7 Probiotics You Need to Know About

It seems a little strange when you think about it—the fact that swallowing live microbes might make you feel better. But when you think of them as armies of the good guys, it gets a little less weird. They do a lot of thankless work—that is, until you’re unbalanced. Then you might have a whole host of problems or symptoms on your hands and it’s a relatively painless solution! I gave you the lowdown on probiotics on Monday, but I’ve got some specific information that might help you with your specific ailment today.

Because here’s the deal: Improving your probiotic balance can ease or fix a lot of things, from improving digestive function, whether you have diarrhea, IBS, or inflammatory bowel disease to helping with the side effects of taking a course of antibiotics. Probiotics can help lower your lactose intolerance, treat acute infections, enhance your immune function, ease your depression and anxiety, decrease cancer risk, balance H. pylori or help treat ulcers. There is information out there that probiotics may help with obesity and metabolic syndrome, and help combat cholesterol or diabetes cases. And, it can help combat yeast and candida overgrowth. Whew! That takes care of a LOT of common ailments!

But it’s not a one-probiotic-fits-all situation. There are probably two dozen that are talked about frequently or in a lot of supplements and there are two to three that most people are familiar with. But there are thousands (!!!!) out there. So if you’ve tried probiotics to no avail, know that maybe it wasn’t the right strain. Or that just taking one strain might not be enough. It’s good to take combinations, and it’s important to have the right strain for the right condition.

The Seven Strains of Probiotics You Should Know:

1. Lactobacillus plantarum: Helpful for IBS symptoms

2. Lactobacillus bulgaricus: Eases lactose intolerance

3. Lactobacillus acidophilus: Relieves stomach issues such as ulcers and the like, plus diarrhea

4. Bifidobacterium longum: Really helpful for gas that people get from eating too many carbs

5. Bifidobacterium lactis Bb12: Helps with gestational diabetes or blood sugar levels related to being pregnant and helps with cholesterol levels

6. Bifidobacterium animalis DN173010: Helps with people struggle with dental cavities to reduce mouth bacteria

7. Saccharomyces boulardii: helps IBS, diarrhea, ulcerative colitis, and c diff (which is really amazing!)

Evaluating Your Probiotic
The most important thing to know about purchasing your probiotic is to make sure that it is aliiiiiiive. The point is to swallow live, good bacteria. If they’re dead, all the pills in the world won’t do you any good. Make sure you’re buying a refrigerated supplement—those will have the most live bacteria in it. As these bacteria sit on the shelf, they die off. If you do have access, make sure they’ve been transported correctly—meaning, they’ve been kept in cold storage after they were created and transported. Oftentimes, there’s no real way to know as consumer—unless you check the source of your probiotoics. Make sure to also check the expiration date, because the bacteria start dying the second they produce the supplement. That means that the closer you get to the expiration date, the more bacteria have died off. Keep it cold and fresh to get the best benefit from those hard-working bacteria!

Dosage
Make sure you’re getting the proper amount of good bacteria—there’s a lot of variation out there. A dosage of one billion or more is pretty common. But if you are taking something that purports to have 50-100 billion, it’s likely too concentrated of a solution and you may feel nauseated.

Then, use the guide above and make sure your supplement contains the strains that will help your specific condition. It’s best if you can use a probiotic supplement that has the technology to send the supplement through your stomach without getting broken down by the acid. This is often why you see probiotics added to yogurt, because it helps buffer the probiotic so it can reach your gut and do its job. Look for terms on the label like “controlled release capsule” or “beadlet” technology. This encloses the live bacteria so it can survive stomach acid.

Taking probiotics once—or, sometimes, twice—a day is more than enough. Taking it on empty stomach is best, but it’s hard for me personally remember to take something when my stomach is empty and I’m not about to eat. In that case try to remember to take it about 10 minutes before you eat, because then it is broken down by the time you sit down to eat.

To Note
If you are taking probiotics to combat diarrhea caused by antibiotics, take it two hours from taking the antibiotic for best benefits.

Don’t take your probiotics with hot coffee/tea or carbonated beverages, because it affects the probiotic’s effectiveness.

Storage
Put your probiotic supplements directly in fridge and keep them out of sunlight.