Gut flora, which includes both good and bad bacteria, is a hot topic these days, as it can significantly impact gut health. Healthy bacteria in our gut helps to digest food and keep the bad bacteria in check. Beyond that, it can play a significant role in our overall health, affecting the effectiveness of our immune system. According to the National Institutes of Health, digestive diseases affect 60 million to 70 million Americans. Those can include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.
Here, Ashley Hawk, a registered dietitian at Revival Point Labs, shares five tips for choosing a probiotic:
1. Look for high-quality probiotics.
Start with brands specializing in probiotics, and make sure that they’re double-blind, placebo-controlled, and peer-reviewed.
2. Choose probiotics that are high in Colony Forming Units (CFUs).
A probiotic dose can range from 5 to 100 billion CFUs. It depends on the number of strains it contains (more strains equal a higher total CFU). Start with a lower number and increase as you can tolerate it. 3.
3. Opt for strains that answer your needs.
Familiarize yourself with strains that address your individual needs. For example, super strain lactobacillus acidophilus may reduce cholesterol and promote weight loss, lactobacillus fermentum may support the immune system and positively affect your mood. Three other super strains—lactobacillus gasseri, lactobacillus rhamnosus, and bifidobacterium breve—are commonly found in probiotics.
4. Choose products for your demographic.
Some probiotics are designed for specific demographics. For example, people over 50, whose metabolisms have slowed down, may benefit from a different formula than a fit woman in her 30s.
5. Pay attention to expiration dates and storage instructions.
Probiotics are made with living organisms, so make sure that their life potency is still valid when you purchase the product. Some may also need to be stored in a refrigerator.