Probiotics, which are living microorganisms, can help you lose weight 1, improve depressive symptoms, support healthy skin, lower your risk of heart disease, improve digestion, and strengthen your immune system when ingested in the proper amounts.
Yogurt, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, pickles, and kombucha are a few of the foods and beverages that naturally contain probiotics, which you can consume to enjoy the many health benefits that probiotics have to offer.
These live microorganisms are also available as supplements. Currently, probiotics are among the most widely used dietary supplements, and it is projected that over the coming years, their popularity will continue to grow, with global sales likely to be over $60 billion by 2023 2.
Because the probiotic market is flooded with hundreds of products, including liquids, powders, and tablets, many people say it is overwhelming to choose the best probiotic to improve their health.
If you're one of those having a hard time deciding on a probiotic to use, continue reading to discover what to look for when purchasing probiotics based on recent studies and advice from nutrition experts.
How to Choose the Best Probiotic
Before starting to use a probiotic, I recommend that you look at these four things.
The Probiotic Strain Used
There are many different probiotic strains, but Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces, Streptococcus, Escherichia, Bacillus, and Enterococcus are the most well-known and extensively researched.
According to numerous studies 3, the different strains of probiotics offer varied health benefits, so if you want to attain your health objectives, it's critical to evaluate the strain that was used to create the probiotic you're considering taking.
For instance, you should purchase a supplement that contains Lactobacillus if you wish to use a probiotic for weight loss.
A probiotic containing Lactobacillus Gasseri reduced belly fat in 210 overweight participants by an average of 8.5% when they took it daily during a 12-week study 4. Within four weeks of stopping the probiotic, they gained back the abdominal fat they had lost.
In a different study, it was discovered that taking probiotic supplements containing Bifidobacteria 5 helped reduce symptoms of psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) within a month.
The various probiotic strains can also treat or prevent eczema, gum disease, yeast infections, diarrhea, constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, and heart disease by lowering high cholesterol.
If you're curious about how probiotics can protect against so many diseases, you should know that they are built of both beneficial bacteria and yeast.
When taken, the beneficial bacteria that probiotics contain assist the body in maintaining a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria, which is necessary for optimal health. They also promote immune function by helping the body battle against bad bacteria that can lead to mental and physical illness.
The Probiotic's Colony-Forming Units Per Dose
Consuming probiotics in the right amounts is crucial if you want to enjoy any of the health benefits listed above.
Most nutritionists advise taking probiotics with at least 1 billion colony-forming units 6 (CFU), which is the quantity of live bacterial cells you'll receive in each dose. This information can be found on the packaging of a probiotic supplement.
The majority of supplements sold have a maximum of 10 billion CFUs per dose, however, some are available with up to 100 billion CFUs.
To determine which probiotic supplement and dosage are right for you, consult a nutritionist or doctor. Most of the time, the dosage they recommend will depend on your health goals.
A daily dose of 10 to 20 billion CFU, for example, would be sufficient to improve digestion and enhance immunity in someone in generally good health.
The effects of probiotics take time to manifest, but there are certain clear signs that the dosage of the supplement you're taking is either insufficient or excessive including:
- There is no improvement or decrease in the severity of your current symptoms.
- You're finding it difficult to tolerate beverages or foods that you used to have no issues with.
- You're beginning to notice unexpected symptoms, such as rashes and pimples
- When using the probiotic to treat a mental disease like depression and mood swings, you begin to feel worse.
If you drink plenty of water during the day, these symptoms might go away. You should discontinue taking the probiotics you're currently taking if they don't.
The Brand Credibility
There are a lot of businesses selling fake products out there, hoping to profit from the probiotics' increasing popularity.
In a review 7 of fourteen probiotic supplements, it was discovered that the majority either contained fewer living microorganisms than claimed on the product label or had none at all.
Since probiotic supplements are marketed as fermented foods, food additives, or dietary supplements, they're not subject to Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) evaluation and approval before going on sale.
You must therefore do your homework to make sure you choose a high-quality probiotic that is effective. The simplest way to accomplish this is by only buying probiotics from trustworthy health and wellness companies and taking them as directed by the manufacturer to see results.
Storage and Expiry Details
One of the most important details you should look for when purchasing probiotics is how you'll store them because they are highly delicate.
The supplement will typically need to be refrigerated because heat, light, and humidity can kill the probiotics' bacteria, rendering them worthless.
Additionally, as time passes, colony-forming units' quality tends to decline. Therefore, it is crucial to examine the expiration date since it will tell you how long the product will have active microorganisms and, given how long it has been on the shelf, how effective it is likely to be.
The shelf life of high-quality probiotics is approximately 2 to 4 years, however, the microbes in your probiotic supplements can perish much sooner.
While consuming probiotics that have gone bad isn't always dangerous for you, if the live bacteria cells have died, you won't get any health benefits.
Confirming whether the probiotic contains an encapsulated food source, such as inulin, is also important. This provides the living microorganisms with food that makes them remain viable for longer.
All this information can be found on a probiotic supplement label, which usually includes the name of the particular probiotic used, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, the CFU dose, usage and storage directions, and the best-before date.