Probiotics:  Finding Mr. or Mrs. Right….

Probiotics: Finding Mr. or Mrs. Right by Karen Zizzo, NP

Finding the right probiotic is very important.  Diversity is key here.  It’s hard to believe that the gut of a human has over 10,000 different types of bacteria, isn’t it?  It may be even harder to believe that the majority of these strains actually benefit our gut.  We also carry yeast and fungi in our gut–and all of these things work in harmony to provide us with a healthy digestive tract.   Non-harmonious digestive traits may manifest themselves in things like diarrhea, constipation, bloating, fatigue, headaches–just to name a few. Nobody has time for that!  Probiotics help to balance this very populated environment.

A multi-strain probiotic that contains a number of different species and groups (genera) is one to look for.  Below is a list that contains some more common strains:

  • Bifidobacterium
  • Streptococcus: Thermophilus
  • Yeast: Saccharomyces cerevisiae (boulardii)
  • Lactobacillus: acidophilus.

Okay, so now you find one that has these very hard to spell and pronounce names. . .well, now you have to make sure the acid in your stomach doesn’t kill it off.  Different types of delivery systems, such as delayed release, special coatings or bead-like deliveries, are utilized to help protect the “fragile” bacteria from being engulfed by the acidic environment.

If the probiotics survive the acid bath, then it is important for them to be able to colonize in the intestinal wall and do what they are intended to do–improve the health of your intestines.  If they don’t colonize, then they just exit the body much like the midnight munch-fest that you regret.

Prebiotics have a role here too.  They are part of this delicate balance.  What is a prebiotic? A prebiotic is a natural nutrient that basically feeds the probiotic.  Yes, probiotics need love, care and sustenance in order to proliferate in your gut.  Make sure your chosen probiotic contains one of these.

Another important tip to consider is “shelf life.” Not every probiotic makes it to the person as efficacious as when it was manufactured.   Moisture, heat, oxygen and humidity all can take a toll on this fragile concoction of digestive goodness.  Make sure you look at the label and expiration date.  If it has a “best by” date, even better.

For those of you who are gluten sensitive, dairy intolerant or allergic to preservatives or food colors, this is another very important factor to keep in mind when choosing “Mr. or Mrs. Right“ Probiotic for your gut.  Yes, it is possible to find ones that are free of synthetic coatings and are dairy and gluten free.  You just need to look for them.

CFU’s?  Important or not important?  Colony forming units (aka CFU’s) are the units of measure for the live cells in the probiotic.  This can, and does change, however.  It is also not the best predictor for how the probiotic will fare in the gut.  It is more important to look at the types of species found listed on the ingredient label.

Hopefully this will be helpful when you are seeking out the perfect probiotic for your gut.  As Mom says, “Don’t settle.”  Pick wisely and may the relationship be long and fruitful.

Call us at AB Hormone Therapy and let us help you choose your perfect match.