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How do I decide which are the Best probiotics?


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What are Probiotics?

'Pro' means For and 'Biotic' means Life. Probiotics are live microbes which confer a beneficial effect onto the host.

Our gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) contains around 500 different species of bacteria called Intestinal Micro flora. These bacteria can be broken down into two main types - Good Bacteria and Bad Bacteria.

The main purpose of the good bacteria is to absorb food and protect us against disease. The bad bacteria, meanwhile, cause intestinal distress and negatively affect digestion. In a healthy GI tract, the good bacteria, far outweigh the bad. However, factors such as stress, illness, antibiotics, diet and ageing can destroy the good bacteria and allow the bad bacteria to flourish. This affects how your GI tract functions and leads to health problems. probiotics to the rescue.

One of the most effective methods of restoring good bacteria to the GI tract is to take probiotics. When the probiotic is ingested, the millions of live healthy bacteria will attach themselves to the gastrointestinal tract. Once attached the probiotics will begin to function, nourishing the intestinal walls, boosting our immunity, generating vitamins and helping with the absorption of food.

Probiotics can help with a variety of conditions and protect us from disease

Taking probiotics can help alleviate many disorders such as:

- Constipation

- IBS

- Lactose Intolerance

- Inflammatory bowel disease

- Helicobacter pylori infection which causes ulcers & chronic stomach inflammation

-Yeast infections such as Candida

- Bacterial vaginosis

- Allergies

- Skin conditions such as eczema

- Leaky Gut Syndrome

With 70% of our immune system residing in our gut, probiotics effectively enhance immune support and protect us from disease. Probiotics are also used during or after antibiotic treatment, as the antibiotics often wipe out the good bacteria as well as the bad.
So How do I Decide which are the Best Probiotics?

- Look for a probiotic strain with good research to support its effectiveness. Lactobacillus GG found in Culturelle is currently the most studied strain of probiotic available.

- Make sure it has the ability to survive stomach acid and bile otherwise it wont reach the small intestine. If a particular strain can't survive stomach acid it needs to be delivered by an enteric coated pill.

- A probiotic needs to be well packaged to protect it from exposure to oxygen, light and moisture.

- How stable is the probiotic? Can it survive at room temperature or does it need to be stored in the fridge. This can be important when travelling.

- To work out how much bacteria there is in a probiotic, look at the number of CFU's -Colony Forming Units. These are the dormant bacteria cells which become active upon ingestion. Culturelle meets all the above criteria and can you can buy it here.


The future of Probiotics

Whilst there has been quite a bit of research on probiotics there is still a lot we have to learn. As research of the various probiotic strains continues, more condition specific probiotics will become available.