Probiotics are more than a trend

You swallow your last bite of dinner and go about your evening routine, unaware of the complex digestive process that is playing out inside of your body. Metres into your digestive tract the food you ate is exposed to trillions of microscopic organisms clinging to your intestinal walls. Maintaining the right balance of bacteria and yeast in the microbiome goes a long way to supporting your health.

The challenge is when these well-balanced populations become disrupted by stress, antibiotics, illness, or poor food choices. This can ultimately leave people more vulnerable to digestive ailments, impaired immunity, and diarrhea.

Probiotics have become a sought-after aid for mitigating a variety of health concerns and supporting digestion. While they are popular ingredients in both supplements and functional foods, many consumers don’t know which probiotic strains will best support their specific needs. To avoid getting swept up by the latest probiotic trend or overwhelmed by the numerous varieties available on store shelves, take the time to learn which probiotics are best suited for your age, health, and lifestyle.

Gastrointestinal health and beyond

Gastrointestinal health is one of the most common reasons for taking probiotics. Research supports their use for therapy in patients with Helicobacter pylori infections, acute infectious diarrhea, and antibiotic-associated diarrhea. One clinical study found that when children with acute gastroenteritis were supplemented with the probiotic strain Lactobacillus reuteri, half of them recovered within 24 hours, as apposed to only 5% of those who took a placebo (Dinleyici et al., 2014). A separate placebo-controlled study found that when marathon runners were supplemented with Lactobacillus rhamnosus for three months, their duration of post-marathon gastrointestinal symptoms was shortened by 57% (Kekkonen et al., 2007).

Probiotics are effective for re-establishing gut microflora that has been disrupted by illness, antibiotic use, overgrowth of Candida albicans, or natural age-related decline, and help reduce the susceptibility to colonization by pathogenic bacteria.

More specifically, they can help women who suffer from vaginal infections due to imbalances in intestinal and vaginal microbiota. Through a placebo-controlled trial, researchers found that 65% of women with vaginal infections could re-establish a balanced microbiota within six weeks when supplemented daily with mixed lactobacillus species. In contrast, only 27% of women achieved these same results with a placebo (Vujic et al., 2013).

Different strains for different needs

Just like people, not all probiotics are created equally. In order to choose the best combinations of probiotic strains for your body, consider your age, health, and whether you take antibiotics. Different strains come from a diverse range of origins and have different effects on the body.

For example:

  • Lactobacillus fermentum and Streptococcus thermophiles support healthy vaginal flora
  • Bifidobacteria infantis is more concentrated in babies and toddlers
  • A variety of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli species are predominant in adults
  • Saccharomyces boulardii is a beneficial yeast
  • Bifidobacterium decline more rapidly with age than lactobacillus

The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics recommends that you read product labels to identify which probiotic strain(s) it contains, the number of CFUs (colony forming units) per dose, and whether they are “live and active”. In addition, good and bad bacteria pass through your digestive tract frequently. In order to keep the populations of beneficial organisms up, they must be replenished regularly.

Origins of strains

Beneficial bacteria are found in many places in nature. What makes a good probiotic is its action and not its origin. Good probiotics may be bacteria or even yeasts originating from fermented dairy or vegetable-based foods. Natural Factors formulas feature predominantly human origin strains, along with helpful bacteria from a variety of sources.

The ultimate in probiotics

Natural Factors line of probiotic supplements offer a range of strain combinations to meet your individual needs. All formulas are vegetarian friendly, gluten-free, non-GMO, and antibiotic compatible.

Take advantage of our promotion on the entire line of Natural Factors Probiotics by stocking up on:

  • Ultimate Multi Probiotic – 12 strains with a natural adult ratio of bifidobacteria to lactobacilli
  • Women’s Multi Probiotic with CranRich® – includes fermentum and S. thermophiles for rebalancing vaginal flora
  • Children’s Multi Probiotic – features Bifidobacteria infantis
  • Senior’s Multi Probiotic – eight senior-specific strains targeting digestive problems, immune system health, and inflammation
  • Critical Care Probiotic – 55 or 100 billion active cells from nine strains specific to combating antibiotic-associated gastrointestinal distress
  • Mega Probiotic – a convenient powder form for adding to food or drink
  • Ultimate Protec Multi Probiotic – enteric coated for people who prefer to take probiotics on an empty stomach

Always consult a health care practitioner before using probiotics in people who are pregnant, infants, or those with compromised immune systems.

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References:
Dinleyici, E., Probage Study Group & Vandenplas, Y. (2014). Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 effectively reduces the duration of acute diarrhoea in hospitalised children. Acta Paediatr, 103(7), e300-5.
Kekkonen, R. et al., (2007). The effect of probiotics on respiratory infections and gastrointestinal symptoms during training in marathon runners. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 17(40), 352-63.
Vujic et al. (2013). Efficacy of orally applied probiotic capsules for bacterial vaginosis and other vaginal infections: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol, 168(1), 75-9.