Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help maintain the natural balance of microflora in your intestines.
They’ve been growing in popularity in recent years, as research has shown that probiotics can support your immune system health, enhance your digestion, help you make essential vitamins and absorb nutrients from your food, soothe inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract… and the benefits go on and on.
Probiotics have actually been revered for centuries in cultures around the world, where they have traditionally been consumed in fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut and lassi (an Indian yogurt drink). In the modern day, however, most of us do not eat enough fermented foods to ensure a regular supply of these healthy “bugs.” That, and environmental onslaughts like antibiotics, chlorinated water and an excess of sugar in our diets further degrades the healthy microflora that would otherwise be in our guts.
As a result, Americans are increasingly looking for high-quality probiotics; the market in North America alone now has revenues of $1.3 billion. But with about 150 companies manufacturing beneficial bacteria,[i] knowing which products are worthwhile, and which are a waste of money, is no easy task.
What are the best probiotics? 6 key traits to look for
In searching for a worthwhile probiotic, all brands are not created equal. Here’s a run-down of what you should look for in choosing the best probiotics.
6. No refrigeration required
It’s generally recommended that you refrigerate probiotics once they’re opened to help maintain full potency over time. However, if you plan on travelling or need to take your probiotics with you for any reason, having a brand that does not require refrigeration is a major plus. Look for probiotics that use strains that have been scientifically screened and studied for their shelf-stable properties. Some strains will be stable and effective for up to 24 months when kept at room temperature in their sealed packaging.
5. Potency displayed through time of expiration — NOT time of manufacture
Some probiotic brands only guarantee potency at the time of manufacture, but this says nothing about how effective the product will be when you actually use it. Look, instead, for products that display potency and therefore effectiveness through the product’s expiration date.
4. A trusted brand
As mentioned, there are 150 different companies manufacturing probiotics in North America — but three companies actually make 70 percent of the probiotics for the entire market.[ii] In choosing a probiotic, look for a reputable company that provides scientifically verifiable research about their products.
3. Multiple bacteria strains
Each bacterial strain offers different benefits for your health, so it makes sense that a product with multiple strains will generally be more beneficial. For instance, certain strains, such as bifidobacterium, may colonize mostly in your colon while others will focus on the cells lining your intestinal wall or even the food moving through your colon.
This doesn’t mean you need a product with many strains, however, as this can make it difficult to include enough of each strain to be effective. Look for a product with at least two different bacterial strains.
2. Acid- and bile-resistant strains
While some probiotic supplements tout enteric coating as the best way to protect beneficial bacteria from being destroyed by your stomach acid and intestinal bile, these coatings may contain synthetic ingredients. Further, if you choose a probiotic with acid- and bile-resistant strains, such as acidophilus and bifidobacterium, enteric coatings are likely unnecessary.
1. Scientifically proven results
Not all probiotic strains have been clinically proven to be effective. Among the most popular, as well as most heavily researched, strains in the United States are bifidobacterium and lactobacillus acidophilus, which are found naturally in fermented foods and are regular inhabitants of a healthy gastrointestinal tract.
Research has shown, for instance, that a combination of these two probiotic strains may reduce bloating in people with functional bowel disorders,[iii] while bifidobacterium alone has been shown to reduce symptoms of the common cold.[iv] A combination of bifidobacterium and lactobacillus strains makes sense, as bifido strains to colonize in your large intestine or colon while lactobacillus strains such as acidophilus tend to colonize in your small intestine.
The perfect probiotic blend for digestive healthAfter much research, we chose Danisco® Probiotic Blend, which contains both bifidobacterium and acidophilus made by one of the most trusted companies in the field, to be a part of our 30-day colon flush and revitalization program, Natural Cleanse.
This patented blend of essential probiotics has been clinically proven to improve digestive function, and when combined with the other herbal remedies in Natural Cleanse — like milk thistle extract, buckthorn bark, rhubarb root and cloves — it will help to flush your colon clear of toxic build-up while soothing inflammation of your GI tract and replenishing the good bacteria in your gut to rebalance your vital gut microflora.
You get the benefits of the best probiotics combined with centuries of traditional healing wisdom designed to gently release and flush impacted fecal matter from your colon while at the same time revitalizing and tonifying your colon.
An estimated 70 million people suffer from digestive problems caused by poor diet and the use of antibiotics (which kill off both your good and bad bacteria) … try Natural Cleanse risk-free for 90 days and see how much better your digestive health can be.
Written By: Updated: March 4,2013