The health benefits of probiotic intake are getting increasingly popular. More and more research studies focus on the way these tiny microorganisms help our body to function better.
Well, with all the attention given to probiotics and their health benefits, it’s no wonder the market is now full of all sorts of probiotic supplements. And, thus, the following question arises: what is the best probiotic supplement to take?
The first step to take when it comes to keeping a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria is to introduce foods that are rich in probiotics into your diet. Such foods include products like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, just to name a few.
Consult your nutrition expert to create a custom-made diet that would meet your needs. If you can’t have such foods on a daily basis for various reasons, then the only option left is to go for a probiotic supplement. Since there are so many out there, utmost attention must be paid to several aspects:
- The probiotic strains the supplement includes;
- The supplement’s packaging and delivery system;
- The product’s expiration date;
- The money-back guarantee.
Probiotic supplements and the strains they include
There’s this general idea doing the rounds among retailers and manufacturers that the best probiotic supplement is the one that has the most bacteria in it.
Probiotics are measured in colony-forming units, known as CPUs, which means that the higher the CPU marked on the label, the better.
First of all, research studies haven’t yet reached the conclusion that more bacteria mean stronger digestive health.
There’s still no precise information on how many different strains of bacteria we host in our gut. Therefore, the sale and marketing messages that say more bacteria mean better health are just sale pitches.
Health experts rather go for “the more different strains, the better” view. Since different strains of bacteria come with slightly different functions and are located in different areas of the digestive tract, supplements that include more strains rather than high concentrations of just one or two strains come with higher effectiveness.
Therefore, pay attention to the strains included in the supplement. The most popular strains are the following:
- L. acidophilus, the most important strain of Lactobacillus series, is known for colonizing the walls of the small intestine, improving nutrient absorption, and helping with the digestion of dairy foods.
- B. bifidum can be found in both the small and large intestine. It helps the body digest dairy foods and it also breaks down carbohydrates, protein, and fats into components the body will then use in a favorable way.
- B. longum maintains the integrity of the gut wall and breaks down body waste.
- L. rhamnosus helps prevent occasional diarrhea in travelers.
- L. fermentum neutralizes a part of the byproducts of digestion promoting a healthy level of probiotics in the digestive tract.
Now, remember that each of us is unique and may come with a different combination of health conditions. See your doctor for a probiotic supplement recommendation. The best choice for a woman might not be the best choice for a man, too.
Supplement delivery system and packaging
The form in which the supplement is created and the way that form allows the bacteria to remain alive and healthy when on the store shelves and to reach your digestive tract are of utmost importance when talking about the quality and effectiveness of a probiotic supplement.
The technology has evolved enough for us to find supplements that include coatings which keep the bacteria inside alive both on the store shelves and in the stomach acid. The controlled-release tablet or caplet is currently a safe option.
Therefore, check the label on the product in order to get information on the delivery system and how the product works. Moreover, check the way the supplement is packaged. It’s well-known that bacteria are affected by heat and certain environment conditions like light and moisture.
Usually, supplements that come in a thick, opaque bottle with desiccant pouches are safe to use. Recently, some new blister packs have been released and are said to work well.
The way you store it after purchase is something that depends totally on you. There are supplements that come with instructions on what to avoid in order to keep the product valid.
The expiration date is the third piece of information you want to find out when getting a quality probiotic supplement. If the manufacturer produces quality supplements, then it will care enough for their products to display this piece of information.
The expiration date is based on formulation and stability testing data. Since the company pays for such matters, the expiration date should be labeled on the package. Without such information, you can’t know if the bacteria are still alive or they’re already dead by the time you buy the supplement.
If you find no such details on the package, then it is better to look for another supplement. Buying a product with dead bacteria and that will, thus, have no effect means wasting your money. And you most probably don’t want that.
The money-back guarantee is another sign of the quality of the product. If a company produces effective supplements and believes in their results, then the money-back guarantee won’t be an issue. A manufacturer will always stand by a quality product. The lack of the money-back guarantee should raise a question, though.
To sum up, when looking for a probiotic supplement, make sure you first check it with your doctor. Your health expert knows best what your health conditions are and what products you need.
Once you get the recommendation, keep an eye open for the information mentioned above: the strains of probiotics included, the delivery system and packaging, the expiration date, and the money-back guarantee.
If you add a positive check mark next to all of them, you’ve just found your probiotic supplement. If not, keep on looking for that one supplement that provides you with all we’ve talked above. Otherwise, it’s a purchase that will shrink your budget without giving you any health benefit instead.