You already know probiotics play an important role in supporting digestive and immune health.* But with so many products to choose from, what factors are important when it comes to choosing an effective probiotic supplement? Here are a few quick basics:
- Look at the culture count to determine the strength or potency of a probiotic. Did you know there are 100 trillion bacteria inside your digestive tract? To keep that complex system thriving, a high-potency probiotic will contain billions of live, friendly cultures per serving to provide more of the good-for-you bacteria that occur naturally in a healthy gut.* Total live cultures will often be determined at time of manufacture, but very few remain at full strength through their expiration date. Look for a probiotic that guarantees potency through the expiration date.
- Pay attention to the number of strains. Supporting a good balance among all the diverse microbes in your gut is key to well-being, but stress, aging, diet, and other issues can upset this delicate equilibrium.* The strains, or specific types of probiotics (plus the culture count of each) should be listed on the label. And because more than 1,000 strains of beneficial bacteria can be found in the human gut, it makes sense to choose a probiotic supplement that reflects this natural diversity.
- Look for lots of Ls and Bs. When you scan the label of a good probiotic you will see strains that begin with Ls and Bs, such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. These are the beneficial probiotic bacteria that reside in a healthy human intestinal tract.* To help you remember, the L strains are more native to the little (small) intestine and the B strains are generally found in the big (large) intestine, or colon. Lots of Ls and Bs are important because each person’s body uses certain probiotic strains differently than others.
Choose delayed-release capsules for targeted delivery. While probiotics are also utilized in the upper digestive tract, the majority of bacterial populations exist in the small and large intestines. Because probiotics must travel through the harsh stomach environment and be delivered to the intestines to colonize, choosing delayed-release capsules (which are designed to survive stomach acid) helps ensure more friendly probiotics reach your intestinal tract.*