Probiotics are becoming more important every day. What people usually don’t understand is that probiotics have been around for many years, they were just not as glamorized prior to the 1990’s.
Probiotics literally are just live bacterial cultures, or live yeast cultures that are present naturally in many foods and drinks. Now, since probiotics have become so popular, not only among celebrities, but also among everyday people, these probiotics have been supplemented and placed in almost every food and drink you can think of today.
In this article, we are going to get to the bottom of the probiotic’s popularity.We will look at the different reviews of probiotics, and determine which probiotics are worth taking, and which one’s claim more than they’re worth.
First, let’s take a look at what probiotics actually are, and why there is such hype concerning these little bacteria and yeast.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are classified as the good bacteria. First of all, let’s look back as to why on Earth one would want to add bacteria into their diet. The digestive tract begins at the mouth, and ends at the anus. In between, there are several parts; however, the main organs that we are concerned with are the large intestine and the small intestine. The large intestine and the small intestine are approximately 25 feet in length; give or take a few feet. These intestines, both large and small, are covered in bacteria.
Bacteria colonize in both the small intestines and the large intestines; so much that there are billions if not trillions of bacteria growing and living in these organs. Don’t worry, this is normal. Not all the bacteria living and growing in the intestines are bad. There are good bacteria that colonize and live in the intestines as well. What makes the digestive system function properly is having a balance between the good bacteria that colonize the gut, and the bad bacteria that colonize the gut.
What happens when this balance between good and bad bacteria gets disrupted is, the individual starts to notice disruption in his or her gastrointestinal system. Therefore, the goal is to maintain a balance between the good bacteria and the bad bacteria so that the gastrointestinal system remains functional. Being able to maintain that balance, every day, all the time is impossible. Therefore, when daily life disrupts that balance of good and bad bacteria, then the addition of probiotics into one’s diet can really be beneficial.
What Determines If A Probiotic Is Worth My Time?
There are a few things that help an individual determine if probiotics are worth the extra effort to supplement into one’s diet. A few key things that I find very imperative in determining if probiotics live up to their claims include the following:
One, a variety of bacterial or yeast strains; Two, the number of Colony Forming Units present; Three, are the probiotics enteric coated?
Another key thing that I believe does have some impact on the benefits that the probiotic claims to provide is that these probiotics are regulated by a third-party agency.
Third party agencies tests the product and verifies the claims made by these probiotic supplements.
The first key item is to make sure that the probiotic has a variety of bacterial or yeast strains. In order to have a probiotic that will actually provide the benefits they claim, there must be a variety of strains that are able to perform various tasks in the gastrointestinal tract. There are different products on the grocery store shelf that say they are the best probiotic on the market. However, it is imperative to research these products and first and foremost make sure they contain more than one strain of bacteria or yeast. Once you have found a product that has a variety of probiotic bacterial and/or yeast strains; you can now move on to the next important item in the selection process.
The next key in the selection process is to ask yourself, “How many Colony Forming Units are in this product?” Once you have asked this question, it is imperative to know the right answer to that question.
Most research has proven that there must be at least 20 billion Colony Forming Units present in a probiotic culture in order to offer the benefits that have been proven. Therefore, those products that are on the market, that state they provide these wonderful wellness benefits; but only have a few Colony Forming Units; you are more than likely being duped. Please, make sure that there are billions of Colony Forming Units present in the probiotic you choose in order to reap the benefits associated with the probiotics.
Finally, one other main key point to choosing the correct probiotic; and even arguably the most important component is that the supplement be enteric coated. You may ask, “What does enteric coating mean?” Enteric coating just means that there is a coating on the supplement that can withstand the harsh environment of the gut. It is imperative to understand that no matter how many bacterial strains, or yeast strains are present if they cannot withstand the acidic environment of the gut. The bacteria or yeast will die and offer no beneficial value.
No matter how many Colony Forming Units are present, if there is no enteric coating then the bacteria or yeast will not survive. Therefore, as you can see it is imperative that the probiotic must be enteric coated in order to survive the harsh environments of the gut. Enteric coating is key, and thus will allow the probiotic to reach its destination and provide the benefits that have been proven.
One final key component, that doesn’t necessarily have a direct relationship with the benefits that the probiotics will be able to offer; but does offer some added information is to make sure that the probiotic is regulated by a third-party agency. A third-party agency that has researched the probiotic can be a benefit to the consumer when choosing a specific probiotic. Knowing that specific research has been done on these probiotics, that have proven the claims associated with these specific probiotics then it can help the consumer to understand that the claims and benefits made by these probiotics have been verified.
After reviewing all the above information, one can determine there are key items to look for when choosing the specific probiotic that will offer the best benefits.
There are many products on the market that use probiotics and their benefits as their marketing tool. However, you must do your due diligence and make sure that the appropriate research goes into selecting the probiotic that will offer the highest benefits.
Key Components In Choosing A Probiotic: Multiple strains of bacteria and/or yeast, at least 20 billion Colony Forming Units, and that the probiotic supplement is enteric coated.
Now that we have established these key components in determining which probiotic will offer the most benefits.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common sources of probiotics and determine if they are worth your time and money.
Common Sources Of Probiotics Are They Worth Your Time?
The first and most common food source of probiotics that have been marketed includes yogurt. It is important to remember that now all yogurt is created equal. Different brands of yogurt offer different varieties and benefits.
There are many different brands of yogurt that are on the grocery shelves and indicate that they offer a variety of bacterial and yeast strains, and that they will provide the best benefits. I don’t want to endorse one brand of yogurt and criticize another brand of yogurt. So I am just going to provide you with some general information so that you as the consumer can make the most educated and researched decision.
One popular yogurt brand claims they offer probiotics added to their yogurt and that it will provide you with so many benefits. However, if we look at the key elements that we have established are the key to receiving the benefits of these probiotics, we will notice they fall quite short. This popular yogurt brand only has two strains of bacterial cultures in their yogurt. So, at least it offers a little variety. More than one bacterial strain helps a little. However, when we do a little more research we will learn there are only 1 billion Colony Forming Units in the yogurt; and it doesn’t even tell us if these CFU’s make it through the digestive tract.
Finally, we don’t know if these bacterial strains are able to handle the harsh environment of the gastrointestinal tract because we have not been notified if they are enteric coated. Therefore, by the standards we have set to determine if this specific yogurt offers the probiotics that will in turn result in the benefits that are so often claimed.
We have found in many cases yogurt to be a feel good food, and not a source of probiotic benefits as claimed. Like I said before; however, not all yogurts are created equal.
So when looking at a variety of yogurts in the grocery store, make sure they include the following: enteric coating, at least 20 billion Colony Forming Units, and a variety of bacterial and or yeast strains.
Yogurt: Most yogurts claim to include the appropriate amount of probiotics to offer significant benefits. However, make sure you do your research because most yogurt’s will not have the threshold of strains, CFU’s, and enteric coating that is required to receive the benefits associated with probiotics.
Other Sources Of Probiotics Include:
Other probiotic sources can range from foods to supplements. For every one type of food there is a ton of manufacturer’s that produce the same products that claim to offer superior benefits. Therefore, as a consumer it is imperative that we take responsibility and look hard to sift through the products on the market. We can then make an educated and researched decision on which probiotic will offer the greatest benefits.
There are many supplements that also indicate they have a variety of bacterial or yeast strains that can survive through the harsh intestinal system. However, just because a specific claim is made, it doesn’t mean that it is true. It is up to us as consumers, to make sure the claims are verified.
Probiotics In Foods:
- Apple Cider Vinegar
These are just a few of the foods and drinks that have supplemented probiotics.
As discussed prior there are many marketing tools used to convince the consumer that these are the best products that offer the best benefits.
To Wrap It All Up
Looking back at the article, it is imperative that some key elements are taken away in order to make sure that when choosing a probiotic, you, as a consumer, are looking for the correct items.
Probiotics are a very general term, and are supplemented into many foods and medications.
It is imperative to receive the benefits associated with these probiotics that you as a consumer perform your due diligence and choose the correct probiotic based on the information provided.
In order to determine which probiotic will offer the best benefits we must look at how many Colony Forming Units are present.
We must also determine how many bacterial or yeast strains are present. Finally, we must make sure which probiotic supplements are enteric coated.
Questions To Ask When Determining Which Probiotics Are The Correct Choice?
- How many Colony Forming Units are present in the probiotic culture?
- Is there a variety of Bacterial and/or Yeast strains in the probiotic culture?
- Are the Bacterial and/or Yeast strains Live in the probiotic culture?
- Are the probiotic supplements enteric coated, so that they can handle the harsh environment of the gastrointestinal system?
If you are able to ask yourself, the above questions and are able to interpret the results, then you will be able to choose the probiotic that will offer the most promising benefits possible.