We are all trying to live healthier lives and take care of our body. However, because of the hectic pace of life and the over-consumption of processed foods, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to do this.
One way that you can look after your intestinal (gut) health is by taking probiotic supplements. These are becoming more and more popular. This article explores what probiotic supplements are, how they can benefit you, and which are the best probiotic supplements on the market.
When we think of bacteria, we tend to have a negative connotation of this. However, every healthy body needs a balance of “good” bacteria to counteract the negative effects of “bad” bacteria. Many scientists have identified a link between the bacteria in our gut and a healthy immune system.
The lifestyles that we generally lead today cause “bad” bacteria to multiply in the gut causing all sorts of digestive disorders.
Some of the other factors which can interfere with the good bacteria in our bodies are anti-biotics, gut infections, being overweight, sterilized foods, and the overuse of anti-bacterial cleansers.
So, what exactly are probiotics and why should we use them?
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics (meaning literally “for life“) are live bacteria and yeasts which mainly live in our intestines and which are essential for our digestive systems and good health.
Our body naturally produces probiotics and they naturally occur in many fermented foods like raw yogurt, pickles, and sauerkraut. They are also found in miso, natto, and some cheeses. These foods are rich in lactic-acid producing bacteria, which is a common ingredient in probiotic supplements.
However, it is not always possible to eat fermented foods regularly to get the benefits from the “good” bacteria in them. Also, much of the yogurt and other fermented dairy products that are sold in supermarkets are pasteurized. This process, of course, kills the “bad” bacteria, but it also kills much of the “good” bacteria. Because of this, many people are now using probiotic supplements.
What Are Probiotic Supplements?
Probiotic supplements contain various specific strains of the three main bacteria groups Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, or Streptococcus. Probiotic supplements contain strains from one or two or all three of these bacteria groups. One of the most popular and effective strains that is found in many probiotic supplements is Lactobacillus acidophilus.
Probiotic supplements are necessary to maintain a health gut or to replenish the good bacteria after a course of antibiotics.
Science Behind Probiotics
There has been enough research carried out on probiotics for scientists to be sure that probiotics have a beneficial effect on the digestive system an overall health of a person.
A study published in 2014 by an international group of researchers proved that probiotics provide many benefits to digestive health.
Other scientific data shows that a healthy digestive system is essential to support our immune system4.
What Are The Benefits?
The benefits of probiotics are many. In addition to what has already been discussed in the article, there is evidence that probiotics can help with the following conditions:
- Irritable bowel syndrome.
- Treat diarrhea.
- Restore the flora of the gut after a course of antibiotics.
- Reduces the severity of colds and flu, or prevent them altogether.
- Promotes vaginal health in women.
- Strengthens the immune system.
- Reduces stomach gas and other gastrointestinal problems.
It should be noted that probiotics are a combination of many different strains of complex bacteria. Each person has his/her own type of immune system; therefore, probiotics will work slightly differently on each person.
Who Should Take Them?
Most people will already have a good combination of “good” and “bad” bacteria in their system. However, this doesn't mean that probiotic supplements aren't necessary. Anyone who is interested in their general health should take probiotics as a daily dietary supplement. This can keep the digestive system functioning properly and help maintain a healthy immune system.
There are some health conditions whereby taking a probiotic supplement is very important. You should definitely take probiotics if:
- You are taking antibiotics. Probiotics should be taken along with antibiotics and for a time after.
- You suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
- You suffer from Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
- You have a yeast infection like Candida or Athletes foot.
- You have infectious diarrhea.
Probiotic supplements can also be taken safely by children. Some studies have shown that probiotics can help children build up a resistance to allergies
How to Take Them
It is best to take probiotic supplements on an empty stomach. This is the best way to allow the good bacteria to go to work. So, take one before retiring at night. If you take one when you wake up, allow at least 20 minutes before eating or drinking.
If you are taking antibiotics you should take probiotic supplements about 2-3 hours apart.
As probiotics contain bacteria that are already present in the body, it is very rare that a person will suffer side effects.
Dr. Shekhar Challa, a gastroenterologist and author of Probiotics For Dummies, says that there isn't any evidence that you can overdose on probiotics. Of course, you should not take more than the recommended dose that is stated in the directions for use.
What to Look For
With the many different supplements on the market, it can be difficult to know what to look for in a probiotic supplement. Probiotic supplements contain different strains of the 3 main types of probiotics:
You will notice on supplements that the ingredients contain many different strains of these probiotics. Usually, the type of strain will be proceeded by the first letter of the bacteria.
What you should remember is that research has shown that it isn't the number of bacteria which is important, but the number of different strains that are present. Therefore, probiotic supplements that contain many different strains will be more effective.
The 3 most popular and effective strains of bacteria are:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus (L. acidophilus). This is the most effective strain of “good” bacteria. It survives well in the gut and helps to boost digestive health and the immune system.
- Bifidobacterium longum (B. longum). This is probably the second most important probiotic strain. This turn sugars into lactic acid and it is effective in ridding the body of toxins.
- Bifidobacterium bifidum (B. bifidum). This is found in the large and small intestine. This can be especially useful for adults as it helps the body to digest dairy products. It also helps to break down fat, protein, and carbohydrates so that the body can use them better.
Best Probiotic Supplements
Now that you know just how beneficial probiotic supplements can be to your overall health, what are the best probiotic supplements on the market?
Hyperbiotic pro 15
Hyperbiotic Pro-15 is a powerful probiotic dietary supplement. It has been specially formulated to contain 15 different strains of bacteria.
Due to the hectic lifestyle that many of us lead, it is becoming more difficult to maintain a healthy digestive system. Much of the food we consume is processed, high in fat and sugar and contains little fiber.
Research shows that about our immune system directly connected with what happens in our gut. If there are too much “bad” bacteria there, then the immune system is weakened and a person is more likely to succumb to various illnesses1.
In order to maintain a healthy gut, it is very important to have enough “good” bacteria there. One way to restore and maintain a healthy gut is to use Hyperbiotic Pro-15 probiotic supplement. This supplement contains all the necessary strains of bacteria to keep your gut healthy.
The supplement has been designed to make sure that more of the “good” bacteria reach your intestinal tract. Hyperbiotics say that around 60% of the probiotics in their supplement pills survive as opposed to about 4% in many of the other cheaper supplements.
If you compare the probiotic supplement with other supplements, you will see that there are fewer bacteria contained. However, the supplement has 15 strains of probiotics, which is more that is usually in probiotic supplements. Research has shown that it is more important to have a number of different strains of bacteria to get overall health benefits2. In this respect, Hyperbiotics Pro-15 contains more strains of bacteria that other similar products.
Hyperbiotics Pro-15 contains 15 bacteria strains that have been well-researched, including 2 of the most important strains – L. acidophilus and B. longum. The pills are designed in a way that is easy to swallow. How else can you benefit from Hyperbiotics Pro-15?
- Contains 15 different strains of healthy bacteria
- Unique BIO-tract technology means that they are time-releasing and you only need one per day.
- All the ingredients are well-researched
- Doesn't contain soy, sugar, iron or wheat
- Only natural ingredients used
- Very small, easy to swallow pills
- Made in the USA
Hyperbiotics Pro-15 contains 15 of the most important bacteria strains that have been researched. These include L. fermentum, L. acidophilus, L. casei, B. longum, B. lactis, L. rhamnosus, L. plantar, B. infantis, Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Streptococcus.
- L. acidophilus
This is one of the most important Lactobacillus bacteria strains. It helps the body to absorb nutrients and also digest dairy foods.
This helps people who are lactose-intolerant to break down the lactose acid in dairy products. It is also an important ingredient in strengthening the immune system.
- B. bifidum
Bifidobacterium bifiidum is essential to help digest dairy products, which is important as we age. It also helps the body break down protein, fats, and complex carbohydrates.
Directions for Use
The pills should be taken on an empty stomach. With Hyperbiotics Pro-15, it is best to take one in the morning. This is because they use a unique time-releasing technology to coat the supplement pills.
Because of the time releasing technology, you only need one pill per day.
However, if you are taking antibiotics, fighting infection or have an inflammatory condition the dose can be increased to 3-7 pills per day
If you develop symptoms like gas or bloating, you should reduce the dose.
NOW Foods Probiotic-10 25 Billion, 50 Vcaps
NOW Foods Probiotic-10 25 Billion is a best seller probiotic dietary supplement. It contains 10 strains of healthy bacteria to boost intestinal health and well-being.
In order to maintain a health digestive system, doctors and scientists recommend taking probiotic supplements. It is becoming increasingly difficult to make sure that our gut contains enough healthy bacteria. This is because of stress and consuming food that contains little fiber but is processed, high in fat and sugar.
In order to restore balance to the bacteria in our gut, it is recommended by doctors that a person takes a probiotic supplement. NOW Foods Probiotic-10 25 Billion has all the strains of probiotics needed to do this.
The claims about the effectiveness of NOW Foods Probiotic-10 have been backed up by independent research. The research found out that there are actually more healthy bacteria in NOW Foods Probiotic that what the label says. So you get more for your money.
It is recommended that the product is kept refrigerated so that the healthy bacteria don’t deteriorate over time.
NOW Foods Probiotic-10 25 Billion contains 10 different strains of bacteria and a massive 25 million probiotic microorganisms. This is enough strains to provide overall health benefits. The number of probiotics is much larger that other probiotic supplements and, therefore, will help those who are taking antibiotics.
NOW Foods Probiotic-10 25 Billion has been formulated to be free of any allergens, this includes soy, nut, gluten, and wheat. It contains 10 different strains of the 3 main types of bacteria, Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Streptococcus. This is an important fact because these are needed to provide overall health benefits.
How else can you benefit from NOW Foods Probiotic-10 25 Billion?
- The 10 strains of probiotics will keep your digestive system working properly
- Boosts the immune system
- Bacteria are acid-resistant which means they won't deteriorate quickly
- Produced in a GMP facility
- No allergens present. This includes egg, fish, shellfish, wheat, gluten, soy, or tree nut
- Certified kosher
- Suitable for vegetarians
In 2013, this supplement was also voted as Best Supplement of the year.
NOW Foods Probiotic-10 25 Billion contains 10 of the most important bacteria strains that have been researched. The 10 strains are L. acidophilus, L plantarum, L. rhamnosus, L. paracasei, L. salivarius, L. casei, B. lactis, B. breve, B. longum, S. thermophiles.
- L. acidophilus
L. Acidophilus is important bacteria strain. It is one of the most effective of the healthy bacteria and because of this, it is found in most supplements. This helps in digesting food and helps the body to absorb necessary nutrients. This strain also helps boost the immune system and digest dairy foods.
- B. longum
This is also a common probiotic found in many supplements. It assists the body in the removal of toxins.
- B. bifidum
As we age our body loses the ability to digest dairy products effectively. This probiotic aids in digesting dairy products. B. bifidum is also necessary to assist the body in breaking down protein, fats, and complex carbohydrates.
Directions for Use
The pills are recommended for anyone who needs to improve their digestive system.
They should be taken on an empty stomach. The recommended dosage is 1 – 2 capsules per day.
This could be increased if you are taking a course of antibiotics. However, if you develop symptoms like gas or bloating, you should follow the recommended dose.
Bio-Kult Advanced Probiotic Multi-Strain Formula Capsules
Bio-Kult Advanced Probiotic Multi-Strain has been developed by a team of nutritional specialists to help the body maintain a healthy digestive system. It contains 14 different strains of probiotics and 2 billion microorganisms in each capsule.
To have a healthy immune system, it is important that the body has the proper balance of good and bacteria. Very often if a person has had to take antibiotics for a length of time, this can upset the balance of bacteria and lead to other health issues1.
Some people also suffer from yeast infections or digestive problems.
In order to restore the number of good bacteria in the body, it is essential that a person takes probiotic supplements.
Bio-Kult Advanced Probiotic Multi-Strain has been specially formulated to provide the necessary good bacteria to the intestinal system. This results in less digestive problems and an improved immune system.
Bio-Kult Advanced Probiotic Multi-Strain uses the necessary bacteria strains to combat and treat the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Candida, urinary tract infections, inflammations, constipation, fungus, bacteria, or viruses.
Bio-Kult Advanced Probiotic Multi-Strain has been formulated to contain 14 different probiotics from the 3 main bacteria strains: Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Streptococcus. This is much more than the usual amount of probiotic supplements.
The number of bacteria strains is significant because research shows that having different strains is just as important as the number of bacteria.
How else can you benefit from Bio-Kult Advanced Probiotic Multi-Strain?
- Contains 14 different probiotics
- Can be stored at room temperature
- Has a long shelf life – up to 2 years
- Gluten free
- May contain traces of soya and milk, but not at a level to affect lactose intolerance sufferers
- Recommended for sufferers of IBS, Candida as well as other digestive tract conditions
- No GMO
The capsules are formulated so that the probiotics are protected from the harsh acid environment in the stomach
Bio-Kult Advanced Probiotic Multi-Strain contains a good amount of bacteria strains – 14 in all. The 14 strains are: Bacillus subtilis, B. bifidum, B. breve, B. infantis, B. longum, L. acidophilus, L. delbrueckii ssp. Bulgaricus, L. casei, L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus, L. helveticus, L. salivarius L. lactis ssp. Lactis, S. thermophilus. Some of these aren't found other popular probiotic supplements.
- L. acidophilus
This is one of the most important probiotics that is used because it helps the body digest dairy foods and produce Vitamin K. It also prevents and treats diarrhea as well as yeast infections. It is an essential probiotic to boost the body's immune system.
- S. thermophilus
This is a well-researched probiotic which has many immune and digestive health benefits. It is an important probiotic for people with lactose intolerance because it helps the body break down and digest dairy products.
- B. infantis
This is the first probiotic that a mother will pass on to her baby. It is an important probiotic to help prevent allergies developing and it is a powerful probiotic to boost the immune system and fight illnesses.
Directions for Use
Take 1 – 2 capsules once or twice daily with food. If you take a larger dose, then it's advisable to split the dose between two meals.
If you are taking Bio-Kult Probiotic capsules along with antibiotics, then you should take 4 capsules per day, 2-3 hours after taking an antibiotic pill. You should take them for 2 weeks after completing the course of antibiotics.
There is no risk of overdose wth Bio-Kult Advanced Probiotic Multi-Strain.
Nutrition Now PB8 120 pro-biotic capsules
Nutrition Now PB8 is a popular probiotic supplement which will help a person maintain a healthy digestive system. It contains 8 different probiotic strains. The supplement capsules are available in 2 forms – gelatin and a vegetarian one.
Probiotic supplements are essential to help a person maintain a healthy digestive system.
Having a busy lifestyle which is associated with stress can have a damaging effect on our digestive system. Also, more and more people are consuming food which is processed, high in fat and sugar and contains little fiber. This also means that we are not getting the necessary ‘good' bacteria into our gut.
This can have many health implications because a healthy gut is connected with a strong immune system. When the immune system is suppressed, a person is more prone to various illnesses1.
To help make sure that we have the proper balance of “good” bacteria, Nutrition Now PB8 probitoic supplement provides the gut with the necessary probiotics to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria.
Nutrition Now markets the supplement as “Pro-Biotic Acidophilus for Life”. Acidophilus is an important probiotic for a healthy digestive system. However, as its name suggests Nutrition Now PB8 contains 8 different strains of probiotics.
At the time of manufacture, each serving contains 14 billion live organisms to help strengthen the digestive system.
Nutrition Now PB8 contains more than just “good” bacteria, but there is the added ingredient of inulin. Inulin is also an important factor in having a healthy digestive system. Inulin is termed a “prebiotic,” meaning that it acts as food for probiotics. This combination is an effective way to get the best from probiotics.
How else can you benefit from Bio-Kult Advanced Probiotic Multi-Strain?
- Contains active probiotics to maintain a healthy gut
- Contains 14 billion good bacteria per serving
- Formula suitable for vegetarians
- Nothing artificial in it
- Suitable for people with food allergies
Containing 8 strains of probiotics, Nutrition NOW PB8 has everything the gut needs to be healthy. The 8 strains are: L. acidophilus, B. lactis, L. plantarum, L. salivarius, B. bifidum, B. longum, L. rhamnosus, L. casei. It also contains inulin.
- L. acidophilus
This is a very important probiotic and it is found in most good probiotic supplements. It is the main probiotic which helps the body to digest foods containing lactose. It also boosts the body's immune system.
- B. lactis
This is a very powerful probiotic which has been proven to boost immunity and fight illnesses. It has been shown to be effective in fighting cancerous tumors. It helps to restore balance in the digestive system, thus helping treat IBS and diarrhea.
This is called a prebiotic and also promotes good digestive health. For probiotics to thrive, they need something to ‘feed' on. So the use of inulin is important to make sure that the probiotics are active in the gut. It has also been shown to control blood sugar levels and reduce cholesterol.
Directions for Use
The recommended dose is 2 capsules daily to keep a healthy digestive system.
If you are taking antibiotics, then this could be increased to 4 capsules per day. You need to take them at different times to the antibiotic pills, about 2-3 hours before and after. You should take them for 2 weeks after completing the course of antibiotics.
As with all probiotics, there are no associated risks of overdose.