There are many different probiotic products on the market, so it is very important to make the right choices. In this article I would like to try and go through some of the most important questions you should ask about any probiotic product in order to evaluate its usefulness for you and your health.
Probiotics have many benefits, all of which stem from gut health which then affects other organs, systems, and tissues. Some probiotics also offer other, more specific benefits through the probiotic blend or additional ingredients that they contain. Therefore, as a first step it is important to think about what you want out of the probiotic and if a given product can manage your expectations. For example, is general gut health your goal or are you trying to address a specific condition like irritable bowel syndrome or constipation? Some probiotics can help improve immune, metabolic, and cardiovascular health.
A good way to see if a product can give you the benefit you are looking for is to see if the manufacturer can provide a timeline of benefits which can allow you to track the way you feel with progressive use of the product. This way you can correlate your feeling of wellbeing with the use of the product. At SuperBio, we provide a timeline of benefits to help our customers gauge the effect of SuperBio on their health and wellbeing.
There are many different probiotic species, though research suggests some of the most important and beneficial species are:
These species have been studied intensely in both humans and animals with respect to their probiotic benefit. It has been found that these species play an important role in promoting heightened immunosurveillance, improving gut cell function and gut integrity, which helps the gut absorb nutrients more efficiently, as well as retaining and excreting waste products. These probiotics are associated with the efficient conversion of fiber or prebiotics into essential nutrients, such as short chain fatty acids that are an essential source of energy for gut cells and other more distant organs and tissues.
In addition, research has shown that taking a blend of probiotics is significantly better than taking only one species or strain. Because each species of probiotic have different benefits, a blended product will offer a more complete level of protection than any single species. Therefore, although these are by no means the only probiotics available, we feel that any probiotic blend should have some or all of these species to provide the best benefit.
Colony forming units, or CFUs, is a measure of the number of viable bacterial cells in a sample. The optimum CFU dose varies from species to species, but it's generally considered that an optimum dose is approximately 5 – 20 billion CFU. However, as the gut is a very densely populated environment with many trillions of bacteria, delivering a few billion probiotics will have little effect if they do not have the necessary fuel or food to grow. That is why prebiotic fiber is so important to a good probiotic.
When a probiotic blend is combined with a prebiotic it is called a Synbiotic. Research has shown the most efficacious and successful types of probiotic are those that combine a probiotic with a prebiotic.
A prebiotic is basically the scientific name for fiber that humans cannot digest; however, this prebiotic fiber is the food or fuel that probiotics need to grow and establish themselves as part of your gut bacteria ecosystem. The presence of a prebiotic is probably the most important component to the success of a probiotic treatment. Without a prebiotic, it does not matter how many CFUs of prebiotic you deliver to the gut – they will not have the food or fuel to establish themselves and provide their benefit.
The type and amount of prebiotic is also important. Most probiotics use one of three prebiotics:
There are also other, lesser known but significantly more potent prebiotics such as Spirulina that can supercharge probiotic growth.
In addition to the use of a prebiotic, the amount of prebiotic is very important. In terms of FOS, GOS, and Inulin, most probiotics that use them add only 25 – 100 mg per dose. This is plainly too low when dieticians recommend consuming grams of these products to provide sufficient food for probiotic growth. Why is there this disconnect? One limitation is that consuming large quantities of FOS, GOS, and Inulin can often lead to unwanted side effects like gut bacteria overgrowth, cramps, bloating, and gas. Therefore, probiotics that use FOS, GOS, and Inulin can only use small amounts, which is not enough for probiotic growth.
Prebiotic fiber can be obtained from foods such as Spirulina and artichokes, but if you're going to the effort of purchasing a probiotic, you should purchase one with an efficient prebiotic component. At SuperBio, we recognize the need for this critical component, and have incorporated 900 mg of Spirulina per dose into our SuperBio Probiotic, which supercharges probiotic growth, but doesn't have the unwanted side effects associated with FOS, GOS, Inulin.
In addition to the probiotic benefit, a good probiotic product will also provide other nutritional benefits such as proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Additional ingredients like Spirulina will provide the prebiotic benefit for the probiotics as well as the essential nutrients, such as phytoproteins, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for an overall healthy lifestyle.
This kind of product is called a Cobiotic. SuperBio probiotic is the first Cobiotic product on the market, as it contains a potent probiotic blend and Spirulina that promotes probiotic growth, as well as providing us with a rich source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and essential fatty acids, all in one supplement.
If allergies or dietary restrictions are important, then using products that use organic natural ingredients would be recommended.
Storage conditions play an important role in probiotic potency. Probiotics can typically be kept at room temperature or refrigerated, which will be indicated on the supplement facts table. If no indication is given, storage at room temperature can be assumed.
Prebiotics have also been found to play a critical role in probiotic storage stability of probiotics. Numerous studies have shown that when probiotics are manufactured with a prebiotic fiber, the stability of the probiotic is greatly increased. This protective effect is an extension of the prebiotic's ability to stimulate probiotic growth, where the prebiotic fiber and other complex components interact with the bacteria cell wall to improve cell wall integrity, while allowing the probiotics to weather environmental stresses.
Choosing a probiotic manufactured under strict standards means your probiotic will be effective when consumed. The manufacturing standards can be confirmed by looking for manufacturers that make probiotics in cGMP facilities or those with FDA registered facilities.
As there are many probiotics to choose from, and your health is of great importance, I feel that it is very important to ask the right question of probiotic products. I hope that this article will help you in making the right choices.