Just like a nightclub has bouncers, so too does our gut! There are a few things we need to look for when repopulating our good bacteria and since their roll is to keep the bad guys (yeast, bacteria and other infections) out and the good digestive party going, we need to be mindful of what to look for to maintain the balance.
So before you hire just any ole bacteria to get in there and get the job done, let's take a look at how to pick a probiotic to best fit your digestive needs.
Probiotics each have their own personality, catering to different parts of our body and health problems. For example, two popular probiotic families are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. The vaginal tract and small intestine are dominated by Lactobacillus, while the colon and lower intestine are host to mostly Bifidobacterium.
It is important to note that there are many different types of probiotic strains (commonly seen as a number-letter combination such as Lactobacillus casei HA-108) and each one has a different personality offering unique health benefits. The benefits you might experience from one probiotic may be completely different from another.
Search for a probiotic supplement that has 10–30 different strains to taste the rainbow of benefits.
There is much debate on the strength of bacteria and their ability to withstand the turbulent journey through the esophagus, into the acidic stomach, through the duodenum and then finally into the small intestines. For this reason many companies have opted for enteric coating and other advanced delivery system technologies to ensure the delivery of these bacteria.
The roll of these protective delivery systems is to prevent the capsule from breaking down too soon, risking a high die off of bacteria before they arrive at their destination. While there are studies to support the successful delivery of certain strains of bacteria, in other studies, they have found there are many that are not strong enough and therefore require coating to reduce die off throughout the GI tract.
While navigating through your local health food store's probiotic fridge, look for probiotics that are coated to ensure delivery of all the good guys!
As we are beginning to understand, not all probiotics are created equal and not all like to stick around. We can think of this like the locals versus the tourists in your city.
Resident strains are your permanent gut dwellers that attach to your intestinal tract forming a coating to protect against pathogenic (bad) bacteria. Your transient probiotic strains are temporary visitors traveling through and eventually are eliminated from the body. These strains are beneficial in supporting the immune system and fighting certain types of bacteria. Resident and transient bacteria both play an important role in maintaining digestive health so let's take a look at both strains.
Resident strains: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacteria bifidum, Lactobacillus salivarius, Bifidobacteria breve, Bifidobacteria longum, Bifidobacteria infantis, Lactobacillus animalis, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus helveticus and Lactobacillus rhamnosus.
Transient strains: Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and Streptococcus thermophilus.
Look for a probiotic that includes a variety of both resident and transient strains.
If you were to get a cut on your arm, would you need 50 Billion bad bacteria to get in there and create an infection? No, you only need ONE strong bad little bugger. It isn't always about the quantity, but the quality of the strains. Having said that, while we take the quality of our strains seriously, we must also acknowledge the body is made up of trillions of bacteria. While lower amounts of probiotic will be beneficial, the real question is whether a higher dose will be more effective at supporting an illness or imbalance.
Research has not yet discovered an exact dosage recommendation, but studies have shown that high doses saw great benefits in many cases including those with IBS, Crohn's or Colitis.
The dosage of your probiotics are based on the number of living organisms also referred to as colony forming units (CFU). Purchase a probiotic brand that has a higher number of probiotics, from 30 billion to 100 billion CFUs.
So, remember! There are 4 things you want to look for when buying our probiotics.
Peronsality- Find a probiotic with 10-30 different strains
Survivability- Look for good quality brands that offer a delivery system to ensure maximum survival of your probiotic strains.
Behaviour- Look for a probiotic that includes a variety of both resident and transient strains.
Strength- Purchase a probiotic brand that has a higher number of probiotics, from 30 billion to 100 billion CFUs.
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