How To Choose A Probiotic
October 9, 2023
Lifestyle diseases are on the rise, and people are affected by common gut health issues like constipation, diarrhea, acidity, bloating, indigestion, and gastrointestinal disorders like IBD, IBS, Chron’s disease, etc.
People turn to probiotics to reduce the symptoms, fight inflammation, and improve immunity. You can find many brands with different strains formulated as pills, powders, liquids, etc. However, one might need clarification about the proper probiotic due to the many options. It will guide you in choosing the right probiotic for your health needs and improving your overall well-being.
The ‘gut factor’
The human gastrointestinal (GI) tract contains an abundant and diverse microbial community that gathers more than 100 trillion microorganisms. The gut microbiome consists of bacteria, fungi, viruses, archaea, protozoa, and other microorganisms that help digestion and metabolism. The gut microbe balance is disturbed by diet, emotional and physical stress, and antibiotics, which destroy the good and harmful bacteria. An imbalanced microbiome is associated with several gastrointestinal diseases, for example, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disorder (IBD).
What are probiotics?
All probiotics are different, and everyone needs to get the desired results with the traditional ones in the market. Different probiotic formulations are available in the market. Choosing the right one can work wonders for your health!
How to choose probiotics: making informed decisions
Probiotics are marketed for disease prevention and control, like diarrheal diseases and chronic diseases, and even for treating obesity as dietary supplements over the counter. Choosing an appropriate probiotic is challenging as there are many factors influencing the probiotic efficacy:
• The efficacy of the specific strains for specific diseases.
• The differences in the mechanism of action of different strains.
• The variations in manufacturing processes and quality control of the products. • International regulatory requirements differences.
Here’s a quick guide on what to look for when choosing the right probiotic product:
1. Do your research
With several probiotics brands available and sold as supplements, the quality of the products is a big question. It is better to stick with a brand that you trust. Ask your physician, nutritionist, or dietitian for guidance, and read scientific studies and research reports that support the suggestion.
2. Read the label
Reading the label will give information about the strains and CFU( it is the number of bacteria in each dose). Most doses range from 1 to 10 billion CFUs that you can take once or twice daily. The microbes must be alive in an adequate number when administered. The label has information about its mode of storage. The label contains an ingredient list, and reading it ensures that it has allergy-causing ingredients (e.g., soy or dairy) or is free of artificial additives and fillers. Checking the expiration date on the label ensures the product is from the recent batch. The amount of CFUs decreases when nearing its expiry date.
No two strains are the same; choose the right one.
The gut microbiota composition varies in the same individual and changes between individuals because of enterotypes, body mass index (BMI) level, and external factors such as lifestyle, exercise frequency, ethnicity, and dietary and cultural habits. It indicates that no two probiotics can show the same effects in different individuals. Bacteria are classified according to species, classes, orders, families, genera, and species. Strain’s genetic identification and classification designated by numbers, letters, or names should be on the label. E.g., “Bifidobacterium longum W11,” where bifidobacterium is the genus, longum is the species, and W11 is the strain.
Check for regulatory approvals.
Probiotics are available in the market as over-the-counter supplements or as probiotic drug products from hospitals or pharmacies. Always check for regulatory approvals that ensure the quality of the products, the product integrity, and manufacturing processes adhering to Good Manufacturing Practices.
1. Probiotics for urogenital health:
- Women are commonly affected with urinary tract infections and vaginal yeast infections, which can cause severe health implications. Health experts are studying the potential benefits of probiotics on vaginal health.
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14 to restore the vaginal microflora and improve women’s urogenital health. Experts say these strains help maintain vaginal balance by sticking to vaginal surfaces, restricting harmful bacteria growth. It may also adhere to harmful bacteria, killing them.
2. Probiotics for immunity:
- Building immunity is essential to fight viral infections and flu, managing allergies and eczema, and increasing vaccination responses.
- Probiotics help in a healthy gut microbiome and, help regulate the immune system’s response to pathogens and support the development of immune cells.
- Studies regarding the biological consequences of probiotics in host immunity suggested that they regulate the functions of systemic and mucosal immune cells and intestinal epithelial cells.
- L. acidophilus NCFM ® is one of the most clinically researched probiotic strains that boost the body’s immune system
3. Probiotics for gut health:
- The gastrointestinal microbiome is a significant regulator of the immune system.
- S. boulardii is a live yeast used widely as a probiotic and often marketed as a dietary supplement for promoting gut health.
- It treats diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD), Helicobacter pylori infection, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
- Several clinical trials and experimental studies displayed the role of S. boulardii as a good biotherapeutic agent, allowing it to prevent and treat several gastrointestinal diseases.
4. Probiotics for IBS:
- IBS is a common gastrointestinal disorder characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
- According to the research, Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (LP299V) significantly alleviates the global symptoms of IBS in patients. Long-term use of LP299V (as here 12 weeks) indicated and well tolerated to achieve the maximum effect.
5. Probiotics for gut health, bowel movement, and nutrient absorption:
- Lactobacillus plantarum LP01 and Bifidobacterium lactis BB12 are known to boost gut health, improve bowel movement, and improve nutrient absorption.
- The survival of the probiotic in the gastric acid and bile in the upper gastrointestinal tract is critical for its effectiveness in the intestine.
- Clinical studies have demonstrated the survival of BB-12® through the gastrointestinal tract, and BB-12® has been showed to support healthy gastrointestinal microbiota.
- Lactobacillus strains are safe for consumption because of their presence in food and their role in the gut defense mechanism.
- The strain survived biological barriers such as low pH, lytic enzymes, and bile salts in the upper GI tract.
- Lactobacillus plantarum may also improve human colon cancer.
6. Probiotics for gut health in children:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus LA5 is a beneficial strain for growing children for gut health and reduces symptoms of digestive discomfort such as bloating, gas, and constipation in children.
- It is commonly used in probiotic supplements and dairy products, including yogurt, to promote gut health.
- Some probiotic studies have shown that L. acidophilus can improve lactose digestion or symptoms in lactose-intolerant patients.
- L. acidophilus demonstrated in vitro and includes tolerance to low pH, bile resistance, adhesion to human colon cells in cell culture, antibiotic production, lactase activity, and product stability.
Probiotics are a great way of maintaining gut health, thereby improving immunity, fighting inflammation, and controlling many autoimmune disorders. However, it is crucial to know how to choose a probiotic. Remember to choose a reputable brand that adheres to strict quality control standards, tests for purity, potency, and safety, and targets your specific health concern.