I am interested in taking a probiotic for overall health.
Q. Dear Terry, “I am interested in taking a probiotic for overall health. There are so many to choose from! Any tips on what I should look for in a probiotic?” — José M., Sacramento, CA
A. Dear José, Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that help to keep our digestive system running smoothly. Our body is full of both good and bad bacteria, so adding probiotics helps to ensure more of the healthy bacteria survive and thrive. Probiotics are best known for helping with digestive disturbances, but they are crucial for our overall health.
While there are many different types of probiotics out there, I believe the best kinds are human strain. Human strain probiotics means that they are naturally occurring within our bodies and many of these strains have been clinically studied.
One of the most extensively tested probiotics, Lactobacillus plantarum, has a wide range of benefits. In a clinical study, it was found to reduce IBS symptoms in 95 percent of those taking it versus only 15 percent of patients in the placebo group. This normalization of the digestive system happened in only four weeks.
Another probiotic bacteria, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, is well known for its ability to stop the conditions that lead to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). A Spanish review examined the ways that probiotics address the symptoms of IBD, and named it as one of the probiotics that reduces inflammatory conditions in the digestive tract. This same review also mentioned that because L. rhamnosus appears to reduce inflammation, it can strengthen the barrier in the intestines to prevent leaky gut.
A clinical trial conducted in Bavaria found that Bifidobacterium bifidum significantly reduced IBS symptoms – including pain and discomfort, frequency of bowel movements, urgency, bloating, and improved overall quality of life.
We all need beneficial bacteria. Without them, we wouldn’t exist. But I think it’s important to get probiotics that have a history of human use and work especially well in the human body. Having a “big number” of probiotics is less important than making sure you get the right probiotics.
I would take a combination of L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus, and B. bifidum, twice per day, or with each meal.
Terry . . . Naturally