Probiotic supplements contain friendly bacteria that help in improving one’s digestive health. If you don’t know how to choose a probiotic supplement, scroll down to find out the things you need to consider while buying these supplements.
Bacteria are one of the most common disease causing agents, but not all strains of bacteria cause harm to the body. In fact, there are certain bacteria that are essential for maintaining good digestive health. There are various strains of friendly bacteria that are present in the gastrointestinal tract. Out of these, Lactobacillus acidophilus is one of the most well-known friendly bacteria that is extremely essential for the proper functioning of the digestive system.
Unlike the harmful bacteria that give rise to pathogenic infections, these friendly bacteria help in preventing digestive problems. While some of the food items are known to help in restoring the microbial balance of the intestines, one can also take probiotic supplements for the same purpose. Since the market is flooded with various supplements, the consumers often feel confused as to how to choose a probiotic supplement. Well, if you are planning to buy a supplement to replenish the body’s supply of beneficial bacteria, here’s some information on how you could choose the best probiotic supplement.
The Need for Probiotic Supplementation
As mentioned earlier, the beneficial bacteria perform the function of inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria. However, under certain circumstances, the natural balance of microflora may get disturbed. One of the most common causes of imbalance is the prolonged use of antibiotics. Doctors recommend the use of antibiotics for the treatment of bacterial infections. Though antibiotics are used for killing the harmful bacteria and preventing them from multiplying further, unfortunately, these drugs also kill the friendly bacteria in the process.
Unhealthy dietary habits, alcohol abuse and stress are some of the other factors that may contribute to the imbalance. When the numbers of the friendly bacteria decrease, one may become susceptible to various diseases. For instance, candidiasis is a yeast infection that may occur as a result of microbial imbalance. The best way to restore the balance would be to include probiotic foods to one’s diet. Those who suffer from yeast infections, irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel diseases may also benefit by using probiotic supplements.
Choosing a Probiotic Supplement
Though markets are flooded with various brands that claim to be very effective in restoring the microbial balance in the intestines, one needs to keep a few aspects in mind while buying a probiotic supplement.
Number of Strains
If you take a look at the labels of the different types of probiotic supplements that are on offer, you will see supplements that have single, dual or multi-species formula. The intestines consist of more than four hundred species of friendly bacteria that aid in the process of digestion, and facilitate assimilation of the nutrients. Out of these, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidus regularis are well-known.
No wonder, you will find single-species formula that contain either of this friendly bacterium. You may also find supplements with Acidophilus-bifidus. This is a dual-species formula, that contains the two well-known strains of friendly bacteria. You must therefore check the label, and consult your health care provider regarding the formula that may be the best for you.
While the manufacturers may make tall claims, there is a need to find out about the brands that offer good quality supplements. You must therefore, check out the reviews so as to get an idea about the best probiotic supplement for children and adults. For making these supplements, bacteria are cultured and various processes need to be performed. These processes need to be performed in a right manner so that these bacteria stay in a form that will produce the required biological activity after ingestion. One must look for a reputed brand that is trusted and one can be assured that no compromises are made, when it comes to the quality.
Number of Living Cells
Another aspect that must be considered while choosing a probiotic supplement is the number of living cells or organisms that are present in one dose. The number of active cells could range from a billion to fifty billion in a capsule or a serving. The higher the number, the better would be the effect. One must also buy a supplement that has an enteric coating. It is believed that this coating may help the bacteria to survive in the acidic environment of the stomach.
Probiotics are available in the form of enteric coated capsules. They are also available in the liquid or powdered form. Since probiotic supplements are temperature sensitive, and the bacteria survive better in cold temperatures, it would be best to keep them refrigerated. The liquid ones must be refrigerated, so it would be best to use capsules when you are traveling. You can also look for a brand that offers supplements that stay stable at room temperature.
Probiotic supplementation can certainly help in preventing digestive disorders that may occur due to microbial imbalance in the digestive tract, but one must first identify the reputed probiotic brands that offer good quality supplements. Since a prolonged use of antibiotics may cause a decrease in the numbers of good bacteria, it would be best to take these supplements along with antibiotics. This way you can maintain the microbial balance in the intestines. One must also improve one’s dietary habits in order to prevent digestive problems that may occur due to microbial imbalance.