Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Should I Take a Probiotic? If So, Which One?

Popular
Should I Take a Probiotic? If So, Which One?

By Franziska Spritzler

Probiotics have received a lot of attention recently.

These living organisms have been credited with providing all kinds of health benefits related to gut function and beyond (1).

If you're looking to use them to boost your own health, it's important to make sure you take the right probiotic supplements to get the results you're after.

This article takes a detailed look at the effects of probiotics and provides recommendations for supplements that address specific health issues.

What Are Probiotics?

Your gut contains bacteria acquired at birth and onward in a process called colonization.

Many of these bacteria are considered beneficial or "friendly." Their functions include converting fiber into short-chain fatty acids, synthesizing certain vitamins and supporting your immune system (2).

Taking probiotics may help boost the numbers of these healthy bacteria.

The formal definition of probiotics is, "live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host" (1).

Basically, probiotics are microorganisms that provide beneficial effects when you consume them in the right amounts.

Probiotics can be consumed in supplement form or in fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir and yogurt.

They should not be confused with prebiotics, which are types of fiber that serve as a food source for the bacteria living in your colon (3).

Summary: Probiotics are health-promoting bacteria found in supplement form and some foods. Taking probiotics can help increase the number of beneficial bacteria that reside in your gut.

Certain Probiotics May Have Specific Benefits

Your gut microbiome or gut flora, consists of a wide variety of bacteria.

Its exact composition is unique to you.

Your colon contains billions of bacteria with types from more than 500 different species (4).

Probiotics that have been found to provide health benefits include various strains of Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces. Many probiotic supplements contain a combination of different strains in the same supplement.

Research has shown that some strains seem to be more effective than others for treating certain conditions.

Therefore, you're more likely to get good results by taking probiotics that have been shown to achieve specific effects, such as controlling diarrhea.

In addition, it's important to consume probiotics in sufficient amounts.

Probiotics are typically measured in colony-forming units (CFU). Generally, higher doses have been found to produce the best results in most studies (5).

However, some probiotics may be effective at dosages of 1–2 billion CFU per day, while others may require at least 20 billion CFU to achieve the desired effects.

Taking extremely high doses hasn't been found to cause harm. One study gave participants up to 1.8 trillion CFU per day. However, it's expensive and doesn't appear to provide any additional benefits (5).

Importantly, scientists still don't know everything about probiotics. Although research has rapidly expanded within the past several years, there is much left to explore.

Summary: Different types of probiotic bacteria may provide health benefits. Taking a sufficient amount of the right probiotic is important for achieving the desired effects.

Probiotics That May Help Relieve Constipation

Constipation is characterized by bowel movements that are hard, difficult to pass and infrequent. Everyone experiences constipation once in a while, but in some people it becomes a chronic problem.

Chronic constipation is most common among the elderly and adults who are bedridden, although it can also occur in children.

In addition, some people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) experience persistent constipation as their main symptom. This is known as constipation-predominant IBS.

Conventional treatments include laxatives and stool softeners. However, in recent years, dietary changes and probiotic supplements have become increasingly popular alternative approaches (6).

A number of studies have shown that supplementing with certain probiotic strains can reduce constipation in both adults and children (7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12).

In a study comparing probiotics and prebiotics in children with IBS, B. lactis was shown to provide significant constipation relief.

The probiotics group also experienced less belching, abdominal fullness and bloating after meals than the prebiotics group (8).

Other probiotics that may improve constipation include B. longum, S. cerevisiae and a combination of L. acidophilus, L. reuteri, L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus and B. animalis (10, 11, 12).

Next Page
Residents get in a car after leaving their homes to move to evacuation centers in central Vietnam's Quang Nam province on Oct. 27, 2020, ahead of Typhoon Molave's expected landfall. MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP via Getty Images

Typhoon Molave is expected to make landfall in Vietnam on Wednesday with 90 mph winds and heavy rainfall that could lead to flooding and landslides, according to the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City. To prepare for the powerful storm that already tore through the Philippines, Vietnam is making plans to evacuate nearly 1.3 million people along the central coast, as Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Chipotle's "Real Foodprint" will tell you the ecological footprint of each menu item compared to the industry standard. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

How does your burrito impact the environment? If you ordered it from Chipotle, there is now a way to find out.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Are you noticing your shirts becoming too tight fitting to wear? Have you been regularly visiting a gym, yet it seems like your effort is not enough? It's okay to get disappointed, but not to lose hope.

Read More Show Less
Locals check out the new stretch of artificial beach in Manila Bay, Philippines on Sept, 19, 2020. patrickroque01 / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 4.0

By Sarah Steffen

A stretch of coastline in the Philippine capital, Manila has received backlash from environmentalists. The heavily polluted Manila Bay area, which had been slated for cleanup, has become the site of a controversial 500-meter (1,600-foot) stretch of white sand beach.

Read More Show Less
An illustration highlights the moon's Clavius Crater with an illustration depicting water trapped in the lunar soil there. NASA / Daniel Rutter

A pair of studies released Monday confirmed not only the presence of water and ice on the moon, but that it is more abundant than scientists previously thought. Those twin discoveries boost the prospect of a sustainable lunar base that could harvest the moon's resources to help sustain itself, according to the BBC.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch