There are so many strains of probiotics out there, that it’s hard to know which ones are the best.
Not all strains of probiotics are created equal. Some have more beneficial bacteria than others and some can even cause side effects like gas and bloating.
In this article, we break down the top 5 most effective strains of probiotics that you should be taking for optimal health. You can also find a list below with links to Amazon if you want to purchase them today.
Below is an explanation of what each strain does for your digestive system and which one you should choose if you’re looking for specific results.
How do strains get their name?
All probiotics have three different qualifiers: genus, species, and strain (in that order). For example, when looking at Bifidobacterium lactis BI-07, Bifidobacterium is the genus, lactis is the species, and BI-07 is the strain. But what does that all mean?
Genus: Genus is the broadest identifier. It encompasses several different types of bacteria in the same general category but with lots of different characteristics and health benefits.
Species: The term species gets a little more specific. All of the bacterial strains within a species have similar characteristics but some subtle differences between them.
Strain: A specific strain is one type of bacteria. All of the bacteria identified within a strain carry out the same function within your body.
The two most well-known genera (the plural of genus) of probiotics are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Several different species and strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are often included in supplements because each one performs an individual, specific function.
What do the studies show?
Research shows that some bacterial strains of probiotic supplements can survive the stomach acids and make it to where they’re needed most (the intestines). There, they proliferate and help restore balance.
Not every strain is created equal though. Some probiotics don’t even fully colonize before dying off, while others do not actually adhere to intestinal walls.
The ones that do make it can help support digestive and immune health. With thousands of strains available, some may never have the rigorous testing and evidence provided by clinical trials and research being carried out.
The best strains of probiotics have been tested in several clinical studies where they have shown positive results. Here is a look at the research being conducted on five of these strains:
- Bacillus Coagulans – Clinical trials performed on this strain have demonstrated a significant reduction in abdominal pain and bloating in IBS patients.
- Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG (LGG) – This is one of the most widely studied probiotics and numerous studies have demonstrated its ability to promote digestive wellness. The National Institute for Health even recommends it as first-line therapy for children with chronic diarrhea.
- Lactobacillus Plantarum – The human intestinal tract contains over 400 different species of beneficial bacteria, but only about 20-30% of them are friendly strains that help your body function optimally. This strain has demonstrated its ability to positively impact immune health by supporting optimal numbers and activity of lymphocytes (a white blood cell).
- Streptococcus Thermophilus – This strain has the ability to inhibit the growth of bad bacteria while supporting immune health. Clinical studies have shown its effectiveness in supporting respiratory and gastrointestinal wellness.
- Lactobacillus Paracasei – This particular strain needs more research to validate its true benefits, but studies have shown it to help support gastrointestinal and oral health.
Choosing your probiotic supplement
When it comes to supplements, quality matters no matter what. Many commercially made supplements contain bacterial strains that do not match the claims on the bottle.
That’s why it is important to get supplements from a trustworthy, high-quality brand.
Picking a probiotic with different strains, ranging from 5 to 100 billion colony-forming units, and thus is targeted to the problem you’re attempting to solve (CFUs).
It’s also a good idea to have your probiotic tested by a third-party lab to be sure it contains what it claims and that the bacterial strains are alive and well.
While many probiotic supplements are refrigerated to aid this process, high-quality supplements can also be manufactured shelf-stable and do not require refrigeration.
Hopefully, this article has shed some light on the different probiotic strains available and how they can benefit you.
While probiotic supplements have a long list of health benefits, from gut support to immune function, there are many different strains of bacteria in probiotics, each with its own special functions.
Understanding the different strains is key to finding a targeted supplement and reaping those benefits.
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