What is a probiotic?
A probiotic is basically a strain (or more than one strain) good bacteria that promote your gut health. To learn more, watch the below video with HB Pharmacy pharmacist, James Park. The rest of the article below basically transcribes the contents of the video, if you’d prefer to read. The probiotic products we mention are also linked in the last paragraph.
Probiotics: Good Bacteria To Promote Your Gut Health
We all know about bad bacteria. You know, the “wash your hands consistently” bacteria and the bacteria that gets us sick. However, not all bacteria are bad. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that promote good gut health. Among many things, a probiotic can process indigestible fiber and help to keep your bowel function regular. In addition, by populating the large intestine with sizeable quantities of probiotics, health-conscious individuals can stimulate the production of vitamins B6, B12, and K2 in their bodies. It can also aid their bodies’ absorption of minerals such as iron, calcium, and magnesium. Probiotics also fight off bad bacteria. This includes Salmonella and E. coli, which can cause diarrhea and, in severe cases, anemia and kidney failure. For general health, it is best to take probiotic supplements that contain the specific strains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Other specific strains can help with particular problems.
Probiotic Functions and Natural Probiotics
If you eat yogurt, you may be more familiar with “probiotics” than you realize. In fact, they are found in yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, and even some dark chocolate. Probiotics, which contain living microbes that aid digestion, may help treat or prevent some types of gastroenteritis, diarrhea, and allergic skin reactions. Similar to the bacteria found in the human digestive system, these “friendly” bacteria help stave off illness-causing bacteria. In fact, research shows that probiotics may help relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is estimated to affect up to 30 percent of the population. Analysis of studies (with treatment duration that ranged from four weeks to six months) showed that as many as half the trials reported significant improvements in abdominal pain, flatulence, bloating, and quality of life.
Taking care of your gut, and the friendly bacteria that live there, may be one of the single most important things you can do for your health. Many probiotic supplements combine different species together in the same supplement, which increases the effectiveness. If you want to learn more about probiotics and see what we recommend, check out our video above. Our pharmacist, James Park, has the answers.
Our Recommendations and how to find a quality probiotic
Like everything else, there are a ton of different probiotics on the market. This can make it a bit overwhelming when you’re trying to decide which probiotic is right for you. When evaluating the quality of a probiotic, you should consider a few different things:
- Is the probiotic stomach acid resistant?All of these other considerations are irrelevant if the good bacteria can’t survive in the acidic environment in your stomach.
- Does it contain at least 2 billion viable cells?Most available research is based on studying bacteria with at least 1-2 billion viable cells. This is where you’ll see results. Some probiotics on the market have even 10 or 20 times that amount in them. Talk to your doctor. If you have a specific condition and your doctor recommends taking that high of a dosage, then go for it! If you’re just taking one for general purposes, just make sure it has at least 2 billion viable cells.
- Does it contain multiple bacteria strains?More and more studies show that it’s important for a probiotic to contain multiple strains. This greatly increases its effectiveness and survival rate.
- Does it contain a prebiotic blend? Prebiotics are basically non-digestible fiber compounds that are food for probiotics. It’s important to take a probiotic with prebiotics. Some probiotics contain a prebiotic blend. However, you can also find these in things like garlic, onions, and bananas. However, if you’re dating someone, maybe consider foods other than garlic or onions when you’re looking to add some prebiotics to your diet.
Examples of quality probiotics
Some strains of bacteria help with specific conditions in your stomach. If your doctor recommends a specific strain, use the above tips, but also search for products that contain that strain of bacteria. For our general purpose, daily probiotic product recommendations, click the below URLs:
– Culturelle®: http://amzn.to/2mMYtg5
This product is one of the market leaders and is a quality product. It contains 10 billion viable cells and a prebiotic blend, which is great. However, it only contains one strain, Lactobacillus rhamnosus (GG). This is one of the more common and necessary strains in a probiotic. If you read “other ingredients” on the label, it contains things like “sucrose” and “titanium dioxide (color)”. They’re in very small quantities, but they’re still in the product. It’s 1 tablet daily and contains 80 tablets. On Amazon, it’s about $19 – $30, depending on shipping. You should be able to find it at any pharmacy. We carry it ourselves at HB Pharmacy.
– Gaspar’s Best: https://gasparsbestsupplements.com/products/probiotic-daily-support
This is our product. It’s stomach acid resistant (special biologically engineered acid resistant strains – BEARS), has 5 billion cells, 8 different strains, and a prebiotic blend. It’s also our best-selling product. The best part? It doesn’t contain any added sugar, salt, dairy, wheat, gluten, preservatives, artificial colors, or flavors. All the good stuff and nothing unnecessary. It’s $19.99 for 60 tablets and available in store or online at the provided URL.
– NOW®: http://amzn.to/2ny6YQQ
This NOW probiotic is another very high-quality product. It contains 10 strains and 25 billion viable cells. It contains a small amount of prebiotics, but nothing else unnecessary. It also does not contain wheat, gluten, soy, or anything dairy. The dose is one capsule a day and the package contains 50 capsules. This is a popular probiotic in our pharmacy, but is also available online. One bottle will typically vary in price between $14 – $22, depending on shipping. Of course, anything PRIME eligible makes a difference!
None of these products need refrigeration, which makes them convenient for taking on the road. This is the same level of analysis we go into with our coaching clients in one on one sessions or classes. Of course, we recommend some of our own products because we truly believe in their quality. However, we feel that it’s our job to put YOU in the driver’s seat of your wellness. Therefore, we feel it’s our job to give you all the information to make an educated decision for yourself. Even if you have a coach, you won’t always be with one or always want to spend the money. That’s why we try to give you the tools to succeed on your own.
I hope you found our article and video helpful! Be sure to watch our video on YouTube for a link to the sequel: Other Uses Of Probiotics. Or, click the link here. This video discusses other, lesser known uses of probiotics. If you’d prefer to read about it, here is a link to our blog post about other uses of probiotics.
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