What You Need to Know About Probiotics
Since there’s still not a lot of research on probiotics, the research team at Reviews.com recently spent months studying and testing 277 top-rated supplements on the market to determine which strains are most effective for various issues. Here are some of their findings.
Although the idea of beneficial bacteria has been around since the late 1800s, and probiotic supplements have been around since the 1930s, there haven’t been many human clinical trials. We do know that probiotics produce enzymes that help break down chemicals that the normal human gut has a hard time with, such as the oligosaccharides in legumes. That digestive assistance results in less gastrointestinal distress and better absorption of nutrients.
A small but growing body of research on our gut tenants suggests that hacking your microbiome can not only improve the digestive process, but also contribute to a laundry list of ancillary health benefits. We’re talking weight loss, lower cholesterol, decreased anxiety, improved immune function, fewer seasonal allergy symptoms, and relief from a host of gastrointestinal maladies, from irritable bowel syndrome to traveler’s diarrhea.
The Bottom Line
The science is still young, but we know a few things: Probiotics work better in a pack; prebiotics mixed in with probiotics are just a marketing ploy because there isn’t enough prebiotic to make a difference; and shelf life matters most. Look for multi-strain products and check for a “viability guarantee” through the expiration date to make sure your probiotics will be in full force when you take them.
Through the course of our research, we came across a number of studies that indicated some lesser-known benefits of taking probiotic supplements, like decreased anxiety. We put together our top picks based on which strains had solid evidence backing up a connection:
Anxiety and Allergies
Relevant strains: L. Casei, L. Rhamnosus, Paracasei
Relevant strains: B. Brevis, B. Lactis, L. Acidophilus, L. Gasseri, L. Rhamnosus GG
Relevant strains: L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus
Relevant strains: B. Lactis, E. Faecium, L. Acidophilus, L. Curvatus, L. Fermentum, L. Plantarum, L. Reuteri
Relevant strains: Bacillus Coagulans, L. Fermentum, L. Rhamnosus GG
Start small. Generally, it’s best to start out with a lower CFU count and ramp up as needed. Starting out with the high-proof stuff can cause unpleasant physical side effects, like cramps and bloating, as well as monetary ones — higher potency supplements are almost universally more expensive. Of course, follow your doctor’s guidance. The verdict on ideal colony count is still out.
Take your probiotic with a meal. This raises the pH in your stomach, which means more bacteria will make it through to your gut, including the few non-acid-resistant strains like S. Thermophilus. And take them with plenty of water; that will further dilute the acidity of gastric juices.
Get your prebiotics in. There are tons of the simple carbs probiotics love in whole fruits and vegetables, including onions, garlic, bananas, asparagus, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, and artichokes. If you’re worried you might not be getting between five to 20 grams per day, consider taking a prebiotic supplement, usually a powder or drink mix.
Keep up your probiotic routine. Probiotics stick around for a while, though for how long isn’t precisely clear. You have to keep taking them to continue to reap the benefits.
To see the rest of their guide to probiotics, go to http://www.reviews.com/probiotic-supplement/
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