Probiotics — How to Choose? | ... Free Vitamin Encyclopedia.

Probiotics — How to Choose?

Things To Consider When Choosing A Probiotic Supplement

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that line the human digestive tract[1] . They are an integral part of our immune system – some scientist think they actually control it.[2] Unfortunately, diet[3], lifestyle and certain medications[4] can alter the balance of these bacteria, leaving us with more neutral or even negative strains than helpful ones.[5]

Fortunately, Probiotic supplements have been shown to alter the balance of this bacteria in a positive way.[6] The following are several things to consider when choosing a probiotic supplement.

Ensuring Complete Coverage

[NOTE: For a more thorough explanation of the differences between probiotic Genera and species/strains, see Probiotics – Bacterial Strains Matter]

Many probiotic products contain a single strain of bacteria. The problem with products such as these is that research shows different strains occupy different areas of the digestive tract.[7] Therefore, a product with a single strain will target only a single section of the gut, leaving the rest unaltered.

Further study indicates that different Genera (the taxonomic classification above Species) occupy different areas of the digestive tract.[8]

Approximately 5 Genera of bacteria have been actively studied in relation to the human intestinal tract and probiotics.[9] These include Lactobacillus[10], Bifidobacterium[11], Lactococcus[12], Streptococcus[13], and Saccromyces[14].

Therefore, science would suggest choosing a supplement that contains strains from each of the above 5 Genera.

Choosing Strains That Are Known To Work

There are literally billions of different strains of bacteria, and only a limited number have been researched as potential probiotics. Of those, not all have been found to survive the trip through the digestive system to arrive at their intended destination, or to provide health benefits to humans.[15]

Therefore, science would suggest choosing a supplement that contains well-researched strains that have proven to provide benefits.

For a list of specific strains that have been researched, and some of the benefits they’ve shown, see: Probiotic Strains.

Getting Enough Units To Make A Difference

Probiotics are, by definition, microscopic. When sold as a nutritional supplement, each individual microorganism is referred to as a “unit.” As the ultimate goal is for these units to settle and grow in the digestive tract[16] , most labels will list the number of “colony forming units,” or CFU. In microbiology, a Colony Forming Unit is defined as the number of “viable” microorganisms – the number alive and able to reproduce, as opposed to the total number of cells present[17] .

Research has suggested that a minimum dose of 500 Million CFU per dose is required for a strain to overcome the pre-existing bacteria and establish a colony.[18]

Therefore, science would suggest choosing a supplement that contains a minimum of 500Million CFU (Colony Forming Units) of each included strain per dose.

Including A Prebiotic

Again, the goal is for the microorganisms in your probiotic supplement to establish themselves in your digestive tract, grow and reproduce there, in order to displace neutral or even negative existing bacteria.

“Prebiotics” are substances that are not digestible to humans, but are beneficial to the microorganisms in your probiotic supplement.[19] Prebiotics aid the process of colonizing your digestive tract by “feeding” and promoting the growth of the beneficial strains in your supplement.[20] Some studies have suggested their presence is critical to the survival and success of the probiotics being introduced.[21]

Therefore, science would suggest choosing a supplement that also contains a Prebiotic.

Additive Free

As with any nutritional supplement, preference is given to products with fewer or no additives or chemical changes. The more natural and closer to the original state, the better.

For more information on choosing a Probiotic supplement, see our Probiotic Supplement Recommendations


See Also:

  1. ^ Hentges, David J., ed. Human intestinal microflora in health and disease. Academic Press, 1983.
  2. ^ Round, June L., and Sarkis K. Mazmanian. “The gut microbiota shapes intestinal immune responses during health and disease.” Nature Reviews Immunology 9.5 (2009): 313-323.
  3. ^ De Filippo, Carlotta, et al. “Impact of diet in shaping gut microbiota revealed by a comparative study in children from Europe and rural Africa.”Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107.33 (2010): 14691-14696.
  4. ^ Jernberg, Cecilia, et al. “Long-term impacts of antibiotic exposure on the human intestinal microbiota.” Microbiology 156.11 (2010): 3216-3223.
  5. ^ Hattori, Masahira, and Todd D. Taylor. “The human intestinal microbiome: a new frontier of human biology.” DNA research 16.1 (2009): 1-12.
  6. ^ Fuller, R., and Glenn R. Gibson. “Modification of the intestinal microflora using probiotics and prebiotics.” Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology32.sup222 (1997): 28-31.
  7. ^ Br J Nutr. 2012 Aug;108(3):459-70. doi: 10.1017/S0007114511005824. Epub 2011 Nov 7. Comparative effects of six probiotic strains on immune function in vitro. Dong H, Rowland I, Yaqoob P. Source Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, The University of Reading, Whiteknights, PO Box 226, Reading RG6 6AP, UK.
  8. ^ Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013;53(6):641-58. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2011.553752. Probiotics and its functionally valuable products-a review. Kanmani P, Satish Kumar R, Yuvaraj N, Paari KA, Pattukumar V, Arul V. Source a Department of Biotechnology, School of Life Sciences, Pondicherry University, Pondicherry, 605014, India.
  9. ^ Holzapfel, Wilhelm H., et al. “Taxonomy and important features of probiotic microorganisms in food and nutrition.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 73.2 (2001): 365s-373s.
  10. ^ 
    Klaenhammer, Todd R. “Functional activities of Lactobacillus probiotics: genetic mandate.” 
    International Dairy Journal// 8.5 (1998): 497-505.
  11. ^ Kailasapathy, Kaila, and James Chin. “Survival and therapeutic potential of probiotic organisms with reference to Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium spp.” Immunology and Cell Biology// 78.1 (2000): 80-88.
  12. ^ Kimoto, H., et al. “Lactococci as probiotic strains: adhesion to human enterocyte‐like Caco‐2 cells and tolerance to low pH and bile.”Letters in Applied Microbiology// 29.5 (1999): 313-316.
  13. ^ Wescombe, Philip A., et al. “Streptococcal bacteriocins and the case for Streptococcus salivarius as model oral probiotics.” Future Microbiology// 4.7 (2009): 819-835.
  14. ^ 
    Czerucka, D., T. Piche, and P. Rampal. “Review article: yeast as probiotics–Saccharomyces boulardii.” Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics
     26.6 (2007): 767-778.
  15. ^ Fooks, L. J., and G. R. Gibson. “Probiotics as modulators of the gut flora.” British Journal of Nutrition 88.S1 (2002): s39-s49.
  16. ^ Fuller, R., and Glenn R. Gibson. “Modification of the intestinal microflora using probiotics and prebiotics.” Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology32.sup222 (1997): 28-31.
  17. ^ Wikipedia contributors. “Colony-forming unit.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 8 Aug. 2016. Web. 16 Sep. 2016.
  18. ^ Kligler, Benjamin, and Andreas Cohrssen. “Probiotics.” American Family Physician 78.9 (2008).
  19. ^ Glenn, G. R., and M. B. Roberfroid. “Dietary modulation of the human colonic microbiota: introducing the concept of prebiotics.” J. nutr125 (1995): 1401-1412.
  20. ^ Gibson, Glenn R., et al. “Dietary modulation of the human colonic microbiota: updating the concept of prebiotics.” Nutrition research reviews 17.02 (2004): 259-275.
  21. ^ Walker, W. Allan, and Linda C. Duffy. “Diet and bacterial colonization: role of probiotics and prebiotics.” The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 9.12 (1998): 668-675.