We get asked about probiotics A LOT!! And we're glad we do because we believe gut health is probably one of the most important factors, if not THE most important factor, for long-term health and resilience.
Probiotics contain live bacteria (and sometimes yeast) in pills, powder, or liquid form that you consume and then they grow in your intestines. You naturally have gut microflora hanging out in your digestive system, and they work by breaking down the food you eat and to make and absorb certain vitamins.
So how about we outline a few things to look for when it comes to choosing a probiotic product?
1) Live bacteria. You want them to be alive so that they can grow in your gut!
2) Shelf-stable or refrigerated - meaning that they'll stay alive
3) At least
10 billion or more bacteria in the daily dose
4) Multiple types of bacteria (this is KEY!). Your gut doesn't have one type of bacteria, so why would your probiotic! Look for products with multiple types of Lactobacillus AND multiple types of Bifidobacterium. This is the minimum number of types of bacteria (two). Sometimes probiotic companies will also put in other yeasts, such as Saccharomyces, or bacteria, such as Enterococcus, into the capsules/powder/liquid probiotic as well.
5) If it has a capsule, aim for one that is enteric-coated, meaning that the capsule will break down in the intestines and deliver the bacteria right there, where they should be.
6) If you have IBS, stay away from probiotics containing FOS (fructo-oligo-saccharides) as they can increase symptoms by feeding unfriendly bacteria
The probiotic I tend to use in practice is the MultiStrain11 probiotic by CytoMatrix. It hits all the above points!
BONUS NOTE: You don't need to take a probiotic everyday for life. The bacteria will typically grow and stay in your intestines for several weeks, months, or years. I tend to recommend that people cycle on and off of probiotics, and the frequency depends on their presenting concerns and goals.
EXTRA BONUS NOTE: Don't stick with the same brand of probiotic every time! Switch it up to get even more variety in your digestive system. Being that each company uses the same original bacteria in their products, switching between companies (that also meet the above criteria) means you're getting somewhat new bacteria, because the bacteria will "come from different mothers" and therefore will vary slightly between companies.
Amazing gut health is so integral when it comes to healing after treatment (especially surgery), boosting the immune system, for a good mood, for energy, and for cancer prevention. Check out our blog post on the GI MAP test and about the roles of the gut in your body!