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If you watched ReNew Life Founder Brenda Watson’s latest PBS television special, The Road to Perfect Health, you’ll know all about the incredible effects of probiotics on the body.  But with so many products to choose from, many wonder what factors to consider when choosing an effective probiotic supplement. Let’s cover the basics to help you make the most of these health-promoting bacteria. 

First, to determine the strength or potency of a probiotic, look at the culture count. The culture count refers to the total amount of live, friendly bacterial cultures in a single serving.  You need at least 15 billion cultures to begin to make an impact on your health—often more, depending upon your age or health-related concern.  Research is showing that more is better, so keep an eye on the number of cultures or CFUs (colony forming units) for best results. Total CFUs or culture count will often be determined at time of manufacture, but very few remain at full strength through their expiration date.  Look for a high quality probiotic that displays potency on the label at time of expiration, not manufacture.

When choosing a probiotic it’s also important to pay attention to the number of strains.  The strains, or specific types of bacteria, plus the culture count of each should be listed on the label. Over 1,000 strains of beneficial bacteria can be found in the human gut, so it makes sense to choose a probiotic supplement that reflects this natural diversity. 

When you scan the label of a good probiotic you’ll see strains that begin with Ls and Bs, like Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria.  A good trick to differentiate these is that 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. Look for lots of Ls and Bs because each person’s body utilizes certain bacterial strains better than others. 

While probiotics are also utilized in the upper digestive tract, the majority of bacterial populations exist in the lower small and large intestines. So how do the good bacteria get all the way down there?  Probiotics must travel through the harsh stomach environment and be delivered to the intestines to colonize. Delayed-release capsules are engineered to remain intact through the stomach and begin dissolving in the intestine, where they are needed most.

A probiotic supplement, when delivered to the right place, with the right amount of cultures and strains, can help promote digestive health, bowel regularity and strengthen the body’s natural immune defenses.  Be sure to read the label, so you’ll know you’re giving your body the probiotic it needs. 

Still confused on which specific supplement to take for your individual needs? Take our interactive quiz for our recommendation.

Written by mjohnle

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  • albert santiago

    This is more of a question..

    What if the probiotic doesn’t dissolve and simply passes through the body?

    What does anyone suggest?

  • mjohnle

    Probiotics don’t dissolve or get absorbed into the bloodstream. Instead, probiotics travel to the areas of the body where they’re able to adhere to cells and colonize. Some types of probiotics will pass through the system, exerting benefits as they go.

  • Reese

    ok I have Diverticutitus, No Doctor anywhere i have knows how to treat this nice Condition I recently got!
    Well drink Fiber and Aloe and take Probiotics 50 billon has done WOUNDERS FOR ME! PLEASE PASS THIS INFO ON ,,,,,,,,,

  • mjohnle

    Reese, I’m so glad you’re enjoying the product. Thanks for your comment!

  • becky

    Hello…just started the 50 billion probiotics, I noticed it is only a 14 day supply! Help me understand this, also will it promote weight loss, which my doctor would be very happy if I lost 10 lbs.! How should I feel by day 14?
    Thank you!

  • mjohnle

    Hi Becky, We have the Ultimate Flora Critical Care 50 Billion probiotic in 3 sizes; 14, 30 and 60 count bottles.
    There needs to be more study on whether probiotics influence weight loss directly, but we do know that probiotics enhance immune function and promote healthy digestion.

  • fluff

    BRENDA PLSE HELP I’VE BEEN BELCHING LIKE CRAZY FOR 4 MOS NOW, FOLLOW DR JONATHAN WRIGHTS ADVICE, THE BETAINE HCL HELPED AS DID ENZYMES I GOT FROM LIFE EXSTENSIONS, BUT, I’M STILL BELCHING, LOUD BELCHING; ITS NOT AS BAD AS BEFORE BUT PLEASE TELL ME WHICH PRODUCT TO TAKE.I WANT IT TO STOP, I ‘M AFAIRD TO EAT OUT, I SOUND LIKE A TRUCK DRIVER JEEZ. PLSE RESPOND ASAP
    THANKS FLUFF

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‡These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The material on this page is for consumer informational and educational purposes only, under section 5 of DSHEA.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this website is intended as, or should be construed as, medical advice. Consumers should consult with their own health care practitioners for individual, medical recommendations. The information in this website concerns dietary supplements, over-the-counter products that are not drugs. Our dietary supplement products are not intended for use as a means to cure, treat, prevent, diagnose, or mitigate any disease or other medical or abnormal condition.

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