How to Choose the Best Probiotic For You
There is so much information now about the importance of a healthy microbiome in our health and wellbeing, that many of us want to take a daily probiotic. But, with so much choice out there, how do you decide which one is best for you?
In this blog, we will look at the best probiotics and how to choose the right one for your needs.
What to Look For in a Probiotic
When looking to take a probiotic supplement there are a few things to look out for on the pack you purchase:
- Is the product proven to survive digestion?
This is important. The human digestive tract can be a tough place for bacteria! Stomach acid kills a lot of bacteria – this is something that helps to protect us against the bad guys and prevents infection, but it also means that we need to ensure any probiotic bacteria we supplement with are resilient. Choose products that are bile and gastric acid-resistant.
- Does the product have proven colonisation of the gut microbiome after supplementation?
This is equally vital. You do not want to be eliminating all the good bacteria you are taking in. What you really want is for those bacteria in your supplement to effectively set up a home in your microbiome and start multiplying. Proven colonisation means that the probiotic supplier has carried out clinical trials which show their bacteria thrive effectively within the human microbiome.
- Is the product resistant to antibiotics?
In this instance, ‘antibiotic resistance’ is a good thing! We want our good bacteria to survive through a course of antibiotics. If you are taking a probiotic to keep your good bacteria levels topped up whilst you are taking an antibiotic, you need to make sure that the supplement you choose is not going to be killed off easily by those same antibiotics.
- Is the product strong enough?
There are 100 trillion bacteria in your microbiome. If you want to influence the balance of good to bad – or if you simply want to keep things healthy – you need to take a product that provides billions and billions of good guys, or it simply will not have any effect.
How to Choose a Daily Probiotic
When deciding which supplement to purchase, you next need to consider why you want to take a daily probiotic. The research has shown that probiotics can impact so many areas of our health, so firstly, do you want to simply keep your already healthy gut and microbiome healthy? Are you taking antibiotics and want to keep your good bacteria levels topped up? Have you been poorly, and want to completely rebuild your microbiome? The answers to these questions will help to guide you towards the best probiotics to take.
The Best Probiotic to Maintain a Healthy Microbiome
If you simply want to support the daily health of your microbiome and do not think that there is anything that really needs improvement, then look for a product that provides around 5- 10 billion good bacteria each day. Key strains to include would be L. acidophilus and L. casei – these are the best probiotics to help support the health of your microbiome, as they produce plenty of lactic acid, which creates an environment that keeps all your other helpful bacteria happy and healthy.
The Best Probiotic to Take With Antibiotics
Research has shown that taking antibiotics can have a devastating impact on our gut microbiome, which may take up to a year to recover. This is why many people now advocate taking a good probiotic alongside an antibiotic. If you do want to take a daily probiotic during and after treatment with antibiotics, then you should look for a product that provides at least 30 billion good bacteria every day.
You also want to ensure that there is a good variety of different beneficial bacteria included, at least 8 different strains. Key bacteria to look for in this case, alongside L. acidophilus and L. casei, would include L. plantarum and S. thermophilus. L. plantarum has been shown to be helpful in immune health and S. thermophilus has been researched for its potential role in preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhoea.
The Best Probiotic to Restore Or Rebuild Your Microbiome
If you have experienced food poisoning, you have taken high potency antibiotics, or you have been told you suffer from a ‘leaky gut’ then you may want to consider rebuilding your microbiome. In this case, you need to look for a really intensive strength probiotic providing around 100 billion good bacteria, across at least 8 different strains. Again, you will want to make sure that L. acidophilus and L. casei are present. Other supportive strains would include L. plantarum, as it has been shown to play a vital role in the health of the gut wall.
How Long Do Probiotics Take to Work?
Having decided to take a probiotic, many people ask how long it will take for that probiotic to work. The answer depends on what probiotic you are taking and why. For example, are you taking a daily probiotic simply to maintain the health of your microbiome? If so, then it will get to work straight away. However, if you are taking a probiotic to rebuild your microbiome after illness or antibiotics, then it will take a little longer for you to notice the benefits.
Probiotics can also help to support your mental wellbeing, skin health and digestion. In which case, you probably will have chosen a specific product formulated to target that area, and it will again take a few weeks to notice the benefits.
In conclusion, as with everything, there is no one size fits all answer. We are all individuals – and each microbiome is as unique as your fingerprint, which is why there are so many different probiotics available. The best probiotic to take is the one that is going to do what you want it to do. For more information on the many ways that probiotics can help to support your health, check out our Introduction To The Microbiome.
Written by Jenny Logan DNMed. (Jenny is a Nutritional Therapist who has worked with clients in health foods stores and private clinics for over 20 years, and is Product Development & Training Manager for Natures Aid)