Go To: Top 10 Probiotic Supplements
What is a Probiotic?
Probiotics are microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast that can provide a number of health benefits throughout the human body when consumed either through dietary or supplemental means.
Probiotics supplements typically come in capsule form and are marketed on the basis of the digestive benefits they provide, helping to alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and improving overall gastrointestinal health.
What Types of Probiotics are There?
There are countless strains of bacteria which are classified as probiotics, each of which offer varying benefits specific to certain health requirements and diseases.
The most common bacterial strains that you will likely find in probiotics supplements are acidophilus, lactobacillus, and bifidobacterium.
Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium are commonly found in dairy products such as yoghurt.
How do Probiotics Work and What are the Benefits?
Probiotics work primarily by boosting the population of beneficial or “friendly” bacteria within the gut.
The health benefits that can be gained from an improvement in your gut flora can cover everything from immune function to heart health, skin conditions, irritable bowel syndrome, and even the production of vitamins and enzymes throughout the body.
The digestive system acts as a kind of gateway to the rest of the body, being the first port of call for any food that you consume.
With this in mind we can clearly see why a healthy gastrointestinal tract is so important; a well functioning digestive system will allow you to absorb greater nutrition from your food while also allowing for a smoother transit of material through your intestines.
Who Can Benefit from Using Probiotics and How?
If you are currently suffering from digestive upset, and experiencing symptoms such as gas, bloating, and general discomfort then you may stand to benefit from adding a probiotic supplement to your diet.
Probiotics can be used in some cases to alleviate the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, although it is a very nebulous condition with overlaps covering a number of other gastrointestinal diseases. This means that it can be difficult to determine exactly what type of probiotic is best.
One group of people that can certainly benefit from probiotic supplementation is athletes and bodybuilders.
If you have ever made a concerted effort to gain weight or improve your strength and performance in the gym then you are probably well aware of just how much food you need to consume on a consistent basis to keep the progress coming.
Unless you have a cast iron digestive system you will likely find yourself coming up against stomach upsets or simple slowing of digestion from time to time.
In addition to a fibre supplement we recommend trying out a probiotic supplement to improve nutrient absorption and help keep things “moving along”.
Will a Probiotic Supplement Help Me Lose Weight?
Although improving your digestive health will enhance your body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food as well as potentially reducing abdominal bloating, it is difficult to comment on whether or not a probiotic supplement will aid weight loss.
The bottom line in weight loss is that you must be consuming fewer calories than you are burning within a given timeframe, so any benefit that probiotics do provide in this context will be negligible at best.
That is not to say that a probiotic supplement can’t form part of a healthy balanced diet and supplement regimen, because it certainly can and does for many people.
Can a Probiotic Supplement Help with Depression and Inflammation?
With the advent of gluten-free diets and Paleo eating, there has been a lots of talk about the way our nutrition affects things like depression and inflammation in joints.
While people who legitimately suffer from severe allergies can experience some unpleasant symptoms affecting mood and causing joint pain, there is little evidence to suggest that adding a probiotic to your diet will help with this.
Improving your digestive health through the use of fibre supplements and probiotics can definitely help to make you feel better on a daily basis due to a reduction in discomfort and a possible improvement to your energy levels.
The long term benefits that are to be reaped from maintaining an optimal digestive system are far more well-established than any possible short-term effects that this may have on your day-to-day mood and any niggling joint pains that you may be experiencing.
Do Any Foods Contain Probiotics? Which Ones are the best?
Fermented foods most commonly contain probiotics, these can include:
- Soy Sauce
- Pickled Vegetables
Well of these foods are necessarily better or worse probiotic sources than any other because the type of probiotic that best suits you will depend on your current health status.
Do Probiotics Have any Side Effects?
It is generally not recommended that individuals who are very ill supplement with probiotics. If you are suffering from a severe illness then it you should absolutely speak to your doctor before using any kind of probiotic supplement or foods containing probiotics.
Furthermore children who are administered with probiotics are actually more likely to develop a sensitivity to allergens early in life.
As with any dietary supplement or manipulation, we recommend that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding consult their doctor or physician prior to use. This also applies to people under the age of 18 and individuals who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions or who are taking any kind of prescription medication.
Note: We recommend speaking to a doctor before taking any supplements.
How and When Should I Use Probiotics?
If you are a healthy adult then you will probably be best starting off with a simple acidophilus complex so that you can assess the effects, if any, and decide whether to continue using it or opt for a different strain of probiotic.
Always refer to the usage guidelines on any probiotic supplement that you purchase.
How Much Should I Take?
This is a difficult question to answer because there are so many types of probiotics and everybody responds differently to them.
Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions on your probiotic supplement and you shouldn’t go too far strain if you are a healthy adult. And as always, consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
Related: Top 10 Antioxidant Supplements
Choosing the Right Probiotic Supplement
NOW 8 Billion Acidophilus & Bifidus was voted as the best probiotic supplement in our 2015’s Top 10 Probiotic Supplements list that we mentioned at the beginning of this article.
Providing a minimum of 8 billion live microorganisms per serving, NOW 8 Billion Acidophilus & Bifidus is a fantastic digestive aid that is well worth considering if you are using a probiotic supplement for the first time.
Please note: This FAQ has not been written or reviewed by a doctor or medical professional and is therefore not to be used to prevent, diagnose, or treat any disease or illness. Nor should it be used as medical reference.