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How to Choose a Probiotic

Probiotics are all around us. Many healthcare professional tote the endless advantages of taking a Probiotic daily. I myself have discussed this with many of my patients. What you sometimes don’t hear is which strand of probiotic to take and Why. I recently was attending a seminar that discussed just this. Later I further went on to read about the different probiotics and why to take them in an article in Food and Nutrition Magazine. I thought it would be great to share the information with you.

We will be talking about three genera that include lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus.

Lactobacillus bacteria, found mainly in the GI tract, urinary tract and vagina. This bacteria is the most widely used in foods such as yogurt.

Lactobacillus Acidophilus
Very common species, research reports that it could help treat yeast infections, improve diarrhea and boost immunity.
Dietary sources include certain brands of yogurt and milk, miso and tempeh. It is also available in pill form, freeze dried granules and vaginal suppositories.
Recommended dose 1 billion to 15 billion colony forming units CFU, per day.

Lactobacillus helveticus with Bifidobacterium longum
Together, L.helveticus and B. longum may have immune boosting properties and the ability to treat psychological condition, improve overall health and skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis. Individuals given this daily probiotic blend reported feeling less anxiety and depression.

Lactobacillus Plantarum
Can have an impact by improving psychological health, increasing immunity and improving metabolic conditions.
Intake of Plantarum might be beneficial in certain metabolic disorder by improving BMI, improving blood pressure, decreasing cholesterol and reducing fat oxidation.
Plantarum can be found in fermented foods and drinks.
No exact dose is recommended OTC supplements contain anywhere from 3 billion to 10 billion CFU per day.

Lactobacillus reuteri
May reduce inflammation and allergies and serve as a potential treatment for Pro-inflammatory diseases. Several studies have shown a reduction of inflammatory markers in Rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis and general allergies.
Can be found in fermented vegetables and dairy products. Also available in supplement form.
Doses range from 100 million to 10 billion CFU per day.

Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG
Used to treat infectious diarrhea and maybe used to promote vaginla health.
Can be found in kefir and certain brands of kombucha as well as supplements and powders.

Lactobacillus casei
Studies on L.casei suggest that it may play an important role in the gut brain axis by improving mental and neurological health.
Available as pill supplements and some chewable forms. Also used in certain dairy and yogurts.
Dose ranges from 100 million to 8 billion

Inhabits the gut, mouth and vagina. One of the first bacteria to inhabit the gut bifidobacterium aids in the digestion of foods, producing short chain fatty acids and reducing inflammation by the stimulation of immune cells.

Bifidobacterium bifidum
B. bifidum may boost immunity and improve eczema. Also helps in traveler’s diarrhea, IBS and ulcerative colitis as well as H.Pylori.
Food sources include yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, miso , tempeh, pickles, kimchi and cured meats.
No specific dose, benefits around 1 billion.

Bifidobacterium infantis
Benefits to mental health and poses anti-inflammatory properties. More common as a supplement also can be found in certain dairy products.

One of the main takeaways when deciding on a probiotic is to make sure that it has different strains in the probiotic. Since each strain is used to treat different symptoms it is good to have a combination. Also cheaper probiotic contain only 2 million CFUs. beneficial effects are noted in the billion.


This information is available at Food and Nutrition magazine pg 19 The Potential Role of Probiotics; Exploring the Promising World of Probiotics, one species at a time By Esther L. Ellis MS, RD, LDN

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