics have to adhere to the cells in the intestines. If they only go into your body and come right out without adhering to your cells, then they’ve done no job.
With strong adhesive properties, the strains will be able to act on the targeted systems such as the digestive or immune system.
These things sound a bit technical and scary, but you don’t need to have scientific knowledge before you get your probiotic supplements.
All you need to know are these characteristics that make a good probiotic supplement. This way, you can make informed decisions before purchasing a product.
Best 5 of 2020
#1. Culturelle Digestive Daily Probiotic
Why We Choose It
Culturelle Digestive Daily Probiotic capsules only contain natural ingredients that help improve your digestive system. One of these ingredients is the clinically-proven Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG), a clinically-proven supplement.
It works by delivering 10 billion active live cultures of LGG to your digestive system along with Insulin, an effective prebiotic.
Directions For Use
Culturelle Digestive Daily Probiotic should only be used by individuals above 12 years old. If you want to use the supplement daily, only take one (1) capsule.
However, if you experience frequent stomach upsets, you can take two (2) daily – one in the morning and one at night.
Make sure you talk to your doctor before using any probiotic supplement, most especially if you have a prior health condition.
- It contains a clinically studied bacterial strain, Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG) which works to keep your digestive system active.
- It doesn’t require refrigeration. To keep it viable for a long time, all you have to do is store it in a cool dry place away from sunlight.
- It is a vegetarian probiotic supplement and it doesn’t contain preservatives, wheat, soy, milk, or preservatives.
- LGG in Culturelle Digestive Daily Probiotic is strong enough to survive the extreme environments in the digestive system and adhere to cells in the intestine.
- It helps you prevent digestive problems like bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
- It contains billions of colony-forming units (CFUs) and it is very pure and potent.
- It contains only 10 billion CFUs, which is not enough for some people, so they do not see results.
- The pills have a slightly bad smell and taste.
- It may be inconvenient to store when you’re using it daily. Some users have had to transfer the capsules from the cartons to small jars, so they can use it easily.
#2. Renew Life Ultimate Flora Probiotic, Adult 50+
Why We Choose It
Renew Life Adult 50+ Ultimate Flora Probiotic contains 30 billion live cultures from 12 different bacterial strains. It helps older people boost their immune and digestive system and helps you feel lighter and energized to take on tough tasks and enjoy your day.
Bifidobacteria in humans decline as we age. Taking this Renew Life probiotic helps you replenish the dead Bifidobacteria and keeps your digestive system balanced.
Directions For Use
To get the best results, use only 1 capsule daily. You can take it with or without food.
- It boosts your immune system, so you feel strong enough to complete daily tasks.
- It is a shelf-stable probiotic. You don’t need to refrigerate it, so you can take it with you everywhere you go as long as it is away from direct sunlight.
- It improves your digestive system functions.
- It contains 30 billion potent cultures and up to 12 different bacterial strains.
- It uses delayed-release technology to deliver microorganisms to targeted sites which makes it very effective.
- It is soy-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free.
- Some users get a constant gaseous feeling and sometimes increased bowel movements when they use the probiotic.
- It doesn’t work for everyone. 30 billion CFUs are not enough for some individuals, so they have to opt for other options with higher CFUs.
- It is packaged in an easily breakable glass bottle.
- It is expensive.
#3. Garden of Life Raw Probiotics Women
RAW Probiotics Women contains 32 different probiotic strains that make up the 85 billion live cultures. Apart from containing microorganisms, it also provides your body with dairy-digesting enzymes, vitamins, and minerals to ensure the proper functioning of your digestive system.
Some of the microorganisms present include Lactobacillus rhamnosus and L.reuteri. It has more strains and a higher CFU count than most probiotic supplements.
Another reason we choose this supplement is that it is RAW – it is uncooked, untreated, and unadulterated. It is 100% natural.
Directions For Use
Take 3 capsules per day to get the best results. Always store in a refrigerator under temperatures of 71°F or below.
- It contains 85 billion CFU probiotic supplements including strains of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria.
- It supports the digestive enzyme by delivering probiotics, vitamins, minerals, dairy digestive enzymes, and prebiotics to break down lactose and casein.
- It promotes bowel regularity and improves colon and vaginal health.
- You can either store in a refrigerator or a cool dry place (71°F or below).
- It makes some users bloated and gassy. Others also experienced side effects like sore throat, fatigue, itchiness, and aches.
- The cold pack in the packaging doesn’t last, so your supplement may arrive hot upon delivery.
#4. Klaire Labs Ther-Biotic Probiotic
Klaire Labs Ther-Biotic probiotic contains a hypoallergenic blend of 12 probiotic species and each capsule provides you with 25 billion live CFUs.
You can either get the supplement in 25 billion CFU capsules or 100 billion CFU powder.
We love this probiotic supplement because it supports both innate and adaptive immunity, fights pathogenic microorganisms, produces short-chain fatty acids that nourish enterocytes, and strengthens the integrity of the intestinal epithelial barrier.
Directions For Use
Adults should take 1 capsule daily with food or as directed by your doctor. Pregnant or breastfeeding women and people with medical conditions should contact their physicians before using this product.
- It contains 25 billion CFUs and a safe and unique blend of 12 bacterial strains that have been studied and proven to support the immune system, improve the health of the digestive tract, and optimize gut flora.
- The probiotics have an InTactic shield over then which ensures they can survive the extreme conditions in the digestive tract, such as stomach acid.
- Because it has diverse strains, it also has multiple benefits such as healthy inflammation response, support for intestinal barrier integrity, and improved immunity.
- The probiotic is grown on a plant-based medium, so it doesn’t contain the common allergens found in other probiotics such as peanuts, wheat, gluten, shellfish, and soybeans. It is also free of artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
- Some users experience bloating when they use this probiotic, but this doesn’t happen to everyone.
- It may arrive hot.
#5. Innate Response Formulas, Flora 20-14 Ultra Strength
Why We Choose It
Innate Response probiotic is the only one on this list that guarantees that the probiotic supplement does not contain glyphosate residue. Glyphosate has a lot of negative effects on respiratory health, gastrointestinal health, proper functioning of the immune system, and hormonal levels.
Apart from ensuring that glyphosate is absent, the manufacturers also test the ingredients for over 125 herbicides and pesticides to ensure that it is safe for you to drink and you’ll have the best results.
Directions For Use
Take 1 capsule daily.
Store in the refrigerator to keep it fresh and maintain potency.
- It supports your intestinal health and boosts immunity.
- It contains 20 billion CFUs from 14 bacterial strains.
- It has been tested for herbicides and pesticides.
- This probiotic is dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, glyphosate residue-free, and free of magnesium stearate.
- It may arrive warm when you get it from Amazon or other sources.
It is very smart to take probiotic supplements while you’re on antibiotics. Doing so reduces the chances of having antibiotic-associated diarrhea by as much as 42%.
Scientific studies have shown that probiotics may indeed be linked to brain health, but enough research has not been performed to show what species and strains of probiotics will help elevate your mood and prevent depression.
The best time to take probiotics is with your meal. When you eat, there’s a rise in gastric pH, and this is favorable for the probiotics.
The amount of probiotics you’ll get depends on the type of yogurt you’re taking. Not all yogurts contain live strains or cultures of probiotics, and the species vary in the different types of yogurts. In most cases, yogurts don’t provide you with an adequate amount of probiotics you need.
There’s evidence that probiotic supplements are safe for pregnant women to consume because it improves your newborn’s immunity and reduces allergies. However, you should always consult your physician before taking probiotics.
Yes, some users experience temporary side effects when using these supplements. They include gas, cramps, mild, minor constipation, and mild diarrhea.
Yes, most probiotic strains are gotten from healthy individuals and then studied and grown in the lab and manufactured on a large scale in a facility.
CFU means colony-forming units. It is the number of probiotic cells present in your supplement. If a supplement has 1 billion CFUs, it means it has 1 billion probiotic cells.
The allergy reduction benefits of probiotics include decreasing inflammation, reducing atopic dermatitis, reducing eczema, and decreasing hypersensitivity.
Probiotics improve infant’s health for breastfeeding mother, decrease the risk of cervix cancer, prevents vaginosis/vaginitis, and prevents yeast infections
Taking the right probiotic supplement is important to keep you healthy by improving your immune and digestive system.
Before taking any probiotics, ensure you ask your doctor if you need one and tell them to recommend the best for you, so you don’t end up with a bottle of probiotics that don’t work.