How to Choose the Right Probiotics Supplement for Your Health Needs
7 minute read
Probiotics are popular and for good reason. These supplements supply and reinforce your gut bacteria colonies so as to promote efficient digestion and overall health.
Because of the popularity, the number of probiotic supplements to choose from can be overwhelming. A high-quality supplement will be sure to give the results you seek, so it is important to understand exactly how to identify these in the crowd.
When Bacteria Is Good for You
Your gut contains bacteria, good and bad. A healthy gut will always favor more beneficial strains over harmful ones. These beneficial ones help the digestion process and nutrient absorption. They also convert dietary fiber into essential vitamin and short-chain fatty acids that your body needs.
Getting older, along with poor diet, stress, and antibiotics, can deplete these friendly bacteria, and probiotics are the best way to maintain the right balance.
Trillions of bacteria make up the microbiome in your gut and the combination of bacterial strains is unique to you. There are so many bacteria families and species that it would be impossible for every person to have the same microbiome.
To be effective, it is important to consume multiple probiotic strains as well as the right amount. Probiotic supplements are measured in CFUs (colony-forming units), and higher doses produce better results.
When choosing a supplement, make sure you check the label for a high CFU count. Because the combination of bacteria species in your gut will be unique, you want the higher dose to increase your chances of getting the support your specific bacteria need.
There Is a Probiotic for All
Probiotics are designed with the needs of different individuals in mind and so contain multiple bacterial strains. Because each has certain attributes and benefits, a high-quality probiotic supplement needs to have all bases covered.
By keeping your gut in balance, probiotics can promote efficient digestion and prevent digestive troubles. Constipation is one of the most common digestive issues, and the problem is a chronic one for some people.
While laxatives and other medications have been effective in relieving constipation, probiotic therapy has recently been proven to potentially work better. The specific strains to look for when treating constipation are L. acidophilus and B. longum.
This is another common digestive issue, and it too can be easily remedied with the right probiotic supplement. Bouts of diarrhea can occur as a result of something you eat, but it can also occur as a result of taking antibiotics.
In the act of killing off harmful bacteria, antibiotics also kill the good ones and this disrupts your gut balance, causing diarrhea. By replacing the bacteria lost with probiotics, specifically those of the Lactobacillus species, you can treat the problem at the source and get back to regular bowel movements.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
While some people are afflicted with diarrhea and others with constipation, there are some that struggle with both. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) commonly presents as frequent irregularity along with bloating, gas, and nausea.
IBS has no known cause but risk factors such as poor diet, stress, excessive alcohol consumption, and infection all trigger inflammation known to be the root cause. In these cases, Bifidobacterium probiotics soothe multiple symptoms by restoring the gut balance and reducing inflammation.
Inflammation causes disease as well as weight gain because it interferes with your metabolism. Fat is not digested properly, which results in excess fat storage rather than excretion.
Probiotics cut the inflammation and kick start your metabolism, so it can get back to breaking down the fat rather than sending it to storage. Studies have shown that obese individuals have lost belly fat (and weight) as a result of probiotic supplements.
The benefits for probiotics regarding your digestive system are well documented, but the benefits go beyond your gut. By way of the gut-brain axis, your gut and your brain communicate, which means a healthy gut can promote a healthy brain. The short-chain fatty acids produced by bacteria that digest fiber from your diet benefit your brain and nervous system.
Certain probiotics, like L. acidophilus and B. bifidum, can be used to improve cognitive functions, such as memory and concentration, and others have been found to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Your gut bacteria also produce serotonin as a result of their digestive activities, and this “happy” neurotransmitter sends positive messages to the brain, promoting mental health. The combination of reduced inflammation and production of beneficial compounds make probiotics the ultimate brain food.
The beneficial effect of probiotics on inflammation can also protect your heart too. Inflammation is a contributing factor of heart disease, and probiotics can take care of this.
In addition to this, certain probiotics help to decrease the levels of triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol in your blood. The Lactobacillus species of probiotics are best at reducing the absorption of these fats so that more is excreted.
Since a buildup of cholesterol in the blood can cause clogged arteries and high blood pressure, probiotics will protect your heart by ensuring the fats are removed from your body and not left to circulate and accumulate.
Probiotics provide a shift in your gut that supports your immune system. In this case, bacteria can help to fight against infection rather than cause it. Your immune system functions more efficiently against allergies, infections, and even cancer in the presence of multiple probiotic strains.
| Related: Why Probiotics Give Your Immune System a Big Boost |
It is thought that bacteria help by way of decreasing inflammation and protecting the gut balance from tipping in favor of harmful strains that are looking to cause illness.
The Bottom Line
There is no denying that probiotics can benefit your health. Because of the variety of probiotics and the bacteria species within our guts, it is important to choose a supplement that will help where you need it.
Depending on the health issue you want to resolve, there is a probiotic to help you. So long as you choose a high-quality, clinically proven probiotics supplement with a high CFU count, you can take comfort knowing your gut and your health are in good microscopic hands.