This is a common question – especially when it comes to purchasing probiotics online. Which probiotic strains are best for you?
You may see that one product has 50 billion units of “Lactobacillus acidophilus,” but another has 8 billion, and another claims to contain 10 different probiotic strains.
It all becomes confusing as you would think that more strains will be more beneficial, but this can sometimes not be the case. This is mainly due to each of us having a different reaction to the same medication or supplements.
In order to narrow the search and find the right strain of probiotics for yourself, then it pays to know what you want them to do.
Popular probiotic strains
Let’s break down the probiotic strain choices:
This is one of the more researched strains. It lives in your small intestine and helps make a bacterial strain isolated from the intestinal tracts of humans and ruminants such as cows and sheep.
It is commonly used in dairy products or incorporated into probiotic supplements that aim to establish an adequate level of Lactobacillus acidophilus in our intestine, which is supposed to benefit our health.
It helps make B vitamins, vitamin K, and lactic acid. It protects you from harmful bacteria and yeast and promotes the health of your immune system.
The number of bacteria (and other microorganisms) that can survive in the acidic environment of the stomach is greatly reduced.
Generally, only acid-tolerant organisms (or those organisms protected by a polysaccharide or protein capsule) are able to make it through the stomach onto the small intestines where they can flourish and eventually take control of our microbiome.
It protects you from harmful bacteria and yeast and promotes the health of your immune system.
Acidophilus is a very specific strain of lactic acid bacteria belonging to the genus Lactobacillus, which includes over 40 species.
These bacterial species stand out from other microorganisms in that they can produce high levels of two important enzymes: lactase and lipase.
- Lactase breaks down the sugar found in milk (lactose), making it easier for many to digest milk.
- Lipase breaks down fats, which are an important source of energy for our cells.
The other strains in the Lactobacillus genus are capable of producing high levels of lactase as well, but it is still not as effective as the level produced by the acidophilus strain.
In fact, some studies have demonstrated that acidophilus is the only strain of lactobacillus capable of significantly increasing lactase activity.
Acidophilus makes up a small proportion of the total microflora that populates our large intestines, but it stands out from other microorganisms because it can produce high levels of two important enzymes: lactase and lipase.
This strain of probiotics lives in the large intestine (colon) and helps make short-chain fatty acids that fuel your colon cells, which helps keep your colon wall strong and healthy.
It’s one of the fastest-growing bacteria at body temperature, doubling in number every 20 minutes. This speedy metabolism gives it an edge over other microorganisms competing for nutrients.
The main job of Bifidobacterium is to ferment lactose, a type of sugar that makes up milk and dairy products. In the process, the bacteria produce two types of natural antibiotics: acidolin and lactocidin.
While these antibiotics protect this strain from other harmful microorganisms, they can be potentially harmful to human cells.
Some studies have shown that the ingestion of Bifidobacterium lactis, another strain in this genus, can help improve immune function and prevent diseases such as bacterial infections and diarrhea.
This strain of probiotics helps relieve constipation by regulating bowel movements. It also helps reduce levels of “bad” bacteria in the intestines because it produces lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and other substances that kill harmful microorganisms. Bifidobacterium lactis is especially helpful for relieving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome when combined with other probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophilus. It helps regulate the digestive system and strengthen the immune system.
This strain of probiotics is an extremely beneficial probiotic that is mostly found in the intestines of healthy human infants. This supports the idea that Bifidobacterium infantis is one of the most important bacterial strains for a developing baby’s well-being.
In fact, Bifidobacterium infantis helps babies digest milk and produces valuable nutrients such as folic acid and vitamin B9. It can help improve both our digestive and immune systems.
This strain of probiotics helps fight upper respiratory infections, diarrhea, and skin irritations such as eczema. It also stimulates the immune system’s production of antibodies to help prevent infection from harmful bacteria.
This strain has been shown in studies to help ease pain in the gastrointestinal tract in children. An early colonizer, this probiotic can be found in breastfed infants, making it one of the first bacteria to find a home inside our gut microbiome.
It’s also important for the production of nutrients like biotin (vitamin B7) and vitamin K. and studied bacterial probiotics that are used for several digestive issues such as diarrhea, IBS symptoms, and constipation.
This is a strain of probiotics from the Bifidobacterium family, which as a whole has been shown to improve many digestive and immune system issues.
They can also reduce tumors in cancer patients by making cancer cells more sensitive to radiation treatment.
It’s common for people who suffer from chronic or acute infections to have low levels of B. Breve in their gut. That’s because it can protect against pathogenic bacteria, yeasts, and even parasites.
This is a strain of probiotics that is sometimes referred to as “sporebiotics”, because they are very resilient against changes in the gut environment.
They tend to increase enzyme production, which can be useful for detoxing heavy metals and pesticides, as well as antibiotic overgrowth.
This type of probiotic is also very helpful because it produces hydrogen sulfide – an intestinal toxin that kills pathogens. Hygiene hypothesis claims are mostly true. So if you’re like me and you try to avoid hygienic products when you can, then this type of probiotic is for you.
This is a strain of Lactobacillus (a type of bacteria commonly found in the human body and is already present in chocolate, among other food items). It helps with digestion and it’s been shown to help strengthen your immune system too.
This is a strain you can find in FOS or plant-based probiotics. It’s often used to help ease inflammation and allergies in the gut, as well as most respiratory allergies.
It’s also good for balancing blood sugar and reducing the risk of heart disease whilst promoting healthy cholesterol levels.
It can be helpful to take Lactobacillus Plantarum after you’ve done a round of antibiotics.
This is another strain of bacteria that is often prescribed for anxiety or depression because it produces GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps to reduce the symptoms of anxiety.
It also helps relieve pain and bloating from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and is a common strain to find in protein supplements.
This is a strain that has been used for decades in the prevention of infant diarrhea. It may also alleviate some symptoms related to IBS and constipation.
This is a strain that has been shown to fight candida yeast infections. We all know how deadly and destructive these can be, but this particular strain produces bacteriocin which inhibits the growth of Candida albicans.
It has also been shown to be effective in treating gum disease by improving the patient’s oral microbiology.
This is a strain of yeast that has an antioxidative effect in the gut, similar to cultured foods. It reduces cortisol levels which helps reduce stress and anxiety, but also reduces insulin resistance and keeps blood sugar in check.
S. Boulardii is also able to balance gut bacteria, which can help with skin conditions such as acne and rosacea. This probiotic is often used when dealing with diarrhea because it’s very easy on the stomach and can restore microbial balance in the digestive tract.
Which probiotic strains are best for you?
And whilst there are many more strains that could be itemized here, our aim is to enlighten you on the main ones and show how researching and reading more on the various strains of probiotics will help narrow down your choices to the best probiotic that will be beneficial to you.
We hope we’ve been able to give you a better idea of which probiotics are best for your needs.
Remember, it may take some trial and error before finding the right one for you so don’t be discouraged if your first purchase doesn’t do the trick.
Also, don’t forget to speak to a medical professional who can guide you on your journey to better health whilst educating you about strains that will most likely benefit you uniquely.
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