Are All Probiotics The Same
We are often asked if all probiotics are the same, and the very easy answer here is – absolutely not! Different probiotic species and strains have been shown to have unique properties,which means that they affect our health in different ways and exert their effects in different parts of the intestines. When it comes to probiotics, or live cultures it is important to select a potent formula containing particular strains that support your own specific health needs.
When purchasing a probiotic supplement, it is recommended to choose a formula that fit the below criteria:
- Guaranteed viability of probiotic strains
- Well-researched and documented strains that are able to survive the acidic stomach environment and exposure to bile salts
- Researched to show evidence that the bacteria is able to proliferate well and colonise in the upper and lower intestines
Probiotic Gut Check: 3 Myths And 3 Facts
Four million people may not all be correct when it comes to probiotics, but at least they are cultured.
Every year, an estimated 4 million people spend $40 billion on probiotics, expecting that this combination of beneficial bacteria and/or yeast will solve a range of gastrointestinal issues.
And its true, if the bacteria are present and taken properly, probiotics can improve gut health by helping to balance the good and bad micro-organisms in the gut microbe. They can, for example, assist in helping a range of GI issues, including irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.
However, not all probiotics are the same. There are various bacterial strains, and each has different properties, with different benefits depending on the condition.
Making Probiotics Honest: 3 Common Myths
What can confuse many consumers is the sheer number of products available, let alone exactly how much probiotic is necessary to improve health.
Here are three of some of the most common misconceptions.
Know these 3 Facts
Before investing in probiotics, consumers should understand some simple truths. This blog provides quite a bit of detail on probiotics but Ive summarized the key points below:
The Goods on Getting Good Bacteria
Those seeking true probiotics should use a discerning eye. Read the label, look for the most common strains , and choose reliable manufacturers.
Just The Right Amount
Probiotic products contain millions to billions of live bacteria, each of which can form bacterial communities thus, the strength of the probiotic product is given as Colony Forming Units .2
A higher CFU number does not mean it is the most effective probiotic.4 500 million to 50 billion CFU have been associated with various health benefits, depending on the strain used and on the area of health.5
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Probiotics Are Not All The Same
Probiotics are not all the same. For this reason, it is important to know the strain to which it belongs, the quantity of microorganisms per daily dose and the scientific evidence to support their resistance to gastric acidity.
The World Health Organization defines probiotics as those microorganisms that are able, once ingested in the necessary quantities, to perform beneficial functions. A probiotic product must contain live organisms and be accompanied by scientific evidence attesting its benefits and safety for humans.
To be called probiotics, microorganisms that can be used in food supplements must have specific characteristics:
Warning: not all strains are the same! Those with greater scientific evidence and consequently most used are the Lactobacillus and the Bifidobacterium . However, the probiotic attribute has also been recognized for the Streptococcus, Lactococcus and Propionibacterium genera. Instead, concerns have been raised about the genera Bacillus and Enterococcus. It is therefore necessary that the user pays attention to the content of the probiotic he/she is buying.
Mistake #: You Think All Probiotics Are Equal
Its not good to assume that all probiotics will provide the same benefits, says Millette. There are a variety of probiotic strains and not all strains have the same health benefits. The human body houses more than 500 different strains of bacteria. Some are for immune support. Some are for digestive issues. Some are for weight maintenance. And there are even strains for heart health.
Examples include: Lactobacillus Acidophilus has been shown to help blood pressure, cholesterol, allergies and digestion, while Lactobacillus Rhamnosus can help with blood glucose, immune function and cholesterol, and Lactobacillus helveticus reduces blood pressure, improves sleep quality and bone health.
Check the packaging, talk to your health care provider or even double-check with a pharmacist to make sure what youre buying is what you need. Thankfully in Canada, foods with probiotic claims must be truthful and not misleading , and supplements must meet requirements for its claims as well as science to support its efficacy, safety and quality.
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Myth: Probiotics Can Replace Medications
Although some people may prefer natural treatments, probiotics have typically been studied in conjunction with medications â not as a substitute for them.
“I would never advocate stopping a medication and switching to a probiotic,” Hibberd said. Instead, people should use probiotics as additions to their existing treatment programs, or preventively so they might avoid the need for a medication down the road, she explained.
How Popular Are Probiotics
The 2012 National Health Interview Survey showed that about 4 million U.S. adults had used probiotics or prebiotics in the past 30 days. Among adults, probiotics or prebiotics were the third most commonly used dietary supplement other than vitamins and minerals. The use of probiotics by adults quadrupled between 2007 and 2012. The 2012 NHIS also showed that 300,000 children age 4 to 17 had used probiotics or prebiotics in the 30 days before the survey.
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Probiotics And Prebiotics: Whats The Difference
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria, and prebiotics are food for these bacteria. Well explain what you need to know about the two.
Both prebiotics and probiotics are important for human health. However, they have different roles:
- Probiotics. These are live bacteria found in certain foods or supplements. They can provide numerous health benefits.
- Prebiotics. These substances come from types of carbs that humans cant digest. The beneficial bacteria in your gut eat this fiber.
The gut bacteria, collectively referred to as the gut flora, or gut microbiota, perform many important functions in the body.
Eating balanced amounts of both probiotics and prebiotics can help ensure that you have the right balance of these bacteria to keep your gut microbiota healthy.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria found in certain foods or supplements. Prebiotics are types of fiber that feed the friendly bacteria in the digestive system.
The good bacteria in your digestive tract help protect you from harmful bacteria and fungi.
Additionally, some of your gut bacteria form vitamin K and short-chain fatty acids.
The gut bacteria help with a variety of biological tasks. They also provide important nutrition to the cells lining your digestive tract.
How Are Probiotics Regulated In The United States
Government regulation of probiotics in the United States is complex. Depending on a probiotic productâs intended use, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration might regulate it as a dietary supplement, a food ingredient, or a drug.
Many probiotics are sold as dietary supplements, which donât require FDA approval before they are marketed. Dietary supplement labels may make claims about how the product affects the structure or function of the body without FDA approval, but they arenât allowed to make health claims, such as saying the supplement lowers your risk of getting a disease, without the FDAâs consent.
If a probiotic is going to be marketed as a drug for treatment of a disease or disorder, it has to meet stricter requirements. It must be proven safe and effective for its intended use through clinical trials and be approved by the FDA before it can be sold.
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All Probiotics Are Not Created Equal
If youre interested in improving your health and avoiding the doctors office, consider the benefits of consuming foods that are naturally rich in probiotics like such as sauerkraut, pickles and other fermented vegetables, raw cultured dairy foods such as yogurt, sour cream and kefir.
Your immune system, located in the intestinal tract, is the epicenter of health. It controls how the body deals with illnesses, bacteria, viruses, and disease. One of the most important components of immune health is beneficial bacteria, or probiotics. Without these friendly bacteria, our immune systems cannot function properly and our bodies become susceptible to disease and illness.
The ratio of good to bad bacteria in your intestinal tract is ideally about 85/15%. Since we have trillions of bacteria in our digestive system, this balance is challenging to maintain especially with the average Western or American diet which consists of many processed foods that are devoid of nutrients, enzymes, and good bacteria and the increasing number of harmful or pathogenic bacteria that are continually entering our food supply and environment.
If you are not receiving adequate healthy bacteria in your diet and environment along with nourishing foods, rest, and stress relief, your body is more vulnerable to illness and chronic disease.
Where to find effective probiotics
A word about yogurt and other commercial probiotic products
Resolution for allergies
When Not To Use Probiotics
Probiotics do not appear to be beneficial for children in North America who have acute gastroenteritis they should not be given routinely to children who present to the emergency room due to diarrhea.
There was insufficient evidence for AGA to make recommendations regarding the use of probiotics to treat the following conditions. For these conditions, AGA suggests that patients consider stopping probiotics.
- C. difficileinfection
- Ulcerative colitis
Talk to your gastroenterologist to determine if there is clear benefit to the use of probiotics. The effects of probiotics are not species-specific, but strain- and combination-specific.
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How To Choose A Probiotic
Probiotics have been around for many years. Now, there are so many to choose from it can be hard to figure out which are right for you. Scientists and doctors say more studies are needed to figure out which probiotics are helpful and which might be a waste of money.
In general, not all probiotics are the same, and they dont all work the same way. Each group of bacteria has different species, and each species has different strains. This is important to remember, because different strains from the same species may have different impacts on different parts of your body. For example, consider the speciesE. coliand the strains that come from it: Nissleare probiotics and can help the body, while other strains are pathogens and can harm the body.
Keep in mind that probiotics are considered dietary supplements and are not FDA-regulated like medicines. They are made in different ways by different companies. How well a probiotic works may differ from brand to brand and even from batch to batch within the same brand.
Probiotics also vary in cost. Higher cost does not always mean higher quality or performance.
Side effects may vary, too. The most common are gas and bloating. These are usually mild and dont last long. More serious side effects include allergic reactions, either to the probiotics themselves or to other ingredients in the products. In people with a weak immune system, they could possibly cause an infection.
How To Tell If Probiotics Are High
I like a bargain as much as anyone, but buying a probiotic supplement is something you don’t want to skimp on. Warehouse stores are great to buy paper towels and grass-fed beef in bulk, but those mega-containers of probiotics are hardly the great deal they might seem.
Quality matters for any supplement, and that goes triple for probiotics. Many commercial brands lack the technology to identify specific strains and how much of that strain each dose contains.
That could mean you get an ineffective or potentially harmful dose. It’s a great sign if the company is using probiotic strains that have been used specifically in clinical trials at a dose similar to or the same as that used in the study. This is one of the only ways to guarantee a probiotic’s effectiveness.*
And even then, with probiotics, it’s all about survival. These delicate microorganisms must survive several obstaclesthe manufacturing process, packaging, shelf life, and the acid in your stomach environmentto reach your intestines, where they do their job.
Keep in mind that when supplements contain a specific number of organisms, this number has an expiry eventually. Probiotics are living organisms and can die, especially if that supplement sits on your drugstore or warehouse shelf or a shipping truck for a long time or at elevated temperatures.
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Are Multiple Strains Better When Choosing A Probiotic
No, the number of strains does not determine if one probiotic is better than another.Some probiotic brands offer products with multiple strains of bacteria with the rationale that this may replicate the normal environment of the gut. However, research has shown that the “more is better” concept is not necessarily true. Multiple strains do not make one probiotic better than another. The specific strain in the probiotic and the research supporting the health benefits of the strain is important to consider when choosing what probiotic is best for you.
Where Can I Get A Source Of Probiotics
If previously mentioned that probiotics are naturally present in the body, you can also get them from daily food and drink sources. In fact, now there are probiotic supplements that are produced in the form of syrup, powder, or capsule.
In food and beverage products that are sold in the market, you can find probiotic content by checking the packaging label. Products containing probiotics will post the words “probiotic” or certain types of bacteria, for example ” L. rhamnosus , In the package or in the box.
This means that the food or drink product has been enriched so that it contains probiotics in it. For example milk and yogurt.
Not only that, probiotics can also be obtained from natural food sources that can be found easily in the surrounding environment. For example, tempeh, wheat, garlic, onions, leeks, and so on.
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Common Genera Of Probiotics
The most commonly consumed probiotics are species of two main genera. These genera are also the most studied of probiotics:
Bifidobacteria: This genus of bacteria is commonly used in foods and supplements. Theyre thought to:
- support the immune system
- limit the growth of harmful bacteria in the intestine
- help break down lactose into nutrients the body can use
Lactobacillus: This genus of bacteria produces lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, or milk sugar. These bacteria also produce lactic acid. Lactic acid helps control the population of bad bacteria. It also serves as muscle fuel and increases the bodys absorption of minerals. Lactobacillus bacteria are found naturally in the:
According To The Aga Probiotic Guideline Below Are Some Health Issues For Which Probiotics May Help
For preterm , low birthweight infants, specific probiotics can prevent death and necrotizing enterocolitis , lessen the number of days required to reach full feeds, and shorten the length of the hospital stay.
Certain probiotics should be considered for:
- Prevention ofC. difficileinfection in adults and children who take antibiotics
- Management of pouchitis, a complication of ulcerative colitis that has been treated surgically.
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Mistake #: Youre Not Taking The Right Dose
Like mentioned previously, the dose must be proven effective to make a claim on package in Canada. A dose is measured in colony-forming units . Look for a product with at least 10 billion CFU, because that appears to be a minimum dosage across the scientific literature, and take as directed, says Nielsen.
The best way to ensure youre getting the most out of your probiotics, experts say, is to follow a balanced high-fibre food plan, understand the type of probiotic youre taking, review its clinical research, take the appropriate dose and store them according to the package directions. And if you have any concerns talk to your health care provider. Then youll have no worries that your probiotics are failing you.
Talking To Your Health Care Provider About Probiotics
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