This can often be the burning question when it comes to probiotic supplements and with a plethora of them available how do you really begin to navigate this often mind boggling area to ‘sort the men from the boys’ so to speak? Are they worth splashing the cash when it really comes down to it?
Firstly it is about understanding what the term ‘probiotic’ really means. Some of you might be confused by this label that has been associated with pills, liquids and dairy based products as well as naturally occurring in fermented foods such as unpasteurised sauerkraut but when it comes down to it the word really means ‘pro life’. Essentially providing beneficial living microorganisms to the body, more specifically the gut. Probiotic supplements are designed to deliver a direct source of these beneficial microorganisms to support a thriving microbiome, or inner ecosystem, and as such a healthier gut. But with so many options on the shelves, you need to know how to make a more discerning choice.
Indeed there may be reason to assume that many of the probiotic formulas out on the market are at best less effective or at worst devoid of any benefits at all due to their formulation. This is because a lot of the commercially available probiotics are produced from milk in an aerobic environment (note most of our bacteria is anaerobic). Also because many of the strains included can be destroyed by stomach acid or bile salts before they even reach the areas of the gut they are targeting, and if they do get through, fail to have real sticking power so are just as quickly eliminated.
So how to choose one that works?
- 1.Do your research. Any decent probiotic manufacturer should have some clinical research to back their products so always check their credentials.
- 2.Look for a diverse formula that contains multiple strains but don’t be too focused on getting the most amount of strains. Quality over quantity is the rule of thumb here.
- 3.Look for the strains that survive the acidity of the stomach, adhere well to the gut wall and repopulate well once they arrive there. Symprove hits all three of these targets in clinical trials FYI.
- 4.Aim for a decent amount of probiotics in your formula which is referred to in terms of CFUs (colony-forming units). Somewhere around the 10 billion mark is a good starting point but again don’t fixate on the number, it really comes back down to the quality and survivability of the probiotics you are taking.
- 5.The last point is having consistency and continuity with your probiotic so that means not just taking something for a short period and then stopping or forgetting to take it altogether. Our beneficial bacteria need regularly topping up, so to see the differences you need to be consistent with your supplementation.
And finally whilst there are now many different probiotic supplements on the market it is important to note that our ancestors got their daily doses from cultured and fermented foods so ideally you should be doing this alongside as well. Furthermore taking in probiotic and prebiotic foods will provide and nourish beneficial bacteria and as such improve the efficacy of the probiotic you are taking, should it meet the above criteria. You need to continuously feed those good guys to proliferate and repopulate for a healthy gut. After all it’s not just about jacking up with supplements, you need to give the gut and your microbiome the right types of foods too. Nevertheless making an informed decision and worthy investment with your probiotic can be a fundamental game changer to create positive shifts in your digestion and overall gut health. Just choose wisely.