What is the Best Probiotic Supplement? [Breaking Down the Microbiome Barriers]

best probiotics

When people hear the word ‘Bacteria’, many often think of infection or disease. On the contrary, probiotics are live microorganisms known as ‘good bacteria’ that can benefit your health and are found mostly in your gut. Your gut also contains “bad” bacteria and both good and bad bacteria retain a delicate balance. Ideally, the balance of gut flora should be around 85 percent good bacteria and 15 percent bad bacteria. When this ratio gets off balance it can lead to infections and disease. The term “probiotic” comes from the Greek term “for life,” and duly so because these friendly bacteria can help support your body in many different ways to fight off infections and disease. I will say there have been known to be a few side effects and safety precautions to consider before starting – continue below and always be sure to consult your physician before starting any new supplement!

In the following article, I am going to touch on all things probiotics! These are the questions I wanted answered when first starting my search for the best probiotic supplement – with the ultimate question being, what is the best probiotic supplements?

 

MAJOR HEALTH BENEFITS

What is the Best Probiotic Supplement?

  • Inflammation: Probiotics reduce systemic inflammation, a leading driver of many diseases as well as pain.
  • Depression and anxiety: Some probiotic strains have been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in people with clinical depression.
  • Blood cholesterol: Several probiotics have been shown to lower total and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.
  • Blood pressure: Probiotics may also cause modest reductions in blood pressure.
  • Immune function: Several probiotic strains may enhance immune function, possibly leading to a reduced risk of infections, including the common cold.
  • Skin health: There is some evidence that probiotics can be useful for acne, rosacea and eczema, as well as other skin disorders.
  • Gut health: Known to improve daily bowel movements and help with diseases like IBS, chrohns diease, celiac diease and other digestive issues such as antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

 

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT

What is the Best Probiotic Supplement?

Food is your best source of nutrients for anything and probiotics are no different. Your gut flora is highly sensitive to your diet, and studies show that an unbalanced gut flora is linked to numerous diseases. These diseases include obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, colorectal cancer, Alzheimer’s and depression. Consuming unpasteurized fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, lassi (Indian yoghurt), kefir (fermented milk), natto (fermented soy), and pickled cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, eggplants, onions, squash, and turnips will help provide you with beneficial bacteria to fight off disease. If you have a dairy allergy or sensitivity, there are many dairy alternatives like almond yogurt, coconut yogurt, and coconut kefir.

 

PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENTS

What is the Best Probiotic Supplement?

Even though food is your best source of nutrients, taking a probiotic supplement will enrich your diet and help you:

  • Absorb minerals, eliminate toxins, and produce vitamins, particularly vitamin K and B vitamins
  • Avoid allergies by training your immune system to differentiate between pathogens and non-harmful antigens
  • Digest and assimilate certain carbohydrates and convert them into primary sources of energy and nutrients
  • Kill harmful microbes and keep bad bacteria in your intestinal lining or mucosal barrier under control
  • Support your immune system, 80 percent of which lies in your gut

When searching for a probiotic supplement, a multi-strain probiotic formula reflecting a diversity in both number of species (the types of bacteria strains) and number of genera (groups of bacteria strains) is recommended. If you choose more delicate strains like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, a massive CFU (measured in-colony forming units; I.E. the amount of bacteria) count is needed to guard against the harsh conditions associated with transportation and storage that can greatly diminish and damage the microorganisms. Alternatively, you could try Soil Based Organism (SBO) probiotic strains which are naturally resistant to heat and acid environments. Because of this, the CFU number you see on an SBO probiotic label is usually accurate.

So, how do you pick the best probiotic for you? Well, first let’s look at a quick overview of the benefits of each strain and then you can better find a probiotic specifically tailored to your needs:

L. Acidophilus

Best probiotic for: Acne, Vaginal health, Diarrhea

L. Rhamnosus

Best Probiotic For: Eczema

L. Plantarum

Best Probiotic For: Inflammation

L. Casei

Best Probiotic For: GI support, Brain function

B. Lactis

Best Probiotic For: Immunity

B. Longum

Best Probiotic For: Constipation, Brain Function

B. Bifidum

Best Probiotic For: Immunity, GI support

B. Breve

Best Probiotic for: Anti-aging

Streptococcus Thermophilus

Best Probiotic For: Skin support

 

MY TOP RECOMMENDATION

What is the Best Probiotic Supplement?

Best bang for your buck – If you are looking for an excellent probiotic that contains almost all of the bacteria strains listed above – I highly recommend Hyperbiotics PRO! After you read the facts below, you’ll understand why :). And it’s very affordable! **Note: If you have difficulty swallowing pills, there is a powder form! Check it out here.

*Consumerlab and labdoor approved

+ 15 Targeted Probiotic Strains because bacterial diversity is key when it comes to gut health. The strains in PRO-15 include: Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium infantis, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus salivarius, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus gasseri, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium breve, and Streptococcus thermophilus.

+ 5 Billion Colony Forming Units per BIO-tract pearl, which is equivalent to 75 Billion CFU (colony forming units) of standard probiotic capsules!

+ Easy to Swallow. This tiny pearl is a fraction of the size of standard capsules. No wasted fillers, just micro-packed goodness. You’re welcome.

+ Naturally Derived Prebiotic (FOS) included in each pearl to help feed the probiotics for increased potency. Prebiotics are fibers that encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria throughout your colon.

+ Long Shelf Life & No Refrigeration Necessary. With the patented LiveBac manufacturing process, we offer an extended shelf life with zero refrigeration. Many probiotics don’t provide a date of any kind because their organisms die so quickly after being manufactured.

+ Only Once per Day. That’s it. Because with time-release delivery, the benefits are being delivered deep inside your gut hour by hour.

+ Made in the USA. Our probiotics are manufactured in Washington and Colorado in facilities that are GMP certified through NSF. We adhere to the strictest quality control and FDA guidelines and perform rigorous testing on every lot to ensure they are survivable and as the label states.

+ Premium Probiotic Supplement. This formula is vegetarian, non-GMO, and free of lactose, gluten, and yeast. There is also no soy, sugar, iron, nuts, artificial flavors, artificial colors, or preservatives.

+ We know the importance of sustainability. We consider the impact of our probiotic formulas at every turn, from the ingredients we choose, to how they’re made, the bottles we use, and how they’re delivered to you. We’re on a mission to replenish living ecosystems – from human microbiomes to the delicate and endangered ecosystems of our planet.

IS MORE REALLY BETTER?

What is the Best Probiotic Supplement?

When it comes to probiotic supplements, many retailers want you to believe that the more bacteria count (measured in colony-forming units, or CFUs,) the better the product. However, it’s still uncertain whether more bacteria are actually better for you in general. Instead, focus on the strain, storage and expiration. However, in theory, it’s good to aim for counts greater than 1 billion, especially for the more delicate strains as mentioned before.

 

PACKAGING AND DELIVERY MATTERS

What is the Best Probiotic Supplement?

Understanding the different ways that manufacturers package and deliver probiotic supplements is perhaps the most important factor in ensuring the bacteria remain alive and healthy while being delivered to you and your gut.

Probiotic supplements aren’t always easily absorbed but the good news is there has been a lot of advances in their delivery systems. You can now find probiotic products that offer controlled-release tablets (or caplets) which keeps the strain from being destroyed by the stomach acids.

 

STORAGE AT HOME

What is the Best Probiotic Supplement?

You need to protect the bacteria from too much exposure to light, heat, and moisture. Avoid probiotics sold in clear glass bottles. Instead, go for the darker, thicker glass bottles or white plastic bottles packaged inside of a box as these reduce the amount of light exposure. Blister packs are also a great option as well which is what I use. At home, always store your supplement in a dark, cool place and away from direct sunlight. Most people’s medicine cabinets are in their bathroom but if you think about it, that is where you take showers and frequently create a moist environment. Dairy based strains like Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium need to be refrigerated.

 

EXPIRATION

What is the Best Probiotic Supplement?

It’s important to look at the expiration date on the probiotic supplement. This is the manufacturer’s promise that the bacteria in the product will remain active and potent—at the levels specified on the label—until that date. Usually the expiration date is based on formulation and stability testing data, which means a company is paying attention to those matters. Be leery of purchasing products that don’t have an expiration date on a product label.

 

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

What is the Best Probiotic Supplement?

Timing is everything, and in the case of probiotic supplements, how and when you take it is the difference between absorbing the “friendly bacteria” and wasting away an entire supplement. The common misconception is that the best time to take a probiotic is first thing in the morning and on an empty stomach (I thought this too at first!!). Probiotics are living organisms and very much like living organisms they need food, water and warmth to survive and multiply. Makes sense right?

The absolute best time to take probiotics is with your meal. Right before or just after the meal is best for getting the most out of our probiotics as the food acts as a buffering system for the supplement against the harsh environment of the stomach and ensures its safe passage through the digestive tract. Aside from protection, food also provides the friendly bacteria in your probiotic the proper nourishment to ensure it survives, grows and multiplies in your gut. Which is what we want! Let the good flourish :).

 

CHILDREN AND PROBIOTICS

What is the Best Probiotic Supplement?

Probiotic supplements are great for kids and babies. If you are giving probiotics to a baby under two years of age, you need to get specific strains that are better suited for such young microbiomes including: Lactobacillus rhamnosus, casei, paralisei, gasseri, salvarius. And for Bifidobacterium: infantis, bifidum, longum, breve, lactis. For breastfeeding mothers, you can put probiotics on your breast, or heat up formula and put probiotics in it, or wet your finger and dip it in probiotic powder and let your baby suck on your finger. Always be sure to consult your pediatrician first.

Good probiotic choices for children include:

  • Bio-Kult Infantis
  • Udo’s choice children’s blend probiotic
  • ReNewLife Ultimate Flora Kids Probiotic
  • Nature’s Way Primadophilus Children

 

SAFETY AND SIDE EFFECTS

What is the Best Probiotic Supplement?

The most common side effect is mild stomach problems, especially the first few days you start taking them. You might have stomach upset, gas, diarrhea, or bloating. Those symptoms usually go away after your body gets used to them.

If you have an immune system problem or another serious health condition, you may have a greater chance of issues. Some reports have linked probiotics to serious infections and other side effects. The people most likely to have trouble are those with immune system problems (ironically), people who’ve had surgery, and others who are critically ill. Don’t take probiotics if you have any of those issues without consulting your physician first.

 

PROBIOTICS AND ANIMALS

What is the Best Probiotic Supplement?

An increasing number of traditional vets, pet owners and caretakers are using probiotics to:

  • Treat diarrhea
  • Help cats and dogs in shelters manage the stress of abandonment and confinement
  • Alleviate GI upset while pets are being boarded
  • Reseed the gut with beneficial bacteria after a round of antibiotics
  • Calm digestive upsets caused by travel and dietary changes
  • Improve digestion and stool quality in large and giant breed dogs
  • Boost immune system function, especially in pets that are very young, elderly, or have compromised health

When using products intended for pets, follow label suggestions for dosage. When using human products, give the full dosage to pets weighing 40 pounds or more. Reduce the dosage for smaller pets or if you see loose stools. Also, when using a human product – ensure the sweetener XYLITOL is not in the ingredients as this is very dangerous for your pet. Always be sure to consult your veterinarian first.

Top probiotic choices for pets:

  1. Doctors Foster & Smith Probiotic for cats and dogs (consumer lab approved)
  2.  Purina’s Fortiflora (my personal favorite! And consumer lab approved. We call it ‘kitty and doggy crack’ at the clinic as pets love it 🙂 ) – the link I provided is for the canine version. If you are looking for the feline version, go here.

 

THE TAKE AWAY 

What is the Best Probiotic Supplement?


Maintaining a healthy gut is about more than taking a probiotic supplement. Living an active lifestyle and diet are just as important since many lifestyle factors impact your gut bacteria.

However, probiotic supplements offer a wide range of benefits with few side effects — so if you’re interested in improving gut health, probiotics may be worth trying. I personally feel as probiotics have greatly improved my digestion and immune health.

Kind regards,

Sherry S.

Sources:
  1. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm
  2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/vitamins-and-supplements/health-benefits-of-taking-probiotics
  3. https://www.webmd.com/children/news/20101128/children-may-benefit-from-probiotics-prebiotics#1
  4. https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/15_3/features/Probiotics-For-Dogs_20473-1.html

15 thoughts on “What is the Best Probiotic Supplement? [Breaking Down the Microbiome Barriers]”

  1. Hello Shannon! I am glad you found this article insightful! Probiotics provide so many health benefits and some strains help with different things. It is definitely beneficial to get more strains than just one – especially if you have multiple issues that multiple strains could help. Acidophilus in general, however, is a great choice especially for women :). 

  2. Wow! Thank you so much for this information! I knew that we need the balance of good and bad bacteria within our intestinal tracts but I was not aware of probiotics having an effect on things like blood pressure, cholesterol, or inflammation. My favorite probiotic has always been Acidophilus since a professor of mine always suggested it. I’m always looking for products that work better though and I appreciate the information you have shared. I will check some of these out, thanks again!

  3. Hello Jill! Thank you so much for visiting and taking the time to comment. Yogurt can be a good source of probiotics but usually only has one to two strains! So a supplement can help provide more benefits to your health :).

    I definitely understand some have trouble swallowing pills! Thank you for pointing that out :). There are actually powder forms of probiotics you can try! I’m not sure the taste as I have never tried any of the powdered forms. The probiotic I recommended actually has a powder form as well – feel free to try! And let me know how you like it! https://amzn.to/2VjvTop

  4. Hi there, Great informative post. I am not a great fan of pills. However I do take Salmon Omega and know the benefits. I also love yoghurt! Your information has given me something to think about. Sounds like the benefits outweigh my reluctance to taking pills! Maybe I will add this one to Salmon Omega! Thank you. Cheers

  5. Hello Marian! I am glad you enjoyed my article. And yes, yogurt can be a good source of probiotics! Just be sure to pay attention to the brand – not all brands are created equal! And yes, probiotics can help with many things! I hope you find it helpful for your skin. There are several bacteria strains that could be helpful for you including L. Acidophilus, L. Rhamnosus, L. Plantarum, B. Breve and Streptococcus Thermophilus. Good luck!

  6. Hi Sherry,
    I found your post about probiotics very educative, easy to pass through and enjoyable. I knew before reading that probiotics are good (I love yogurt – so yeah – bacteria is transforming milk in yogurt, right?) but I never knew about all other implications. I have skin issues, for example… I will look closer into that.
    Thanks for sharing, for me is really helpful

  7. Hello Todd! Thank you for your comment. I agree having more natural and alternative methods of healing are vital. So much of our health can be repaired and revitalized with diet and exercise a lone. Supplements are great boosts for vitality. I think there is a place for the medical and pharmaceutical world but it’s definitely not always needed. 🙂

  8. Hi Jon! Thank you so much for taking the time to read my article and comment. I really appreciate you touching on the expiration date and offering more helpful insight to readers on what to look for. You are very right!

  9. That’s a great information for me, i like the picture you put on your post, it looks like very complex, but with your picture and your description, it makes me more understanding about probiotics!

  10. Glad to see someone else spreading the word, and thank you so much for taking care to emphasize the importance of diet and staying active. There are no magic pills that are going to overcome unhealthy dietary habits and a sedentary lifestyle.

    And your point regarding expiration is well taken. The thing you really have to watch out for is what the bottle says about the number of CFUs at both the date of manufacture and at expiration.

    The difference can be a factor of three times, that is, a bottle promising 3 billion CFUs may have only 1 billion left by the time it expires.

    That doesn’t make it a bad probiotic, it’s just something you want to make sure the maker discloses up front so you can make an informed decision! (And not all do.)

  11. Great article regarding probiotics and by reading this, your readers will find just how many good choices there are regarding probiotics and what they can do to better sustain a healthy lifestyle.

    So many of us in modern-day America are constantly sick and we seek pharmaceuticals for treatments, simply because we’re rarely if ever taught any different.

    Sometimes, we just need to tweak our diets in a different favor and bam, we’re better without the need for pharma. Spreading info like this is great for those seeking alternatives to pharmaceuticals.

  12. Hello! Thank you for visiting and for your comment. I am glad that I could shed some extra light on the world of probiotics for you! I love them myself and even though there are some minor side effects, I have only had positive results :). Glad they have helped you also!

    Kind regards,
    Sherry

  13. Never knew that there are so many benefits to probiotics and loved your section for pets I have a Chiweenie (Ella) and Molly the queen, of the house a big cat. Of course, will not use unless absolutely needed on my two (other) children. Will need to read more on B. Lactis as I get older the immune system will decrease. Thanks for the article.

  14. Wonderful information on probiotics. I use them when ever I have issues with my stomach. I always get to feeling better pretty quick. I didn’t realize there were so many more benefits! And I always did look for the highest number on the label, then I considered it the best. I see that this is not the correct thinking at all.

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