Taking a probiotic is a simple thing that can give you wonderful benefits – if you are taking the right probiotic!
If you take a poor quality probiotic or one that isn’t right for you, you are probably just flushing away your money. Whereas taking a good quality probiotic that is suited for your needs will replenish, renew and balance your existing gut flora and give you valuable benefits, which can include the following:
Increased nutrient absorption
Enhanced vitamin synthesis
Relief from some IBS symptoms
More regular bowel movements
Better mental health
Easier weight loss
So how do you choose the right probiotic out of all the different options that are available on the market?
Just follow these 5 simple steps:
1. Choose live, active cultures
Years ago when probiotics were first made, most of them included dead or inactive cultures because these cultures were easier to produce, store and transport, as well as had a longer shelf life.
Current research now proves that inactive or dead probiotics have a limited effect on the gut flora and can not provide all the benefits that live, active probiotics can.
There are still a variety of probiotics on the market that only contain inactive cultures, but thankfully, there are many options that provide active probiotic cultures. As you choose a probiotic, make sure you get one with live, active cultures so that you receive the maximum benefits from every dose.
2. Prioritize probiotics from the Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Saccharomyces boulardii genera
Scientists have studied numerous types of bacteria, yeast, and other microorganisms that colonize our gut. In their studies, there are three categories of microorganisms that stand out for being especially beneficial to our health.
These three genera are:
Lactobacillus – Bacteria in the lactobacillus family are gram-positive, acid-tolerant and generally rod-shaped. Lactobacillus bacteria are involved in breaking food down into absorbable nutrients and as a result, they play an important part in heart and brain health, as well as healthy weight loss.
Bifidobacterium – Bifidobacteria are gram-positive bacterias that are elongated and have multiple branches. When we have a healthy number of Bifidobacterium bacteria, they live in our mouth and all through our digestive tract. These bacteria help keep a healthy balance in our gut flora, aid in the digestion of protein, carbohydrates, and fiber, as well as increase our immunity.
Saccharomyces boulardii – Saccharomyces boulardii is a tropical yeast. It is a single-celled microorganism that aids digestion, as well as works to decrease inflammation, increase immunity and improve the intestinal mucosa.
The best probiotics usually include one or more strains of bacteria and yeasts from these three genera, because these genera have been studied in-depth and are guaranteed to produce results.
3. Take a minimum of 1 billion colony-forming units each day
Probiotics are measured by CFUs or colony-forming units. Each colony-forming unit is a viable cell that has the potential to grow into a beneficial bacteria or yeast colony once it has settled in the digestive tract.
The recommended dose of a probiotic varies from person to person because everyone’s digestive tract and flora are unique, but in general, the minimum recommended dose of a probiotic is 1 billion CFUs for adults each day. This dose can be increased up to 10 billion CFUs each day at the recommendation of a nutritionist or other health professional.
4. Feed your bacteria fermentable fiber
As you consider taking a probiotic, it is important to understand that probiotics need prebiotics to thrive.
Prebiotics are fermentable fibers that work as “fertilizer” for your gut flora. Fermentable fibers aren’t broken down until they reach the lower part of the intestines where most of our healthy bacteria and yeasts live. As these nutritious fibers reach the colonies of gut flora, the bacteria and yeasts ferment these fibers and use the nutrients from them to grow, multiply and perform their individual jobs.
Many probiotic supplements already include ample doses of prebiotics and if you want, you can also increase your prebiotic intake by eating the following foods:
5. Consider doing a gut microbiome test
If you are still unsure about which probiotic is right for you, if you struggle with chronic digestive problems or if you have taken probiotics before without good results, consider doing a gut microbiome test, also called a GI Map Test. This test will analyze the overall health of your gut flora and use DNA to identify all the bacteria and yeasts that are present. The results of the test then show exactly where your gut flora is strong and where it needs to be built up.
You will then know what type of probiotic you should take and be able to confidently support your gut health and improve your overall health.