The human body is home to trillions of complex and necessary bacteria, including probiotics—also known as “good bacteria.” The microbiome (which includes your intestines and colon) is where these bacteria—along with plenty of other viruses, fungi, and disease-causing bacteria—live and flourish.
Everyone’s gut microbiome contains totally different gut flora—it is unique to you. The gut can be influenced by everything from your environment to the toxins you’re exposed to, what you drink and eat, and your lifestyle choices. Stress can even affect your gut!
Your gut health largely reflects your overall wellness; in fact, more and more studies show that your gut health may be directly linked to the health issues you face, including immunity and adrenal problems, weight gain, dangerous metabolic issues like diabetes, and even mental health problems.
What occurs within the gut crosses the blood-brain barrier. In fact, according to the journal Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology, “A series of largely preclinical observations implicates alterations in braingut-microbiome communication in the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, and several psychiatric and neurologic disorders.”
In short, what you put inside your gut has a major impact on the rest of your body. That’s where probiotics, or the good bacteria, come in. There’s a reason probiotics are a booming industry!
The more good bacteria your gut has to grow and nourish, the more likely the bad bacteria are to be outnumbered. Generally, though, probiotics can help restore your gut to a place of true balance, promoting general wellness and potentially eliminating health issues and alleviating illness symptoms.
There are several kinds of probiotics, and choosing the one that works best for you is important.
Kinds of probiotics: species versus strains
First things first: there are probiotic species and probiotic strains. The two most common (as well as the two most studied) species include Bifidobacteria (which can be found in foods as well as supplements, and which generally supports immune health and fights against bad bacteria) and Lactobacillus (which can also be found in food and supplements, and which can help you absorb minerals, ease stomach discomfort, and absorb lactose).
Saccharomyces boulardii is also considered a probiotic although it is not a type of bacteria. It is a yeast that functions as a probiotic. It is also antibiotic-resistant and can help prevent or promote healing in instances of diarrhea, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome, according to Amie Skilton, ND. People tend to take Saccharomyces boulardii as a supplement.
A probiotic strain, however, is a subtype of a species. For example, when looking for Bifidobacteria or Lactobacillus on your bottle of kefir or your yogurt label, you might find it abbreviated as “B” or “L,” followed by the specific subtype, or strain, beside it (example: B. lactis). The different types of strains are still being studied, but there are hundreds of them out there.
The best probiotic for gut health
According to a review in Frontiers in Microbiology, strains of Bifidobacterium have been found to “exert positive health benefits on their host.” The same review found that Bifidobacterium was linked to positive effects in cases of inflammatory bowel disease, bathroom regularity, diarrhea, enterocolitis, and even colorectal cancer.
According to Nutrition Coach Lauran Brannigan, “Bifidobacterium infantis is a strain that has been proven as effective in treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome, protects against bad bacteria, helps digestion and promotes anti-inflammatory activity.”
Saccharomyces boulardii has also been found to help promote gut health, especially in cases of antibiotic-induced diarrhea.
Looking to boost your gut health? Try BodyLogicMD’s Pure Probiotic, which contains active strains of both Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus and is designed to promote a healthy gut flora by supporting digestion and the regulation of bowel movements, as well as promoting immunity.
The best probiotic to support sustainable weight loss
Lots of people also seek probiotic support when it comes to losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight. While using probiotic supplements alone will not induce weight loss, taking them each day as part of a healthy lifestyle with clean eating habits can promote sustainable weight loss. A weight loss study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that the group who used probiotics (particularly Lactobacillus rhamnosus) lost more weight than the group who did not.
According to Hrefna Palsdottir, MS, Lactobacillus fermentum or Lactobacillus amylovorus strains may be helpful in the promotion of losing weight (and belly fat in particular). On the other hand, there is some evidence that Lactobacillus acidophilus could actually lead to weight gain. For this reason, it’s important to speak to a BodyLogic MD-affiliated medical practitioner who can help you find the probiotic strain that is right for you.
The best probiotic to support women’s health
You may hear a lot about the connection between women’s health and probiotics, and that’s because the good bacteria are able to fight against yeast infections.
According to Brannigan, “Saccharomyces boulardii is bacteria particularly beneficial in treating candida, as is Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus acidophilus, which is particularly good for vaginal health, as it produces hydrogen peroxide which the vagina itself produces to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria.”
To support vaginal health, try BodyLogicMD’s Ultra Probiotic for Women. It contains a combination of probiotics that support the growth of Lactobacilli and help protect vaginal microflora.
Starting a probiotic regimen
Because the microbiome is so unique to each individual, it’s important to work with an integrative health practitioner who can help you make the lifestyle and dietary choices you need to heal from within.
Daily probiotics should be taken within 30 minutes of eating. Healthy adults can eat or supplement with between one and 10 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) per day; most probiotic products contain around two billion. You can also eat probiotics foods and beverages, which include kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt. Stick with plain Greek yogurt (versus yogurts with added sweeteners) if you’re looking to get your fill of probiotics.
For people with seriously compromised immune systems, or people who are at risk of infections, probiotics should be taken only with the supervision of your doctor.
If you are pregnant or nursing, speak with a doctor before taking probiotics. That said, there are no documented risks regarding pregnancy (or lactation) and probiotic usage.
Remember: a happy gut is a healthy body. Shop BodyLogicMD to find the best probiotic that works for you.
* This information has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice or medical care of qualified healthcare professionals. The material provided herein is for educational purposes only. Results may vary by individual. You may not experience the potential benefits described in this blog.