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How to Choose th Right Probiotics



Have you ever noticed that the moment we seem to slow down is when we feel the backlash of our demanding lifestyles?

Nowadays the busyness of our lives has increased and it takes harmony for our systems to run efficiently to keep up with the unpredictable ebb and flow of life. As our stress increases, the demand on the body to handle that stress and tension increases and can unknowingly affect our guts, leading to a vicious cycle of symptoms.


In order to keep up with these demands,  we not only need a healthy endocrine system, but our digestive system needs to be efficient and strong so that we don't crumble to anxiety, a weakened immune system, mood changes, and energy fluctuations.


The root of the above-mentioned lifestyle factors are dictated by our digestive health, so implementing and choosing the right probiotics to keep our gut flora (the balance of bacteria in our gut) healthy, fortified, and balanced is vital for our overall health.


What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms or bacteria that are crucial to our survival. They help the “good gut bacteria” thrive and hinder the growth of bad microorganisms/bacteria. These can benefit in endless ways to overall health such as clear and glowing skin, improved digestion, mental clarity, less bloating and more.

The reason that probiotics exist is simply that the bacteria in our guts is depleted, due to the quality of our current day soil, stress, and overuse of antibiotics. The imbalance of the normal gut microbiota has been linked with gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and wider systemic manifestations of disease such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and atopy. (3)

Now that probiotics have become more popular in mainstream media, you may have seen them grouped in as a solution or addition to common health struggles such as sleep, hormonal imbalances,  and weight loss alongside the use of prescription medication and antibiotics.


Yes, probiotics can be beneficial not only to sleep, hormonal balance, weight loss, hair growth, digestive health, metabolism, absorption of vitamins, mood, body temperature and more but with their popularity gaining, it is important to be able to distinguish which ones are quality products so they can be truly beneficial and not harmful.


5 Critical Criteria to a Quality Probiotic

There has been an abundance of research analysis to show that for a probiotic supplement to be effective, it must meet these a few key ingredient criteria. I will first review the top 3 that are important for any type of probiotic and then go into more specifics.


My Top 3 Criteria to a Quality Probiotic

1. Multiple Strains: There are 150 times more bacteria in the gut than there are cells in the actual human body, and these bacteria are diverse. A published study from Harvard states that in total the gut contains over 1000 unique strains of bacteria. Choosing a probiotic brand that has at least 12 different strains is optimal to create diversity and reap its benefits.

With this many strains (classification of bacterial types with fancy names) there are ones that may be more specific and beneficial if there are certain issues going on in your gut. I go over the most common strains here.


2. Number of CFUs: Colony-Forming Units (CFUs) indicate how dense or potent the bacteria in the probiotic is. The higher number of CFUs in a probiotic can mean it has a higher impact on the growth of “good bacteria” within your gut flora. Companies now know that placing a large number of CFUs is more appealing to the buyer, but the number of CFUs will also depend on whether you are using a Soil Based or Regular Probiotic as well, so don’t fall for the hype. A good range to aim for in a quality probiotic supplement is between 16- 40 Billion CFUs.


3. Prebiotics + Postbiotics: Since probiotics are living microorganisms, they need food to stay alive and to grow in your gut right? Well, prebiotics are the food to your probiotics, and if we consume them, our probiotics can grow naturally on their own, and hopefully decrease how much you may need to take probiotics (can I get an Amen to stretching that 60-day bottle to 90 days!?).  Prebiotics are like the caffeine in your coffee, without it, you won’t feel the effects of the coffee. A good probiotic brand really should contain prebiotics for it be most effective at keeping that good bacteria alive.

Not all brands contain a postbiotic, but if you find one with it, this is also a plus! Postbiotics comprise metabolites and/or cell-wall components released by probiotics and may together with probiotics improve your health. (4)

Other Important Criteria to Keep in mind

Refrigeration Myth: If a probiotic cannot survive outside of the refrigerator, it cannot survive past your stomach acids and in the internal temperature of our guts ( which is around 100 degrees Fahrenheit). It is important to take a probiotic daily to maintain optimal gut flora, and as long as it makes it to the gut, you’re not wasting your money. A good quality probiotic that does not require refrigeration can be encouraging in creating the consistency of you taking it with your other vitamins daily. A factor that will also be helpful in distinguishing quality, but not a deal-breaker is the container that your probiotic comes in. Glass amber bottles (especially for liquid probiotics)


Substrains: One of the signs of a quality probiotic brand is if the substrain for each probiotic strain on their label. A substrain is an indication that the specific probiotic strain being used in the formula has gone through clinical studies to ensure its quality. Avoid brands that do not list the substrain, to avoid a generic, lower quality strain. The substrain will be upper-case letters followed by numbers, with either a ™ or ® symbol located to the right of each strain, for example, Bacillus Indicus HU36™.


Random Notes that I had to include:

1. Your capsule should be vegan for easy breakdown & digestion.

2. It should contain NO milk, egg, fish, shellfish, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, yeast, gluten or preservatives.

3. There should be no random sugars added.

4. Be mindful of the expiration date on plant-based probiotics as it affects the potency.

Why I Choose Soil Based Organisms

Getting back to the most natural state is the goal in Holistic and Function Nutrition. The best example of this is choosing to eat whole plant foods and minimal to none processed and fast foods. So why not do the same thing with the probiotics that we take?

Soil-Based Organisms literally come from the soil and used to be an essential part of our diet. If you were to grow your own veggies, going to rinse off the dirt and wash them to prepare to cook or eat raw, soil-based organisms are still present. According to the clinical nutritionist, Kimberly Snyder, “Without them, the soil would be hindered by yeasts, molds, fungi and other harmful organisms which impede plant growth. SBO’s help create an environment that limits the growth of unfriendly bacteria, such as pathogens and candida, within our digestive systems. Speeding up the elimination of waste, SBOs also help digest and assimilate carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.” (5)

Personally, these type of probiotics have been the most beneficial and yielded the most astounding results in my health and other women that have taken them.


So here are my favorite brands of probiotics:

Solluna Feel Good SBO Probiotics ($49) - These probiotics check off all the above criteria, minus the amber bottle. They are clinically researched and top-notch, plant-based probiotics. The Pre + Postbiotic complex in this formula come from powerful nutrient-dense mushrooms and minerals with health benefits on their own, aside from the actual Probiotic Complex. This is the ultimate beauty and optimal health probiotic.


Mary Ruth Liquid Probiotics ($23.95-$44.95) -These are so versatile and they are also vegan and tasteless, meaning they can go right into your water or smoothie if you don’t like swallowing capsules. There is a travel size bottle as well! Mary Ruths is great because she also makes probiotics and multis for kids If you know me, I love my dogs, and Mary Ruth has a liquid probiotic for dogs and cats. These may not check off all the items in the above list but, these are a great vegan option.


Mega Flora ($22.90-$49.76) - These are another great plant-based option and can be found in your health store or in our member’s supplement catalog (with a 15% discount). They don’t contain a pre-biotic but have 20 billion CFUs and 14 unique strains that you may not see in other probiotics on the shelf, and they survive the stomach acid. This brand also has a lot of other great whole food supplement options.

I hope this article was helpful in choosing the right probiotics! Take it with you (on your app) to your health store when choosing your next probiotic!




Sources:

Rowland I et al., Gut microbiota functions: metabolism of nutrients and other food components. Eur J Nutr. 2017 Apr 9. doi: 10.1007/s00394-017-1445-8. p.2 left columnPubMed ID28393285

Part 1: The Human Gut Microbiome in Health and Disease Matthew J. Bull, BSc, PhD; Nigel T. Plummer, PhD. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2014 Dec; 13(6): 17–22.

Postbiotics: An evolving term within the functional foods field. J.E. Aguilar-Toala. Trends in Food Science & Technology Volume 75, May 2018, Pages 105-114

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