So, why are probiotic strains important when it comes to selecting the best probiotics for yourself? In this blog, we answer this question and give you examples of some of the best strains available.
Probiotics can help your digestion and enable your body to extract nutrients from your food. Good bacteria can also produce enzymes or proteins that inhibit, or even kill harmful bacteria. Also, specific strains of probiotics help stimulate your immune system.
The human body is made up of trillions of microbes that reside in the intestines and other parts. These microbes help to digest food, fight off infection, and regulate the immune system.
The composition of these microbiota varies from person to person because they are influenced by what we eat, where we live, our age, sex hormones levels, etc.
This diversity is important for health as having a more diverse microbiota can protect against chronic illnesses such as allergies or obesity.
There are some strains that have been shown to be more beneficial than others so it’s important to know which ones you’re taking before you start supplementing with probiotics.
Probiotic Strains Matter
It is also important to know that not all strains of probiotics were created equal. In order for a strain to be considered “probiotic”, it must have been shown in clinical trials to have health benefits.
To show these, the strain must have been tested against a placebo and/or against another strain of bacteria to compare the effects.
The strain must then have the ability to survive at very high and very low pH, survive bile salt concentrations found in the intestines, colonize in human intestinal tracts for several months, be resistant to antibiotics that are used to treat bacterial infections, etc.
For example, if you want to target irritable bowel syndrome—irritable bowel syndrome is a condition where the intestines become inflamed and cause bloating, cramps, pain, diarrhea, and constipation—and you were to take the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 (B.infantis) you would see positive results because it has been shown in clinical trials to reduce both abdominal pain and bloating in individuals with IBS.
You would not get any of these benefits by taking the strain Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 because it has never been tested against a placebo or another strain so we don’t know if it actually has benefits for your health.
Probiotic strain studies
In general, most scientific studies have focused on a few “popular” species and strains rather than using a wide variety of them or using a wide variety of species.
However, there are some notable exceptions that have focused on using many strains at once.
These studies have shown that the use of several different probiotic strains is generally more beneficial than each strain being used alone.
Selection of the best probiotic strains available
A good probiotic supplement should contain several of the following strains, as a minimum:
Lactobacillus acidophilus – Prevents candida albicans overgrowth; helps with lactose intolerance, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and colic, helps increase immune system response, and reduces the frequency of migraines.
Bifidobacteria bifidum – Helps prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea and yeast infections; reduces lactose intolerance, gas, and bloating; improves the immune response and digestive function; stimulates the growth of beneficial intestinal flora.
Lactobacillus bulgaricus – Strengthens the immune system; prevents blood sugar fluctuations, diarrhea, and infection; reduces lactose intolerance.
Lactobacillus casei – Helps reduce the duration of respiratory infections; enhances the body’s natural resistance to Candida albicans.
Lactobacillus fermentum – Aids in relieving symptoms of ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome; helps reduce lactose intolerance, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
Bifidobacterium animalis – Reduces the duration of respiratory infections; fights urinary tract infections by inhibiting Escherichia coli adhesion to uroepithelial cells; enhances immune system response.
Lactobacillus plantarum – Reduces lactose intolerance, gas, and bloating; inhibits the growth of harmful intestinal flora.
Bifidobacterium breve – Fights diarrhea by reducing E. coli adhesion to uroepithelial cells; reduces inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and ulcerative colitis; enhances immune system response.
Bifidobacterium longum – Helps manage diarrhea and Crohn’s disease; reduces lactose intolerance, improves digestion, and prevents antibiotic-associated diarrhea in infants and children.
Bifidobacterium infantis – Reduces irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal pain, and bloating; fights E. coli adhesion to uroepithelial cells; increases immune system response.
Bifidobacterium lactis – Reduces the duration of respiratory infections; enhances immune system response; reduces abdominal pain, bloating, and irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.
Saccharomyces boulardii – Prevents diarrhea caused by antibiotics; reduces the risk of traveler’s diarrhea.
The take-away is that probiotics are important. They don’t just help you stay healthy, they may also reduce the risk associated with certain health conditions and promote an individual’s well-being.
Lastly, probiotic strains are important because they have been shown to positively impact gut health.
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