Which Probiotic Supplements Are The Most Effective?
It's More Than A Gut Feeling…Posted Thursday, April 7, 2017.
Probiotics—or the “good bacteria”—have become trendy over the past few years. Products described as “probiotics” are the first you see when you walk in a grocery store. They’re called supplements, yogurts, drinks or yogurt-drinks.
As a result, the scientific world is running more and more investigations on them. You now can understand their effects and benefits on your health.
An impressive amount of people using probiotic supplements get positive results. We received encouraging testimonials from users all over the country.
These little bugs seem to work.
With the increasing interest in probiotics, the number of new “health companies” explodes.
Some of them tend to offer probiotic supplements that are a waste of money, if not more.
These companies aim to make you feel endangered if you don't buy their probiotics. When you have a true need of improving your digestive health... No trustworthy independent group ever tests their claims and promises. To make matters worse, many of these companies use cheap and ineffective technology. Their probiotics won't reach your guts. They will be ineffective, at best. Even though they could contain the right ingredients in the correct proportions…
We met with Dean G. LaPorte M.D. As a Professor of Pathology, he explained us the importance of probiotics. Thanks to his input, we now understand the craze.
And, by the end of this article, you will too.
Before we tell you all you need to know on probiotic supplements, let’s go over the basics.
What Are Probiotics?
Bacteria have inhabited the earth for at least two and a half billion years. Our evolutionary ancestors arrived in a world dominated by microbes. As we evolved, so did they.
An average human body has ten times more bacteria than human cells. They reach a total of about 1000 more genes than are present in the human genome. Because of their small size, microorganisms make up only about 1 to 3 percent of your body mass. That's 2 to 6 pounds of bacteria in a 200-pound adult.
These microbes are generally not harmful to you. They are actually essential for maintaining health. For example, they produce some vitamins that you do not have the genes to make. They break down your food to extract nutrients you need to survive. They teach your immune system how to recognize dangerous invaders. They even produce helpful anti-inflammatory compounds that fight off other disease-causing microbes.
Biologists now believe that our humanity depends on microbial activity.
Benefits of Probiotics
Balancing good and bad bacteria in your body has benefits beyond the digestive tract. It may also affect the health and appearance of your skin, as well as your mental health and your energy levels. Some early studies suggest that consuming probiotics could prevent or treat certain conditions.
- Probiotics & Digestive Health
Most of the time, inflammation is the defense system that keeps you healthy and safe. It helps your body fend off various disease-causing bacteria, viruses and parasites. It acts like your own personal inner bodyguard. That’s why it’s often referred as “Good Inflammation.”
You NEED this “Good Inflammation” to protect you so you can live a long and healthy life.
Yet, in 2010, Dr Oz talked about an “invisible civil war raging inside your body.” This war rages between good inflammation and “Bad Inflammation,” often difficult to diagnose.
You could go years or even decades without feeling a thing. But, deep down in your immune system, this chemical mix up begins to take over, rotting your body from the inside out.
“Bad Inflammation” could be the cause of your IBS, GERD or diarrhea. It could be the reason of your gas, bloating and stomach cramps. It could even be why you keep putting on weight no matter what you do.
“Bad Inflammation” could actually be responsible for most deadly diseases today, scientists say. It is like an armed gun inside your guts, ready to fire anytime. You know it will fire, you don’t know when. It's always a surprise.
But what causes gut inflammation—good or bad—and how can we treat it?
The answer stands in one simple word: bacteria.
“Probioticsintroduce healthy bacteria to your gut. They create a barrier to reduce inflammation.”
Dr. Whitney Bowe, the American Academy of Dermatology Expert
- Probiotics & Skin Health
Is there a connection between the foods we eat and the impact they have on our complexion? What about how we digest them? That's what skin research investigates today.
"Gut and skin are actually connected," Dr. Bowe says. "Refined carbohydrates and devoid of fiber seem to slow digestion and gut motility. When that happens, it creates a shift in the type of bacteria that live in the gut. Your gut liningshouldkeep specific molecules inside. But theyactually seep out into your bloodstream. That can trigger system-wide inflammation and increase inflammatory markers in the skin."
Scaling back on simple carbs and other inflammatory foods could help. But a daily dose of probiotics could restore a healthy balance in your digestive tract. In turn, you could see a variety of skin complaints disappear.
Also called Atopic Dermatitis (AD), Eczema is often very itchy and could lead to a skin infection.
Studies showed that probiotics could help in the treatment of adult AD.
This skinchronic disease affects over 7.5 million Americans. Linked to systemic inflammation, it can become more serious. Psoriasis can develop into psoriatic arthritis (inflammation, pain and swelling of the joints). Anti-inflammatory drugslike aspirin and ibuprofen are common short term treatments. Probiotics will help you build your immune system. Your body could overcome the inflammation that leads to psoriasis.
Used with standard acne treatments, probioticsmay increase the rate of acne clearance. They may also help patients better tolerate acne treatment with antibiotics.
About 16 million Americans suffer from Rosacea.
For Dr. Bowe, oral probiotics could influence rosacea by affecting the “gut-brain-skin axis.” The probiotics will create a healthy, sealed gut barrier. They could prevent the inflammation that can trigger acne or rosacea.
The United States have studies underway to better understand this complex process. International scientists studied the correlation between oral probiotic and improvement in skin conditions. Italian scientists added an oral probiotic supplement to an acne and rosacea treatment. One half of patients did not receive the probiotic supplement. The probiotic group experienced better clearing of acne and rosacea symptoms.
- Probiotics & Mental Health
We now understand how much bacteria influence human physiology. That's why scientists started to study how bacteria affect the brain. Micro-organisms in our gut secrete a profound number of chemicals. Our neurons use some of them to communicate and regulate our mood. These chemicals are dopamine, serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Scientists discovered intestinal disorders coincide with high levels of major depression and anxiety.
HEALTHY GUT = PHYSICAL COMFORT + HAPPINESS
The journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity published a Dutch study in April 2015. 20 healthy individuals without mood disorders took a multispecies probiotic. The scientists observed them for a four-week period. They gave a placebo to 20 other participants.
The conclusions were impressive:
The scientists compared both groups. The multispecies probiotics group's cognitive reactivity to sadness significantly reduced. It was largely accounted for by reduced rumination and aggressive thoughts.
“This study is preliminary. But it shows probiotics may help reduce negative thoughts associated with sad mood.As such, our findings shed an interesting new light. Probiotics may serve as adjuvant or preventive therapy for depression.”
Lorenza S. Colzato, an author of the study
Now you know that a complex collection of bacteria lives in your guts. It is your distinct microbiome. These bacteria have their own genes. The good news is that you can maneuver THOSE genes in any way you want.
“Since we can shape the environment within our guts, we have control over our microbiota. We can compensate for the lack of control we have over our human genome. Our microbiome contains one hundred times more genes than our human genome. So we have the potential to mold about 99 percent of associated genetic material.”
Justin and Erica Sonnenburg, Stanford University.
The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-Term Health.
The health of your guts will determine how you live your life, your health and happiness. So you must get enough probiotics in your daily diet.
How We Found the Best Probiotics on the Market
If any of these disagreements feel familiar, start looking for a high-quality probiotic. Unfortunately, probiotics saturate the market. It is difficult to find the right probiotics for your needs. Indeed, many users reported regretting their first probiotic buy.
With this in mind, we came up with the best probiotics checklist:
- Widest Variety Of Strains
The greater variety, the better. Make sure that the probiotic contains at least 10 strains. These specific strains are thoroughly researched and serve a real, scientifically documented purpose. A reputable company will be able to explain the scientific reasoning behind EVERY strain in their supplement. They might even share their research with you if you ask. Yes, these companies are out there.
The 3 Most Important Probiotic Stains are:
- Lactobacillus Acidophilus DDS-1
This “super strain” probiotic has decades of research behind it. It is of human origin, and because of that, is highly adaptable to your gastrointestinal tract.
Research show it supports a healthy balance of good bacteria to bad bacteria. It also supports a healthy immune function. It helps maintain cholesterol levels already within the normal range. It produces vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid and lactase in your gut. These may help with digestion of dairy products.
- Bifidobacterium Lactis
This is another “basic” good bacteria strain. It is found in healthy newborns and breast-fed infants and in women’s vaginas. It also populates your gastrointestinal tract, especially your intestines and colon. This strain supports digestive health, immune function and normal cholesterol levels. It also plays an important role in helping your body absorb vitamins and minerals. Bifidobacterium lactis has shown an ability to help promote regular bowel movements.
- Bifidobacterium Longum
It may be one of the most significant probiotic strain found in the human gut. Studies show it supports a normal healthy digestive tract. It also inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria and supports immune function. Scientists think this super-strain contributes to health in profound ways. You can find it in fermented foods, including sauerkraut and fermented vegetables. This strain ferments sugars into lactic acid. It may help increase your intestine’s acidity. Plus it helps scavenge free radicals by acting as a potent antioxidant.
As we said earlier, the greater variety, the better. The following strains will help you with specific symptoms:
- Acute diarrhea (AIF) is a common viral gastroenteritis, a self-limited disease.
Relevant strains: B. Breve, B. Infantis, B. Longum, L. Acidophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Paracasei, L. Plantarum, L. Reuteri, L. Rhamnosus GG, S. Boulardii, S. Thermophilus
- Anxiety and Allergies.
Relevant strains:L. Casei, L. Rhamnosus, Paracasei
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)involves chronic inflammation of some of your digestive tract.
Relevant strains: B. Infantis, E. Faecium, Escherichia coli Nissle, L Helveticus, L Plantarum, L Rhamnosus GG, L. Acidophilus, S. Boulardii
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is an intestinal disorder. It causes pain in the belly, gas, diarrhea, and constipation.
Relevant strains:B. Coagulans, B. Infantis, B. Longum, E. Faecium, L. Acidophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Helveticus, L. Paracasei, L. Plantarum, L. Rhamnosus GG, S. Boulardii, S. Thermophilus
- Lactose Intolerance.
Relevant strains: L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus
- Lowering Cholesterol.
Relevant strains: B. Lactis, E. Faecium, L. Acidophilus, L. Curvatus, L. Fermentum, L. Plantarum, L. Reuteri
- Skin Conditions.
Relevant strains: Lactobacillus, L. Acidophilus, B. Bifudum
- Weight Loss.
Relevant strains: B. Brevis, B. Lactis, L. Acidophilus, L. Gasseri, L. Rhamnosus GG
- Women’s Health.
Relevant strains: Bacillus Coagulans, L. Fermentum, L. Rhamnosus GG
- Number Of CFUs
CFU stands for "Colony Forming Unit." It is a measurement of the good bacteria and yeasts inside the probiotic supplement. It is as important as the specific strains the supplement contains.
Doctors suggest 10-15 billion CFUs as an ideal amount to rebalance your gut. But keep in mind that those are the numbers of live cultures in a supplement when it is first manufactured. It is NOT the number of CFUs actually reaching your small intestines. Digestion mostly takes place in your small intestine. It is where your gut microbiome lives.
- Delayed Slow-Release Capsule
This is the most important factor to consider in a probiotic supplement. Makesure the live cultures in your supplement can actually reach your intestines. That’s why you need a delayed slow-release capsule.
Scientists designed these special capsules to protect the probiotics from stomach acid. They release the probiotics in the small intestines where they are most effective. They start disintegrating approximately 45 minutes later than a typical immediate release capsule. They significantly reduce opportunity for early probiotic degradation.
Other capsules dissolve in the stomach within minutes of ingestion. It severely limits their ability to affect your digestive health. So it doesn’t matter what variety of strains or how many CFUs the capsule contains. Only about 10% of the bacteria will reach your intestines. These probiotics will have SOME positive impact on your health. Yet, it will be minimal compared to the probiotics in special protective capsules.
You want to make a difference in your digestive health. So you need a probiotic supplement that uses a delayed release capsule.
- No Chemicals Or Filling Of Any Kind
Supplement manufacturers often add in fillers to their probiotics for numerous reasons:
- Easier and faster production
- More appealing to the eye(colorants)
- Easier to swallow (coatings)
The real problem lies in how these fillers impact your body and health. It’s not good. Like processed foods loaded with additives and fillers, the same goes for probiotics. Any supplement that has additives and fillers will be harmful to your health.
Avoid hydrogenated oils, artificial colors, magnesium stearate, titanium dioxide. Also stay away frombinders like chromium, gelatin and silicon dioxide.
Your body doesn’t need or want these ingredients so don’t put them in there. They will block the absorption of nutrients and give you the opposite results of what you expect.
And when we talk about fillers, we also talk about Prebiotics.
Prebiotics are carbohydrates or sugars. The normal human gut flora has a hard time breaking them down. Yet, probiotics need to grow their colonies.
You need at least five grams of prebiotics to make an impact. A probiotic capsule fits about one-quarter gram...
“Probiotics thrive on the natural sugars and fibers present in plant-based foods. These are fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains.Eating real food and taking probiotic supplements is enough. You don't need to worry about getting enough prebiotics too. Prebioticsc take up valuable real estate within a tiny capsule. That space could be better used by adding more probiotics. Prebiotics can be helpful for those with appalling diets. Yet, they are not necessary for most people. The inclusion of prebiotics in capsules is more marketing hype than valid practice.”
Board-certified Doctor of Natural Medicine Michelle Schoffro Cook.
Prebiotics can also aggravate certain conditions you might try to treat with probiotics. These conditions are Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).
- Doesn’t Need Refrigeration
It is important to take a probiotic “each day with consistency” to maintain optimal gut flora.
Shipping could damaged refrigerated products. Sometimes, you might not have access to a refrigerator. Technology now can freeze dry probiotics so they are stable at room temperature. A good quality probiotic doesn't need refrigeration to be effective. It will increase the likelihood you will take it every single day.
- Independent Testing By 3rd Party Lab
Probiotics are live organisms and will begin to die off over time if they sit for long periods on a shelf. A good brand will guarantee that their CFUs will last until the "best by" date. Good companies advertise what is actually in the pill. Third-party testing and verification of the label keep them accountable.
- Made in USA, Following FDA & GMP Guidelines
These are sign of good practice. A FDA approved manufacture keeps a low moisture and low oxygen environment. They overfill the capsule with live organisms. That ensures the greatest amount of surviving colonies. You get a full and potent dose until the “best by” date.
Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) guidelines provide guidance for manufacturing, testing, and quality assurance. They ensure that a food or drug product is safe for human consumption. GMP is the most essential part of ensuring this product quality.
All guidelines follow a few basic principles:
- Manufacturing facilities must maintain a clean and hygienic manufacturing area.
- Controlled environmental conditions to prevent cross contamination with unlabeled major allergens.
- Manufacturing processes ensure consistency and compliance with specifications.
- All the steps required by the defined procedures and instructions were in fact taken. The quantity and quality of the food or drug was as expected.
- Records of manufacture (including distribution) trace the complete history of a batch.
- The distribution of the food or drugs minimizes any risk to their quality.
- A system is available for recalling any batch from sale or supply.
- Examination of complaints about marketed products. Investigation of the causes of quality defects. Appropriate measures taken about the defective products and to prevent recurrence.
- Company Reputation
When it comes to supplements, some companies are better than others. Forget the mass-produced probiotics from huge conglomerates (often owned by pharmaceutical companies). Instead opt for smaller operations that you learn about first.
Look for a company with a genuine interest in improving your health. As we told you earlier, these companies exist. Do your homework and find one you trust for all your supplement needs.
- Customer Reviews
We gathered probiotics from online marketplaces. We determined which had the most top rated reviews so we could see which products do work. You want a company with an established reputation. If they don’t have positive reviews, avoid buying from them.
- Customer Service & Return Policy
It is important to find a company who has an easy, “no hassle” money-back guarantee. You don’t want to be wasting your time arguing with a company that won’t let you return a product that is not working for you. If a company won’t stand behind their product with a guarantee, take that as a red flag. Committed brands standing behind their products offer at least a 2-month money-back guarantee.
Many lower-priced and generic probiotic supplements only contain one strain and use fillers. Many of these companies also offer confusing guarantees. They seem like good but might only hurt your wallet. Look for a probiotic with the qualities listed above. It might mean they cost a little more than your local grocery store's generic brand.
Probiotics User Reviews
“A friend of mine recently told me about using probiotics for better gut health. So I started to do some research on the benefits of probiotics and decided to give it a try. In just two weeks, I have already noticed a major difference in how I feel. Not only did the bloating cease, but I also seem to have much more energy and better moods. I have to attribute this to the probiotics. Hopefully I will continue to see improvements.”
“I have issues with diverticulitis and the last time I had an attack, I took this along with the antibiotics prescribed by my doctor. I changed my eating habits, and take this daily. I haven't had another attack for two and a half years. It may be due to the change in diet, but I believe this also helps.”
“My husband had his gallbladder removed and he feels probiotics really help him. He had issues after the surgery with things he couldn't eat and this product has helped with those issues. I take it for my general health, keeps things regular and boosts your immunity.”
“For years, I had a cycle roughly 5 weeks between lows, then a day or two of a very high mood, then a crash. I saw a program on PBS about probiotics and how they supposedly help the immune system and other things, and I thought I'd try it. I went along my usual schedule and was waiting for the high mood and then the crash, but they never came. The cycle I had been experiencing just about vanished, and things are more even. Did the probiotics help? I cannot say for sure, but given the benefits of probiotics described on the PBS show, it wouldn't shock me if there's a connection. I just didn't expect it. I'm not complaining. :-)”
How We Selected The Best Probiotics
We analyzed all the probiotic supplements we could find. We tested them in our own independent lab and judged them by the standards mentioned above. At the end of our analysis, only very few brands remained.
These ones didn’t make the cut. It doesn’t mean they’re bad, they’re simply not as good as we wanted them to be:
- Bifidus Best Advanced Probiotic
- 1MD Complete Probiotics Platinum
- Align Probiotic Supplement
- Advanced Probiotics
Our Top 3 Probiotics
We determined the highest quality and most effective probiotics available on the market. They are our Top 3 Probiotics.
Our unanimous number #1 choice stood out way above the rest. It offers the best research-backed bacterial strains, at the highest potency. It uses a brand new patented delayed slow-release capsule. It ensures that the probiotics reach the small intestines. It’s hard to pick any other, especially after reading user reviews. You can read the detailed reviews of our top products below.
I wish you a quick recovery and the happiest life.
4.9/5 Overall Rating: Excellent
Contains 30 Bil CFUs/capsule
Pattented Capsule For
Made In The USA
90 Day Refund Guarantee
Excellent User Reviews
ActBiotics Report Overview:
If you are looking to try a probiotic supplement, this is the top choice. Not only is it superior to other products in terms of potency and number of strains used, what really makes Actbiotics unique is its patented slow release capsule.
Probiotics are not effective unless they make it past the stomach acids and into the digestive tract. Actbiotics uses Patented DRcaps Capsules that are proven for Targeted Release for Acid-Sensitive Ingredients. Independent study shows Disintegration started approximately 45 minutes later than a typical immediate release capsule of about 5 minutes
Users reported having noticeable improvements within 5 - 10 days of using Actbiotics.
Most common reported benefits were improvements with IBS, Indigestion, Gastrointestinal Discomfort and women reported that they no longer suffered from candida and yeast infections.
Less commonly reported benefits included natural weight loss, improvements in mood, and energy.
Safety: They voluntarily undergo third party testing to ensure the quality of product, and are developed in an FDA registered facility following FDA standards and regulations.
Product Guarantee: ActBiotics offers a 90 day 100% Money Back Guarantee, and indicates customer does not need to provide a reason to receive a refund if not fully happy with the product.
With 10 strains that have multiple research studies done on each; 30 Billion CFUs; Patened Capsules; Made in the USA, and with no artificial fillers or minders, Actbiotics is our number 1 choice for a quality probiotic supplement.
4/5 Overall Rating: Good
Contains 15 Bill CFUs/capsule
US Based Company
Refund Guarantee Not Offered
#2 Combination: TruFlora
TruFlora Report Overview:
TruFlora contains 4 strains of probiotics that have research studies done on each, the product uses a Vegetarian/Vegan capsule and the company is based in the USA.2
Safety: TruFlora can generally be considered safe as it only contians probiotics and enzymes, the company does not indicate whether they follow FDA regulations during production.
Product Guarantee: No Product guarantee or refund offered.
To learn more about TruFlora, the specific combination of strains, their benefits, and how they compare to others view the complete report.
3.8/5 Overall Rating: Good
Contains 15 Bill CFUs/capsule
Canadian/US Based Company
Refund Guarantee Not Offered
#3 Combination: Ultimate Flora
Ultimate Flora Report Overview:
Ultimate Flora contains a total of 12 strains, of which 8 strains have had research studies published. They also use a Vegetarian/Vegan capsule and the company is based in both Canada and the USA.3
Safety: Ultimate Flora can generally be considered safe as it only contians probiotics, the company does not indicate whether they follow FDA regulations during production.
Product Guarantee: No Product guarantee or refund offered.
To learn more about Ultra Flora, the specific combination of strains, their benefits, and how they compare to others view the complete report.