How to Choose the Right Probiotic
||By Dr. Matthew Marturano, Naturopathic Physician
Friday, June 8, 2012
Recent research has underscored the importance of gut bacteria in relation to a number of medical conditions, and the use of probiotics to help restore proper balance has shown promising results in preliminary trials. In response, an array of probiotic products have been introduced to the public, both through mass market and specialty channels. But with all of the options available, how can one know which product is right for their particular situation?
As with any type of dietary supplement or therapy, there are many considerations to keep in mind. It's important not only to differentiate between the various formulations of probiotics, but to select those which possess the most potential to effectively address the issues at hand. Understanding probiotics and their potential benefits is key to sifting through the various options and making informed, confident and beneficial decisions regarding the usage of probiotics.
What Probiotics Are
Probiotics are living microorganisms which colonize the digestive tract and help support the proper functioning of the human body. It's important to understand not all forms of bacteria considered beneficial to the body are termed "probiotic." Instead, this term is reserved only for those bacteria capable of withstanding the highly acidic environment of the stomach while passing to other areas of the digestive system to perform their life-sustaining duties.
What Probiotics Do
Probiotics exact their benefits after they have been ingested and travel out of the stomach and into the further aspects of the digestive system. They settle into the intestine, where they live. Probiotics utilize the same nutrients to live and thrive as bacteria that can have a negative impact on the body. This means having a good population of such beneficial bacteria in your system can reduce the ability of the bad bacteria to survive and damage the body. Each different strain of probiotic colonizes a specific area in the digestive tract, where their effects upon the immune, nervous and endocrine systems may help prevent a wide range of health concerns from acne to cancer.
Due to the frequent turnover of tissue in the digestive system, it's important to consume probiotics on a regular basis in order to maintain the ideal population within the gut.
Knowing Which One to Take
There are several different varieties and formulations of probiotics which can be consumed through different means. It's helpful to evaluate the different types in order to select the one that's most appropriate for each scenario. Here are some questions which can help to guide one to the correct selection:
What's the primary reason for wanting to take probiotics?
Which health benefits of probiotics are most important to me?
Am I attempting to treat chronic diarrhea or just a passing bout?
Do I want to address oral health issues?
Is my interest mainly preventative in nature?
Am I trying to recover my body after a course of aggressive antibiotic treatments?
Do I want to integrate probiotics into my diet -- through such means as dairy products, fermented foods and drinks -- or would I rather take a capsule or utilize a topical application?
Upon answering these questions, one should be better able to consider which of the myriad products available would be most appropriate. When comparing several products, one can use the following as a guide:
Which particular bacterial strains are present in this product?
How many colony-forming units (CFUs) are present in each serving or dose?
Is this bacteria hardy enough to survive the stomach acid and pass into the lower digestive tract?
What scientific studies have been done that support the claims of this product?
Are there any potential side effects?
How often to take the recommended dose or serving?
Probiotics come with a wide variety of delivery mechanisms. Depending on the type of probiotic chosen, one may be able to eat it for breakfast, rub it on at night or even just swallow it along with other nutritional supplements daily. Once the right product is selected, the benefits won't be far behind.
Products you may like:
Now Foods Probiotic-10
Why you may like this product? This probiotic contains 10
different strains to help
maintain the proper balance.
This product can help relieve
digestive issues while
boosting the immune system and
is dairy, wheat and free of
gluten for those with dietary
New Chapter Probiotic All-Flora
Why you may like this product? This whole-food formula
contains nine live probiotic
strains and is produced from
organic ingredients without
dairy. This product is freeze-
dried to preserve freshness
and potency and every two
capsules contains eight
billion live probiotic cells.
Learn what probiotics are and the difference between prebiotics and antibiotics. We help you decide what probiotic is best for you and what foods to introduce to your diet for better digestion and immune health.
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