2017 Consumer Survey's Probiotic Guide
Constipation? Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Bloating? Diarrhea? Discover the Best Probiotics Supplements on the Market Today.Updated 01/17/2017
In December 2014, Forbes Magazine predicted that 2015 would be the "year of the microbiome." Here we are, going into 2017, and we cannot escape hearing about the trillions of bacteria residing in our stomach, mouth, and skin - the human microbiome.
Today, the main way people are improving their gut's health is with a highly effective probiotic supplement.
As the tidal wave of probiotic information continues to hit the shores, people who are being introduced to gut flora are left stranded and confused.
Consumer Survey Research Group has gathered months of research in this competitive category. This guide will help you find out what you need to know when selecting an effective probiotic supplement and how we chose our top 3.
Probiotics 101 - The Basic Terminology
Whether you are new to probiotics or you've heard it all before the terminology associated with probiotics can be somewhat overwhelming. Below are some definitions and explanations of terms used when people talk about probiotics.
Gut Microbiome, Gut Flora, and Gut Microbiota can be used interchangeably and are terms used to describe the complex community of microorganisms (bacteria) that live symbiotically in your digestive track.
Bacterium or Bacteria are unicellular microorganisms that have a simple structure, they often aggregate in colonies, and can thrive in various environments. The human gut contains 100-trillion (about 3 pounds worth) of good and bad bacteria, aka your gut microbiome.
Probiotics, according to the World Health Organization are, "live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host." Probiotics are beneficial bacteria your body uses.
Prebiotics, are a special form of dietary fiber that act as a fertilizer for good bacteria (probiotics). They are, in essence, an energy source for probiotics. Prebiotics can be found in fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber and in NutraFlora. When it comes down to it, prebiotics are to probiotics like gas is to your car. Without gas, your car isn't going to start, without prebiotics, the probiotics you consume won't be able to flourish.
NutraFlora, is a highly effective prebiotic found in fruits, vegetables, and grains.
Colony-Forming Units, CFUs are a microbiological term that describes the density of viable bacteria in a product. In other words, the CFUs tells you how rich in probiotics a food actually is -- and how much will be available to your body.
Genus, Species, Strains, and Substrains, bacteria are given names based on their genus, species, strains and finally their substrain. The first word of the bacteria is the genus, the largest group the bacteria belongs to. The different types of bacteria is known as the species while the last part of the bacteria's name is the specific stran. The substrain is the third part of the bacteria's name, it properly attributes the strain's clinical study and ensures the validity of it's benefits.
Example: Lactobacillus Acidophilus La-14TM
Now that you have a better, overall understanding of probiotics, let's take a look at some of the reasons why you need to incorporate probiotics into your life.
Is Your Gut Microbiome Out of Balance?
It's not as obvious as a runny nose or an uncontrollable cough, but there are several signs of an out of balance microbiome.
The balancing act of your gut flora is not as complicated as it seems. You want to limit the bad bacteria by increasing your good bacteria by supplementing with probiotics and encouraging them to flourish with prebiotics.
Your microbiome may be out of balance if...
You are experiencing digestive issues
Many doctors prescribe antacids for stomach or digestive issues but the root cause of the problem is most likely an out-of-balance microbiome.
- Digestive issues include but are not limited to: Gas, Bloating, Heartburn, Diarrhea, Constipation, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
You are experiencing mental issues
You might not think an out of balance microbiome causes mental issues, but studies suggest that your gut bacteria produces neurotransmitters. Scientist are studying people with certain mental disorders and look for disturbances in their microbiome.
- Mental issues include but are not limited to: Depression, Anxiety, Brain Fog, OCD, and Autism
You are deficient in minerals and vitamins
The good bacteria in your belly produces and synthesizes minerals and vitamins. Having a deficiency may be caused by and out-of-balance gut microbiome.
- Mineral and vitamin issues include but are not limited to: Vitamin D, Vitamin K, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B7 and magnesium.
You are experiencing skin issues
The cause of skin conditions is not necessarily your skin, it can be caused from an out-of-balance gut microbiome
- Skin issues include but are not limited to: Acne, Rosacea, Psoriasis, Eczema
Having an unbalanced gut microbiome may be the leading cause of several health issues. Choosing the right probiotic supplement is imperative to solving several of your health issues.
What You Need to Look for in a Good Probiotic:
Number of CFUs
The number of Colony-Forming Units has seen a gradual increase in dosage over the past several years. This is because of the improvements in the development of probiotics. Since our microbiome is composed of about 100-trillion good and bad bacteria, a high dose of probiotics or high number of CFUs, will have a greater impact on the growth of beneficial bacteria within your gut flora.
The average CFUs in probiotic drinks is around one billion you can find up to 20 billion if you're willing to pay for it.There is no specifically recommended dose of CFUs. But do the math, if your gut flora contains over 100 trillion bacteria and you're intaking one billion probiotic CFUs that's a whopping 0.001% of beneficial bacteria. Doesn't seem like much, does it?
Consistently taking a probiotic supplement with at least 40 billion CFUs per serving will help ensure a positive balance between the good and bad bacteria in you microbiome.
You want a probiotic with a comprehensive approach to restoring the balance in your gut bacteria. This will leave you with a healthier gut microbiome. Your gut contains 30-40 different types of probiotic strains and your body has over 500 - so the more good strains you add the merrier. If you have a particular problem you're trying to solve make sure you choose a probiotic with the specific strain that will help you. Many probiotic strains specifically target a certain type of bad bacteria.
Make sure the probiotic formula has a diverse set of strains (9+) for the most comprehensive approach to your digestive and immune health.
Substrains are listed next to each strain, they indicate that a specific probiotic strain has undergone clinical studies. Probiotic formulations that do not list their specific substrains raise a big red flag. If a substrain is not listed, it means that they could be using generic (often cheaper) forms of the strain which in terms means that they have not been clinically studied or proven.
Here is an example of a probiotic strain listed with its substrain to the right: Lactobacillus Acidophilus La-14TM
It's important to find a probiotic supplement that lists the substrains to ensure its credibility. Avoid generic strains and stick with clinically studied, trademarked strains that are proven to be effective.
Probiotics that use fiber based prebiotics like NutraFlora Fiber nourish good bacteria. It is important to to keep probiotics strong and healthy. The good bacteria in your colon thrive on prebiotics, a non-digestible carbohydrate that stimulates the growth of probiotics in your intestines. Remember, prebiotics are to probiotics like gas is to a car. Without prebiotics, the probiotics you consume won't be able to flourish. Prebiotics significantly increase the effectiveness of probiotics.
Ideally, you want a probiotic formula to contain at least 75 mg of prebiotics.
These products could be damaged during shipping. Also, you're not always going to have access to a refrigerator so you'll want to choose a probiotic that is formulated to withstand room temperature and does not require being refrigerated.
The Importance of Multiple Strains
The number of bacteria in our microbiome is massive, so are the different types of species and strands that make it up.
Purchasing probiotic supplements with a variety of strains is more beneficial than purchasing one with fewer types. Your overall health will increase when you introduce multiple types of probiotic strains into your system.
Some brands contain only a single strain and others can offer up to 20 different strains. Scientist say the more strands you intake the better you can control the overgrowth of bad bacteria. It's really about finding out the best combination that works for you.
Below is a list of the top-researched strains currently in use and how they are used to combat particular problems.
Top Strains By Category:
- L. acidophilus. This strain boosts the treatment of respiratory infections, helps relieve IBS, decreases the frequency of yeast infections, reduces the growth of pathogens in the digestive tract and produces lactase which helps break down the sugar in milk.
- L. casei. This assists with digestion issues including Crohn's disease, ulcers and other gastrointestinal problems.
- L. plantarum. Plantarum helps treat IBS, Crohn's disease and colitis. It preserves critical nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants.
- L. salivarius. Salivarius makes enzymes that kill bad bacteria, including the kind that causes bad breath. It also helps with flatulence and bloating.
- B. longum. This strain pauses bad microbes and prevents them from growing. Longum also breaks down carbohydrates and reduces the symptoms of seasonal allergies.
- Bacillus Coagulans. This helps to stop the growth of bad bacteria. It also prevents various digestive issues (IBS, diarrhea in both children and adults and stomach ulcers).
- L. rhamnosus. This strain aids in the prevention of urinary tract infections (UTI), especially those caused by antibiotics. It also helps to build the immune system, assists in digestion of dairy products and helps to fight intestinal tract illnesses.
- B. lactis. This increases immune function, helps to fight off infections, makes faster recovery times possible and helps to prevent diarrhea in both adults and children.
- B. bifidum. Bifidum helps to stop the increase of bad bacteria, heightens the immune system and aids in the digestion process, specifically of dairy products.
- L. bulgaricus. Bulgaricus works in your intestinal lining as an enforcer by getting rid of any toxins. This strain also creates its own natural antibiotics.
- L. gasseri. A number of clinical trials and studies have shown gasseri reduces abdominal fat and supports weight loss. This also helps with easing the pain of menstruation. It can also assist in lowering cholesterol.
Top 3 Probiotic Supplements
We've compiled this list after testing and trying over 60 different probiotic supplements for potency.
The Probiotics We Tested
- 1MD Complete Probiotics Platinum
- Align Probiotic Supplement
- Advanced Probiotics
- Bifidus Best Advanced Probiotic
- Probiotic-40 Supplement
- Nexabiotic Probiotic
- Bio K Plus Acidophilus Capsules
- BIOPRO-50 Ultimate Probiotic
- Bioprotics Probiotic
- Pro-X10 Probiotics
- Bowtrol Probiotics
- Culturelle Probiotics
- Digestive Advantage Probiotics
- Dr. Axe Probiotics
- Probium Probiotics Multi Blend 12B
1MD is our number one rated Probiotic Supplement, here's why:
- Contains 50 billion live cultures in each serving
- 11 robust strains, selected specifically to assist with acid and bile resistance
- Endorsed by a medical physician specializing in digestive health
- Each Strain lists its substrain that has been clinically studied.
- Each vegetarian capsule is specially designed to resist stomach acid, which securely delivers the probiotics to the intestinal tract
- NutraFlora Fiber is included to aid in the growth of the Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli strains
- Take only one capsule per day for full serving
- Has no synthetic fillers or binders making it completely all-natural
|4.5 out of 5 stars|
LiveWell Pro45 Probiotics is the Consumer Survey #2 probiotic supplement. Here’s why:
- Contains 45 billion cultures
- Contains 11 robust clinically studied strains
- Uses vegetarian, delayed release capsules
- Contains NutraFlora Fiber a prebiotic used to nourish probiotics
- Does not require refrigeration
- Is not endorsed by a doctor
- Made in the U.S.A
- Offers a risk-free 365 day money-back guarantee
|4.8 out of 5 Stars|
Align Probiotic Supplement is our number 3 probiotic supplement, here's why:
- Product is from popular, well-trusted health brand Meta
- Contains only one billion cultures
- Uses the strain bifidobacterium infantis (unfortunately that's the only one used)
- Does not contain a fiber to help aid in the growth and stability of the live cultures
- Can be stored at room temperature
- Offers a limited 60 day money-back guarantee
- Contains multiple synthetic fillers
|3.63 out of 5 Stars|
P.S. While 1MD is the best probiotic supplement we've found, we would still love to hear about any others you've tried. If you have had a great experience of your own, please send me an email at Katie@ConsumersSurvey.org with the details.