Did you know that the strain of a probiotic determines its effect? And that most probiotic supplements don’t tell you what strain they contain because they're proprietary blends (more about those HERE) In order to take the best probiotic for you, you need to understand what the 5 most important probiotic strains are for gut and overall health.
What Are Probiotics
Probiotics, at their most basic definition, are “live microorganisms which when consumed in adequate amounts as part of food confer a health benefit on the host” (according to the World Health Organization). They are the healthy bacteria, within your GI tract that arm your body to defend against harmful bacteria and fully digest food, so your nutrients can be used as fuel for a healthy gut.
Probiotics come from both food and supplementation. While food sources are preferred, consuming dairy products and fermented foods isn’t always as easy as it sounds – this is why people take probiotic supplements. With that being said, there are many different types of probiotics strains that are important to know when you’re looking to both improve your dietary intake and when choosing a probiotic supplement.
When looking at the back of a probiotic supplement nutrition label or for specific strains on the internet, there are three components to probiotic naming that are worth knowing.
Genus: The first part (e.g. Lactobacillus)
Species: The second part (e.g. rhamnosus)
Strain: An abbreviated section of the name (ex: DE111)
Why Probiotic Names Matter
If you're going to spend your money on something, you ought to know what it's going to do. The same can be said for something that you're buying from someone and putting in your body, you ought to know exactly what is in it. When looking for a supplement, etiher online or at the store to take, avoid purchasing supplements that use the words matrix, complex, or blend.
Probiotic Containing FoodsBefore we talk about probiotic strains and supplements, here is a quick reference list of probiotic-containing foods. It's recommended that you should eat 2-3 servings of probiotic-rich foods per day, but if you can't quite chow down that much, a supplement may be a good option for you to consider, to bridge the gaps in your nutrition.
- Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
- Raw Cheese
The 5 Most Important Probiotic Strains For Overall Health
Lactobacillus can greatly benefit your gut health and is one of the best strains of probiotics. Why is lactobacillus good for you? It’s found in the vagina and gastrointestinal tract most often as bacteria that has been extensively studied and proven to improve overall health and wellness.
Lactobacillus has at least 13 commonly recognized species that are used in probiotic supplements. What are the benefits of lactobacillus? Major health benefits of Lactobacillus include improvement of gastrointestinal microflora, enhancement of immune system, positive vaginal and reproductive health, and reduced serum cholesterol.2
Keep an eye out for Lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus bulgarius, and Lactobacillus reuteri.
How does bifidobacterium help human health? This type of probiotic accounts for more than 80% of microorganisms within the intestine and Bifidobacterium bifidum is the second most prominent species found in breast-fed infants.8 Unfortunately, as we age, this percentage and presence within the human gut flora decrease significantly, increasing the importance of taking a probiotic supplement. What does the bifidobacterium do? It’s a dominant microbe in the GI tract and in breast milk.
Bifidobacterium is one of the more common prevalent species residing in the oral cavities and are significant for proper oral ecological balance. This strain also helps fight dental caries and cavities.3
When looking for bifidobacterium in a supplement, it can be present in at least seven recognizable species, with the best one being bifidobacterium bifidum
This strain has two main species that are probiotics while the others act either neutrally or pathogenically within humans. The two species are streptococcus thermophiles and Streptococcus salivarius.
While yogurt is a very common source of probiotics in Western Diets, the best source of probiotics can be consumed through fermented milk, aka Kefir. Kefir, or fermented milk, contains thermophiles influences gut-brain communication in humans resulting in better overall control of emotion and sensation.4
Salivarius, on the other hand, plays an important role in developing and maintaining a healthy mouth and resides within the oral cavity. It’s been proven to suppress the growth of periodontal pathogens and degradation of healthy teeth.5
If you’re not up for consuming fermented milk, we recommend looking for a supplement that includes the two main species, thermophiles, and salivarius, in your supplement.
RELATED PRODUCT: PROBIOTIX
While most Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium genera are usually regarded as safe for long-term human use, not all species of the Bacillus genus can be used as probiotics.6
We recommend looking for these five strains of Bacillus in a probiotic supplement: Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus clausii, Bacillus coagulans, bacillus indicus, and Bacillus licheniformis. If you’re looking for a supplement that has the healthy probiotics derived from Bacillus.
When To Consider A Probiotic Supplement
While food manufacturers aren’t required to list the amount and of which probiotics are in the food product, neither are supplement companies. It’s important that while the number of probiotics and amount of strains can seem beneficial, more isn’t necessarily better in this case. The 5 most important probiotic strains that we recommend looking for when shopping for a probiotic supplement are Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and some strains of Streptococcus and Bacillus.
We recommend looking for a probiotic supplement that has 3-10 billion Colony Forming Units (CFU) and to stay away from products that do not contain high amounts of quality probiotic strains, such as the ones we talked about above.
By supplementing probiotic capsules from a trusted source and increasing the amount of probiotic-containing foods into your daily routine, you’re giving your overall health a better chance to function at a more optimum level.
RELATED ARTICLE: How Do I Choose A Probiotic?
Most Important Probiotic Strains: Takeaway
The 5 most important probiotic strains that we recommend looking for when shopping for a probiotic supplement are Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and some strains of Streptococcus and Bacillus. Remember that more doesn't always mean better when it comes to CFU or microorganism count, and anywhere between 3 and 10 billion colony forming units are going to increase your overall health and digestive function. It's recommended that the average healthy adult consumes 2-3 servings per day of probiotic-rich foods. If you can't do this regularly, then maybe it's time to consider a nutritional supplement, like PROBIOTIX, to bridge the gaps in your nutrition. All in all, maintaining your health with high probiotic foods and a quality probiotic supplement will keep your health simple, effective, and affordable.
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- Guarner F, Khan AG, Garisch J, et al. Probiotics and prebiotics: World Gastroenterology Organisation Global Guidelines. 2011 Available at: http://www.worldgastroenterology.org/probiotics-prebiotics.html.
- Saarela M, Mogensen G, Fondén R, Mättö J, Mattila-Sandholm T. Probiotic bacteria: Safety, functional and technological properties. Journal of Biotechnology. 2000;84(3):197–215.org/10.1016/S0168-1656(00)00375-8.
- Koll-Klais P, Mandar R, Leibur E, Marcotte H, Hammarstrom L, Mikelsaar M. Oral lactobacilli in chronic periodontitis and periodontal health: Species composition and antimicrobial activity. Oral Microbiology and Immunology. 2005;20(6):354–361. doi.org/10.1111/j.1399-302X.2005.00239.x.[PubMed]
- Tillisch K, Labus J, Kilpatrick L, Jiang ZG, Stains J, Ebrat B, Guyonnet D, et al. Consumption of fermented milk product with probiotic modulates brain activity. Gastroenterology. 2013;144(7):1394–1401. org/10.1053/j.gastro.2013.02.043.
- Ishikawa H, Aiba Y, Nakanishi M, Oh-Hashi Y, Koga Y. Suppression of periodontal pathogenic bacteria in the saliva of human by the administration of Lactobacillus salivarius T12711. Journal of the Japanese Society of Periodontology. 2003;45(1):105–112. doi.org/10.2329/perio.45.105.
- European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Opinion of the scientific committee on introduction of a qualified presumption of safety (QPS) approach for assessment of selected microorganisms referred to EFSA. The EFSA Journal. 2007;5(12):1–16.