Probiotics: How to Choose the Right One for You!

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A while back you may have read our Wellness Wednesday post over the good kind of bacteria named probiotics. You learned that probiotics have been found to help with a variety of health conditions and have the potential benefits of boosting immunity, helping digestion, lessening allergies, and improving mood. It was also noted that probiotics could be found in food sources such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, and miso.

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Aside from these natural food sources that contain probiotics, many people turn to supplementing with these beneficial bacteria through the forms of store bought capsules, chewables, liquids, and powders.

Reading the label and choosing the probiotic that is right for you

Reading the probiotic labels can be confusing sometimes as they have different strains of bacteria, as well as dosages that sound very large, ranging from the million to billions.

In the label image shown, on the left-hand side, you have the strains of bacteria included probioticlabelin the probiotic and next to it on the right is the amount of that particular strain included in the product per serving. Some products will have a “proprietary blend,” which will have the total of all strains included in the serving but won’t actually list the amount of each individual bacterium. This may be a problem if you are looking for a specific amount of a certain bacteria if so, look for a non-proprietary blend product. Dosing usually ranges from 5 to 10 billion CFU (colony forming units: a common term in the labeling) for children and 10 to 20 billion CFU for adults each day.

What strains of bacteria should I look for in a probiotic?

Different strains of probiotic bacteria have different functions and are all found in various places along the digestive tract. Having a supplement that contains multiple strains is more effective overall than a product that contains a single strain or two with high concentrations. Listed below are some useful and common strains of bacteria found in probiotic supplements.

Bacteria Strain Uses 
B.bifidum Helps with overall digestion, nutrient absorption, treats acute diarrhea (Traveler’s diarrhea)
B.infantis Helps with overall digestion, and reduces or eliminates symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (Bloating, constipation, gas)
L.rhamnosus Helps with traveler’s diarrhea
L.plantarum Overall digestion, immune health, relief from occasional cramping, gas, and diarrhea
L.acidophilus Improves digestion, strengthens immune system, reduces irritable bowel syndrome symptoms

What to know: 

  • No known interactions with medications or other supplements.
  • If on antibiotics, it is best to take probiotic 2-4 hours apart.
  • Shelf stable and refrigerated probiotics are both effective.

For further reading check out:

American Family Physician: Probiotics

15 Most Researched Probiotics Strains

Prepared by Ricardo Blanco, Student Assistant
Hospitality Dietitian Mindy Diller, MS, RDN, LD   mindy.diller@ttu.edu 

 

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