How to Choose the Best Probiotic For Your Health

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can offer many health benefits. Here’s all you need to know about how to choose the best probiotic supplement for you.

Choosing the best probiotic can be confusing.

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What Are Probiotics?

Trillions of bacteria live inside your body, especially in your digestive tract.  Collectively, all the various strains and colonies of bacteria and yeast are called your gut microbiome.

Experts estimate that the average human carries around about 2.2 pounds of bacteria and yeast in their bodies.  That’s about 10 microbes for every single human cell in your body!

Before you get grossed out, all that bacteria is there for a good reason.

Your gut microbiome is responsible for a myriad of functions in your body:   immunity, digestion, and well-being just to name a few.    The good bacteria in your gut help keep your digestive system running like a well-oiled machine, help destroy harmful bacteria and pathogens, and even help produce certain vitamins.

Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria and yeast that are the same or similar to those found naturally in the human body.   Probiotics and prebiotics can be found naturally in some foods, like yogurt, kombucha, and sauerkraut, as well as in over-the-counter supplements in the form of pills, powder or liquids.

When we consume probiotics, they travel to the intestines, colonize and start working to help keep your body healthy.

What are the side effects of probiotics?

Why Take Probiotics?

If you’ve ever taken a round of antibiotics, you probably dealt with an upset stomach, digestive troubles and maybe even diarrhea.  This is because antibiotics are made to kill off all bacteria, both the good and the bad.

When helpful bacteria in your gut are killed off,  you can develop an imbalance in the good vs. bad bacteria battle, which can lead to all kinds of health troubles.

Adding beneficial bacteria to your gut health diet can help tip the health scale back in favor of good bacteria.

5 Reasons You Should Add Probiotics

  1. You can’t digest your food alone.  Good bacteria help digest what your body can’t.
  2. Good bacteria create a more acidic intestinal environment, which helps kill off the bad bacteria.
  3. Beneficial bacteria help make fat-soluble vitamins like the B vitamins and vitamin K.
  4. Probiotics help restore your gut health after taking antibiotics.
  5. Good bacteria help increase the diversity of your gut microbiome, leaving you better able to deal with all kinds of chronic diseases.

How to Read a Probiotic Label

When you see a probiotic listed with its scientific name, it may seem confusing, but there is a certain rhyme and reason to the naming convention.

How to understand a probiotic label.

For instance, if you see the probiotic “L. casei listed on an ingredient list, that is a shorthand for Lactobacillus casei. Lactobacillus is the genus name, and the part after the period (casei) is the species name. With probiotics, the genus name is sometimes just indicated with a capital initial, while the species is usually lower-case.

Types of Probiotics

Now that you know how to read a label, what kind of probiotics should you look for?

If you’re looking for health benefits, it really does matter which kind of probiotics you take.  Different strains of bacteria do different things for your gut microbiome.

There are several main probiotics available on the market, and they all have different strains that work better on certain health issues. The information below outlines the main types of probiotics, their strains, and what they can do to help different health issues.

Lactobacillus

Lactobacillus is one of the most widely used probiotics and has been used successfully since the 1920’s for digestive woes. But this type of probiotic has been proven to be useful for many other ailments.

Bifidobacterium

Bifidobacteria are one of the major types of bacteria that live in the gastrointestinal tract of mammals.

Streptococcus

While this probiotic sounds like something you wouldn’t want to purposely consume, it’s not the same as the bacteria that causes strep throat.

What are the main types of probiotics?

Confused about the Best Probiotic for You?

Don’t be! I created this handy table listing all of the above probiotics and what they are best for. You can sort it alphabetically by clicking on the little arrows above each column, or search for your own personal health concern using the search box. By using this best probiotic chart, you’ll know just what to look for when you are ready to start supplementing with probiotics.

Health ConcernProbiotic Name
Acne
Lactobacillus Acidophilus
Anti-AgingBifidobacterium Breve
Brain & Mood Bifidobacterium Longum
Brain & Mood
Lactobacillus Casei
ConstipationBifidobacterium Longum
Diarrhea
Lactobacillus Acidophilus
DiarrheaLactobacillus Casei
EczemaLactobacillus Rhamnosus
GI SupportBifidobacterium Bidifum
GI SupportBifidobacterium Breve
GI SupportLactobacillus Rhamnosus
GI SupportStreptococcus Thermophilus
ImmunityBifidobacterium Bidifum
ImmunityBifidobacterium Lactis
InflammationLactobacillus Plantarum
Skin SupportStreptococcus Thermophilus
Vaginal HealthLactobacillus Acidophilus

What to Look for in a Probiotic Supplement

When shopping for a probiotic supplement, keep in mind that you get what you pay for. Choose a reliable brand. Expect to pay anywhere from $25-$60 for a quality formula.

A quality brand will list the amount of live microbes and should list the exact strains in the formula.

As a general rule, a probiotic should provide at least 1 billion CFUs (colony forming units), with doses typically ranging between 1 billion and 10 billion CFUs daily for adults. Anything less than a billion isn’t potent enough.

Check the expiration dates and best by dates carefully.

Probiotics Side Effects

Probiotics are safe for the majority of people, but side effects can occur. Keep a lookout for these probiotic side effects:

  • Probiotics can cause a temporary increase in gas and bloating, that should subside in a few weeks.
  • People who are sensitive to amines can experience headaches if they consume certain natural probiotic foods like sauerkraut and kimchi.
  • People with histamine intolerance problems should stay away from certain probiotic strains.
  • Some supplements may contain dairy, eggs or soy, so read labels carefully if you are sensitive to these foods.
  • People with compromised immune systems should always speak to their medical professionals before trying any supplement.

Getting Started with Probiotics

Having a healthy gut is extremely important to your overall health. While gut health research is constantly evolving, probiotics have been proven to have beneficial effects for many different health conditions.

Understand that it may take some trial and error to find the best probiotic for you. Give each one a couple of weeks to get to work on your gut health. If you don’t see any benefits, try a different one.

Most probiotics should be taken on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. Make it a habit and part of your daily gut health routine.

Taking the right type of probiotic for your individual health concern can help you target the problem and improve your overall health and well being so you can start feeling better and living your best life now!

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