Do Probiotic Supplements Really Work?
Probiotics and their health benefits are getting increasingly popular. Whenever you see people giving out top tips for health improvement, probiotics are always somewhere to be seen. 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: are probiotics really worth taking?
Probiotics and their health advantages
Our body hosts trillions of microorganisms. Some of them are good, some of them are bad. Probiotics fall in the first category as their name itself suggests it (probiotics meaning pro-life).
Located in our guts, probiotics are linked to our gastrointestinal health and a strong immune system. Since they keep pathogens at bay and boost one’s immunity, they have a positive impact on one’s overall health. Some have said that VigFX which you can buy online aids in promoting positive health impacts as well.
Various studies have been carried out in order to find out more about probiotics use and health benefits. The results include a better digestion, regular bowels, and a stronger immune system among the advantages one enjoys when taking probiotics. Quite some reasons to turn the probiotic use into a habit.
The ideal balance between good and bad bacteria is said to be 80% of probiotics and 20% of bad bacteria. Sometimes, though, this balance is disturbed and all sorts of health issues occur. This is where a change in diet is needed or where probiotic supplements come into sight.
Foods that are rich in probiotics include Kefir, lassi (an Indian yogurt), yogurt, natto, sauerkraut, Tempeh (like thick veggie burgers, tempeh is produced using cooked matured soybeans), and raw vegetables.
Consult your nutrition expert to create a custom-made diet that would meet your nutritional 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 the market is full of all sorts of supplements, 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.
When to use probiotics?
The number of people taking probiotics has increased over the last few years. The question is: is this increase justified?
According to David Meyer, M.D., Kaiser Permanente’s chief of gastroenterology in Atlanta, probiotics are worth taking if you have a health condition like the irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal pain or chronic constipation.
He adds that we shouldn’t rely on probiotics as a cure-all for all gastrointestinal issues, that probiotics are not miracle-workers and they don’t help everyone. Actually, there are no studies to show that probiotic supplements help people with Crohn’s disease.
They could even be harmful to people with weakened immune system like people who are under a chemotherapy treatment or in advanced stages of cancer or AIDs. Dr. Meyer also says that “there have been reports of significant infections in these situations where probiotics are used, although it’s not known if the probiotic had anything to do with the infection”.
Therefore, what works for some people might not work in the case of others. The effectiveness of probiotic supplements depends on various factors that include: the supplement brand, the storage conditions, the patient’s age, health conditions, and even lifestyle.
That’s why before embarking upon a probiotic supplement journey, it is highly important to see your doctor. Ask for his recommendations and go for the products he prescribes you.
What strains of bacteria to look for in probiotic supplements?
Many people tend to think 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.
One thing that should be highlighted here is that 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 are more inclined to think that “the more different strains, the better” view is more plausible. Different strains of bacteria treat different issues.
Plus, different strains are located in different areas of the digestive tract, which means the supplements that include more strains rather than high concentrations of just one or two strains come with higher effectiveness.
The most popular strains of probiotics include the following:
- L. acidophilus is the most important strain of the Lactobacillus series. It colonizes the walls of the small intestine which leads to an improvement in nutrient absorption. Plus, it helps with the digestion of dairy foods.
- B. longum is known for maintaining the integrity of the gut wall and the breaking down of the body waste.
- B. bifidum is also among the most popular strains of probiotics. It helps with the digestion of dairy foods and it also breaks down carbohydrates, protein, and fats into components the body will then use in a favorable way.
- L. fermentum is known for neutralizing a part of the byproducts of digestion and promoting a healthy level of probiotics in the digestive tract.
- L. rhamnosus helps prevent diarrhea in travelers.
Supplement delivery system, packaging and expiration date
These three aspects are of utmost importance when it comes to the effectiveness of a probiotic supplement. The form in which the supplement is created and the way that form allows the bacteria to remain alive and healthy will have a crucial impact on how much the probiotic supplement will help you.
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 and make sure you store it properly in order to keep it valid.
Look for the expiration date. If the supplement manufacturer is one that delivers quality, the label on the product will include the expiration date. If there’s no information on this aspect, you might want to check for some other supplement since you most probably don’t want to spend your money on a product that might as well contain dead bacteria.
How do you know if your supplement is working?
If the probiotic supplement you use is effective, you will see a reduction in your stomach or gastrointestinal symptoms in a few weeks. Doctors recommend taking a supplement for at least one month to see if they help you. If there’s no improvement, then you might want to try another supplement that includes a different species of bacteria.