The Truth Behind Probiotics

Your body is an incredible microbiome, especially your gastrointestinal tract. It has millions of microbes living off of whatever you feed them. Many of these are good bacteria also referred to as micro-flora. Some are not so healthy, such as an overgrowth of yeast or other invasive bacteria that upsets the balance of your digestive system.

Your gut bacteria are an essential part of your body’s ability to digest food, boost immunity, and fight infections. Certain things can throw off the balance of your microbiota. These include a diet high in sugar, stress, taking antibiotics, drinking too much alcohol, and certain infections.

Probiotics can be consumed to help rebalance your gut flora. Finding the best probiotic for you is a little tricky. You can eat naturally fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, and miso. However, sometimes you need to add in a higher potency probiotic supplement that has a variety of live, active cultures to get you back on track. You can also involve your dog in the trend and purchase some valuable probiotics for dogs for them too


What is a Probiotic Supplement?

Probiotic supplements are encapsulated, live microorganisms that aid to rebalance the good/bad ratio of gut flora. These microorganisms can be extremely beneficial when taken in the right amounts with the appropriate strains.

A probiotic supplement can increase the numbers of the beneficial bacteria by adding to the existing colonies or by recolonizing an unhealthy gut. The idea is to have more friendly bacteria than harmful bacteria.

There are several different species of friendly probiotic bacteria that show promising health benefits. The two most common types that you will see listed on a probiotic supplement are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. These include various strains within each species. Broad spectrum probiotics will contain a wide variety of strains.

Specific Probiotics for Your Digestive Issues

If you are looking to improve your digestive health, you first need to figure out what your predominant issues are. Do you have diarrhea? Are you constipated? Do you have irritable bowel that goes both ways?

Probiotics for Diarrhea

If acute, loose, watery bowel movements are your primary digestive problem, you may have an infection. In this case there are specific strains that are beneficial in clearing up the infection:

●    Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG
●    Lactobacillus acidophilus
●    Lactobacillus bulgaricus

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can be associated with frequent diarrhea. If diarrhea is chronic, you need to carefully select the probiotics you take, as some will aggravate diarrhea and can lead to dehydration. Studies have been done to determine which strains of probiotics are most beneficial for IBS-D.

●    Bacillus coagulans
●    Saccharomyces boulardii

Antibiotic induced diarrhea is commonly caused by the systematic annihilation of both good and bad bacteria. This can often cause a yeast overgrowth in the intestines and genitals. Probiotics taken 2 hours away from antibiotics can be very helpful in preventing this condition.

Probiotics for Constipation

Constipation manifests as infrequent or difficult and painful bowel movements. Acute constipation is often due to medications, such as painkillers, or changes in daily routines, such as being on an airplane for several hours. Chronic constipation might be related to IBS.

Acute constipation can be treated effectively with a combination of stool softeners and probiotics. Chronic constipation needs to be addressed with dietary changes to include more fiber, increased exercise, and a combination of various probiotic strains:

●    Bifidobacterium lactis
●    Bifidobacterium longum
●    Saccharomyces cerevisiae
●    Lactobacillus acidophilus
●    Lactobacillus reuteri
●    Lactobacillus plantarum
●    Lactobacillus rhamnosus
●    Bifidobacterium animalis

What to Look for in a Quality Probiotic

Choosing a probiotic is not as easy as just going to the health food store and picking up the first bottle you see, as they are not all created equal. There are so many to choose from. You really need to read the labels. Here are some tips for what to look for on the label.

Stability and Viability

Check to see that the product is in a well sealed, dark container. Is it shelf stable or does it needs to be refrigerated? If it needs to be refrigerated and is sitting on a warm shelf, do not buy it! The label must guarantee that the strains are live, active, and viable through the expiration date, not viable at time of manufacturing.

Third Party Certification

You are basically looking for an indication that the product has been tested and certified by a qualified testing laboratory, such as USP. Probiotics are not typically regulated by the FDA. Though, some manufacturers voluntarily produce in compliance with the FDA’s CGMP guidelines.

Number of CFUs

CFUs are Colony Forming Units or the number of organisms per dose in the product. You will see typically anywhere from 5 billion up to 50 billion CFUs. This may be a trial and error to figure out how many billion you need. Start somewhere in the middle and either taper back or double up, depending on how you feel. Too much of a good thing may cause temporary detoxification symptoms related to the die-off of the bad bacterial overgrowth. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing and my clear within a few days. It can be a little uncomfortable with headaches, fatigue, rashes, muscle aches, and brain fog.


Taking a cue from the bulleted lists above, you will want to check the species and strains of each organism in the product. Look only for probiotics, not anything listed as prebiotics. Prebiotics feed bacteria, which may be a helpful partner to the probiotics. However, they don’t agree with everyone. Prebiotics can feed some inopportune bacterial overgrowth, especially in the case of Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).

As for the inactive ingredients, you want to steer clear of any binders, fillers, starches, sugars, artificial flavors or colors, preservatives, and allergens such as gluten, soy, wheat, milk, eggs, and nuts.
Basically, you just want the probiotics in their purest form in a capsule that can survive stomach acid.

Probiotic supplements are intended to help bring some regularity to your digestive system. Your gut is really the center of your immune system. Taking care of the microbiota in there can help with so many other health conditions, not just digestive disorders.

If your intestines are healthy and functioning optimally you are likely to see improvements in digestion, immunity to colds and the flu, clearer skin, less seasonal allergies, better cognition and focus, less achy joints, and increased energy.

Choose wisely when shopping for probiotic supplements. Be mindful that there might be a trial and error period to get it right. The better supplements are not inexpensive. There is a reason for that. You don’t want to put junk into your body to make your constitution worse.

To see a full review on probiotics and which brands are best for gut health, go to