These days anyone who watches television, reads magazines, or talks with friends has likely heard of probiotics. This popular term refers to the good bacteria that help to improve gastrointestinal (GI) tract health, aid in digestion, balance the gut, and possibly improve immune system function.
With such appealing benefits, many people are considering if they should add probiotics to their diet through probiotic supplements. Rather than buying blindly, consumers can use this research based guide to make a wise decision.
Survivability. The stomach is a harshly acidic environment. While this acid aids in digestion, it can also result in probiotics being destroyed long before they are able to offer their benefits to the gut. Consumers should look for strains of probiotics that will remain viable after consumption. Additionally, supplement should have a coating that will protect it through the digestion process.
Multiple Strains. To get the broad spectrum support most people are after in a probiotic, people need to look for supplements that offer multiple strains of bacteria. Different bacterial strains serve different functions, so multiple strains offer greater protection and benefits.
The Bottom Line. All too often, probiotic supplements are cheaply made in the name of profit over health. The end result is the consumer not receiving full benefits from the supplement.
Consumers are advised not to simply buy any box of probiotics, but put any purchases through the lens of the criteria described above.
Additionally, it should be noted that while some major food companies have begun to use probiotics in foods, it is largely a marketing technique. The amount in these foods is minimal in comparison with what is needed for therapeutic benefit. People with GI concerns, compromised immune systems, or those taking an antibiotic may be particularly good candidates for probiotics, but the general population will likely glean some benefits from regular use of probiotics as well.