A Quick Guide To Finding Balance

You've probably heard of probiotics, but do you know what they are? Here’s the 101 on probiotics so you can decide for yourself which probiotic supplement is right for you.

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms that can provide some health benefits when taken in sufficient amounts. They are often referred to as “good bacteria” because of their role in promoting a healthy gut. In recent years, these good bacteria have gained significant importance due to their emerging role in supporting overall health.

Why Take Probiotics?

To truly understand why you would take a probiotic supplement, you have to first understand the bacteria in our body. Large numbers of microorganisms live on and inside our bodies. Some of the bacteria can be helpful (the good bacteria) and some not helpful. Its preferable to have more helpful than unhelpful bacteria. That’s where probiotics may be beneficial. Many of the microorganisms in probiotic products are the same as or similar to the beneficial microorganisms that are found in our bodies. Dietary supplementation with friendly microbe strains in the form of a probiotic supplement may help replenish healthy bacteria in the gut. Probiotics may also support immune health, aid digestion and nutrient absorption and produce certain vitamins.

How to Choose the Right Probiotic?

Probiotics are recommended for more than just daily digestive support. Emerging research shows that certain strains may have benefits beyond digestive health. Probiotics are currently being investigated in the context of oral and vaginal health, immune health, mood, cholesterol levels, weight management, sports performance, beauty and more. The right probiotic for you will depend on your goal.

Probiotics are identified by first the genus name (i.e. Lactobacillus), followed by a species name (i.e. acidophilus), and lastly a strain name (i.e. CUL 60). There are hundreds of probiotics strains in the human body. A strain is an identification of bacterial specificity that distinguishes one strain from another. Strain names are important because the data supporting one strain–or blend of strains–does not necessarily support another. If your purpose in shopping for a probiotic supplement is to help a specific need, you’ll want to make sure that strain was studied to support those specific results. Whereas other probiotic products may contain a blend of strains that have been studied for general digestive health and may be recommended for daily gut support.

What makes a probiotic high-quality?

A variety of factors affect the ability of a particular probiotic to make its way to the colon and potentially have a beneficial effect. A probiotic supplement must first survive production and storage. Heat pasteurization and temperature extremes during storage can destroy these microorganisms. Probiotics must also be capable of surviving the low pH of the stomach and reach the colon where some may adhere to the intestinal cells. A specialized freeze-drying process is necessary to ensure that the healthy bacteria found in your probiotic bottle survive the travel to and through your digestive tract.

You won’t be able to identify a high-quality probiotic supplement from looking at the strain alone—you’ll want to find one that has been clinically studied to provide daily support and guarantees the potency.

As the research on the importance of gut health grows, so does the popularity of probiotics.

Get started here to find the best probiotic for you.

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