What are Prebiotics and Probiotics?
Probiotics are living strains of bacteria that add to the population of good bacteria in the digestive tract. These live with bad bacteria in a colonic community called the gut microbiota. It is important to have a thriving community of bacteria colonies to aide digestion, strengthen immune health, and fight off the bad bacteria. It is important to take probiotic supplements regularly to maintain a healthy microbiota. There are many digestive issues that can arise if the microbiome is knocked out of homeostasis. It is also important to take probiotics after finishing a round of antibiotics. This is because antibiotics do not target specific bacteria but wipe out all bacteria, good and bad. Taking a probiotic helps replace the good bacteria before the bad bacteria can come back and take over.
Prebiotics are plant fibers that serve as food for the probiotics to stimulate bacterial growth and help the probiotics work more effectively. Some supplements contain these prebiotics with the probiotics and some do not contain the prebiotics so they can be taken separately.
What Probiotic Supplement is right for you?
There are many pro/prebiotics on the market right now, so it can be hard to know what is the right one for you. A few checkpoints that everyone should look at before choosing their probiotic. First, check how many diverse strains are in the supplement. Supplements with more diverse strains can help replace different bacteria that you may need. Next, check the CFUs, or the colony forming units. This is how many colonies of bacteria are actually living in each supplement. More colonies means more effective growth in the digestive tract.
If you are looking for a probiotic supplement that targets specific groups of people like those over 50, prostate support, or vaginal care, it is important to research which strains of bacteria will help you the best. This can vary in supplements, but the strains are found on the packing or bottle to ensure you are using the right probiotic. For general probiotic supplemental needs, most contain strains like Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces boulardii. These are the most researched and most commonly found strains.
The most important thing to check on a probiotic supplement is the brand. These supplements are not regulated by any national agency like the FDA, so there the quality of probiotics are not controlled. So, it is crucial to only buy from reputable brands that you can trust. A few include (but are not limited to) Vital Flora, Primal Defense, Garden of Life, and Renew Life.
Found below are some of our top picks for probiotic supplements!
- Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics Once Daily Ultra
- Garden of Life Primal Defense Ultra Probiotic
- Garden of Life Raw Probiotics Vaginal Care
- Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotic Prostate+