It’s no secret that a well-balanced gut is important for optimal health. Eating fibre-rich foods, staying well hydrated, and minimizing stress are necessary for good gut health.
When it comes to supplements, there’s one super supplement for the gut that defeats all others. Can you guess which one I’m referring to?
You guessed right! Probiotics.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that confer health benefits on the host when taken in adequate amounts. Beneficial microbes in the gut are key drivers in our health. Not only do they play an important role in digestion and immunity, new research suggests that these bugs influence our mood, our memory, and our risk of developing certain diseases.
With so many Canadians looking for supplements that support healthy gut flora, it’s no surprise stores are well-stocked with a variety of options. Recently, condition specific probiotics (e.g. Mood + Stress or Immune Support) have become available.
Unfortunately, too many options at shelf has left consumers confused and choosing the right probiotic is no easy task. If you don’t know what to look for when shopping for this supplement, this article is for you.
Here are 3 things to check before purchasing probiotic supplements:
- Potency – make sure you’ve selected the right dose based on your individual needs. There are a wide range of options when it comes to potency – from 1 billion up to 100 billion live active bacteria per capsule. For those who have been on antibiotics or dealing with chronic digestive issues, higher potency probiotics are often indicated.
- Multi-Strains – read the label and look for a probiotic formula that offers both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium Strains from each family have unique roles and functions in the body. Regardless of your health concerns, most healthcare professionals recommend choosing a probiotic supplement with multiple strains, including Bifidobacterium strains which benefit the large intestine, and Lactobacillus strains for the small intestine.
- Delivery System – a protective coating ensures the capsule doesn’t open until it hits the intestines. This is important because a capsule that dissolves in the stomach exposes the probiotics to stomach acid, which can destroy the beneficial bacteria.
If you are looking for specific strains to address specific health conditions, keep reading.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
A higher Bifidobacterium count is often indicated for diseases of the large intestine, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). One study published in 2011 in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology used the probiotic Bifidobacterium animalis subspecies lactis, which reduced gut transit time and improved symptoms such as gas.
Women who are prone to urinary tract infections or vaginal yeast infections have unique probiotic options specifically formulated for them. Lactobacillus rhamnosus is the most common probiotic included in women’s formulas. Although many people do not understand how oral probiotics support urogenital health, clinical trials demonstrate that bacteria can pass through the gut and colonize the female urogenital tract.
Mood + Stress
For mood and stress, look for a probiotic that contains the following clinically studied strains: Lactobacillus helveticus (R0052ND) and Bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum (R0175). In a recent clinical study, oral intake of these probiotic strains showed beneficial effects on anxiety and depression related behaviors.
There are many well recognized bacterial strains for immune support. Bifidobacterium bifidum (R0071) is one strain to look for on the packaging. Published in The British Journal of Nutrition in 2015, this strain was used in a 6-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. 581 academically stressed undergraduate students participated in the study, which showed that daily intake of Bifidobacterium bifidum (R0071) provides benefit related to cold/flu outcomes during acute stress.
If you practice yoga regularly, have never taken antibiotics, and eat a range of fermented foods daily, you may not need to take probiotic supplements. Thankfully, for the rest of us, this super supplement is available for purchase where natural health products are sold. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to balance our gut microbiome without these helpful critters in capsules.
By Dr. Sara Celik, ND
Renew Life’s Ultimate Flora Probiotics
To best suit your needs, Renew Life offers varying potencies from 1 billion up to 100 billion featuring clinically researched strains of live bacteria. Renew Life’s multi-strain probiotic capsules come with a delivery system (e.g. delayed release capsule) to ensure the probiotic bacteria arrive alive in the intestines. Our formulations also provide both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains along with the prebiotic FOS which is an optimal food source for probiotics.