Probiotics are healthy bacteria or yeasts that are excellent for maintaining gut health. They are good bacteria that improve digestive health and help build immunity. The human body consists of abundant bacteria in the body. Moreover, these are commonly found in the mouth, gut, and private parts. The gut microbiota is responsible for maintaining a healthy digestive system.
While the bad gut bacteria often contribute to diseases, the good ones try to protect the body. As a result, a proper balance between the two kinds is essential for keeping us healthy. Conversely, a diseased state occurs when there is an imbalance.
When this happens, probiotics come to the rescue. Probiotics help grow healthy intestinal bacteria and balance the ratio between good and bad bacteria.
Probiotics found in fermented foods such as yogurt are healthy and nutritious. These are available in a variety of strains. The lactobacillus, bifidobacterium, and saccharomyces boulardii are most prescribed. Each of these has its benefits and is suitable for treating different conditions.
However, probiotic supplements are not regulated by the FDA. Hence, you may wonder how to choose the right one for your ailment. Here’s a quick guide about an excellent probiotic and its benefits. Besides, we have also described its efficacy and interactions with other drugs.
This article is your complete guide to selecting the right supplement. Yet, we recommend you consult a doctor before starting a routine supplement.
Under normal circumstances, the body has about 85% of healthy bacteria and 15% of toxic bacteria. Such a state allows the body to keep its immune system strong and ready to fight infections. However, compromised immune systems result from a disturbance in the balance of bacteria.
When the bacteria in your gut go off balance, it affects the gastrointestinal system. Next, the body’s immune system weakens, and you become prone to frequent infections.
How Do Bacteria Go Off Balance?
A wide range of medical conditions affects an individual’s complementary and integrative health. Some examples include small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, inflammatory bowel diseases, and yeast infections. Other examples are certain infections that need antibiotics, cancers, diabetes, and more.
The gut bacteria are also affected by emotional, mental, or physical stress. When we cannot manage stress, the gut’s microflora suffers. It is thus important to follow regular workout regimens and eat healthy food.
Moreover, practicing stress-relieving activities also helps. Some stress-relieving activities include practicing yoga, meditation, and exercise. Following hobbies, traveling, and taking a break from work are other ways to reduce stress.
Most antibiotics affect the balance of good and bad bacteria in the body. Antibiotic-associated diarrhea is the most common reason for the reduction of healthy bacteria.
An antibiotic treats any infectious condition, and it acts by killing all sorts of bacteria that it comes across. Unfortunately, they fail to recognize the role of bacteria in the body. As a result, a need for probiotic supplements arises. Probiotic supplements help restore bacterial balance under these conditions.
Effects of Fewer Amounts of Beneficial Bacteria in the Body
Infections are common when the good bacteria reduce and harmful bacteria overpower. Gastrointestinal issues are also expected in such situations. Besides, studies suggest that food allergies develop due to disturbed gut microbiomes.
Furthermore, the vaginal health affected by the imbalance in microflora leads to infections. Other effects include abdominal pain, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and IBS symptoms. Inflammatory bowel disease, and ulcerative colitis, are more examples. Moreover, immune health is also affected.
Role of Probiotics
Probiotics play an active role if the body is suffering from bacteria-related issues. They improve the condition of the digestive system in an individual. Moreover, they help restore the balance between good and harmful bacteria.
This is where probiotic supplements come into play.
Probiotic supplements relieve irritable bowel syndrome, impaired vaginal health, and ulcerative colitis. In addition, they treat antibiotic-associated diarrhea, Crohn’s disease, and clostridium difficile infection. They also support immune health, improve skin health, and prevent food allergies.
The best probiotic supplement restores the function of digestive enzymes and improves digestion.
How to Choose the Right Probiotic
Each probiotic strain plays a different role in the body. The best probiotics show significant results within a few weeks of use. We now know how probiotics help restore our immune health and other body functions. Let us understand how to choose the right one for a particular condition.
Qualities of a Probiotic Bacteria
Probiotics are available in a variety of strains. But, only the right ones help with medical conditions. A potent probiotic supplement contains live and active strains of bacteria. Some factors that you must consider when buying a probiotic are:
- CFUs or Colony Forming Units: The label of a probiotic supplement has useful information. This includes the number of colonies forming units or CFU. This number, calculated at the time of manufacturing and packaging, holds significant importance.
A billion CFU are essential for a probiotic product to qualify for effectiveness. Hence, you must assess the brand’s website to understand the stability of a brand’s probiotic strains.
- Particular Strain: Research suggests that certain probiotic strains are more effective than others. For example, vitamin formation, lowering cholesterol, fecal enzymes, and lactose intolerance.
Further, the bifidobacterium strains have beneficial effects on the gut. Other examples include the lactobacillus Plantarum and lactobacillus rhamnosus.
- Additives or Preservatives: National institutes suggest that a good probiotic should be free of additives. They should be available in dairy-free and gluten-free forms. This helps people who cannot consume dairy or gluten.
- Brands: When choosing a probiotic, check the brand’s certifications and reliability. Furthermore, assess the type of strain you need to fix your problem. Select the brand which has that particular strain of probiotic bacteria.
Efficacy of Probiotics
Even with the above information, choosing the right probiotic supplement is impossible. This is because the researchers have not understood the effectiveness of probiotics. This is true for treating various medical conditions. Hence, it is advisable to consult a health care provider before starting a supplement on your own.
Furthermore, these supplements do not fix every condition. Probiotics interfere with medicines, too. Hence, be cautious when taking them in conjunction with other medicines. In such a case, only a qualified healthcare professional can tell, and they can recommend the right supplement and plan of treatment.
To summarize, probiotic products have shown great improvements in many people. But each body is unique, and what may work for one person may not work for others. Hence, select your probiotic supplement carefully.
Yogurt – The Most Readily Available Probiotic
Almost everyone enjoys a bowl of yogurt a day. When combined with certain food items, they taste well. But, they also come with great benefits. This food item is not only affordable but convenient for everyday consumption.
For maintaining good health, active species of probiotics are essential. Some yogurts contain these active species and are super helpful, improving gut health effectively. Yet, not all yogurts contain these healthy bacteria.
In addition, yogurts don’t always have the required strains and species of live bacteria. As a result, they may not be the ideal source of a complete probiotic supplement.
You cannot rely upon yogurt if looking for great viable bacteria support. Yogurt has a limited dosage per serving and high carbohydrate content. Hence, they don’t make the ideal probiotic supplement. Yet, they are excellent adjuncts to formulated probiotics.
Health Benefits of Probiotic Bacteria
The best probiotic supplements show quick improvement in ailed individuals and take effect within a few weeks of use. For example, formulated probiotics improve vaginal health, help treat urinary tract infections, reduce stomach acid and strengthen the immune system.
The best probiotic supplements help improve gut health. Similarly, natural sources, too, are effective. Most examples of good dietary sources of probiotics are natural resources. These include legumes, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, and green bananas.
Probiotic supplements also benefit unborn children, pregnant mothers, and the elderly. In women, they improve vaginal health, whereas, in children and the elderly, they build immune health.
The gluten-free version of probiotics is essential for people with Crohn’s disease. In comparison, the dairy-free version benefits those with poor digestive systems and arthritis. Thus, the best probiotic supplement is the one that fits all.
Probiotics for Pregnant Women and Children
Probiotics are essential supplements for pregnant and lactating women. When the baby is in the womb, a mother must take probiotics. Thus, they are highly valued in all dietary supplements for pregnant women.
Also, daily probiotic intake with folic acid and fish oil has many health benefits. This is especially true for pregnant and lactating women. Pregnant mothers can also benefit from a gluten-free variety of probiotics.
After children are born, they receive probiotics through breast milk or in the form of powder. When applied to a nipple or finger, the powder becomes easy to feed the child. Studies also suggest that it treats children’s diarrhea, vomiting, acid reflux, and constipation. Besides, lactobacillus acidophilus is an essential bacteria for the digestive system. It is responsible for strengthening immune function.
These healthy bacteria have time and again proven to benefit children. For instance, Saccharomyces boulardii is beneficial for children. It reduces the risk of autoimmune autistic disorder or AAD. Furthermore, in pregnant women, the chances of developing bacterial vaginosis decline.
Probiotics in Old Age
It is a well-known fact that the microflora of the tummy changes with age. As a result, there is an imbalance of bacteria in the body, which results in lowered levels of good bacteria. But, the levels of toxic bacteria increase.
It is thus common for the elderly to experience gastrointestinal problems or infections. Other issues include clostridium difficile infection, diarrhea, IBS, and constipation.
Research suggests that certain probiotic strains improve body processes. These include the formation of vitamins and reduced cholesterol and fecal enzymes. Improvement in people with lactose intolerance is also evident.
For example, the bifidobacterium strains are beneficial for the gut of the elderly. Other such examples are the lactobacillus Plantarum and lactobacillus acidophilus. Lactobacillus acidophilus is also essential.
Taking daily probiotic supplements can enhance the digestive functioning of older adults. But, more research about the effectiveness of different bacterial strains will help.
The best probiotics are those which have at least a billion colony-forming units, and this factor determines their efficacy. Further, when you start a probiotic, consider these factors:
- Avoid taking them if you have a compromised immune system. You must discuss your case with the doctor first.
- You may need to try different probiotics to decide which one works best for you.
- Probiotics lead to bloating and leave you with an altered stool pattern if taken in excess. This indicates that the probiotic is working for you. Hence, take note of it for future use.
- Instead of jumping to a probiotic supplement, research well about its natural alternatives.
It is important to note that probiotics help improve the digestive system. But, they are not a replacement for a qualified professional’s opinion.
Daily probiotic intake has a significant impact on health. But, people have different schools of thought about the right time to take probiotics. Some prefer taking it on an empty stomach in the morning, while others recommend taking it with food.
Taking probiotics on an empty stomach is beneficial. It helps the probiotic strain to colonize the lining of the intestine. The stomach acid on an empty stomach in the morning is relatively low.
Some national institutes suggest taking probiotics with food. The gastric system’s alkaline pH with food enhances probiotic supplements’ efficiency. But, no better time to take probiotic supplements has been recommended.
Selecting the Right Yogurt
Yogurt cannot replace the effectiveness of a probiotic supplement. This is because some yogurts do not contain the active live species. These species are responsible for improving gut health.
When buying yogurt, keep in mind the strains that your brand contains. Each brand has a specific strain of probiotic bacteria.
You must read the label on the yogurt to look for the species of bacteria. The label also contains information about the number of colony-forming units or CFU. This number of CFU is calculated while the product is manufactured and packaged. It holds significant importance.
Ideally, a billion CFU are needed for a probiotic product to qualify for being effective. Hence, it becomes necessary to check their website. Their website gives information about the stability of that brand’s probiotic strains.
Furthermore, consider these three major disadvantages of replacing yogurt with probiotic supplements:
- The amount of yogurt taken at a time is lesser than required to balance the healthy bacteria.
- Many brands of yogurt are high in carbohydrates and sugar, which add to the calorie intake
- People who are on a vegan diet need dairy-free products.
They cannot reap the benefits of yogurt. Hence, take yogurt with caution and consider your personal preference.
FAQS Regarding Probiotics:
Are probiotics recommended for everyday use?
The efficacy of probiotics in treating various ailments is not conclusive yet. Hence, It is advisable to consult a health care provider before starting a supplement on your own. Moreover, these supplements do not work for every condition.
They may interfere with any ongoing medicines. In such a case, only a qualified healthcare professional can tell. They can recommend the right supplement and plan of treatment.
Does yogurt contain enough probiotics for maintaining health?
For maintaining good health, active species of probiotics are essential. Unfortunately, not all yogurts contain these beneficial bacteria. Moreover, yogurts don’t always have the required strains and species of live bacteria. As a result, they may not be the ideal source of a complete probiotic supplement.
You cannot rely upon yogurt if looking for great viable bacteria support. Yogurt has a limited dosage per serving and high carbohydrate content.
Firstly, the amount of yogurt taken at a time is lesser than required to balance the healthy bacteria. Secondly, many yogurt brands are high in carbohydrates and sugar. This adds to the calorie intake. Hence, take them with caution.
How to select the correct yogurt for its probiotic benefits?
Yogurt is not an ideal source of a probiotic blend. This is because it does not contain the active live species. These active species are responsible for improving gut health. When buying yogurt, keep in mind the strains that your brand contains. This is because each brand has a specific strain of probiotic bacteria.
You must read the label on the yogurt to look for the species of bacteria. The label also contains information about the number of colony-forming units or CFU. This number, calculated at the time of manufacturing and packaging, holds great importance.
Ideally, a billion CFU are needed for a probiotic product to be effective. Hence, it is necessary to check their website for the stability of that brand’s probiotic strains.
Do the elderly require a different variety of probiotics?
It is a well-established fact that the microflora of the gut changes with age. The bacterial balance in the body gets disturbed, and as a result, the levels of beneficial bacteria declines. On the contrary, the levels of toxic bacteria increases. It is thus common for the elderly to experience gastrointestinal disorders or infections. Other associated issues include clostridium difficile, infectious diarrhea, IBS, and constipation. For some people, gluten-free probiotics may work better than other varieties.
Research suggests that certain probiotic strains effectively improve the formation of vitamins and reduce cholesterol, fecal enzymes, and lactose intolerance. In addition, the bifidobacterium strains are proving to have beneficial effects on the gut of the elderly. However, more research about the efficacy of different bacterial strains in helping the elderly with gastrointestinal issues is needed.
When is the ideal time to consume probiotics?
Different people have different schools of thought when it comes to deciding the appropriate time to consume probiotics. Some prefer taking it in the morning, empty stomach, while others recommend taking it with food.
Taking probiotics on an empty stomach allows the probiotic strain to colonize the intestinal lining since the stomach acid is relatively low.
Alternatively, some supplement companies suggest taking probiotic supplements with food. The alkaline pH of the gastric system when eating supports the efficiency of probiotic supplements.
However, the literature lacks healthcare professionals’ review articles on the best time for consuming probiotic supplements. That is why feel free to take it at your convenience.
Do probiotics interact with antibiotics?
The efficacy of probiotics in treating various diseases or disorders is not conclusive yet. Hence, It is advisable to consult a health care provider before starting a supplement on your own. Moreover, these supplements may interfere with any ongoing medicines. However, that is not the case with antibiotics.
Antibiotics greatly affect the balance of good and toxic bacteria in the body. Antibiotic-associated diarrhea is the most common reason for the reduction of good bacteria. This drug treats any infectious condition by killing all sorts of bacteria that it comes across.
Unfortunately, they fail to recognize the role of bacteria in the body. As a result, a need for probiotic supplements arises. Probiotic supplements help restore bacterial balance under these conditions. In such a case, only a qualified healthcare professional can recommend the right supplement and plan of treatment.
When should a child be allowed to take probiotics?
When the baby is in the womb, a mother must take probiotics. Therefore, probiotics are highly valued in all dietary supplements for pregnant women. In addition, probiotic supplements with folic acid and fish oil have many health benefits for pregnant women.
After children are born, they receive probiotics through breast milk or in the form of powder. The powder is applied on either a nipple or finger and given to the child. Studies also suggest that it plays a role in treating diarrhea, vomiting, acid reflux, and constipation in children.
These healthy bacteria have been clinically proven to benefit children. For instance, Saccharomyces boulardii was found to be beneficial for children in reducing the risk of autoimmune autistic disorder or AAD. Furthermore, when taken by pregnant women, it prevents the chances of bacterial vaginosis.
What should I watch out for when buying a probiotic
When purchasing a probiotic supplement, read the label carefully. First, look for the strain of probiotic you are looking for. On finding the name, you will know the genus, species, and strain it belongs to. With this information, evaluate the efficiency of the probiotic in treating your condition.
Further, look for information about the number of colony-forming units or CFU. This number, calculated at the time of manufacturing and packaging, holds great importance. Ideally, a billion CFU are needed for a probiotic product to qualify for effectiveness. Again, this information is available on the brand’s website to understand its probiotic strains’ stability.
How to tell if the probiotic is working?
You may need to try different probiotics to decide which one works best for you. This is because each individual responds differently to probiotic strains.
If taken in excess, it leads to bloating and leaves you with an altered stool pattern. This indicates that the probiotic is working for you. Hence, take note of it for future use and consult a doctor as well, if need be.
Conclusion: What Is Considered A Good Probiotic?
Probiotics are a valuable group of healthy bacteria. They are clinically proven to have abundant health benefits. Probiotics help people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and treat urinary tract infections. They are also effective in relieving constipation. But, probiotics are not for everyone.
They may work for some people, while others may not find it very useful. Furthermore, its effectiveness depends on the strain taken and its dosage. Another factor to consider is the reason for eating it. Garden of Life is one of the healthiest supplements sold on the market. This brand has multivitamins, probiotics, and other varieties that enhance health.
A doctor’s advice is necessary before starting any probiotic supplements. This is because some probiotics interfere with any ongoing medications. Moreover, they may not be suitable for every individual. Nonetheless, there are plenty of ways to improve your gut microbiome. That, too, without dietary supplements.
Following a balanced diet, managing stress, and sleeping well help build immunity. A balanced diet contains adequate proportions of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, and probiotics. In addition, such a diet maintains digestive health. It also prevents the need for supplements.
Finally, choose the right strain for treating your condition. If you need to take a probiotic supplement, gauge the benefits of probiotics. In addition, understand their efficacy in treating your ailment. Not all probiotics are helpful for every condition. Also, consider buying the best probiotic supplements. The quality and efficacy of the probiotic differ from brand to brand.