Probiotics are a natural and healthy way to maintain your gut health. However, there are many probiotic options out there that all claim to be the best. It can be hard to know which one is right for you when buying probiotics.
Probiotics are a natural and healthy way to maintain your gut health. However, there are many probiotic options out there that all claim to be the best.
In this blog post, we will go over what variables you should look at when deciding on which probiotic may work best for you.
You should always read through the ingredients and avoid any products containing sugar or artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose because they can affect your blood sugar levels negatively.
You also want to make sure it contains live bacteria strains such as lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus plantarum, bifidobacterium animalis (also known as lactobacillus animalis), and bifidobacterium longum.
Lastly, you want to find out how many capsules it contains and at what time of day you should take them.
Does quantity matter?
The concentration or number of live microorganisms varies greatly among products, ranging from 1 billion to hundreds of billions per serving.
The general consensus is that 1–10 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) is the range where most products fall, and 10+billion CFUs would be considered a high dose.
It has been shown that probiotics are beneficial at lower levels, so it makes sense to choose a product that has a lower concentration of live cells, but not one that is completely devoid of them.
Does the package matter?
Some probiotics are sensitive to heat or moisture and will die if they are exposed to either for too long. This is known as the “shelf life” of the product, which can vary from 6 months to 2 years, depending on the strain and other factors.
Packaging can help protect probiotics from getting too hot or humid, so it is important that the probiotics are well packaged before purchase.
Some products have specialized packaging designed specifically for probiotics, but others use regular food packaging that may not be ideal for their needs.
Does storage matter?
Probiotics are generally very resilient, but storing them in areas that are too hot or too humid can limit their lifespan.
For example, storing probiotics in the refrigerator will keep them safe for longer, whereas keeping them at room temperature may cause them to die sooner.
It is best to check the specific instructions for storage of any given probiotic before purchase.
Is the product safe?
Probiotics have been around for a very long time, and most have been shown to be relatively safe. However, there is always a chance that a foreign microorganism could potentially cause a patient harm.
Fortunately, all products sold in the US, Canada, and the UK must be reviewed and authorized before they can be sold.
This includes probiotics, which are considered to be drugs under the Food and Drugs Act.
Does the patient need it?
The reason why a patient requires a probiotic in the first place will determine which product they should use. Some products have been shown to be effective for preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea, whereas others are better at treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
The majority of patients do not need probiotics, but some health conditions require them to get adequate fiber and nutrients.
Some patients, such as those with Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, and some types of cancer are predisposed to getting certain infections or having physiological changes that cause them to become more susceptible to illness.
While probiotics generally cannot treat these conditions by themselves, they can be used to prevent some common infections that are associated with them.
Does the product have side effects?
Probiotics generally need to be consumed every day to be effective, and this can mean taking large doses of a microorganism on a regular basis for many months or even years.
Some products may cause mild but temporary side effects such as bloating, stomach cramps, or flatulence.
These symptoms are generally mild and short-lived, but they may still cause some patients to stop taking their probiotic before it has had time to work properly.
A systematic review of published studies found that most studies reported no adverse effects; the few studies that did report adverse events were not associated with specific probiotics, dosage, or strain.
Would a different product work better?
Some products are specially formulated to treat certain conditions, whereas others are more general in their application. For example, “Saccharomyces boulardii” is commonly used as an additional treatment for preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
A systematic review of the research revealed that several other probiotics have been found to be effective for preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea, including “Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG”, “Bifidobacterium breve”, and “Bifidobacterium longum”.
The authors did not find any studies that evaluated the effectiveness of these three products specifically, but they did find several studies that evaluated the effectiveness of other strains with similar properties.
Always remember to check the label to see if it contains strains proven to survive in your digestive system, and look for CFUs (colony forming units) in the millions.
Once again, it is important to consult a healthcare professional before using any type of probiotic product.
A quick reminder ..
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