Major new research identifies the most effective probiotics
The explosion of interest in probiotics follows major new research on the role of the microbiome and microbiota – the colonies of bacteria that live in our intestines.
The make-up of the microbes that live in your gut is crucial to your health. Of particular importance is the balance between harmful or pathogenic bacteria (there are always some) and beneficial probiotics or ‘friendly’ bacteria.
Benefits of taking effective probiotics
We now know that creating the right balance by taking effective probiotics can:
- Improve immune function – since some 70% of immune health is regulated by the gut
- Address candida and yeast infections
- Replace beneficial bacteria inevitably killed off during a course of antibiotics
- Increase the gut’s ability, in older people, to extract nutrients from food
- Address inflammatory conditions like IBS
- Prevent gastric illness and diarrhoea when travelling
- Reduce constipation
In addition, there is evidence that probiotics may:
- Help reduce depression
- Help reduce the risk of cancer – because probiotics convert dietary fibre into a fatty acid called butyrate which is cancer protective
- Possibly help you lose weight
There is even a recent report in a recent issue of the peer-reviewed Science magazine that improving the range and balance of probiotics in the gut can improve the outcome of immunotherapy in cancer patients.
Different probiotics have different benefits
Research shows that different strains of probiotic bacteria live in different areas of the intestine and deliver different health benefits. And only some are hardy enough to survive the acidity of the stomach, where they can then colonise and start to take effect.
Therefore, a supplement with just one strain will not give you broad enough benefits. And you need to choose strains that do reach the intestines.
You need billions of bacteria of various strains
Studies also show that you need sufficient numbers of probiotics to make a noticeable difference. Probiotic supplements are measured in CFUs – Colony Forming Units.
Research suggests you need a supplement of at least 7 billion units per capsule – with multiple strains that work synergistically.
Even more than this of any particular strain is not necessarily better, as long as they are the right strains.
What are the best strains?
It depends on what problems you want to address. The following list of strains and conditions is assembled from over 150 clinical studies, and our final conclusion is that you should take a probiotic supplement that contains most of the strains.
The Latin names given to probiotic strains are frankly confusing and not easy to remember. So our assessment of the best combination – based on the referenced research – is given at the end of this article.
Probiotic strains which improve immunity
There is very good evidence that a probiotic with enough CFUs of hardy strains can improve the balance of your gut bacteria. More ‘friendly’ bacteria crowd out the pathogenic or disease-causing bacteria. That then increases your immune defence against infections, allergies and even incipient cancer cells.
Strains that appear especially potent in immune boosting include:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS1
- Bacillus coagulans
- Bifidobacterium lactis
- Bifidobacterium longum
- Lactobacillus plantarum.
These strains have been shown to help reduce respiratory illnesses and inflammation generally. In one study, reported in the American College of Nutrition, older patients were supplemented with a combination of Bifidobacterium lactis, Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus gasseri – or a placebo.
After taking the probiotic supplements for three weeks, their inflammatory markers decreased and gut bacteria balances became more like those of young, healthy people.
Relieving candida and yeast infections and reducing fatigue
There are many factors that can upset the delicate balance of microbes and lead to an overgrowth of harmful microflora such as yeast. This can be an especially common problem for women.
The various Lactobacillus probiotic species produce natural disinfectants that help maintain both an optimal pH and a healthy balance of beneficial microorganisms in the vagina. They achieve this by helping exclude harmful bacteria and other pathogens.
Canadian research with Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus reuteri showed that daily probiotic therapy is both safe and effective at changing the vaginal microflora from a pathogen-friendly environment to a pathogen-resistant one. The result was to help clear yeast infections. This had excellent results for female health generally and reduced fatigue.
Reduced stress, depression and anxiety
The connection between gut and brain health is strong – there is a two-way communication path between them.
The bacteria in your gut feed on fibre and ferment it into a fatty acid called butyrate. Butyrate improves mineral and fat absorption and also exerts a strong anti-inflammatory effect, so it is not surprising that it is associated with several important health benefits.
These include a reduction in the risk of colorectal cancer, of colitis, of heart disease and improved brain health – because inflammation is a driver of all these apparently diverse conditions.
Studies using the probiotic strains of Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium infantis, Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus rhamnosus have shown a reduction in inflammation within brain neurons. This in turn led to a significant (-48%) reduction in stress, anxiety and depression. Other studies even suggest some possible memory improvement.
Improved heart health
The indirect anti-inflammatory benefit of probiotics explains why certain probiotics may help reduce the risk of heart disease. But they can have another positive effect. Certain strains appear to lower LDL – the ‘bad’ cholesterol – in studies. They include Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactobacillus plantarum.
IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) symptom alleviation
IBS is, of course, an inflammatory illness which can manifest itself as bloating and abdominal pain. A combination of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus strains appears the most effective.
Probiotics that are shown to relieve constipation include L. acidophilus, L. plantarum and L. rhamnosus.
Diarrhoea treatment and risk reduction
Probiotics that reduce the risk of diarrhoea (which can often follow a course of antibiotics) include Lactobacillus rhamnosus, B. coagulans, and Lactobacillus acidophilus.
Improving the rate of weight loss
Probiotic strains improve the balance of gut bacteria and some studies show they may reduce the amount of fat your gut absorbs.
In one three-week study, women taking L rhamnosus lost twice as much weight as those on a placebo – and they continued to lose weight afterwards.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus gasseri and especially the combination of Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium lactis appear the best strains if you want to improve the effectiveness of a diet – but they can improve the rate of weight loss only in combination with calorie reduction.
Summary – the best probiotics
One point often overlooked is that probiotics are live and need to feed if they are to colonise the gut. Their ‘food’ is prebiotic insoluble fibre.
So an effective probiotic should include some prebiotics as an initial food source. You then should further help them to establish themselves by ensuring you have enough fibre in your diet. That comes from vegetables, fruits, beans, oats, whole grains and pulses.
Of course, adding probiotic-rich foods to your diet is also important. These include sauerkraut, live yoghurts, leeks, asparagus, onions and kefir.
So based on this analysis – how do you choose the best probiotic supplement? We conclude it must be multi-strain, and contain at least 7 billion probiotics per capsule in an ideal combination of:
Lactobacillus acidophilus – improves nutrient absorption generally and digestion of dairy in particular. Improves immune health, creates a natural internal antibiotic compound and confers heart health benefits. The strain DDS1, developed at Nebraska University is especially hardy.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus – the ‘travel’ probiotic helps prevent diarrhoea and sickness, helps reduce inflammation, fights yeast infection and candida.
Bacillus coagulans – for reduced inflammation, improved cholesterol levels, improved digestion, and vaginal health. The endospore strain ProDura is very hardy and proven to colonise effectively.
Bifidobacterium lactis – better immune health, helps reduce inflammation and anxiety. Possible weight loss aid in combination with L. rhamnosus.
Lactobacillus casei – improves bowel regularity and digestion, inhibits toxic bacteria, helps reduce IBS symptoms.
Lactobacillus plantarum – benefits include reduced inflammation, including neuron (brain cell) inflammation and improved mood. Fights yeast infections and candida. Helps stop diarrhoea.
Streptococcus thermophilus (also known as Streptococcus salivarius thermophilus) – general improvements to gastro-intestinal health and immunity by stimulating production of immune cells that fight pathogens like C.difficile. Improved skin tone.
The above strains, in combination, will help crowd out harmful bacteria, improve digestion, reduce yeast infections and have a general beneficial anti-inflammatory effect.
A new combination probiotic supplement
It is on the basis of this analysis, conducted over 5 years of research, that we have created a new probiotic supplement called MicroBiotic Plus.
MicroBiotic Plus comes with a money back guarantee that you will be happy with the results. New encapsulation technology means it can be stored at room temperature with a guaranteed shelf life of at least two years.
Our customers have told us that it works better than most they have tried and they report health benefits that include better digestion and help in normalising blood pressure.
If you are concerned about any of the health issues we have discussed, we invite you to go to MicroBiotic Plus product now.
A unique blend of 7.5 billion probiotic good bacteria with resistant plant prebiotics in an easy-to-take vegan capsule.
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