With so many probiotic products on the market, how do you choose a good one? Learn what to look for in an effective product in this Probiotic Primer!
Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard about probiotics. They are popping up everywhere, and for good reason. Probiotics provide live microorganisms that form part of a natural healthy gut flora (bacteria). Just like we all have a unique set of fingerprints, we all have a unique flora make up in our body. The flora that is established in your intestinal tract within the first two years of life is what you will have into adulthood. This microbial “fingerprint” may dictate the difference between someone who has strong digestive health and someone who does not. More and more research is showing the link between a healthy gut, strong immunity and even mental health. Taking a probiotic daily helps to ensure that your gut is at its best!

The healthy flora in our gut is destroyed by many factors. It is affected by stress, diet, and can be destroyed by birth control pills and steroid medications. It can be “crowded out” by bad bacteria when you are sick or have issues with yeast overgrowth. The most common disruptor of the good bacteria in the gut is the overuse of antibiotics. These antibiotics destroy the bad bacteria but also the good bacteria. Thankfully, doctors and pharmacists are recognizing this and many recommend the use of a probiotic while on antibiotics. There are so many probiotics available today, so what should you look for in an effective probiotic? 
5 Important Things to Look for in an Effective Probiotic

CULTURE COUNT 
This refers to the total amount of bacteria per dose and can vary widely from product to product. For general health or to treat minor digestive issues, most people would benefit from taking a probiotic with 50 billion bacteria per capsule. It sounds like a lot, but if you consider that there are about 100 TRILLION bacteria in our bodies, it is merely a drop in the bucket! If you are treating a health condition or are using antibiotics, you may benefit from a probiotic with 80 to 100 billion bacteria per capsule.  
NUMBER AND TYPE OF STRAINS
Because we all have a different microbial make up in our body, it is important to choose a probiotic supplement with multiple strains. Your probiotic supplement should include many different strains of bacteria including both bifidobacterium (large intestine) and lactobacilli (small intestine). It is also important to look for a formula that delivers both resident (human strain) and transient bacteria. Transient bacteria do not populate the gut, however exert a positive benefit (such as protecting against harmful bacteria and reducing inflammation) while travelling through the digestive tract. In fact, the transient strain Lactobacillus Plantarum is one of the only probiotic strains that is resistant to antibiotics. For this reason, always look for a probiotic formula with large amounts of that specific strain to counter the negative effects of antibiotics. 
TARGETED FORMULAS
Most people would benefit from a high potency, multiple strain formula. If needed, you can also choose formulas that are specific to certain areas of concern such as colon health or vaginal support. While you should choose a child-specific formula for kids, adults do not need age-specific formulas. Instead, if you are an older adult, choose a multi-strain formula with at least 30 billon bifidobacterium. After the age of 50, the levels of probiotics (specifically bifidobacterium) begin to decline in number so probiotics are an important supplement to take daily. 
DELIVERY SYSTEM
Most bacteria cannot survive the high acid environment of the stomach. For this reason, make sure that the probiotic you are buying has a delivery system such as an enteric coating.  This helps to protect the probiotics from harsh stomach acid ensuring safe delivery to the intestines where they are needed and utilized by the body.
GUARANTEED POTENCY
Always ensure that the product packaging states that the potency is guaranteed at expiry, not at the date of manufacture. Guaranteeing potency at expiry means that you are getting what you paid for, and most importantly, the health benefits of the probiotic itself. 
That’s it! The Ultimate Flora line of probiotics from Renew Life offers all of these features and more. Digestive care is the specialty of Renew Life, so all of the products are formulated with optimal digestion and utilization in mind. That is why Ultimate Flora Critical Care is the top selling probiotic in Canada. If you want to take your health to the next level, choose Ultimate Flora and feel the difference that probiotics can make!