Are you ready to address your digestive health, but you don’t know where to start? Supplementing with a probiotic is a good place to start, although choosing the right probiotic can be confusing. From selecting beneficial flora (the good bugs) to choosing the CFU count (CFU stands for colony-forming units and is the number of good bugs per capsule), there are a lot of things to consider. Here is what you should know about selecting a daily probiotic that supports gut health.

The importance of probiotics

The human digestive tract is filled with a diverse and complex community of bacteria and other microorganisms. This collection of bacteria, other microorganisms, and all of their genetic material is referred to as the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is responsible for several important functions in the body, including nutrient absorption, the elimination of waste, and proper immune function.

Although not all types of bacteria in the GI tract are good, in a healthy individual the types of good bacteria outnumber the bad. Various factors, such as a poor diet, can lead to an imbalance in the proportion of “good” to “bad” bacteria. This imbalance can lead to adverse health conditions, such as weight gain, constipation or diarrhea, and various chronic health conditions.

Probiotic supplements are made from live strains of beneficial bacteria or yeast. While some of these strains are identical to the microbes that normally live in the gut, some exert a beneficial effect in the GI tract even though they are not normal gut inhabitants.

Frequently asked questions when it comes to taking a probiotic 

1. What's the difference between a prebiotic and probiotic?

Prebiotics are types of fiber that feed the gut bacteria, thus increasing the population of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Probiotics are a variety of beneficial live organisms provided as a supplement or found in fermented foods such as yogurt. Probiotic supplements are usually comprised of gut-supportive bacteria and beneficial yeasts such as Saccharomyces boulardii. [Can we link to Amanda’s blog on Prebiotics vs. Probiotics?] 

2. Do probiotics need to be refrigerated?

Certain probiotics require refrigeration; however, that could be an indication of potential instability. Thorne’s probiotic supplements are provided in forms that are viable at room temperature and require no refrigeration.

3. Can my children take probiotics?

Dietary diversity plays a significant role in the health of our microbiome – the more diverse the diet, the more diverse the microbiome and the  health of the gut.Because most children’s diets lack the variety of foods that are present in an adult diet, children can benefit from taking a probiotic supplement.*

4. Can taking a probiotic help with weight management?

Studies demonstrate that lean individuals have different types of, and more diversity in, their GI microflora than do obese individuals.* This suggests that supplementing with a high-quality probiotic could support the effort to maintain a healthy weight.*

Which Thorne probiotic is right for me?

Probiotic supplements support your health in a variety of ways, although not all probiotics are the same, which means they don’t all have the same effect in your GI tract. To navigate the world of probiotics available to you, we have put together a list of common questions so you can find a probiotic best suited to your needs.

"I’m looking for a probiotic that helps manage occasional GI upset, such as intestinal cramping, gas, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation."

Thorne’s Bacillus Coagulans is an everyday, all-ages probiotic that promotes GI function and bowel regularity.* It’s ideal for those with occasional GI upset. Studies support its use for occasional intestinal cramping, gas, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation.2*

"I’m a frequent traveler and would like a probiotic that supports immune function."

From unfamiliar foods to disrupted sleep patterns, travel puts stress on an individual’s immune system and gut health. Thorne’s FloraSport 20B® is a unique blend of freeze-dried Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and two strains of Bifidobacterium lactis to help ward off traveler’s diarrhea and support good health under stressful situations.*

Each capsule contains 20 billion active cultures at time of expiration, which means the bacteria are not dying as they sit on the shelf. FloraSport is provided in individually-sealed blister-packs for humidity and temperature control, making them a perfect supplement to toss in your suitcase.

"I’m looking for a probiotic to support me during allergy season."

Thorne’s FloraMend Prime Probiotic® contains a stable probiotic blend of three bacterial strains that provide a wide variety of health benefits, including support for individuals with seasonal allergies.*

"I’m currently using antibiotics and I’m worried about their impact on my gut flora."

Thorne’s newest probiotic, FloraPro-LP Probiotic®, is ideal for individuals currently taking an antibiotic or who have taken one recently.* A study shows this strain of Lactobacillus plantarum is not destroyed by antibiotics.3

"I’m a professional athlete looking to support the high demands placed on my gut due to training and competition." 

FloraSport 20B, which is NSF Certified for Sport®, is an ideal probiotic blend for athletes. The specific strains support the digestive tract and immune function of individuals under stress.* Because this product is provided in individually-sealed blister-packs, it is a convenient way to supplement on the go.

"I’m looking for a probiotic for my child who gets occasional diarrhea."

Thorne’s Sacro-B contains Saccharomyces boulardii, a yeast species that enhances immune function in the gut by increasing sIgA, the first-line defense immunoglobulin of the gastrointestinal tract.* It can be beneficial for occasional diarrhea.*

"I’m looking for a probiotic to assist in weight management support."

For adults looking for support with weight management, Thorne’s FloraMend Prime Probiotic is an ideal choice. This proprietary blend contains Lactobacillus gasseri, which has been shown to improve body mass index and waist circumference.*

To find out what makes your gut tick, check out Gutbio™, an easy, at-home test that uses cutting-edge microbiome sequencing and artificial intelligence to decode the perplexity of your gut and bring you answers. All from a simple home test


References

  1. Heiman M, Greenway F. A healthy gastrointestinal microbiome is dependent on dietary diversity. Mol Metab 2016; 5(5):317-320.
  2. Majeed M, Nagabhushanam K, Natarajan S, et al. Bacillus coagulans MTCC 5856 supplementation. . . : a double blind randomized placebo controlled pilot clinical study. Nutr J 2016 Feb 27;15:21. doi: 10.1186/s12937-016-0140-6
  3. Antibiotic resistance profile analyzed by Minimal Inhibitory Concentration (MIC) testing.