The term probiotics’ refers to beneficial micro-organisms, normally bacteria, which live in our bodies and assist in the maintenance of health in various ways. These good’ bacteria already live in our bodies but in small numbers and hence cannot maintain a healthy numerical balance. This is because they get eliminated from the body in numerous ways. Our unhealthy living habits such as poor nutrition, stress, pathogens, sleep deprivation have an adverse effect on the beneficial bacteria. Additionally, antibiotics do not discriminate between the good and bad bacteria especially when diarrhea results from using the antibiotics. This results in the ejection of both good and bad bacteria from the intestinal tract.
The best way of ensuring a healthy balance of good bacteria and boost digestive health is to increase consumption of probiotic foods like sauerkraut, yogurt and kefir. However, if this is not possible, it is recommended that you take probiotic supplements. The ever-growing probiotic industry markets a wide range of supplements in various forms like powders, tablets, liquids and capsules. There are myriad manufacturers and copious amounts of information regarding these supplements, hence choosing the best supplement for you can be confusing.
There are a few fundamental considerations that you can use to evaluate which are the best probiotic supplements for you
. These are:
1. The particular probiotic strains used
2. The supplement’s delivery system and packaging
3. Expiration date of the supplement
4. Whether a Money-back guarantee is included
1.The particular probiotic strains used
Many marketers like to focus on the number of bacteria in their sales pitch. They claim the best supplement is the one with the most bacteria (normally calculated in colony forming units-CFUs).However clinical research suggests that it is the number of distinct strains of bacteria in the supplement that is important. This is because different probiotic bacteria have different functions and locations in the digestive tract. Those supplements with multiple strains work better than those with a high concentration of one or two strains. Therefore many strains have a collaborative and positive effect on our health.
The best probiotic supplements will contain several of the most important bacterial strains. These are:
•L. acidophilus—this is the most crucial strain of the lactobacillus bacterial species-and it prefers to live in the walls of the small intestines. It enhances absorption of nutrients and also assists our bodies to digest dairy products.
•B. longum—this very common strain lives in the intestines of adults and supports in the maintenance of a strong gut wall. It also counteracts and destroys toxins in the gut.
•B. bifidum—this bacterium lives in both small and large intestines and is important in digestion of dairy products. The aging process slows down our ability to digest these dairy products. This strain also helps in the effective breakdown of fat, carbohydrates and proteins.
•L. fermentum—This Lactobacillus bacteria strain helps to counteract some of the negative byproducts of the digestion process and hence enhance growth of beneficial bacteria.
•L. rhamnosus—this strain helps ward off stomach and intestinal infections such as traveler’s diarrhea.
The best probiotic supplement will also depend on specific individuals. For example men and women may opt for different supplements.
2.The supplement’s delivery system and packaging
The packaging and delivery of the supplement affects the working of the supplement. Delivery refers to the form of the product, and how this helps bacteria remain alive and healthy when in store shelves.The bacteria need to be in a healthy state to be effective when the supplement is taken. If the bacteria are unhealthy they may not survive the acidity in the stomach which renders the supplement useless. Some of the best delivery methods include beadlets, controlled-release tablets (caplets) and capsules.
A good probiotic supplement utilizes delivery systems that ensure a large proportion of the bacteria reach the intestine alive and healthy. This is vital and should be detailed on the supplement packaging or promotion materials. A company that readily describes how their supplement works is more credible and their supplement will most likely be effective.One should also pay attention to the product packaging. Probiotic bacteria are living things and the surrounding environment affects them. Therefore the packaging
must protect from excessive exposure to moisture, heat and light. Some of the better packaging methods include opaque bottles, desiccant pouches and newly-developed blister packs. Ideally, probiotic supplements should be packed in airtight high density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic or glass containers which minimize oxidation. The label should indicate no centrifuge was used. Whereas some may have been refrigerated, some newer supplements can remain stable with no refrigeration for about two years.
3.Expiration date of the supplement
The probiotic supplements industry normally does not demand that expiration dates be shown on the products. However this is a telltale sign when it comes to assessing the quality of a supplement. Showing the specific date of expiry on a supplement means the manufacturer is assuring the user about the product’s potency and efficacy until the specified date. Setting the expiry date means the product has been subjected to tests relating to formulation stability. This alludes to a guarantee of the supplement’s quality. In this regard, the absence of a clearly specified expiration date on the probiotic supplement’s label raises questions. It becomes impossible to
know how long the bacteria will remain active or if they are already dead.One should note that some supplements may be marketed with stamps showing a guarantee of potency at the date of manufacture instead of the expiration date. This is not useful since what is vital is the assurance that the supplement will be effective several months later, especially when you are buying several bottles of the supplement.Therefore, to avoid buying a supplement that provides little or no benefit, it is advisable to check for expiration date. The delivery system and expiration date are very important in ensuring you get the most effective probiotic supplement.
4.Whether a Money-back guarantee is included
One should always insist on money-back guarantee for any supplement bought. This indicates the company believes in its own products and will stand by them.
In conclusion,one can obtain probiotic supplements through consulting a homeopathic physician. They can also be bought from vitamin or health shops. Several exclusive formulas are available on the internet.