Author: S. Quinn Lambert | Read Time: 11 Mins | Date: September 3, 2020
Whether you are looking to alleviate gut issues or optimize your health and wellness, taking a probiotic is a go-to option. So, how do you choose which probiotic to take, and why? Is it based on popularity? advertising? cost? convenience? science? credibility? recommendation? Or maybe it’s just the first product within sight at the grocery store. Regardless of those decision methods, let’s discuss how to spot an effective probiotic that will be a good investment for your health and wellness.
Not All Probiotics Are Equal
Choosing a probiotic can be like hiring an employee, just filling the position does not mean that the job will get done. A probiotic’s job is to balance and support the gut. A healthy and balanced gut is essential for a healthy immune system and overall health and wellness. You want a credible probiotic that will be effective and get the job done. Effectiveness and credibility of a probiotic can be measured by five factors: 1. ability to make it to the gut, 2. strains of bacteria present, 3. amount of bacteria in a dose, 4. method of storage, and 5. proof of efficacy.
1. Make it to the Gut
For a probiotic to have an impact on the gut it must actually make it to the gut. Two big reasons why some probiotics never reach the gut is because of the stomach’s harsh acidic environment and enzymes from the pancreas. Clinical trials and testing is a sure way to be certain that the probiotic in question makes it to the gut. Therefore, choosing a probiotic that has proof, beyond marketing claims, of its ability to make it to the human gut is of the utmost importance.
An article published by the American Chemical Society puts it this way, “Probiotics are living organisms [that can] have beneficial effects when they colonize the body, assuming they can stay alive long enough to do so. Probiotic treatments are packed with bacteria, but once swallowed, their numbers are dramatically diminished by the stomach's acidity…” While this article discusses efforts to create a gel capsule for safe probiotic passage, another way probiotics can make it to the gut and be effective is by using proper bacterial strains and appropriate dosing.
Additionally, yogurt and other foods that use bacteria as a means of production do not automatically equate to a source of probiotics for balancing your gut. Notwithstanding, there are foods that contribute to a healthy and balanced gut.
Takeaway: Do some research to find out if the probiotic you are considering has proven its ability to make it to the gut.
2. The Strains
Different bacterial strains have different functions and interactions within the gut. A random assortment of bacterial strains thrown together to make a probiotic is like trying to make a house out of random materials. The bacterial strains included in a probiotic should work well together to create and support a healthy and balanced gut.
For example, a 2019 study reviewed the effects of Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus paracasei in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. The study specifically focused on how these two strains of bacteria affected the severity, duration, and frequency of the common cold. The study found that, “the severity and duration of common cold episodes are reduced upon ingestion of the specific probiotic product. Symptoms of cold were alleviated throughout the entire cold episodes, which in turn affected the duration of the episodes.” Nevertheless, this study focused on only two specific bacterial strains and one specific health issue. Not all bacterial strains work the same or elicit the same effects, that’s why it’s important to choose a probiotic with the right strains to create and support a healthy and balanced gut. Supportingly, one article states that, “the efficacy of probiotics is strain specific, decades of research have shown that only specific strains of bacteria or fungus have health benefits.”
A comprehensive way to check if a certain probiotic has the right strains is proving its efficacy in human trials. Many probiotics on the market have not been researched and proven to be effective in human trials.
Takeaway: Check if the probiotic you are considering has the right strains to make a difference.
3. The Dosing
Both quality and quantity matter when it comes to probiotics. Probiotics are quantified in colony forming units (CFUs) – individual cells growing together as a cluster. Probiotics must contain a high dose (think high CFUs) of appropriately paired strains of bacteria that work well together in order to be beneficial.
More CFUs in a probiotic does not necessarily mean the probiotic has increased benefits. Although, more CFUs can certify that there is enough of the good bacteria to truly make an impact. In addition, more CFUs in a probiotic dose can cover a wider range of needs without causing any known harm.
For instance, typical probiotic supplements contain 1-10 billion CFUs and can have positive effects on the gut. Notwithstanding, one article states that, “doses of between 200 billion and several trillion CFU of products consisting of mixed probiotic strains should be considered safe for adjunct therapies for patients with IBD, IBS and AAD.”  (IBD = Inflammatory Bowel Disease, IBS = Irritable Bowel Syndrome, AAD = Antibiotic Associated Diarrhea)
One billion to several trillion CFUs is quite a big difference. Thus, choosing a probiotic with more CFUs, instead of a probiotic on the lower end of the spectrum, can be considered a safe option and cover a wider range of gut-related issues.
Takeaway: To truly be beneficial, be sure the probiotic you are considering contains a sufficient dose of good bacteria.
4. Method of Storage
Probiotics are living organisms, when they die they have no effect on the gut. Storing probiotics properly is essential for keeping the bacteria alive so they can actually make an impact. With improper storage the viability, potency, and manufacture count of “live” bacteria is significantly deteriorated.
Probiotics require storage in a refrigerated climate to maintain their viability, preserve their potency, and keep them alive. Many manufacturers accept that their probiotic product will deteriorate and just add more CFUs to cover potential losses. Yet, the best way to ensure that all the bacteria in a probiotic stay viable, potent, and alive is by consistently keeping them in a refrigerated environment. That means during production, shipping, and storage the probiotic needs to be refrigerated or else by the time you consume the product it may be only a fraction of what the manufacturer claims.
Takeaway: The probiotic you are considering should consistently be in a refrigerated environment to maintain viability, preserve potency, and keep the bacteria alive.
5. Proof of Efficacy
Any probiotic you are considering should have proof that backs up its claims for human efficacy. Surprisingly, there are very few probiotic supplements that have actually been researched in clinical trials using human subjects. Additionally, independent non-clinical studies of consumer probiotics have illuminated the casm of what is vs. what is claimed.
Adding another layer of mystery to choosing a probiotic you can trust, brand names does not always mean that the same probiotic formulation is being delivered. A brand name probiotic may be tested and prove efficacy, but it is actually the probiotic formulation used by the brand that is truly efficacious. Brands can change their formulation over time, that is why it is crucial to choose a probiotic product that contains a formulation proven to be effective. Probiotic formulations consist of the type, amount, and specific mixture of bacterial strains being used.
You deserve a probiotic you can trust. A probiotic that matches the claims it makes. A probiotic that has proven to be effective in human use.
Takeaway: The probiotic you are considering should use a probiotic formulation that has proven to be effective through clinical trials using human subjects.
LYVECAP Probiotic Facts
- Formulated by Professor Claudio De Simone, distinguished scientist and medical doctor—a pioneer in the field of intestinal microflora recognized internationally, his formulation (the De Simone Formulation) has been the subject of more than 200 publications and 70 published clinical trials
- The De Simone Formulation is the foundation of every LYVECAP product
- Contains a high potency blend of properly paired bacterial strains that clinically make a difference (100+ billion CFUs, 8 hand-picked strains)
- LYVECAP's patented probiotic delivery system has been tested and is proven to keep bacteria alive within the cap—maintaining and preserving the De Simone Formulation
- Always stocked and shipped in a refrigerated environment (39 – 46 °F)
With so many probiotics to choose from it can be difficult to know which ones work and which ones don’t. Checking the effectiveness and credibility of a probiotic before choosing can ensure you are making a good investment for your health and wellness. The probiotic you are considering should be able to make it to the gut, contain the right strains and proper dosing, be stored properly, and be supported by clinical trials done in human subjects.