This months IBS support group was a great success! Our discussion topic lead to How to choose the right Probiotic and is what you are currently paying for worth it? Many of us who suffer from IBS are placed on a Probiotic some docs say get what’s at your local pharmacy, while others prefer specific refrigerated ones. Whether you are buying one for the first time and trying to choose the right one for you or have been buying the same one for years and trying to decide if it’s worth the money this buying guide can help guide you to the right choice.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that live in your body. Their role ranges from helping your digestive system run smoothly, destroy harmful pathogens, aid in vitamin production as well as building up helpful bacteria after antibiotic use. With so many different uses the question arises, do all probiotics offer the above benefits? The answer is no, not all probiotics are equal!
When looking at Probiotics we look at 3 classes Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus. Each class has a strains that works on different problems that may arise or help to maintain health in certain areas.
Lets first look at Lactobacillus this class is divided into L.Acidophilus, L. Rhamnosus, L. Plantarum and L. Casei. L. Acidophilus lives in our digestive, urinary and genital systems. This strain is used for vaginal health, diarrhea and acne. Acidophilus is what we normally will see being prescribed after antibiotic use. This is to aid in building up the good bacteria that was destroyed. L.Rhamnosus is used for GI support and Eczema. If you have ever traveled and experienced diarrhea L. Rhamnosus would be a strain that should be listed in your probiotic. The last in the Lactobacillus category would be L. Casei, which is shown to help regulate diarrhea.
The next category to look at is Bifidobacterium, which live in the intestines as lactic acid bacteria. Bifidobacterium is found not only in supplements but in fermented foods as well. There are four strains of Bifidobacterium; B.. Lactis, B. Longum, B Bifidum and B. Breve. B. Lactis is to aid in immunity, and since immunity starts in the gut it stands to reason that B. Lactis is onto something. B. Longum works on constipation, if you have constipation issues and are looking to take a probiotic the strain B. Longum should be present. B. Bifidum can be depleted with stress, age diet and antibiotics. Most of us may fall into one of the above categories. When choosing the right probiotic make sure the B. Bifidum is front and center. Lastly B. Breve is thought to have anti-aging benefits.
When looking at the last group Streptococcus, Not to be confused with streptococcal infections or the bacteria that causes strep throat, some species and strains of Streptococcus have promising research on the benefits for health and wellbeing.
When choosing the best probiotic make sure you know why you are taking it. If constipation is your issue than B.Longum should be present. If you are suffering from travelers diarrhea L.Rhamnous would be the cure. Not all Probiotics are created equal below are some buying guide tips to help in the proces.
Look at expiration dates
Make sure the bacteria is live
CFU’s (colony forming units) in the billions
A good brand list the amount of live organisms and exact strains used
The label should specify that the living microbes are viable through end of shelf life or best by date rather than at the time of manufacturer to ensure that the bacteria are still live when you take them and able to reach your colon.
Price point don’t be fooled $25- $60