Terry is happy to provide his opinion on diet and nutrition, supplements and lifestyle choices. This information is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the advice of your physician and is not to be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Should you have any concerns please contact your physician directly.
Q. Dear Terry, “I have been to my health food store looking for a good probiotic, but I saw so many different products and different counts of bacteria that I left confused. Do you have any advice?” — Larry C., Memphis, TN
A. Dear Larry, I’m not surprised at your confusion, since probiotics are one of the fastest growing categories in the health market, as well they should be. They have a tremendous benefit for the entire body–not just the intestinal tract. Probiotics can improve the immune system, lessen lactose intolerance, help with irritable bowel issues, prevent yeast overgrowth, support clear skin, help prevent cancer, and improve both constipation and diarrhea. Personally, I think the strain of bacteria is far more important than the number of bacteria or the count. Some products range from one billion to as high as 200 billion. I think a good count of bacteria is in the 5 billion range. Do not be concerned so much with the count, but ask your health food store retailer for a high quality probiotic, clinically studied specifically for your particular purpose. Make sure the brand is guaranteed to deliver a certain number of live probiotics. Some companies only guarantee the number of live bacteria at time of manufacture, which means that unless you are swallowing the pills right off the assembly line, you don’t know what benefit you are getting. If this is just a general question concerning a good probiotic, and not for a specific purpose, most good brands in the 5 billion range will be effective. Under the right conditions, the bacteria will multiply exponentially. Healthy amounts of fiber are the preferred food source for many good probiotics, so increasing dietary or supplemental fiber can really improve how well probiotics work. This will create an environment for the bacteria that will cause fantastic and phenomenal growth, which in turn has a more powerful impact on your health.
Terry . . . Naturally