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A Probiotics Guide for First-Time Users

If you’re new to probiotics, you might be wondering if they’re worth your money. You’ve seen all the ads and you’re interested, but are they too good to be true? Here’s a quick probiotics guide to the benefits of having enough good microbes in your system, as well as some advice on how to make sure the product you buy lives up to its promises.
 

Are Probiotics That Great?

More than likely, you’ve done at least a little bit of research and know that probiotics are designed to help support the health of the digestive system. If you’ve already seen another probiotics guide, then you might also know that there’s a war going on inside your gut between beneficial and pathogenic, or harmful, microbes.

Trillions of microbes reside in the gut, and you need to make sure you have an ample supply of good ones. Otherwise, you might be at risk for a wide range of digestive problems. These include gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome and more. You might even face the risk of a compromised immune system, which could lead to many types of severe illnesses.

Probiotics help to make sure there’s a proper balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut. While you can get them from certain foods, such as sourdough bread, yogurt and sauerkraut, it would be nearly impossible to eat enough to get an ample supply of probiotics through diet alone. That’s why you should seriously consider purchasing a probiotic supplement. Most products come in capsule form, but they also come in drinks, powders and gummies.
 

Essential Probiotic Strains

There are many different kinds of beneficial bacterial strains found in probiotic supplements. For example, the Lactobacillus fermentum strain has been shown to help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with eczema, a condition that results in dry, itchy skin.1 The Lactobacillus bulgaricus strain helps the body properly digest lactose.2And not all beneficial microbes are bacteria. For example, a type of yeast known as Saccharomyces boulardii has been shown to be effective in helping reduce some of the symptoms associated with diarrhea.3
 

How to Make the Right Choice

There seems to be an almost unlimited number of probiotic products out there. Whether you buy them online or in a store, the choices can be overwhelming for some people. This probiotics guide, however, will help make your decision a lot easier.

Never buy any probiotic supplement without first taking a close look at the label, which will contain important clues regarding whether or not it will be worth your money. First, you need to make sure the label lists the ingredients found in the product – specifically, the kinds of bacteria and other beneficial microbes. If you don’t see any ingredient information, take that product out of consideration.

You should also look for the number of colony-forming units (CFUSs) that are in each serving of the product. The number of CFUs is basically the number of microbes you’ll be ingesting. The optimum number is anywhere between 15-30 billion CFUs. While there are some manufacturers who claim their products contain 500 billion CFUs or more per serving, they can be extremely expensive. And there’s not a lot of proof that they work any better than products with 15-30 billion CFUs.

Another critically important piece of information involves the viability of the microbes. If the label states that the microbes were viable where viable when the product was manufactured, scratch it off your list. The reason is that you’ll have no guarantee that the microbes will be alive when they enter your system. But if the label states that the microbes are viable until the expiration date, they will very likely be alive to do their jobs.
 

Stay on the Safe Side

No probiotics guide would be complete without recommending that you talk to your doctor before trying any sort of supplement. While probiotics are considered safe for people who are generally healthy, you might run into problems if you have any sort of intestinal issues or you have a weakened immune system. But no matter what your health may be, you should still get medical guidance.
 

Sources

1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1720555/pdf/v090p00892.pdf

2https://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT01593800

3https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8486328