Which probiotics are good for gut health?

Health is wealth—and every little helps, the old adage goes! The 100 trillion microbes that live in our gut—collectively called the gut microbiome—is a prime example.

The topic of gut health is seemingly everywhere at the moment, as are probiotic supplements.

But what are probiotics and how might they benefit us?

Probiotic supplements promise to harness the power of our gut microbiome and confer gut health benefits when taken in a particular quantity

However, the volume of evidence for probiotics is closely matched by the vast array of new products that is quite frankly mindboggling

“It’s a Wild West out there” cautions one expert (Dinan, 2022) because probiotics are part of the supplement industry, which carries far less regulations than prescription medicines

Dinan, 2022 (The Economist)

So how can we choose a probiotic?

With trillions of bacteria in our gut, which probiotics might be beneficial to us? What does the evidence say?

⚡ I’ve covered 229 studies, analysed in 13 journal reviews, and the bacteria Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium get a recurring mention. Notably, the type of bacterium (strain) is crucial

Ma and Cain, writing in Psychology Today (June 27, 2022), give us the following 4 steps to help guide us:

1. Choose the right strain

For example, when it comes to mood, Cain & Ma (2022) highlight the following 4 strains:
💥 Lactobacillus casei W56
💥 Lactococcus lactis W19
💥 Lactobacillus acidophilus W22
💥 Bifidobacterium lactis W52

2. Look for demonstrated Strain Synergies

Strain synergy means strains that work together to give added benefit (and note that some strains are antagonists that work against each other)

3. Ensure quality manufacturing processes

It is essential to ingest microorganisms that haven’t been damaged in the manufacturing process in a way that impacts efficacy

4. Probiotic viability—CFUs

Look for CFU numbers, or Colony Forming Units.

Nordic Naturals suggest “a daily dose of 10-20 billion CFU for immune and digestive support”.

Which probiotic supplement brands are worth it?

We ought to be mindful that the evidence for different probiotic supplements varies greatly, and all probiotic supplements are definitely not created equal. I would expect to pay a premium for evidence based probiotics.

These 5 brands provide microbiome boosting products that are backed by evidence, and may be worth the added cost:

🍀 Microbiome Labs
🍀 The Cultured Coconut
🍀 Heights
🍀 Chuckling Goat
🍀 Advanced Biotics.com (pre- & post-biotics)

Does our diet affect our microbiome?

To date, there is strong evidence for a holistic approach that involves diet (Mediterranean style; fermented foods, kefir, kombucha …), exercise, relaxation and sleep.

🌞 Have a great week!

*This does not constitute or substitute for medical advice! Seek professional healthcare advice as needed

Sources & further reading

1. Nicole Cain, ND, MA, and Lybi Ma, 2022. Accessed 04.03.23: The Promise of Psychobiotics | Psychology Today

2. Prof Satish Rao, 2018. Are Probiotics Good For You? Not Always (sciencefriday.com)

3. Dr Gina Jaeger, PhD; 2021. Accessed 04.03.23: Probiotics: How Many Billion CFU Do I Need? | Nordic Naturals

4. Dinan T, 2022 How do gut microbes influence mental health? – Dinan – 2022 – Trends in Urology & Men’s Health – Wiley Online Library

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